Critical Play: Your First Critical Play!


For the first critical play of the quarter, I decided to play Secret Hitler (for the very first time). Secret Hitler is a social deduction board game designed by Max Temkin, Mike Boxleiter and Tommy Maranges. Based on the intricate out strategies that come into play, my guess is that the target audience of this game is players in their late teens and older. Despite being initially overwhelmed by all the cards, boards, and the instruction pamphlet, the premise is relatively straightforward. There are 2 teams divided into 2 parties. Players can either be members of the fascist party or the liberal party with one player taking the role of Hitler who is also a member of the fascist party. The goal of the fascist party is to keep Hitler’s identity concealed and enact 6 fascist policies. The goal of the liberal party is to either discover who the secret Hitler and kill them and/or enact 5 liberal policies.  Some of the procedures of the game differ depending on how many players there are. For example, when playing with 4-6 players, the fascists get to know who the secret Hitler is. In contrast, when playing with 7-10 players, the fascists do not know who the secret Hitler is. In each round of the game, one player takes the role of the President and can appoint another player as the Chancellor as long as they were not the President or Chancellor in the previous round. The role of President gets rotated among the players each round. The President takes 3 policy cards (policy cards are either liberal or fascist policies), discards 1, and passes the remaining 2 cards to the chancellor. The Chancellor picks a card from the remaining 2 and enacts that policy. After 2 or more fascist policies are enacted, the president is granted more power. For example, some of these actions include the ability to check a player’s  As stated previously, if the fascist team has 3 fascist policies currently in place and the players elect Hitler as the Chancellor, the fascist party wins. The liberal party wins when 5 liberal policies are enacted. 

What sets this game apart?

Compared to other games in this genre like Mafia and Among Us, Secret Hitler is different in that there are roles that EVERYONE gets to play in ONE single game. The premise for the aforementioned games is the same, but what sets Secret Hitler apart is the rotation of the President role and the President’s power to appoint the Chancellor. Not only does switching roles in this way let the liberals get more information about who mi

ght be part of the fascist party, but it also helps the fascist party in unexpected ways. For example, an interesting strategy came up during one round in which the President was secretly a member of the fascist party and they checked the identity of another member of their party yet they cleared them as a liberal to trick the other players. I feel as if switching roles in this way makes the game much more fun and eliminates that urge to leave the game just to get a different role which happens often in Among Us as people hop from server to server hoping to get the Imposter role. 

Fun, fun, and more fun!

Playing Secret Hitler was so much fun which was made very clear by the fact that we were all laughing for the majority of the game. Personally, I think the part that was the most fun was being the Chancellor as part of the liberal party and enacting fascist policies to get the ball rolling. Doing so was so entertaining because everyone thought I was part of the fascist party even though I was not; it’s like being part of an inside joke that I only have with myself. I enjoyed pushing the boundaries of how suspicious but honest I could be until I was eventually killed! 

Hitler’s reveal was such a great moment of success. Melanie played that role so well and no one suspected her for a second! It was honestly mind blowing thinking back to small moments and realizing how clear it was that she was playing up her role but it really slid past us all. She killed me and I still didn’t think it was her!

Improving the game

One thing I would change about the game is adding ways to incentivize players to play less safe. The game was somewhat slow in the beginning because the members of the fascist party were enacting liberal policies to not seem suspicious, but that strategy almost led to the victory of the liberal party. I think one suggestion that could be cool is if it was possible to enact a policy that no one knows about and the person who enacts it can either tell the truth about what party the policy is part of or they can lie. This way, nothing is revealed of the player so they don’t have to fear being sussed out but can still get the ball rolling. 

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.