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Loyalty and Treachery in Games

A a look at Social Deduction games, with a link to the upcoming Blood Bound by Fantasy Flight

Hello everyone and welcome.  Just a short post today, as something on the Fantasy Flight Website caught my eye.  As it if often does.  I should probably stop visiting as it, more than many things will be responsible for my eventual poverty.  However, in the meantime, you get to benefit from my Devil May Care attitude.  I saw an article for a game called Blood Bound, which I will share an excerpt from here.  Full article on the Fantasy Flight Website, follow the link.  Fantasy Flight also the source of images used.

The conflict was inevitable, really. Ever since the insidious Gargoyle clan began conscripting more heavily, the cunning Phoenix clan had to keep pace. As a result, both clans swelled in number and territory too quickly, causing mistrust, infighting, and betrayal. The ensuing war destroyed countless immortals, and each clan’s losses were so great that the clan leaders were forced into hiding.

Only a few lucky souls managed to escape the carnage. Now, both clan leaders seek to gather the remnants of their sects. But who is a friend, and who a foe? As the conflict continues, the Secret Order works to maintain balance. If they must, they will send in an Inquisitor to prevent either clan from having an unfair advantage, keeping the numbers of each clan even. Still, their role does not prevent them from sowing a little extra chaos for their own enjoyment. As you search to find your hidden clan members and single out your enemies, Fantasy Flight Games is pleased to offer you a closer look at the Inquisitors of Blood Bound!

Lies and Alibies

Blood Bound is social game of lies and deduction that pits six to twelve players against one another as they struggle to identify their allies and outwit their enemies. Players search for the enemy clan’s leader in the hopes of capturing them and ending the war that has nearly destroyed the two vampire clans. However, they must make their attacks carefully. If a vampire cannot tell their friends from their foes until it is too late, they can bring about the end of their own clan.

via Seeking Truth, Sowing Chaos – Fantasy Flight Games

Regular readers know I am a fan of coop games, however there is definitely a place for competitive games.  And, whilst I have never been especially good at them, a game of Social deduction – like Blood Bound – can be a lot of fun.  Though, admittedly I think they become overly convoluted and overpriced very quickly adding mechanics that are just a little bit silly in my opinion.  I’m not a fan of the werewolf game with the app and all the extra mechanics.  I like it as a pen and paper game where there are villagers, werewolves and maybe a constable.  Don’t get me wrong, the extra stuff I am sure can be fun but for me, games like this are not about the contents of the box or the narrative behind it.  It is about matching wits with your opponents.  It is entirely down to your ability to choose the right actions, and convince the table that they are not malicious.  This is fun!

I recall a game of Resistance a while back.  For those of you that don’t know, Resistance is set in the future where corporations run everything.  Players take the roles of corporate security or resistance fighters.  These roles are given secretly, and only the resistance members know who their allies are.  The game proceeds over a number of turns, with various missions where a team leader (player 1 of that turn) chooses team members to go on mission.  Team Members each get 2 cards.  Pass and Fail.  For a mission to fail, it needs 1 (and sometimes 2 if I recall) fail cards.  Corporate team leaders try to determine, based on previous missions and what has been said round the table, who is loyal and who is a resistance fighter in order to take the right team.  IE one with no resistance.

The Game mechanic is ludicrously simple.  It isn’t even that much fun on its own.  The deduction is.  In one game where I was resistance with my friend Steven we were four turns in of 5.  I had successfully failed two missions, but it blew my cover.  The corporate types were onto me and I knew there was absolutely no way I was getting on the final mission.  However, the game was not lost.  I knew full well that for a resistance victory, Steven – who was being quiet at this point – had to be picked.  So, I decided to act shifty by arguing with the others, trying to logically prove the un-provable – that I was on their side!  It was a ruse, naturally.  I needed them to focus on me, as Steven’s quietness had so far gone unnoticed by the players.  I cast doubt into their minds, and had them challenging each other, accusing each other and completely forgetting about my companion.  Steven was selected for the mission.  Each player gets to say, prior to mission start, if they approve the mission team.  If a majority say yes then the team is approved.  If a majority says no, then the team is disbanded and a new team leader chosen.  Steven, rightly, approved the team with him on it.  Knowing that the team was loaded with corporate types I knew they would approve it.  So I disapproved, and argued that I couldn’t be sure of everyone on the team.  They took it as a sign that my traitorous companion was not on the team and went ahead smiling gleefully.  Until the mission failure card was revealed.

That was probably my most fun time in a traitor based/deduction game, and it was nothing to do with the game itself.  I am of the opinion that the games of Deduction are window dressing only.  If you like the genre of the window dressing you will receive it more favourably.  I like the Vampire Genre.  So, I’d probably like Blood Bound.  Though with a minimum of 6 players it is a hard sell for even a Fantasy Flight Addict like me…

So, have you played any games like this?  Did you like them?

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