When you starting playing board games regularly, you’ll eventually develop the skills needed to succeed. Strategy, planning, cooperation are all things you’ll need to hone when you start your board game hobby. Bluffing and deceit are also key skills in certain games. Cooperative games are becoming quite popular, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up your poker face. Bluffing games will still remain as top favorites.
While I have never been good at bluffing on game night, Cam excels at it. Should I be worried?
Here are our top ten bluffing games. You should give them a try, especially with that gullible group of friends you have.
1.) One Night Ultimate Werewolf – Most people have probably played the traditional Mafia or Werewolf with a standard deck of cards. It’s a deduction party game in which players must try to figure out who the bad guys are before you’re eliminated. It kinda sucks to be eliminated at the beginning of the game. One Night removes the elimination element so that all players can enjoy the game until the end.
2.) Coup – A fairly simple card game in which players take on the roles of the cards in their hands, or the cards they want the other players to think they have in their hands. Each role is able to perform a different task, whether that’s stealing from another player or assassinating a role from another player. Once a player is either killed, couped, or caught in a lie, they give up one of their roles and flip the card. The last person with a card (called influence in the game) wins. Rounds can be quick but intense. Expansions are also available. This is probably Cam’s favorite game.
3.) Mascarade – Each player starts with a character card and six coins. the goal is to be the first player with 13 coins. Like in Coup, you’re best action is to lie about which character role you have and use that action. It may seem easy to acquire 13 coins when you are
4.) Avalon – This is game in which players take on secret roles, but some players know the identity of others. There are two traitors, and they know of each other. Merlin knows all, but mustn’t make himself known; once the traitors know and identify him the game is over. The game centers around sending players on missions, then voting on whether the mission will be successful. Too many unsuccessful missions gives the traitors the win. Players must use deduction to determine who is a traitor. This is also a favorite at game night.
5.) Saboteur – This is a mining-themed game in which players are dwarves hunting for gold. Players have, yep, you guess it–secret roles of either a miner or saboteur. The secret roles can be easily found out, but the game only lasts 3 rounds. The rounds consists of playing path cards, and the saboteurs will play path cards that hinder progress to finding the treasure. At the end of the rounds, the game ends either with the treasure found or players run out of action cards.
6.) Bang – As someone who is not a fan of bluffing games, this is probably my favorite. All player roles are secret, except the sheriff, who is a target. His deputy must try to help him, without being targeted by the outlaws and renegade. One of my first tries at this game, I managed, as the deputy, to let Cam, the sheriff, shoot and kill me. So, I’m really bad at deception or giving subtle hints. This game feels sillier than the others, with funny artwork and playing cards with English and Italian directions on them to give it that spaghetti western feel. It comes as a card or dice game.
7.) One Night Revolution – We recently played this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Well, Cam played with his friends, and I got the glorious role of observing and watching his friends all lie to each other. Each player has an ID that identifies them as either government or rebel, and a specialist role. With no one else looking, each player completes their specialist role in clockwise order, one at a time. After each player uses their specialist ability (for either good or bad), the real game begins. Players try to figure out who the rebels are, while the rebels try to deflect suspicion onto other players.
8.) Sheriff of Nottingham – Thematically, after Bang, this is a favorite. Players take turns acting as the Sheriff while other players take on roles of merchants trying to bring their goods into the city. Players declare their goods and have hidden goods in their sacks. The Sheriff determines who gets in, who gets searched, and what is confiscated. While playing the Sheriff sounds like a lot of fun, deceiving him as a merchant is even better.
9.) Love Letter – This is a different kind of bluffing game in which the instructions do ask that you be truthful when asked a direct question by another player. Each player plays an action, revealing one of the two cards they have. Each card is a character with different special abilities. Thematically, a love letter is trying to reach the princess. At the end of the game, who ever has the character card closest to the princess (or the princess herself) wins the round.
10.) The Resistance – Initially started out as a game used with a standard 52-card deck, it’s another excellent party game of deduction and deceit. Unlike Mafia or Werewolf, there is no player elimination during the game play. Players are either resistance operatives or spies. Rounds begin with discussion and missions are carried out, with the trust that they will succeed. The spies must hinder their progress. Avalon is actually a variant of this game. We tend to prefer the theme of the round table, but this is an excellent version as well if you’re into near-future dystopia.
As you can see, many of the games have the same mechanics and appear to be simply the same game skinned in a different theme. Many were inspired by the traditional Mafia or Werewolf. While true, there are subtle differences. We’ve also found that the theme carries weight when acting out your actual or perceived roles. When we’re playing Avalon, we feel knightly. When playing Bang, I feel like an outlaw.
There’s a lot of other games you can play that have an optional hidden traitor element as well, if you prefer cooperative games. Dead of Winter and Shadows Over Camelot are fun with or without the hidden betrayer. Even though they are cooperative games, when played with the betrayer, there is an element of mistrust. But it’s only a smaller portion of the game, if you’re not into full-on bluffing games.
These are also great games to play over the holidays with relatives. What’s more fun than lying to your cousins over a friendly game of Coup?