Dad always said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Yeah, right! It’s time to take off those rose-colored glasses and break out a game that represents what advertisers, politicians, and car salesmen know really spins the world on its axis: a good, old-fashioned lie! I’m not just talking about stretching the truth or telling a little white fib. No, I mean spinning an incredible doozy of a tall tale. When your parents are on the prowl accusing you of all manner of shenanigans, you need a story and you need to stick to it!
[Ed. note: This is a preview of a non-final, non-production prototype of the game. Our opinions reflect that of the game at the time we played it; the final product may feature some slight variation in game play, art, and components.]
How it Plays
All cards in Lie Your Face Off are either a “Lie” or an “Embellishment.” Individual Lies are worth anywhere from 3 to 20 points. You want to play several Lies in a collection, which is called a “Story.” Embellishments can add or subtract to a story’s current value, but incur a penalty at the end of the game. Many cards also allow you special actions. To win, you need to lie a lot; but the most incredible yarns earn the most points.
Creating big lies will take several rounds. On your turn, you first draw a new card. Then you take one action. You may place a Lie in your tableau to begin a new story (you can have as many individual stories as you want and have table space for). You can also add a Lie or Embellishment to an existing story. When adding to a story, the next Lie must be of greater value than the topmost existing Lie (+/- any Embellishments) on that story. But it can’t be too much bigger (no greater than 3) – even these tall tales have their limits, it appears! An Embellishment may never reduce a story’s value below zero. A third possible action is to discard a card from your hand and draw a new one. Finally, you may simply pass and do nothing.
While placing cards in increasing value sounds overly simplistic, the real meat and potatoes in Lie Your Face Off are chaining and interaction. The special abilities let you draw extra cards, play extra cards, force everyone to trash the highest value card from their tableau, or a combination of two of those. Not all cards have special abilities, but those that do offer a chance to chain some nice runs together or hit your opponents at frustrating moments.
The frustration stems from the fact that you must have five Lies to complete a story at the beginning of your turn. So even if you’re ready to score a set of Lies, another player can force you to discard the topmost value before your next turn comes around. There are a couple of ways to protect your stories, mainly by placing embellishments of your own on top so that those get trashed instead of Lies. But often even that strategy falls short.
If you are able to make up a story and stick to it when your turn comes around, then you have successfully lied your face off! Turn that story over. All players now bid for a new turn order by laying down a Lie of their choice to start another story – the highest Lie goes first and play continues.
The game ends when one player has perjured enough – that means completing two lies in a 2-player game, or three in a 3-4 player session. Otherwise, the game will end when the draw deck is exhausted and you’ve all run out of options and have been caught red-handed. At either point, players discard their remaining hands, scoring only completed stories and those Lies played to their tableau. You get to count the full value of your highest Lie from any completed stories, then add 1 point for every other Lie you played and deduct 1 point for every embellishment.The winner may immediately run for public office.
Whopper of a Story or Little White Lie?Some games can provide a warm, golden, teaching moment. And then there’s Lie Your Face Off! