Reviews - Social Deduction Board Games

Human Era Board Game Review (Lay Waste Games)

Humans, cyborgs, and machines all vie for control over the universe in this time-travel social deduction game. In Human Era, players take turns meddling with time and space. Humans want to restore the original timeline (which they destroyed). Machines want to sabotage them. And cyborgs, well, cyborgs just want to be on the winning side. The Human Era is an attractive mix of abstract strategy and social deduction that nevertheless perplexed us, for reasons that we'll unfold below.


When I Dream (Asmodee) Board Game Review

In When I Dream each player takes a turn being a "dreamer," trying to guess cards as the entire table gives them one word clues. But there's a catch: some players are "fairies," trying to help them guess correctly, and other players are "boogeymen," trying to cause them guess incorrectly. (There's even a sandman, who simply strives to keep balance). At the end of their two minute turn, the dreamer attempts to recount as many correct guesses as they can. The game is scored, and the next dreamer takes their place. 


Tortuga 1667 (Facade Games) Game Review

It's hard to articulate exactly where we went wrong, but at some point, during the interminable bickering, we all looked up and realized we weren't having fun. And that wasn't the fault of the game. It was our fault. Tortuga 1667 is a game of piracy and greed, in which players are given two equal factions (British and French) and one singular mission: have more gold by the end of the game. Complicating this is the fact that there are two pirate ships and the island of Tortuga which players move between. 


Deadly Premonition (Rising Star Games) Board Game Review

"So this is a board game about a really shitty video game?"

"It's a board game about a video game."

"Yeah, but it was a really shitty one, right?"

"It was an homage to Twin Peaks."

"Seems like 'homage' is the word they use to describe shitty things."

"OK look -- have you played the game?"

"No, but I saw it on YouTube."


The Donner Dinner Party (Chronicle Books) Game Review

I have a secret confession: I'm tired of social deduction / hidden role games. They almost always play out the exact same way: people yell, and whoever yells loudest wins. 

But they're still enjoyable, provided that the mechanics are all there. In order to be engaging, a social deduction game needs to give someone enough material to work with on both ends. One side needs to be able to achieve plausible deniability. The other side needs to be able to figure things out despite that deniability.



A five to ten person party game, Crossfire is a hidden identity deception game with a twist. Crossfire is similar to a combination of "Two Rooms and a Boom" and "Secrets." Players take on roles such as agents, assassins, and bystanders, with competing goals: agents want to kill assassins, assassins want to kill the VIP, and the bystander just doesn't want to get shot.