FTW Staff Picks - Mascarade
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Hidden Role / Deduction
Designer: Bruno Faidutti
Player Size: 2-13 Players
Game Length: 20 minutes
For fans of: Coup, Werewolf, Raise Your Goblets
Very few games expand beyond the 6 player count, and even fewer beyond 10 players. Mascarade is a rare breed of game that only gets better the more and more you add. It's a proper exercise in excess. Because an excess of alcohol and an excess of players turns Mascarade into on of the funniest deduction games you can find. Coup is probably the most popular hidden role game today, and Mascarade is like Coup except everyone is flying pretty much blind.
In Mascarade players are randomly assigned 1 of the many roles of the game and given 6 coins. Each role has a distinct ability that they can perform. All role cards are first assigned face-up so players can take mental note of where the roles begin the game. Afterwards, the roles are flipped face down and the game begins. Each turn, a player may perform one of 3 actions: swap (or not) cards secretly with any player of their choice, peek at their own card, or announce their role. The first 4 turns of the game must be spent swapping (or not). If a player chooses to announce their role, each other player then has the opportunity to announce that same role as if it were their own. All players who claim to be that role will flip their role cards over and only the player who is correct gets to perform their action. Each incorrect player pays 1 coin to the tribunal. The first player to accumulate 13 coins is the winner of the game.
Being wrong in Mascarade will happen, over and over again. It's part of the fun. You can try to keep track of things as closely as possible, but its mostly futile considering a timely swap (or lack of one) will ruin any calculations in your head. And yet as random as it might sound, the game balances itself out by having each player's coins public. As soon as someone begins to potentially run away with a victory, players will do their best to disorient them.
For fans of Coup and The Resistance, the Mascarade experience does its best to meld those two games together. It's got a good amount of table talk and a lot of posturing. Daring people to call your bluff is a big part of the game. It's got more diversity in its roles which allows for more unique game setups, at the sacrifice of a bit of balance and predictability. The next time you consider picking up Coup, try out Mascarade for a few rounds. You may surprised by it.