When you’re faced with a wall of board games, as we often were in Vancouver’s Storm Crow Alehouse, a game needs to be really able to jump out and grab your attention. When you see Secret Hitler sitting there, looking all innocent, it’s a game you know you have to play just for the name itself. The fact that it’s tremendous fun is an added bonus.
Similar to hidden identity games like The Resistance, Mafia or Werewolf, Secret Hitler has an easy-to-grasp set-up. Players are either Liberals or secret Fascists (definitely not those other guys), as determined by randomly assigned identity cards, and must keep their true allegiance secret from other players while trying to enact the Liberal or Fascist policies that push either faction towards victory. One lucky player even gets to play as the titular man himself, adding a new level of victory conditions.
Secret Hitler is an ideal party game, especially when alcohol is involved, since it gets absolutely everyone involved. The round structure sees players take it in turn to be the Presidential Candidate and propose their own Chancellor. The rest of the players vote on the proposed pairing and, if successful, the newly elected President takes three Policy tiles in silence, hidden to the other players, and hands two of choice to the Chancellor, who is then able to enact one of the two, either Liberal or Fascist.
There are a bunch of other rules and differing combinations of win conditions that keep things even more interesting, but the base rules are so simple that no one at the table should find it hard to follow. The constantly rotating combinations of President and Chancellor makes it damn difficult to make any kind of concrete call on who the Fascists at the table are. Even a Player enacting a Fascist Policy means little, as the three random Policy tiles picked up by the President could all have been Fascist. It’s incredibly hard to take any action as evidence of anything, which is excellent for this kind of game.
There’s an enormous re-playability factor, especially since the games never run particularly long and the different combinations of players make each game feel sufficiently different. Since every player gets a chance at being President and the assignment of party alignments is totally random, no player should feel left out. It’s also the kind of game that could be enjoyed by a group of close friends or serve as an effective icebreaker, forcing the players to communicate and accuse each other in equal measure.
The fact that you are accusing people of being Hitler (best not to do too loudly if you’re playing in a public place), makes this game even more hilarious than usual hidden agenda game and breaks down social barriers even faster.
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