Tabletop Tuesday: ‘Secret Hitler’
Hey, our second feature about Nazis in one day. It’s a theme. But seriously, how does a game title like ‘Secret Hitler’ not grab your attention? This title comes to us from one of the co-creators of the legendary success ‘Cards Against Humanity’, but doesn’t come close to level of controversy and taboo that best selling title had. It’s very much its own beast, and one of our most anticipated games for 2016. Now it’s arrived, it’s time to bust it out and see if it meets expectation.
The first thing we noticed upon opening the packaging was holy hell this is the most pretty game we’ve ever owned. That wooden box for the Kickstarter backers is just gorgeous, incredibly well made and certainly eye-catching. The entire set looks awesome, with thick cards and solid wooden components. An excellent start.
Like many party games it involves hidden roles. Everyone gets a card to identify their role, and this is kept secret. In a ten player game you’ve got 6 Liberal characters, 3 Fascists (the best being the snake in a military uniform) and 1 Hitler. The fascists find out who else is on their team at the beginning, as well as who Hitler is, while everyone else is left in the dark. Each round begins with a player being nominated as President, then the President nominates a Chancellor. Then the table all votes ‘Nein’ or ‘Ja!’ for this nomination. If they get elected into office they collect three random policy cards, which can be Liberal or Fascist. The President discards one, then passes them to the Chancellor to discard one more with the remaining being enacted. If 5 Liberal policies or 6 Fascist policies get enacted the corresponding team is the winner.
But it’s more complicated…Liberals have more players but the Fascists have more inside knowledge. The Liberals need less policies to win, but there’s almost twice as many Fascist policies in the deck. When the elections are taking place the players have to power to block potential Fascists from being elected, but three failed elections and a random policy gets enacted. Whenever a Fascist policy is enacted it activates a Presidential power such as looking at a players alliance or assassinating one person out of the game. Successfully killing Hitler wins the game for the Liberals, while Hitler being voted to Chancellor during the second half of the game wins for the Fascists.
Right…right…this is sounded more complicated than it is. Like ‘Resistance’ it has quite a number of steps in a round, but it’s very tightly designed, making it both easy to learn and very fast moving. We played today with two different groups and it took a remarkably short amount of time to teach everyone the game and have them all involved and competing. On the outset it’s very simple to play with a minimal number of components (which, as we said, are insanely well made). While ‘Cards Against Humanity’ is a blunt object, ‘Secret Hitler’ is a finely crafted and efficient engine.
Although it was sold as the most intense party game on the market, it doesn’t reach the level of paranoia and distrust as ‘Resistance’, but it makes up for it by keeping a large group of players involved at all times. Even if you’re not being nominated for the political roles the game moves so quickly it doesn’t take long for the action to reach you.
If you’re looking for something to keep a large table of players busy this is well worth the time. Everyone can get behind the idea of stopping Hitler from coming to power, and it’s so easy to teach it to new players you won’t put people off joining in. We were very much looking forward to this set and it has absolutely met expectations.