Hello, Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise here, and it’s that time of year, to arbitrarily look back on the year that was and list one’s most and least favorite board game experiences of the last twelve months. I began this annual inessential mental exercise by reviewing the list of games I played this year, which I discovered included quite a few social deduction games. That’s no surprise, though, because I really enjoy them and they make me smile. But, while reminiscing on the actual game play experiences, I discovered something striking: I didn’t really enjoy them and they made me frown.
Confused? I know I am. But that may have something to do with the double-A battery I accidentally swallowed this morning. But also confusing is the question of why would this genre of games, that sound like a perfect fit on paper, and that I’m always excited to try, leave me so disappointed?
Well, perhaps it’s the sheer volume of them that we were inundated with this year. For example, BoardGameGeek.com lists no less than 190 titles and expansions classified as “deduction” games that were released in 2015! Social deduction games were hot in 2015! So hot, in fact, that Love Letter was repeatedly re-released as Love Letter Hobbit, Love Letter Adventure Time, and Love Letter… Batman... all variations of the exact same game.
Fortunately, “releasing essentially the same game over and over again is a stunt that no other social deduction game repeated in 2015” is a statement you can make if you chose to ignore One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak, One Night Ultimate Vampire, and One Night Resistance.
Recycling these game engines is starting to make social deduction the Mike Myers of board games. They may be enjoyable for the first few minutes, but after a while, you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen this all before.
Worse yet, is a growing stigma surrounding social deduction games in my gaming circles that is preventing other, possibly innovative, games from hitting the table. I’ve brought my copy of New Moon, a game I’m really excited about playing, to no less than four separate board gaming events. Yet it still has yet to hit the table, because its presence has been greeted with the response, “Oh, another social deduction game. Yippie.”
So, social deduction games, I want to like you, and I haven’t given up on you, but I think I like the IDEA of you more than I actually like YOU.
And what about you? When you think back on your gaming experiences, is there a particular game, or genre of game, that you really like IN THEORY, but, in practice, consistently leaves you disappointed? Let me know in the comments below!