Secret Hitler Review

Quick Look:
Designer: Mike Boxleiter, Tommy Maranges, and Max Temkin
Publisher: Goat Wolf & Cabbage
Year Published: 2016
# of Players: 5-10
Play Time: 45 min
Ages: 13+

The year is 1932. The place is pre-WWII Germany. In Secret Hitler, players are German politicians attempting to hold a fragile Liberal government together and stem the rising tide of Fascism. Watch out though – there are secret Fascists among you, and one player is Secret Hitler. (Taken from instructions)

Rules and Setup:
Setup is done by giving each player a small envelope containing four cards: Secret Role, Party Membership, and Yes and No cards for voting. A Fascist and Liberal board are placed in the middle of the table and the election tracker is placed on the Liberal board. The draw and discard pile cards are placed in their respective locations (obviously) and all policy cards are shuffled and placed on the draw pile card.

Play begins with all players with their head down and fists out in front of them Heads Up Seven Up style (A free app is available to walk players through this part automatically). Normally, all Fascists open their eyes to see who their teammates are, while Secret Hitler keeps their eyes closed but sticks their thumb up to let the Fascists know who they are. Unless playing with five to six players, Hitler doesn’t know who the other Fascists are. Liberals have to suck it up never know who anybody is.

The first round begins by players electing a president at random. This player then chooses another player to be their chancellor. All players then vote to either accept or oppose the president’s choice. If the election fails, the election tracker is moved and the player to the left of the current president is now president. If the election succeeds, then the president draws the top three policy cards and discards one. The other two are given to the chancellor, who also discards one, and enacts the other. This is where it get really fun. There are actually more Fascist policy cards than there are Liberal Policy Cards. So even if the president is a Liberal, they may still draw three Fascist cards, forcing the Chancellor, who may also be Liberal, to enact a Fascist policy. Only the President and Chancellor really know what happened, and it is up to all the other players to determine what really happened. This continues until either six Liberal or Fascist policies are enacted, Hitler is killed, or Hitler is elected chancellor after three Fascist policies have already been enacted.

Themes and Mechanics:
Secret Hitler has a somewhat historical political theme to it. The game takes place in WWII era Germany with one of the secret roles being Hitler. Players are also separated into political parties to try and overpower the other party.

My favorite mechanic of this game is the lack of knowledge or trust that “the good guys” have about the other players. Nothing is funnier than seeing someone that you’ve always trusted, stab you in the back, or having everyone gain up on one person and have that person turn out to be on the same team. You really come to realize how little you know about some of your friends, and also how much you know about others.

Components and Artwork:
Compared to other games like this, there aren’t many more pieces that you need to worry about keeping track of and knowing what they do. Each piece makes the game what it is, whether for kicks and giggles or a necessary component to keep the game moving. The placards make the player with it feel much more powerful since it’s a solid wood block like the ones you would find on your bosses desk, but that’s really the only purpose they serve. All the pieces are very well made, durable, and look absolutely amazing. It is possible to download and print a PDF version of the game and I’ve played this version and it really does lessen the experience. In my opinion, it is definitely worth buying the actual game just for the way it looks and understandably how it feels to play with actually game pieces instead of laminated paper.

The Good:
It is a relatively simple game to understand, and even though the age rating is 13+, it is very possible to have younger players and still have it be enjoyable. I love pitting everyone against each other and seeing friendships get destroyed. As previously stated, the artwork is also phenomenal as well as durable.

The Bad:
Like any game that involves lying, it is naturally harder for the liars to win, at least for me it is. This is like any other game that works that way, so unless you are a good liar, pray you aren’t a Fascist.

Final Thoughts:
This is definitely a game that you can pull out for any occasion. You can play it as a family, with your room mates, or just a group of people you don’t know. Whether you need a break from long board games, want something to argue about, or just want something new to add to your collection, Secret Hitler is definitely one I will be playing for years to come.

Players Who Like:
Anyone who likes the lying mechanics of Bang or Shadows over Camelot will enjoy this just as much if not more.

I am giving Secret Hitler 9 out of 10 super meeples.

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Author: Joseph Ogden


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