We shouted at her from across the table, the whole family gathered round to watch what was going on, “Janet, seriously, we need you to give a more obvious answer to a question. We all believe you are the spy, if you aren’t then you need to let us know. Please just answer the question clearly. What do you do on your weekends?”
“Well, you know,” her voice thick with a confident Welsh accent, “I like to do my own thing.”
“Janet, seriously,” we responded, “we need to know otherwise we will vote for you!”
Janet paused again, “well, I do.”
We voted. We were wrong. It turned out Keith was the spy. He found the whole thing hilarious.
Usually, on this blog, I try to post almost every day, but earlier this week I went quiet. The reason for this is because I went to visit my girlfriend’s family in the heart of Wales for a long weekend. Whilst we were there we played a few games, and one of those games was Spyfall which we have played a few times before, but which was especially entertaining playing with my girlfriend’s relatives.
THE PREMISE OF SPYFALL
Spyfall is a social deduction game that is simple to learn and play, but really difficult to master. It is a game for 3-8 players in which all the players are randomly given one of eight cards (the pool of cards to deal out is always the number of players minus one, and then with the spy card added in). These cards have a location and a role in that location printed on each one, with some awesome artwork to assist with the imagination. One person just has a card that says “Spy” on it. They have no more information. It is down to the players to determine who the spy is by asking each other questions that are obvious enough that they can determine the person knows where they are, but vague enough that the spy can’t outright guess. It is down to the spy to work out where they are, whilst not giving away that they are the spy.
The one catch is you cannot directly ask a question of the person who last asked you. So for instance, if I asked Janet a question then she could not ask me one in return.
The game is over when either the spy is outed or the location is guessed by the spy (obviously, by that point they have outed themselves, so the game is over whether they are right or not).
Rounds can take anywhere from three minutes to about thirty (depending on your group) and a gaming session tends to last around three to five rounds. There is a scoring mechanism which can give spies and non-spies points depending on how they performed, but to be honest it is purely optional.
That’s it. It really is that simple.
QUALITY AND COMPONENTS OF SPYFALL
Spyfall is a fairly standard card game in regards to the quality of cards and box; however, it is also made by Cryptozoic. Why does that mean anything? Well I, for one, have a love affair with Cryptozoic’s art. To be honest, their comedic art is just phenomenal, and Spyfall is no exception to that rule (other prime examples include Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards and Food Fight).
Each location in Spyfall has its own unique artwork drawn in a cartoony style. What makes it, however, is that each location has a spy hidden somewhere in the picture. This can easily be missed on first sight, but when obvious it can be really funny.
The box is of high quality, with 30 different environments (240 cards). What is nice is the box also contains 30 baggies to keep each one separate. That way we put them all in bags in the box, so only the spy card and backs of the cards are visible in each baggie, so we can randomly draw them when we need to.
WHAT IS IT LIKE PLAYING SPYFALL?
I bloody love Spyfall. Every time we have played it we have had such a great laugh and with so many people as well. It has become a fantastic gateway game, being so quick and easy to explain, yet alone quick to play. This means we can introduce someone to the game, and have their first game played, all within 20 minutes.
Spyfall, like a lot of social deduction games, relies on being able to ask good questions, and this can sometimes be difficult to come up with on the spot. Where myself, my regular gaming group, and my girlfriend all have our go-to questions – it can be difficult for a newbie to think them up on the spot. We did find though that it is easy to pick up and soon people find their own go-to questions to ask one or two games in.
One of my favourite starting questions is “what’s that smell?” for instance, as it lets me know instantly if they are on the right track. If they are in a restaurant they may say “fresh food”, or if they say “oil” I may guess the gas station (if I am the spy). It breaks down a bit with the space station, however, but no question is flawless.
With the right crowd, Spyfall can be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience. Alexander Ushan has done an incredible job designing a game with a surprising amount of depth. Having a location to talk about is one thing, however, having a job role adds so much more as you can get into it in a kind-of role-playing way.
It does, however, open up to the answer of “in my role, I don’t know” which is a great cover for the spy.
Spyfall is just generally an awesome game. In my opinion, everyone should play it, if not own it, as it is quick, easy, interactive, and stylish. Not being able to ask a question of the person that asked you ensures everyone gets involved, and everyone has a great time.
Spyfall needs 3 people minimum; however, for the best possible game, I would recommend 5-8 players.
VERDICT FOR SPYFALL
Spyfall is a great, wholesome, family game. It is perfect for gaming groups, and highly entertaining. We often glaze over it as a game as, generally speaking, games requiring more people are generally played less (it is easier getting two people together than eight), however, it deserves to be on a lot more “best game” lists. It is a great party game and can be more of an experience than anything else. I love it and I haven’t yet played it with anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the game.
What about you? Have you played the game? What do you think of Spyfall? Let me know in the comments below.