Designer: Tommy Maranges Mike Boxleiter, and Max Temkin
Publisher: Cabbage & Goat Wolf
Year Published: 2016
Number of Players: 5-10
Play Time: 45 min
The year is 1932. The location is pre-WWII Germany. Players are German politicians trying to hold a fragile Liberal government and stem the rising tide of Fascism. Watch out there are key Fascists among you, and one player is Secret Hitler. (Taken from instructions)
Rules and Setup:
Setup is accomplished by giving each participant a small envelope Party Membership, Secret Role, and Yes and No cards for voting. A Fascist and Liberal board are put in the center of the table, and the election tracker is placed on the board that was Liberal. The draw and discard pile cards are placed in their respective places (naturally) and all policy cards are shuffled and placed on the draw pile card.
Play begins with all players with their head down and fists out in front of them. Heads Up Seven Up mode (A free app is available to walk players through this part automatically). All Fascists open their eyes to find out who their teammates are, while Secret Hitler keeps their eyes closed but sticks on up their thumb to allow the Fascists know who they are. Hitler doesn’t know who the other Fascists are, unless playing with five to six players. Liberals have to suck it up never know who anyone is.
The first round begins by gamers electing a president. This player then chooses another player. All players vote to accept or oppose the president’s choice. The election tracker is moved if the election fails and the player to the left of the current president is now president. If the election succeeds the president brings on the three coverage cards and discards one. Both are given to the chancellor, who also discards one, and enacts the other. That is where it gets fun. There are more Fascist policy cards than there are Liberal Policy Cards. So if the president is a Liberal, they might draw three Fascist cards, forcing to enact a Fascist policy. Only the President and Chancellor understand what happened, and it is up to all the other players to determine what happened. This continues until either Fascist policies, or six Liberal are enacted, Hitler is killed, or Hitler is elected chancellor following three Fascist policies have been enacted.
Themes and Mechanics:
Secret Hitler has a somewhat historical theme. The game occurs in WWII era Germany with a few of those secret roles being Hitler. Players are also divided into political parties to try and overpower the other side.
My favorite mechanic of the game is the lack of knowledge or hope that “the good guys” have about the other players. Nothing is funnier than seeing somebody that you’ve always reliable stab you in the back or having everyone gain up on one person and have that person turn out to be on the team. You come to understand also, and how little you know about some of your friends just how much you understand about others.
Components and Artwork:
Compared to other games like this, there aren’t many more bits that you need to worry about understanding what they do and keeping track of. Each piece makes the game what it is, whether for kicks and giggles or an essential component. With it, the game feels more powerful since it is a solid wood block. The pieces are very well made, durable, and look amazing. It’s possible to download and print a PDF version of the game, and I have played this version, and it does reduce the experience. It is worth buying the game for the way it understandably and looks how it feels to play with actual game pieces instead of laminated paper.
It’s a relatively easy game, and it is very likely to have players that are younger and still have it be enjoyable, even though the age rating is 13 +. I enjoy pitting everyone against each other and seeing friendships get destroyed. The art is phenomenal as well as durable as stated before.
Like any game that involves lying, it is obviously harder for the liars to win, at least for me it is. So pray you are not a Fascist unless you are a liar that is good.
This is a game that you could pull out for any occasion. You can play it together with your roommates, or just a group of people, as a family that you don’t know. Whether you want something new to add to your collection, need something to argue about, or just will need a break from long board games, Secret Hitler is one that I will play for years to come.
Players Who Enjoy:
Anyone who enjoys the lying mechanisms of over Camelot Bang or Shadows will enjoy this as much if not more. If this is not the game for you, be sure to check out how you can make your own board game.
I’m giving Secret Hitler 9 out of 10, for more boardgame reviews be sure to check out Pelissier Cie.