I love all sorts of boardgames, but since this blog is so puzzle/deduction/mystery oriented, here are some deduction board games. Hone your deductive skills or maybe get them as Christmas gifts for your teammates to passive aggressively suggest they need to up their game.
Category: Social Deduction
What is it: Figure out who’s on what team before it’s too late!
Examples: Mafia/Werewolf, The Resistance, Battlestar Galactica, Bang/Samurai Sword, Bloodbound, Shadow Hunters, San Guo Sha, 2 Rooms and a Boom, Inkognito, Redacted
I’m a big fan of social deduction games, but they definitely aren’t for everyone. Some people aren’t comfortable lying, even if it’s within the confines of the game. It’s a wild generalization, but playing with couples is also asking for trouble because one party inevitably believes (or doesn’t believe) the other when they should (or shouldn’t). The classic Mafia or Werewolf is probably the most famous example. It’s campfire game played where a number of werewolves are hidden amongst villagers. The villagers have to lynch who they suspect are werewolves during the day, but the werewolves get to pick out villagers to murder at night.
Resistance (particularly the Avalon edition) is my favourite social deduction game. It doesn’t require a moderator and there is no player elimination from the game. It has lots of depth despite having simple mechanics.
Special mention goes to 2 Rooms and a Boom and Battlestar Galactica. 2 Rooms and a Boom being a good choice for big groups and Battlestar Galactica being one of the heaviest and epic social deductions game out there.
Category: Who Am I?
What is it: Everyone knows who you are but you!
Examples: Who Am I?, Code 777, Hanabi
Who am I? is the name of the party game they play in the movie Inglourious Basterds. One player has to guess their own secret identity by asking the other players. Code 777 and Hanabi expand on this by occluding information from every player. This is a small category, but Hanabi is definitely my favourite. It’s one of my favourite cooperative games. In Hanabi, you and your team have to place down fireworks in ascending order. Everyone can see everyone else’s cards, but cannot see their own! Players are allowed to place a card, discard a card, or give another player a clue about every instance of one colour or every instance of one number in that player’s hand (e.g. the three cards you have on the left side are all green!)
Category: Find X
What is it: Everyone works together to find and capture Mr.X/Dracula/Jack the Ripper
Examples: Scotland Yard, Stop Thief, Nuns on the run, Fury of Dracula, Letters from Whitechapel, Mr. Jack
It’s an interesting dynamic to have one player against everyone else. It almost feels like a boss fight. Scotland Yard is the classic example, while the others have player powers. I put in the very old Stop Thief in there because I own it, and it’s unique in that the player everyone works against is actually electronic! I haven’t played nearly enough of these to have a favourite, but I’ve heard good things about Fury of Dracula.
Category: Process of Elimination
What is it: Eliminate suspects/murder weapons/stuff and whatever remains is the answer. (Or you have to guess!)
Examples: Clue(do), Lady Alice, Mystery Express, Mystery of the Abbey, Guess Who?, Tragedy Looper
The earliest instance of the mechanic is probably the classic Clue. You roll dice and investigate clues to exclude them from being the possible true answer. Mystery of the Abbey, Lady Alice, and Mystery Express improve upon the mechanic with variable player powers. Tragedy Looper is one of the newest games in my collection but has fast become my favourite of the genre. The player setup in Tragedy Looper is similar to the previous section in that one player is alone against the others. The game has a unique mechanic in that the other players have a limited number of time resets (think Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow etc) to solve the crisis and win the game.
Special mention goes to a variant of Guess Who? Instead of picking one character, you and your opponent pick two. All the other normal rules apply and all questions must be yes-or-no. It makes the game a lot more interesting, and you can’t just rely on the ‘divide-the-suspects-in-half’ strategy.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
I have never played this but I really want to! It’s sold out everywhere. Solve mysteries.
EDIT:I buy my boardgames from http://www.woodforsheep.ca/ and http://store.401games.ca/ depending on whichever is more convenient at the time. I’m not affiliated with either and if you find a better price somewhere then go for it. Go capitalism!