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Deception: Undercover Allies Expansion Review


Quick Look: Deception: Undercover Allies Expansion


Designer: Tobey Ho
Artist: Tommy Ng
Publisher: Grey Fox Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 4-14
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 15-20 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Review:

tl;dr: More content for what is already, arguably, one of the best party games of all time. 

Getting to the Game: Undercover Allies adds a couple of new roles to the base game of Deception, as well as some new Clue and Means cards. I'll explain the new roles in detail further down, but for those of you who've never played Deception, here's the thrust: 

Each player starts out with four Means cards and four Clue cards face up in front of them. Role cards are dealt out, and one person is given the "Murderer" card, while another is given the Forensic Scientist card. Just like in elementary school, everyone puts their heads down and the murderer looks up and chooses one of each of their cards in front of them, pointing them out to the forensic scientist, who knows everything. This is the means of the murder, and a clue pointing to the killer. They put their head back down, and everyone opens their eyes. The game is afoot.



The object of our game is for the killer to clear enough doubt on themselves by convincing everyone else at the table that the clues slowly being given out by the lead investigator aren't about them. Everyone else is trying to extrapolate as much as they can from the very limited information coming from the scientist. If the killer can withstand three rounds of questioning and accusation, they win. If the rest of the table can suss out the means and clue, then everyone else wins. Well... almost everyone.

Playing the Game: One of the new roles in this box is Protective Detail, who knows who the Witness is, but the Witness doesn't know who they are. They win with the investigators. Additionally, the other two new roles add a whole new phase to the game. The Lab Technician and Inside Man can both affect play between rounds one and two. The LT can check for only themselves whether or not one card is involved in the crime. So, if the clues initially point strongly towards one clue, the LT can check it, and if it is involved in the crime, then the game is almost over. They know who the murderer is, and it's only a matter of systematically checking the other set of cards in that person's set. It's a little overpowered if it works, but it often misses, in our experience.



The Inside Man can snatch away someone's badge token, including their own, in that same between-rounds-one-and-two phase. They win if the murderer wins, so the object here is to either take the badge of someone who is getting too close, or frame someone who is dead set against the actual answer. Both of these new roles add a ton of posturing to the game, which is great. As previously mentioned, the LT can be pretty strong, but is often met with a counter-claim by someone on the murderer team, which can ratchet up the stakes a ton. It's a whole new level of play in an already-great game. 

Finally, a new event tile makes an appearance in this new box, pushing the value through the roof. This one is crazy; called "The Perfect Crime," it has the Forensic Scientist look at the next tile in the draw deck. If it's an event, they're now working for the Murderer. They win if the murderer gets away with it, so it's super important to look for shifts in clues after this tile comes out. If the looked-at tile is not an event, then the game continues as normal, but there's no announcement either way. It came up once in one of our games, and it was absolutely chilling and confusing as we spent the next ten minutes laser focused on every part of the forensic scientist's body language.


Artwork and Components: The artwork is varied and largely ranges in quality. The original game has a Clue card called "push" that depicts two right hands (see below). Overall, though, the cards provide a good sense of dread and that sort of macabre cleanliness you'd expect from a crime procedural. 

  



The base components here are perfectly serviceable. The plastic bullets don't always stand up, and the cardboard punch-out badges used to accuse someone do the trick. However, I have access to the upgraded components, and wow do these up the game to a new level. The all-metal badges themselves feel great to play with, especially when you toss them across the table with a satisfying clunk. The forensic scientist replaces their bullets with translucent blue microscopes, and YES THANK YOU. Overall, if you get this game to the table with any frequency, you owe it to yourself to make sure you grab these when and if you can.

The Good: Even more of a good thing is a great thing. Deception continually ranks among my best group games of all time, and it's easy to see why. New roles and cards bring even more greatness to the party. New scene cards are invaluable.

The Bad: The translations on some of the cards make things awkward to deduce sometimes, but also bring hilarity. I'm looking at you, "Blood Release."

Score: In case you haven't already deduced, I'm crazy about this game. It's by far one of the best boxes you can bring out when the player count of your evening gets too high for more standard fare, and there's enough here to make it feel like an actual game, not just an experience. Everyone gets involved, and everyone has something to contribute. I'm giving Deception: Murder in Hong Kong and its expansion, Undercover Allies, a score of To Die For.




Check out Deception: Undercover Allies on:

            




Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
Deception: Undercover Allies Expansion Review Deception: Undercover Allies Expansion Review Reviewed by The Madjai on February 18, 2019 Rating: 5

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