So when we set up our board game retail business we wanted to focus on games that have particular attributes and dynamics – such as strategy, co-operation, deduction, knowledge, dexterity, mental agility and skill. And we’re particularly interested in games that have a wider appeal, rather than niche battle or card-collecting games. We started off with all the popular Euro-style games such as Catan, Ticket to Ride, Agricola and so on, and have also connected with the newer games such as Sheriff of Nottingham, Code Names and other more recent releases. But there are so many games out there, that we are still catching up with games that have already been out a while, and two of these “new to us” games are in stock today.
Spyfall is a game of bluffing, probing questions, clever answers, and suspicion. At the start of each round, players receive a secret card informing them of the group’s location – a casino, space station, pirate ship, circus, (30 unique locations!) – except that one player receives the SPY card instead of the location. The Spy doesn’t know where they are, but wins the round if they can figure it out before they blow their cover!
Players then start asking each other questions during the intense 8-minute rounds. Non-Spy players want to ask questions and give answers that prove to the other players that they know where they are. But if your questions and answers are too specific, the Spy will easily guess the location and win, so you need to practice a bit of subtlety. But if your questions and answers are too generic, you might be accused of being the Spy. So there is a bit of a similarity here with being the Storyteller in Dixit. The Spy will also sometimes be asked questions (just like any other player would) and have to come up with questions of his own, without knowing anything about where he is! If you listened carefully to the other players, you’ll be able to come up with a plausible question or answer… hopefully.
Once per round, each player may accuse another player of being the Spy. If all players agree, the game ends and that player’s secret card is flipped up. If the Spy is captured, each of the Non-Spy players win the round. If a Non-Spy is revealed, the Spy wins. Finally, if the Spy figures out where they are, they can reveal their card and make a guess. If they’re right, they win the round. If not, the Non-Spy players win.
The game is played over a series of rounds and points are awarded each round. A complete game is typically five rounds and the cards are randomly dealt each round. You could even be the Spy two rounds in a row! After the last round, the player with the most points is the winner.
On a completely different theme, Elder Sign is a fast-paced, cooperative dice game of supernatural intrigue for one to eight players by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson, the designers of Arkham Horror. Players take the roles of investigators racing against time to stave off the imminent return of the Ancient One. Some similarities here with Mysterium or Betrayal at House on the Hill then. Armed with tools, allies, and occult knowledge, investigators must put their sanity and stamina to the test as they adventure to locate Elder Signs, the eldritch symbols used to seal away the Ancient Ones and win the game.
To locate Elder Signs, investigators must successfully endure Adventures within the museum and its environs. A countdown mechanism makes an Ancient One appear if the investigators are not quick enough. The investigators must then battle the Ancient One. A clever and thematic dice mechanism pits their exploration against monsters and the sheer difficulty of staying sane and healthy, all within the standard game duration of one to two hours.