- Posted on
- By Bubba Sadowsky
Our first game review on our website! Bubba reviews his experience playing the hidden identity deduction game Spyfall!
Hey there everyone! Bubba here!
Welcome to our first in hopefully a long line of game reviews on our shiny new website!
So as many of you know, we were on vacation earlier this month and I made it a point to play a game I had never played before. I've bought so, so many games during the pandemic and played approximately two of them. Which made me sad. So I decided that during my vacation I was going to play a game I'd never played before, which I thought was going to be Wingspan. Unfortunately the opportunity never really arose. However, I'd been invited to hang out with some friends at Laurel Lake and one of them had happened to bring some games. We looked at the pile and chose Spyfall!
To play Spyfall you need a group of 3-8 players who are ready to bluff! The game come with a bunch of 8-card decks that each reflect a different location like a theater, a hospital, an auto-body shop, et cetera. Seven of the cards show the location while one of them is a spy card! Players take a look at their location/spy card and then they have 8 minutes to ask each other questions. If you aren't the spy, you spend your questions trying to figure out who the spy is while not giving away specifically what location you're at. If you ARE the spy, you're trying to figure out where everyone is. You can't ask any follow-up questions and you can't ask the person who just asked you a question.
During those 8 minutes, if the Spy thinks they know where everyone is, they can reveal themselves. Play stops and they make their guess. If they're correct, they win. If they're incorrect, they lose. At the end of the 8 minutes each player, sequentially, can accuse a person of being the spy. If everyone but the accused agrees, the accused's card is revealed. If the revealed card is a spy, everyone but the spy wins! If the revealed card is not a spy, the spy wins! Any player can also halt the timer and accuse someone of being the spy. If everyone unanimously agrees that person is the spy, that card is revealed and the same end game rules apply.
There's an advanced rule where each non-spy card has a role attached as well. For example, if your location is an Airplane, roles would include Pilot, Co-Pilot, Coach Passenger, etc. You would need to answer questions not only about the location, but from the perspective of the role you're assigned. We didn't play with that because we weren't familiar with the game yet.
It was really cool playing this in a little pavilion by Laurel Lake. It was my wife, my friend July, their friend Jameson, and I. Unfortunately for the rest of us, July had played before and is quite good at bluffing games. This game is more difficult than you think. Trying to ask a question to confirm with someone where you are while not giving away too much is incredibly difficult and answering can be just as hard. You need to be vague, but still specific enough to let others know that you know, you know? On our first playthrough our location was the theater. Bj, Jameson, and I had trouble communicating exactly where we were because they both thought "movie theater" and I thought "stage." Unfortunately July was able to balance vagueness and confidence incredibly well, while I balanced vagueness with, um, awkwardness. Jameson and BJ thought I was the spy and we lost. C'est la vie.
After a few rounds BJ dropped out and we played on with 3. I quickly noticed that I would never be able to ask Jameson a question because there were only 3 of us and that results in a fixed question asking order. Overall we had a great time and I was quite happy to learn a new game.
Pros: I really loved this game. Party games tend to hit really well with me and this one is SUPER creative. I loved the idea, I loved the gameplay, and I think 8 minutes is just the right amount of time for deduction. With such a short game time, you can play multiple rounds too. It seems like a great ice-breaker. It's also small on shelf space and, if you chose to box it differently, would fit in a VERY small box making it really good for travel. I can see playing it again and again and not getting tired of it quickly. I also think that the suggested age of 13+ is a little high and you could get away with a clever 10 or 11 year old.
Cons: This is, at heart, a bluffing and deduction game. Those just aren't for everyone. Some people don't enjoy the genre and that's okay. It's also a game that benefits from more players. Three players was far less enjoyable and I feel that you should only play with that few players if everyone is VERY familiar with the game and it's locations.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and would be be happy to play it at almost any party. It makes me really happy that I stress-bought a copy during the pandemic. (I can NOT stress how many games I picked up. My shame pile is honestly staggering). If you're into party games and especially bluffing/deduction games this one is a must have!
Catch you on the flip, Zip!
Echoing Charlie's comment above - photocopying the location list for all players does wonders.
What I love about this hidden role game is it flips the common model on its head - in most mafia/werewolf games the hidden person has more information than everyone else, but in Spyfall, the spy has less info.
Love that you're doing reviews, and that they're not just for brand new games!
The biggest issue I've seen is that beginners don't know the locations well, so if you see them looking at the location chart, you might guess they are the spy. Plus there is only one chart for them to look at.
An easy fix if for the owner of the game to go into Word and type up all the locations on a single small card. Print out a bunch of these and give each person one so they have it in front of them.