Best Social Deduction Games

It is a truth universally acknowledged that lying to your friends is the most fun a person can have with their clothes on. We’ve been a tricksy little species for the entire time we’ve been wandering this green earth, so it’s no surprise we’ve decided to gamify our deception and give ourselves extra reason to exercise that intrinsic part of our DNA.

Social Deduction games scratch that very particular itch that beguiles us in all forms of entertainment, with the central question being “Who among us is trustworthy and who is rotten to the very core?” It sounds weird when you say it out loud, but getting your friends together to actively and willingly encourage them to lie in your face with remorseless abandon is a delightful way to while away a few hours.

So let’s take a look at some of the cream of the deduction crop.

Blood on the Clocktower

Was it going to be an NRB Social Deduction list if we didn’t include this? It might seem like an obvious choice, but that is in large part because it is also a correct one.

A game with so many moving parts that it keeps even experienced players guessing throughout, it’s the perfect blend of logic puzzle and negotiation, with a bit of high camp thrown in for good measure.

Sitting around in a circle, representing a clockface, you’ll each be given a role with a specific power that can help – or in some cases hinder – your team along the journey to victory. The evil team are trying to go around the village undetected, gathering info that will help them steal a win. The good team are trying to do the detecting, gambling on who they can and can’t trust – which sometimes even includes themselves.

It’s pure elation when you get it right, it’s crushing agony when you miss the mark, but it’s always an adrenaline rush and that’s why we insist on going back for more.

(And incidentally, you can check out a playlist of our games here and see the game in action!)

 

Cheese Thief

Would you believe me if I told you that even Social Deduction games can be made delightfully cosy? It turns out all you need is a few cute little drawings of some mischievous mice!

Some of you are ordinary little mice, just normal mice sleepyheads dreaming of cheese. But one of you is a mouse with an agenda – dreams are not enough. You want to steal the cheese from the centre of the table.

You each roll a dice, the number representing an hour in the morning. With your eyes closed, you’ll “wake up” on your number. Note the cheese – or indeed lack thereof – and see if anyone else has woken up too!

Thus begins a game of discussion, bluffing, and corroboration, all based on trying to find out who thieved the beloved cheese. It’s adorable, honestly.

Secret Hitler

One of the all time classics of the genre, and a firm favourite in NRB land. (You can go into a time capsule to take a look at some babyfaces in one of our playthroughs here: Let’s Play SECRET HITLER | Board Game Club

The group is split into Liberals and Fascists. At the start, as is social deduction tradition, the group closes their eyes and the Fascists reveal themselves to each other. All except one – that is the Secret Hitler. The Fascists know who they are, but they do not know who their fellow Fascists are, leading to an extra level of caginess to proceedings.

As the game begins properly, the group elects a President and a Chancellor each round. The President picks up three cards that will contain any combination of Liberal or Fascist policies. They discard one, hand the other two to their chancellor, who then places the card down. And then recriminations begin with haste. “They gave me two fascist cards!!” “I absolutely did not!!” “Why would I put one down, I am so clearly a liberal?!” And so it goes, until either side completes their policy making.

One of my favourite things about the game is the ability to scale up and down. Adding more players? Grand, you can add more mechanics that create a more complex game. One of the most satisfying times I played, we ended up perfectly balanced going into the final round and for the person who had ended up President, choosing their Chancellor truly came down to the flip of a coin.

It’s got a simple but beautiful design and it’s so easily picked up that it can either end up being a perfect icebreaker or a really good way of weeding out people you absolutely don’t want to be friends with.

Two Rooms and a Boom

I absolutely love this odd little party game. It does require a bit of space, but it’s a great way to get a group of people who might not know each other interacting. So if you’ve got a birthday coming up and a few disparate groups are being united, then crack this one open.

There are two teams: Red and Blue. There are also the eponymous two rooms, and players are distributed equally between each room, each having been handed a card indicating their team and their role. Over the course of five timed rounds, players need to figure out who among them holds which card, swapping players between rooms to try and figure out who is who.

In its simplest form, the Red Team’s Bomber can’t end the final round in the same room as the Blue Team’s President. If they do, Red wins. If it’s avoided, the Blue team takes it. Other roles – a medic, shy guy, even a vampire – can be added to the deck 

On one occasion I played this game, I remember being so excited and committed to the bit that I essentially did a diving cross body to keep one prying set of ears away from a conversation. We ended up dating for a while. I’m not saying that should be considered a usual courtship practice, but I AM saying it worked.

Feed the Kraken

What’s this? Dan finding an opportunity to include a pirates-themed game in one of his articles? No. It simply couldn’t be! Could it?!

Obviously. And with a beautiful board and 3D pieces representing ships and the titular Kraken, this one absolutely tickles me pink.

You’re all sailors in the same ship, but you have different ideas of how you’d like to sail it. Some of you are good-natured folk, the very models of a modern sailor, looking to steer the ship safely to the cove. Others are dastardly pirates, brazenly trying to sail the ship into the mysterious and dangerous Bermuda Triangle, in the hopes of figuring out the secrets held within.

Ah, but there is worse yet to come, in the form of the maniacal cultist, who has somehow come to the conclusion that sailing the ship directly into the clutches of the great and terrible Kraken will save every soul aboard.

Each turn the ship sails in a particular direction. From here, we use the same mechanic seen in Secret Hitler, only instead of placing policies, a Captain chooses a lieutenant and navigator to steer the ship in that direction. Along the way there are a ton of different mechanics that can help your team follow through their agenda. Simple lying to convince an opponent to choose you for their team, or even cards that allow you to mutiny.

Of course we’ve played the game on the channel, and you can take a look at our swashbuckling charlatans here: Let’s Play FEED THE KRAKEN | Board Game Club

If you want to pick up any of these games, check if they’re in stock at Zatu. Buying them there supports No Rolls Barred via our affiliate partnership. Read more here.