Board games are always fun, but deduction games seem to be the main mode of entertainment during the quarantine; families and friends get to know each other better by uncovering their hidden talents, faces, skills, and traits, and if that’s something you think you’ll like doing, you might want to stick around as we review the best deduction board games in 2021.
Best Deduction Board Games
Cluedo – Game of Thrones Mystery Board Game
Cluedo is, by far, the most popular and most renowned deduction board game available. It’s been around for almost a century and ever since numerous variations and versions have come to be with slightly altered gameplay rules, characters, and of course, scenery.
We’re taking you on a journey to the Seven Kingdoms of the popular Game of Thrones series; this version of Cluedo features two separate settings – the Great Pyramid and King’s Landing, each sporting different characters, rooms, and weapons.
The aim of the game is the same as with the original Cluedo – finding the murderer, the room where the murder took place, and the weapon with which the murder was committed. However, players will find that there are quite a few innovations onboard that change the way this game is played quite a bit.
The original Cluedo didn’t feature ‘secret passages’. Basically, these are rooms that act as ‘teleports’ to another rooms (that are usually on the opposite end of the board), allowing you to navigate the board in a much faster way.
The second innovation is the new integration of ‘utility’ cards; namely, you’ll have the help of, oddly enough, White Walkers or the Master of Whispers, allowing you to alter your dice roll to a more preferable outcome.
Overall, the Game of Thrones Cluedo takes this classic game onto a whole new level, and if you’re into deduction board games, you should definitely give it a shot.
Z-Man Games: Shadow Hunters
Shadow Hunters is easily one of the most amusing games that gets better and better the more you play it. You can be a detective, a conspirator, a team player, or lay wanton destruction on anyone in ‘range’, and it’s up to you to decide which style to use when it suits you best (or when you simply feel like it).
In essence, the game features Hunters, Shadows, and Neutrals, all of which have different goals. The Hunters immediately win when all Shadows are killed while the Shadows win when no more Hunters are left on the table. Neutrals have very specific win conditions, but they can always join in the fray, even if they don’t necessarily need to fight to win.
At the beginning of the game, the players start at the ‘0 Hitpoint’ bar and at the center of the table. Decide on who’s going to play first (and the playing order) either by rolling dice or democratically. The game features dual character figurines for each player (one for the HP bar, one for the table), six locations, and three sets of cards (green, black, and white).
Hunters are considered to be ‘creatures of light’, and therefore they are most likely to visit the ‘Church’, which offers ‘white cards’ – boons and buffs that are oftentimes dangerous and harmful to the Shadows. On the opposite end, Shadows are ‘beings of darkness’ who typically frequent ‘The Graveyard’.
However, this particular location is where you’ll want to go to get stocked up on offensive items, but if you’re a hunter, you might end up exposing yourself.
The goal is to gather as much information as you can on the other players. Figuring out who is on your team is the crucial part of the game, but you can always deceive other players by ‘feigning’ an attack, either purposefully or randomly.
The ‘attacking’ phase utilizes the mechanism of vicinity, but it can be altered with certain items (such as the Handgun, for example, which allows you to shoot players on diagonal locations). Find your allies, expose your foes, and win.
Suspicion family is an awesome deduction board game for beginners. Apart from being very easy to play, it’s also fun for children and adults regardless of their age. The simplified rules heavily complement the core mechanics, allowing you to play game after game in a totally different setting.
The main premise of the game is that each player is a ‘thief’ whose objective is to steal as many games, score as many points, and ‘unmask’ other thieves (players).
You’ll need a bit of luck with the dice in order to get to the gems, but even if you fail here, you can always rely on your deduction skills and ask relevant questions that will make the other players give you tips and clues about their ‘identities’.
What’s unique about this game is the fact that you will control not one, but two figurines – the space between them is eligible for you to ‘plunder’ (if there are any gems).
In a nutshell, grabbing gems and guessing the identities of other players will lead you to victory.
Coup – Dystopian Universe
Coup is one of the most intricate deduction (and deception) board games available. It features a complex gameplay mechanism that involves luring your opponents, employing underhand tactics, and stepping over moral boundaries to secure your victory, but at the end of the day, it’s also a ton of fun.
The Coup’s storyline is set in a ‘Dystopian universe’ where players are supposed to perform a coup via bluffs, assassinations, and influence exchange.
Each player is a part of a different branch, and all players have a variety of tools and personnel at their disposal, including the Duke, the Assassin, the Ambassador, the Captain, and the Contessa (countess).
Your ‘staff’ is able to collect taxes, assassinate your opponent’s team, form alliances in your stead, steal the resources from your enemies, or establish vital connections in order to gain more influence.
Using any action requires money (coins), but luckily, you’ll be able to earn cash in a variety of (aforementioned) ways. Ultimately, your goal is to be the last one standing, and it’s up to you to decide how you will do it.
Clue: Downtown Abbey Edition
Clue: Downtown Abbey is essentially another spin of Cluedo. It sports similar features and gameplay, although it’s also different in a lot of ways.
