Recently, my after-work game group decided to break out the game Deception: Murder in Hong Kong by Grey Fox Games. There were about 12 of us, including some programmers visiting from the Ukraine.
In a nutshell, the game is about a group of cops trying to solve a murder and find a killer. The only problem is that the killer is one of the cops in the group. The game accommodates from four to 12 players for about 20 minutes. Even though we had a few foreign speakers, they jumped right in and had a blast.
To start, every player is given a specific role to play. The killer is secret so no one knows who in the group is the killer. As you might guess, at my game group I was assigned the role of killer. My goal was to deceive the other players into thinking that another player was the killer.
At the beginning of the game I selected two cards, while no one was looking except the forensic scientist, to indicate the "key evidence" and "means of murder." For example, I chose a toy (evidence) that was covered in a liquid drug (means).
My friend Brett was assigned the role of forensic scientist. This role is not secret but the scientist knows who the killer is. But he or she can't speak. There are scene tiles that are placed out on the table and the scientist must use these cards to help other investigator players figure out the means of murder and key evidence.
Another role for players is the accomplice (used in games with six or more). In my game it was a computer programmer at work named Justin. He was trying to help me by falsely accusing others and misdirecting players into choosing the wrong means of murder and key evidence. He did a fantastic job of misdirection. We ended up winning.
Another role is the witness. This role knows that the murderer and accomplice are working together but not which one was the actual killer. The witness tries to help the investigators figure out the evildoers without giving themselves away because if the killer is caught at the end of the game, he or she can still win if he or she can identify the witness player.
The game officially begins as the forensic scientist selects six scene tiles. These tiles might include the murderer's personality, the victim's expression or the location of the crime (case details). Listed on these tiles are six descriptive options. Based on the actual means of murder and key evidence, the scientist places markers by one of the six descriptions to tip off the other players.
For example, if the victim died with a blank expression, maybe the means of murder was poison or being knocked out. That could help the investigators get the right means. The cool thing about this game is that the investigators discuss possible theories and then make a decision together by offering both a key evidence and means of murder. If they get both right, they are correct and win.
At the end of every round an accusation is made by a player with a voting token. If he or she gets the means of murder and evidence correct, the investigators win. Otherwise a new round begins.
A new expansion to the game Deception: Undercover Allies provides owners of the base game with a ton of new content to keep games fresh. First off there are a ton of new means of murder cards, 54 to be exact. There are also 90 new evidence cards and nine scene tiles. This alone will never make two games of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong the same.
New role cards now allow play of up to 14 players. For example, there is the protective detail role that allows a player to know who the witness is. He or she attempts to fool the murderer and accomplice into thinking he or she is the witness. At the end of the game if the protective detail is chosen, the witness is protected and the investigators win.
The new lab technician role can allow a player to discover clues in the middle of the game during the Allies phase. This helps the investigators to win. The new inside man role can remove a voting token from an investigator so they can't vote in the game and make an accusation.
Some of the new scene tiles allow the difficulty of the game to change. If you find the game too hard or are playing against experienced players, the game can be altered. It's also worth noting that all of the new scene tiles integrate very well into the base game. There were no problems adding in the new expansion content. I particularly liked the new means of murder killer robot card. Can anyone say terminator?
The final thing to note is a new event challenge. When the forensic scientist draws a new scene tile to help give players more clues, if a specific new tile is drawn, an additional tile is drawn. If the two match, the forensic scientist switches to the side of the killer and helps mislead the investigators. I'm not sure I like this variant. It almost means an automatic win for the criminals.
There are a boat load of party games with this sort of theme out there. Some games use a killer, werewolf, mafia member or other popular bad guy. However, the thing that makes this game stand out is the quality of the components and unique gameplay.
This game actually feels like being a crime investigator trying to solve a murder case, and the discussions are fun. The Undercover Allies expansion is a must have and adds more variety and fun new roles. It makes the game better. Definitely check out this game at Grey Fox Games' website.