Tabletop Tuesday: Hidden Identity Games (part 1)

Secret identity games is a genre within the realm of tabletop games that have been around for ages. The main aim of these games is to establish which player is the undercover “baddy” through a series of deductions, verbal confrontations, interrogations or even just plain calculated guesses. And of course, there is one game where, arguably, the worst of baddies is trying to remain undetected… Secret Hitler.

Who’s who… or isn’t?

The game works best with 6 – 10 players. The group is made up of randomly and secretly assigned, liberals (always in the majority), fascist (aware of each other) and Secret Hitler (completely in the dark). At the start of the game, all players close their eyes and put out one hand on the table. Fascists are prompted to open their eyes and establish who their allies are. Next, Hitler is instructed to give a thumbs up, but keep their eyes closed. Thus, the fascists know who’s who and Hitler and the liberals know nothing. So, not only do the fascists (secretly) need to work together, they also need to convince Hitler of their support.

The year is 1932. The place is pre-WWII Germany. In Secret Hitler, players are German politicians attempting to hold a fragile Liberal government together and stem the rising tide of Fascism. Watch out though – there are secret Fascists among you, and one player is Secret Hitler.

Secret Hiter Insructions

Main Goal

The agenda of the fascists is to pass 6 fascist policies or after three passed policies, elect Hitler as chancellor. Liberals race to enact 5 liberal policies, or kill Hitler.

A random player gets to be the first president and after that, the role rotates clockwise. The president chooses someone to be their chancellor and together must pass one policy. First, players get to vote for (Ja!) or against (Nein!) the president-chancellor combo. Too many blue eyes and blonde hair and liberals might not want them in charge of passing a policy. After a successful election, the president draws three policy cards, always kept hidden, and discards one. Thereafter, the cards are passed to the chancellor, who discards one face down and enacts the other.

So, as a fascist chancellor, you can either always vote to pass fascist policies and risk being outed, or play deep undercover. They can even falsely accuse the president to be the real fascist who screwed them over by passing on two fascist cards, therefore giving them no choice but to enact one. And of course, the president can easily claim the opposite and make accusations of his own!

This is war

Tension, suspicion and strategy increase as the fascist government gains power with each newly passed policy. As policies get passed, players can investigate someone else’s party membership, meddle with the elections and execute other players. Even liberals can be tempted to pass a fascist policy to use one of these powers.

If a liberal gains the power to assassinate someone and they correctly kill Hitler, the liberals immediately win the game. However, if they miss their shot and accidentally kill a liberal (scheißen!), the voting majority can swing in favour of the fascists.

Conclusion

The voting sets Secret Hitler apart from other hidden identity games, adding a new level of strategy. If you’re looking for a bluffing game that demands a little more informed observation and a little less random accusation, Secret Hitler is one to watch out for. Of course… you also need to deal with the controversial topic, which is a bit unfortunate given that the concept is so great. But hey, you can always pretend that fascist = Death Eater, liberal = Dumbledore’s Army and Hitler = Voldemort! #harrypotterfan

In fact, if you have no desire to own the pretty decks or want to try it out first, you can download and print the game completely for FREE! Courtesy of the creators at https://www.secrethitler.com/. A printer and a pair of scissors are all you need to attempt to stem the tide of rising fascism.

Games, sports, music, series, reading. I think I have too many hobbies.

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