Secret Hitler is a dramatic game of political intrigue and betrayal set in 1930s Germany. Each player is randomly and secretly assigned to be a liberal or a fascist, and one player is Secret Hitler. The fascists coordinate to sow distrust and install their cold-blooded leader; the liberals must find and stop the Secret Hitler before it's too late. The liberal team always has a majority.
At the beginning of the game, players close their eyes, and the fascists reveal themselves to one another. Secret Hitler keeps his eyes closed, but puts his thumb up so the fascists can see who he is. The fascists learn who Hitler is, but Hitler doesn't know who his fellow fascists are, and the liberals don't know who anyone is.
Each round, players elect a President and a Chancellor who will work together to enact a law from a random deck. If the government passes a fascist law, players must try to figure out if they were betrayed or simply unlucky. Secret Hitler also features government powers that come into play as fascism advances. The fascists will use those powers to create chaos unless liberals can pull the nation back from the brink of war.
The objective of the liberal team is to pass five liberal policies or assassinate Secret Hitler. The objective of the fascist team is to pass six fascist policies or elect Secret Hitler chancellor after three fascist policies have passed.
In Secret Hitler, the president and the Chancellor take turns discarding cards from the policy deck. The President draws 3, discards one and passes the rest to his Chancellor, she then discards one and the remaining policy is enacted. The problem with this, at least from the Liberals point of view, is that the amount of Fascist policies greatly out weights the Liberal ones. This can cause games to come down to a roll of the dice, freedom hanging in the balance.
The game is all about social deduction so when it comes to strategy its mostly based on how to interact with the other players and who to trust. When a fascist policy is played its easy to assume they are both NOT to be trusted. But if you need to trust on of these 2 its better to go with the player who had less information (the chancellor as they only had 2 cards to choose from). As an added note, when the player count gets to the point that Hitler doesn't know his Fascists, it may be a good tactic for Liberals to act in a way that will make him thin they are on his side, however in general Liberals should mostly play on the up and up.
The game is very light (especially for those who have played The Resistance already as this is heavily influenced by it), but that doesn't mean it isn't a blast to play! The game can get your heart racing and really put you in some uncomfortable positions. Do you trust the person you've known for years sitting next to you? Do you know them well enough to know when they are lying?
As is expected of a Party game, Secret Hitler is one of those games that will have you playing over and over and over again until you go "Oh crap! It's midnight". The game is quick to play, only taking about 15-20 minutes per session, but what really has people wanting more is the feeling of dream where you had just been completely blind sighted by the Fascists and you can't end like that. Or maybe you were Hitler and somehow you gave yourself away in the first round and spent the rest of the game at the whim of the other players? Either way, this game will steal hours away from you.
Secret Hitler does something special when it comes to components. Because players need Secret Role cards, Party Membership cards and both Ja! and Nein Ballot cards, the game cleverly comes with adorable little envelopes that each player receives to conveniently pass everything around without any error. Also, the addition of President and Chancellor placards are a step up from the guns/swords used in the Resistance games. Not to mention the artwork, the game uses hilarious representations of the Fascist team, this all makes up a wonderful package.
Secret Hitler is relatively easy to pickup (especially for those that have played games like The Resistance before). Players simply need to know that the Red Team is bad and trying to hide, the Blue team is good and trying to work out who the Red people are and that the main mechanic in the game is placing policy cards on the track. It might be worth new players sitting out and watching a game played by experienced players first to fully understand what it going on, but they will need to remain silent and impartial to avoid giving anything away.
The theme of the game is quite tongue in cheek, which is to be expected from one of the people behind Cards Against Humanity. The idea is that the game is set in the 1930s during the rise of Hitler. The game does a good job of keeping the game light by making all the Fascist characters Lizards and Frogs and the like. The game never takes itself too seriously, which is good as it is still a party game and the idea is to have fun throwing wild accusations at each other.
For the most part, the game scales quite well. You are going to need at least 5 players to play (and no more than 10) which does back it into a bit of a corner but this is usually the case for most party games. A few issues I have noticed when it comes to Secret Hitler is a) when the player count is at an even number, this very much favours the Liberals as they get another player for their team at each tier. b) the game very much is at its best with 7+ players, as it just gives the whole game so much more weight and strategic opportunities.
Secret Hitler is a fantastic party game, albeit one that heavily derives from the Resistance family of games. That being said I found it to be much like how Say Anything has replaced Cards Against Humanity for me, Secret Hitler has dethroned Avalon. There is still cause to play the other games, but for me, Secret Hitler scratches that itch so sorry Resistance, its to the storage cupboard with you!
Have you played Secret Hitler? Do you agree with our review? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and please like us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!