For my first critical play, I played Spyfall at the CS247G game night. Spyfall was designed by Alexandr Ushan, and the online platform, spyfall.app was published by Hobby World.
Spyfall seems to have a fairly broad target audience though the game is recommended for ages 13+. The game requires 4-12 players all in the same room. One person is a spy, and everyone else are detectives trying to figure out who the spy is in one round. Rounds last from 6-10 minutes depending on the size of the group. All players are at a specific location, and the spy does not know what the location is and tries to figure it out while remaining hidden. Before the timer runs out, players take turns asking each other vague questions. During the round, the spy can reveal themselves and state what they think the location is. After the timer runs out, the players vote on who they think the spy is, and if they get it correct, the spy gets one chance to guess the location. If the spy guesses correctly, the spy wins. Otherwise, the detectives win.
The player relationships are comical since players cannot trust each other and must deduct who the spy is, but only through vague questions in order to not reveal the location to the spy. Detective roles also make the game dynamic more interesting; these roles sometimes backfire and draw suspicion to the detectives.
This game is similar to other social deduction games such as Coup or Mafia. In all these games, players do not know each others’ roles and must use players’ actions to deduct them. However, Spyfall operates differently from Mafia since the spy is the one at a disadvantage since they are lacking information. In Mafia, the “good guys” lack the information of who gets killed at night. Coup is also slightly different from both in the sense that there is no explicit “bad guy”; everyone is trying to kill everyone else to win. I love that Spyfall involves a single quick round whereas Mafia and Coup are much longer games. I appreciate that the quickness allows more people to be the spy. However, since I am a bad liar, it is terrifying to also be the only spy in the game, so I prefer that Mafia involves more fellowship on the “bad guy” team.
Spyfall was lots of fun! I got to play with the TA’s and other people I have never met before. It was funny getting voted out just because I seem suspicious even when I am telling the truth. This was definitely an “epic fail” moment. I blush and get nervous when people interrogate me even when I am not the spy, so this is definitely something I need to work on.
I think it could be interesting to have three teams: two teams of detectives and one spy. The two detective teams can have two different locations, so each team has to figure out not only who the spy is but who is on their team. The spy wins if they can guess both locations. Or, it could also be interesting to assign the spy a wrong location instead of the spy card. Then, players must figure out if they themselves are the spy before deciding to find the spy or to stay hidden.