Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"I know what it's like to be Hilter!" (Secret Hitler)

There is a man, wandering the streets of Munich, observing the Regime.  The man pulls his cap a little lower, and tightens his coat against the cold.  The man smiles at the quality of Polizei, his little mustache twitching.  This is the ultimate Undercover Boss, for this man is Secret Hitler.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Secret Hitler is a Social Deduction game published by Goat Wolf & Cabbage for 5-10 players.  Each player is either a Fascist, a Liberal, or Hitler.  The Fascists and Hitler attempt to establish Fascist Polices before the Liberals establish their Policies.

SET-UP:  Place the Fascist track that corresponds to the number of players and place it next to the
Liberal track.  Then each player is dealt an envelope containing a Ja! (Yes) and Nein (No) card, and 1 randomly dealt Party Membership Card, according to the number of players.
For 5-6 Players:  All players then close their eyes, and the Fascists and Hitler open their eyes and reveal themselves to one another.
For 7-10 players:  All players then close their eyes, and the Fascists open their eyes and reveal themselves to one another. Hitler keeps his eyes closed, but raises his hand so the fascists can see who he is.

ELECTION:  At the beginning of each round, the President placard moves clockwise to the next player, who is now the new Presidential Candidate.  That player then chooses the next Chancellor by passing the Chancellor placard to any other player who was not elected President or Chancellor last round.  Then, all players vote on the proposed Presidency and Chancellorship.  Each player takes either a Ja or Nein card and places it face-down.  If there is a tie or the majority chooses Nein, the next player is President Elect, and the Election Tracker is moved forward one.  If the majority chooses Ja, the President and Chancellor are now elected.

TRACKER:  The Tracker gets reset once any Policy is enacted.  If the Tracker is moved 3 times, so that the players reject 3 Presidents/Chancellors in a row, reveal the top Policy and enact it.  Any power normally given is ignored, but all players are now eligible to be President or Chancellor.

LEGISLATION:  If a President and Chancellor are chosen, then the Legislation round begins.  The President draws 3 cards from the Policy deck.  The President then discards 1 face-down, and passes the remaining 2 to the Chancellor.  The Chancellor then discards 1 of them face-down, and places the last one to the appropriate board to enact it.  If at any time there are less than 3 Policy cards, shuffle the deck with the previously discarded Policies to create a new deck.

EXECUTIVE ACTION:  At various points, when a Policy is enacted and placed on the board, the President gets a power that triggers immediately, and must be used to begin the next round.  These powers are:

  • Investigate Loyalty:  The chosen selected player passes their Party Membership card (not Secret Role card!) to the President.
  • Call Special Election:  The President chooses the next President.  Once that Presidency is over with, pass it back to the player who would have been President (If that player was the President, they are President again).
  • Policy Peek:  The President secretly looks at the top three tiles in the Policy deck and then returns them to the top of the deck without changing the order.
  • Execution:  One player is selected and killed.  They cannot speak about or participate in the game.  The player must announce truthfully if they are or are not Hitler.  No other information is given.

WINNING:  The Fascists win once either Hitler is elected Chancellor after three Fascist Policies
have been enacted or 6 Fascist Policies have been enacted.  The Liberals win once 5 Liberal Polices have been enacted, or Hitler is ever killed.

CONCLUSION:  This is one of the best hidden role games I've ever played, bar none.  This is the game that made me want to review tabletop games.  It has a strong theme and solid mechanics.  There is always something going on, it never feels like there's much slowdown, which is rare for these types of games.  There's always a goal, and a push to drive towards that goal.  But there's also that feeling of freedom that you might be able to get away with it if you're just clever enough, just sneaky enough not to give anything away. And that feeling exists on the other side, that if you can just read the signs well enough, you can unmask Hitler.  Obviously, those who struggle reading people and don't enjoy these types of games should stay away.  However, if you do enjoy Mafia, Are You A Werewolf, and other games like them, then this is a strong contender.  Just, good luck finding enough people to play it.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  Secret Hitler is available for purchase or Print and Play by following the link here.  Thank you to Totalbiscuit and the Co-optional Lounge (link here) for getting me started on doing tabletop game reviews.  Also a big thanks to Jesse Cox for the title.

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