Social deduction games are often reserved for a party environment and involve players secretly trying to identify who is who and use this knowledge against them.
There are so many different games in this category that it would be surprising if you have not heard of, or even played one at some point and the most typical culprits are games like Werewolf and Mafia.
These games define one or more players as “evil” and they must try to remain hidden and, over time, force the “good” ones to kill each other, lose missions, make incorrect guesses, etc.
Underlying Mechanics of the Best Social Deduction Board Games:
The mechanics used are fairly universal across the genre and while there are some outliers that are more nuanced than the below generalizations, it is best that we start with the basics:
1. Hidden Role:
A hidden role mechanic gives secretly assigns each player to a specific faction of the game and the rules provide that faction with a specific win-state. This might mean that your objective is to survive until the end of the game, to have the most coins when the game ends, to kill-off all players of another faction, etc.
This mechanic requires that players keep this information completely secret and it is typically only shared at the end of the game or when you are eliminated. Some games that have multiple people on the same faction may have these players reveal themselves to, and only to, their teammates.
Examples of Games with a Strong Hidden Role Mechanic:
The bluffing mechanic is used in many genres of card and board games, but it is a staple of social deduction games. These games are all about concealing your identity and in order to do that, you often need to say and do things to convince your opponents that you are not actually “evil”.
Basically, if you want to fool your friends into thinking your good, lie straight to their faces and watch them squirm with distrust, discomfort, and doubt.
Examples of Games with a Strong Bluffing Mechanic:
You can’t spell “Social Deduction” without “deduc…” Well, you get the point. Deduction refers to the process of using your logical reason to eliminate possibilities and to eventually find the answer you are looking for, or at least gather enough information to make a well-educated guess.
In social deduction games, you are doing just that. You look at the actions the other players at the table have taken and you analyze the what, how, and why of their actions, and after you have enough data you can (hopefully) deduce who they are.
Examples of Games with a Strong Deduction Mechanic:
More of the Best Social Deduction Games:
Here are some of the best social deduction games that haven’t been mentioned yet, just in case you’re looking for a few more recommendations.
As always, if we missed your favorite make sure to let us know in the comments!