Spyfall - Review of the game

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Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  RikTheChief on Sat 15 Aug 2015, 14:17

When I have a game night, I usually put quite a lot of deliberation into which games we are going to play.  It's sometimes difficult (almost a game in itself!) because I'm not always exactly sure how many people will turn up.  There will be spouses there who don't usually play games (so nothing too complicated) and I always want to include them if I can.  The games have to be meaty enough to satisfy my pro-gamer friends.  What happens if only 6 show up? Or 7 or 8?  King of Tokyo usually goes down well, as does Citadels and 7 wonders.

I recently played Spyfall with this group and it does seem to fit this player range rather well.  I actually played with 7 players (including myself) and it was the usual mix of gamers and non-gamers (however they aren't really non-gamers now!  - occasional gamers?).

Spyfall is a deduction game where everyone around the table gets a secret location card, except one player who is the spy.  They have no idea of the location.  If the spy can guess the location they win the round.  If the other players can identify the spy, the spy loses.

The players ask questions to each other and confirm that they do actually know the location.  However they have to be vague enough that they don't give away the location (the spy cards actually have a picture of the spy with big satellite listening ears giving the spy player a big hint to listen!).  So for example you might ask 'How high is the ceiling here?'.  If you are not a spy and you have a location card of 'Submarine' you might say 'Well, I keep my head down'.  The spy would have no idea about the location but he can start to build a picture by listening to the answers given by other players.

If one of the players is suspicious of another and wants to accuse him of being a spy, then a vote is called.  All the other players (apart from the accused) must agree.  If they agree the accused is a spy, that person is revealed and the round is over.  If only one person does not agree you carry on asking questions.

The spy can stop the game at any point, reveal himself and guess the location.  If he guesses correctly he wins!

There are a total of 30 possible locations which I think is plenty for any group.  Even if you have learned them all there is still quite a bit of deduction required if you are the spy trying to guess the location.  There are also roles on the cards which can be used which spice things up.  There is a scoring system but we didn't play with that, we just played from round to round.

It took us a round to warm up and there were a few game related questions asked, so when we played the second round and we were properly into it.  There are tricks and strategies to learn.  If you're the spy, keep checking your card for 'inspiration'.  Grab the locations chart and stare at it, blatant and out in the open because a spy would never do that.  

This game is very minimal in it's design (each player gets just 1 card).  The lack of boards, tokens and other paraphernalia really allows the players to concentrate on each other and things like body language, inflection and the choice of words used in both the questions and answers.  The game fades into the background and allows the players to use their imagination and inventiveness and this is where the game is.  It's not on the table any more, or on the card, it's between the players eyes and in the tension of the listening group.  It's a game which produces stories and in-jokes.  Katie asked the question 'Do you like donuts?' and the spy totally didn't cotton on that we were in the Police Station.  The time I was a spy and I totally lied with a straight face, blamed someone else and won in 2 minutes.  Someone else was the spy and he used the word 'Role' in his answer, totally by chance, and we were in a movie studio, so we thought he was OK.  

It's a game you can play with (almost) anyone (see Pauls comments below!) and it's fairly quick but at the same time satisfying because there's plenty to talk about once the game has ended.  I planned to play for 3 rounds then move onto something else but they insisted we play again - and then again!  I'm not sure how it would play with fewer players so you will have to use your own judgement for this. However for bigger groups you shouldn't miss it if you can.  I'm already looking forward to hearing your stories of this game!


Last edited by RikTheChief on Sat 15 Aug 2015, 19:10; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  PaulC on Sat 15 Aug 2015, 17:19

Great review Rik!
I've played it a few times, with different people. I've noticed quite a few people seem uncomfortable while playing the game - they don't like having to come up with questions and answers, they're not happy playing a "role". That said, many of those people still enjoyed the game. Personally, I love Spyfall, but there will probably some for whom it feels like a form of torture.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  RikTheChief on Sat 15 Aug 2015, 18:47

Good point, I never thought of that.  When someone asks you a question you're kind of under the spotlight and there's no escaping that.  I can see how some people would be uncomfortable with that. I think I was lucky that my group just jumped right into it and were bursting to ask questions. As with all social games I guess it comes down to the people you play it with.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  Kes on Sat 15 Aug 2015, 21:18

When I played it, I hated it but kept playing for some reason, totally big my kind of game but after a few rounds I actually think it's really good.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  paulyg on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 10:03

I really enjoyed this when I played it. I think what I particularly like, when compared with other hidden role games, is the opportunity for creativity. You can ask pretty much any question and make someone think on their feet so it's not as much about pure logical deduction and bluffing.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  DaveB on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 11:10

I really struggle to come up with questions to answer, but aside from that really enjoy this one
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  Aneurin on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 17:37

My only criticism is the tiny writing on the cards. The picture isn't important and is the most dominant aspect.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  paulyg on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 18:02

DaveB wrote:I really struggle to come up with questions to answer, but aside from that really enjoy this one
I had the same problem sometimes (as did others), but I quite enjoyed the amusement of a round where everyone just kept asking everyone else "What are *you* wearing?"
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  Jamie on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 18:18

DaveB wrote:I really struggle to come up with questions to answer, but aside from that really enjoy this one

Me too; I really struggle to find good questions to ask. I really like the game though, even though (or maybe because) I find it so challenging. It's also quite different to Resistance / Avalon, without any logical deduction aspect to the game. Quite expensive though, I think about £40 on Amazon right now, for what in effect is a bunch of cards.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  DaveB on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 18:27

Jamie wrote:
DaveB wrote:I really struggle to come up with questions to answer, but aside from that really enjoy this one

Me too; I really struggle to find good questions to ask. I really like the game though, even though (or maybe because) I find it so challenging. It's also quite different to Resistance / Avalon, without any logical deduction aspect to the game. Quite expensive though, I think about £40 on Amazon right now, for what in effect is a bunch of cards.

There is a lot of hype out there about the game at the moment and it's damn near impossible to get hold of. As such people are taking the piss with pricing. RRP is about £20
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  PaulC on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 19:54

Jamie wrote:
DaveB wrote:I really struggle to come up with questions to answer, but aside from that really enjoy this one

Me too; I really struggle to find good questions to ask. I really like the game though, even though (or maybe because) I find it so challenging. It's also quite different to Resistance / Avalon, without any logical deduction aspect to the game. Quite expensive though, I think about £40 on Amazon right now, for what in effect is a bunch of cards.
I think I picked it up at the right time - cost me, I think, along £20 plus shipping.
As you say, it's just a bunch of cards, so an easy one to print for yourself.
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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  RikTheChief on Sun 16 Aug 2015, 21:03

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Re: Spyfall - Review of the game

Post  RikTheChief on Fri 28 Aug 2015, 13:39

Managed to play again yesterday with some new players.  We started off OK with a demo round then the next location we drew was Crusader Army which really caused confusion!

Haven't laughed that much in ages!

I was the spy. I asked 'If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?'

More laughter. I was immediately outed and lost.
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