The characters are obviously the members of the popular series, including Lady Mary, John Bates, Tom Branson, Mrs. Hughes, Lord Grantham, and Dowager Countess (unlike Cluedo’s famous Mr. White, Brown, Black, Green, Blue, and so on), but the items are pretty different too – instead of chasing after murder weapons, you’ll be looking for a stolen typewriter, bow tie, pantry key, and such.
Even though this board game is played in a fashion that is much similar to Cluedo, the aesthetic of Clue Downtown Abbey is pure gold. The cards are wonderfully designed, the figurines are incredibly detailed, and the ‘missing’ items, as well as character portraits, look exquisitely authentic.
The last feature of this board game is the Clue Notepad (resembling the one that Original Cluedo came supplied with) packed with all the details you’ll need to keep in mind during the course of the game.
Now that the summer is coming, having a sea-based board game might just be everything you needed to relax with your friends and housemates. Treasure Island is a simple game of discovery, deduction, and deception, allowing you to play as a pirate or as the infamous John Silver – a veteran pirate who has buried his retirement stash somewhere on the island.
What makes this game unique and interesting is that players get to control every aspect of the game. The player who is posing as John Silver will hide his treasure somewhere on the map without the knowledge of other players.
John Silver player also gets to choose the hints he will give, based off their ‘deceptive’ value and content. Interestingly enough, you do get to bluff if you want to.
The pirates are essentially treasure hunters; each pirate has a special ability that will help them navigate the murky waters and thick foliage of the Treasure Island in search of John Silver’s loot. The first player who finds the treasure wins, even if it’s by sheer luck.
Treasure Island board game is perfect for children, teens, and even adults; it’s very easy to play, and due to the fact that players define the ambient, it has a tremendous repetitive value.
Forbidden Island is basically ‘Treasure Island’ on hardcore difficulty. Jokes aside, this is a cooperative game of deduction and sheer luck based on the ‘escape the disaster’ principle.
The Forbidden Island is, obviously, an island that is filled with riches and players who would seek them will face many perils. The main principle of this game is to get from point A to point B, and how you do it matters little.
Your first objective is to reach the ‘Fool’s Landing’. This is where your lick with dice comes into play, and it’s something you’ll have no way of affecting whatsoever.
Another factor you will need to take into consideration (and which you will not be able to influence) is time. As time progresses, the water level increases; at level 6 all the players lose, as depicted by the skull icon next to it on the ‘Waters Rise!’ bar.
Additionally, the water level affects certain event cards – at level 0-2 most water-based cards will not affect the player negatively in any way. At higher levels, the consequences become more painful.
Speaking of which, event cards are drawn at the start of each round and they affect the game’s atmosphere – some cards are beneficial and allow for free passage across otherwise non-traversable tiles, others will hold you back, some allow you to find certain (helpful) items, and lastly, some are one-time consumables that give instant buffs.
Keep in mind that the very ‘board’ is shaking and figuratively ‘falling apart’. The route you may have planned on taking might not be traversable after a couple of rounds and a stroke of bad event cards.
Contrary to what you might’ve thought, the game is not competitive, rather it’s cooperative. The ultimate goal is to find 4 sacred treasure items before reaching the finish line.
Players need to help each other survive perilous events – the more players are ‘alive’ on the table, the slower the waters will rise, and the slower the tiles will ‘fall’ off.
It’s up to you and your friends to conquer the rising waters, the degradation, and numerous obstacles of the Forbidden Island.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
One Night – Ultimate werewolf is a very interesting game. It will test your perception and deduction skills, your deceptive skills, and ultimately, it might even challenge your very friendship with other players.
First of all, the game takes place in two main stages – Night and Day, each affecting the gameplay in a different way. Certain characters are ‘awake’ during one of them, some are awake during both. The ‘Awake’ status basically refers to the characters passive and active skills.
Speaking of characters, there are ten different character types, including the Villager, the Tanner, Troublemaker, Mason, Robber, Minion, Doppelganger, Insomniac, Seer, and obviously, Werewolf. Depending on the number of players in the game, there might be several players who are using the same type of character.
The end goal of the One Night – Ultimate Werewolf is to figure out which players are ‘werewolves’ and to either expose them before the ‘final night’ or kill them off.
You can call the two camps ‘good guys’ and ‘the baddies’, both of which have their own agendas, but ‘the baddies’ are at a slight disadvantage mainly because of the ‘Doppelganger’ card, which could easily turn the tides and odds by making it a six versus four match.
In simple terms, one player is the ‘Announcer’ who is basically the ‘game master’ (much like one in Dungeons and Dragons, or the ‘bank’ in Monopoly). Players take turns by listening to the Announcer’s commands and switch between ‘closing their eyes’ and opening them (sleeping and waking stages).
Woken players communicate in whatever way they want aside from speaking out loud; employ deception and skilful communication to figure out the roles of your opponents.