Lie to people and get away with it. Bluffing games are a fantastic genre all about deceit. If you’re looking for new games to test out your poker face, here are the top five.
5. Android: Netrunner
In this two-player asymmetric card game, the evil Corporation is hiding its nefarious plans in remote servers faces off against the Runner, who is trying to expose those same agendas. There’s a lot going on in Android: Netrunner, but there’s an undeniable and exciting element of bluffing throughout, especially for the Jinteki Corporation.
The Corp can put face-down cards in remote servers. It might be an Agenda. But it could also be an Asset that gives the Corp special abilities. Or perhaps even a Trap. If the Runner accesses a trap, it will do damage to the Runner.
So a Runner might see a lightly defended server with a face down card. Is that the Corp inviting the Runner into a trap? Or is it a bluff and that lightly defended server actually holds an Agenda? And the same is true for heavily defended servers. Sometimes, all that awaits for the Runner is a wad of brain damage.
4. Sneaks and Snitches
A light title for three to five players, Sneaks and Snitches is all about double-thinking. Players are professional thieves and there are a number of different assets to steal. Each player secretly chooses which they will try to nab. Then, everyone provides an anonymous tip to the cops that another will be stolen.
If you are the only one to try for a particular item, you get it. But if two people try for the same one, they get in each other’s way and get a more modest haul. Finally, if the police were called to your location, then you are forced to flee and get nothing.
Maybe the five rubies card is the obvious best loot on the board. Do you grab it? If you do, someone is bound to call the cops to stop you. So you go elsewhere. But if everyone thinks that way, then no one actually calls the cops to that location. So you can grab it. Unless, everyone thinks that, too.
3. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
In One Night, the players are villagers or Werewolves. Unlike regular Werewolf, there is only one day round and then one person is killed. If that person was a werewolf, the villagers win. Otherwise, the werewolves win.
This is a fantastic bluffing game because everyone has some reason to lie about who they are. The werewolves lie, of course, because there are fewer of them and it’s best to avoid being a target. But even the villagers want to lie. During the “night,” your role may have been switched without you knowing. So part of the game is figuring out if you’re still on the same team.
Even though the main “Day” phase lasts only about five minutes or so, it is jam packed with lies, bluffing, and keen eyes trying to discern the truth.
2. Cash n’ Guns
Now revised in an improved second edition, Cash n’ Guns tells the story of a gang of criminals who, having successfully pulled a heist, now seek to divide the loot. But there is no honor among thieves.
Players are given eight ammo cards, three of which have bullets, with the remaining five as blanks. Each round, loot is placed on the table and the players must load one of their ammo cards. On the count of three, everyone points a foam gun at another player. If you have a gun pointing at you, you can choose to bow out. Otherwise, you stay in and call their bluff. Then everyone fires. If the ammo was blank, the target is fine. If it was one of the bullets, the target takes a damage and won’t get loot that round. Any remaining players divide up the loot.
The bluffing is high stakes. You know that everyone only has three bullets to use over eight rounds. So most of the time, it will be a bluff. But getting shot really hurts. Not only do you lose loot for the round, but if you take three wounds you are out of the game entirely. Every round is a bluffing standoff and great fun. And pointing foam guns at each other is inherently silly and enjoyable.
For three to six players, Coup is the ultimate bluffing game. There are five roles in the game. The deck has three copies of each role and two are dealt to every player, face down.
On a player’s turn, they can take any action, but some actions are only safe if you have a role which allows it. If you take an action without the appropriate role, anyone can call accuse you of not having the necessary card. If they were right, you have to lose one of your two cards. If they were wrong, they lose one of theirs. And, if a player gets to seven coins, they automatically make someone lose a card. The last player standing wins.
For other games on this list, bluffing is an important part of the game, but only a part. For Coup, though, it’s all about the bold-faced lie. If someone decides to tax because they claim to have a Duke, is it worth challenging? What if someone assassinates you? Call them out, and you may avoid the attack. If you’re wrong, you might lose everything. Coup comes in a small box, has great artwork, and plays in only 20-30 minutes. It is everything a bluffing game should be.
Did I overlook anything? Tell us about your favorite bluffing games in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Czech Games Edition
Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games, Czech Games Edition, Bezier Games, Repos Productions, La Mame Games