A few days ago I released a review of the game Spyfall, a social deduction game in which the players have to figure out which one of them is the spy by asking vague yet revealing questions about the scenario they are in. All the players are dealt location and role cards, with one player being randomly dealt Spy card instead. Whilst the other players are trying to figure out who the spy is, the spy is trying to figure out where they are.
Spyfall is an easy game to play, but a really difficult game to master, so it is vital to know which questions to ask in order to figure things out as quickly as possible. This got me wondering whether it was possible to create a list of the best questions to ask in Spyfall?
The answer is probably not, so I figured I would write down a few of my favourites instead. It’s important to say that I am far from a master at the game though, and tend to try and call someone out before there is enough information in play, so take these with a pinch of salt. There are quite a few Reddit and BGG feeds about this which are also worth looking at, so I would recommend that you read a few articles about the types of questions you can ask to gain a more holistic picture.
Passive vs Aggressive Questions
To start off with, let’s make a slight distinction. With social deduction games, there are two obvious types of questions. These are passive questions, which are questions aimed at generating information. Then there are aggressive questions which are aimed at hunting certain players down. In this case, it would be looking for the spy.
The “Best” Passive Spyfall Questions
(Or some of my favourites at least.)
So without further ado, here are a few of my favourite questions to ask. Hopefully, none of these gives you away as the spy, so work whichever position you are in.
- Hey, what’s that smell?
Leaving aside the obvious comedic value, asking what a smell is can be a fantastic way of knowing if someone is on the same track as you. If they say fresh food and you’re in the Restaurant then yes, they are probably on the same track. If they say oil and you are at the Gas Station then that is also useful information. If they say nothing then you are on the Space Station. If on the other hand, they say petroleum and you are at the Day Spa then there is a high chance they are the spy.
- Who’s That?
Going along the roleplaying lines, “who’s that?” gives an idea of where that person thinks they are and also what their role is. Mrs Smith is formal, Dave the Janitor is far more casual.
- What Time Does Your Job End?
So there is an interesting story behind this wording. Recently I was asked that question when the situation was at the school and I was the principal. When asked “what time does your job end?” I responded, “I think the question is, does it ever end?”. For most people that would have been vague enough to be infuriating. Unfortunately, the spy was a real life teacher and he instantly knew what the scenario was because of that. Leaving aside flukes of the situation, assuming you aren’t playing against teachers, it can be a fantastic question for working out if you are a place with shifts (Police Station, Hospital) or if you are a late opening place (Casino, Restaurant) or a day location.
- What Are Your Ambitions Here?
A big question for life, yet alone Spyfall. What do you want to do? It’s a fantastic question to break the ice in any game and a good question to come back to. The resulting answer can be completely useless if you just ask “what are your ambitions?” which is why there has to be a “here” on the end to steer the questions straight.
- How Would You Describe The People Around You?
This is a great question early on in the game when everyone has just received their cards, as it opens the game up to roleplaying, encouraging players to use their roles as well as their location. Who are the people? Well, I’m a waiter, so I see them as pains. I’m the teacher so I see them as bright minds. I’m on the space station so I have cabin fever and see them all as a bit strange.
- What’s Your Favourite Type of Table?
“Say what?” Yes, asking what their favourite table is a bit of a random one, but one which has helped a few times whilst playing. It especially helps if you are in the Casino or Restaurant, but also works when answers like “Tool Bench” are given for some of the other locations.
- What Tool Do You Use Most In Your Job?
If asked to the wrong person this can fall flat; however, asking this can give away a lot without confirming anything at all. What do I mean? Well, again at the School, I asked the person who was the janitor. They said mop, which meant I knew they were probably the school janitor, whilst not really giving any information away at all to the spy.
Asking Specific Questions
Those are all informative questions, which means they do not actively try and hunt the Spy out. There is another style of question asking that can be difficult to pull off, but they work really well at figuring out who the spy is.
One great example of this, and I actually saw on Reddit, is when the location is the Space Station asking “Do you want to take a walk outside?” or “What is the weather like outside?”
One of the ones I got caught on was, with the Crusade, being asked: “What was the last thing you ate?”. For the record, “Pizza” was not a good answer…
What About Bad Questions?
Closed questions are always rubbish questions to ask in general interviews (there you go, a game teaching interview skills – who would have thought it?) so avoiding yes/no questions is a good idea. So are, we found out the hard way, questions that are too open. Questions like “what do you do on the weekend?” give too much space for wriggling around the question.
“What do you do on the weekend?” “I relax, what do you do?”
Instead, there is a sweet spot of questions to ask that offers just enough space to be creative without giving the recipient too much space to get out of the question.
Questions aside, I love Spyfall as a game and we have had a fantastic time playing the game. If you’ve read this and you haven’t played the game I would recommend that you play it. With the right group of people, it can be an incredibly entertaining game.
So what about you? What are your favourite questions to ask? What stories do you have about questions going right or wrong? Let me know in the comments below.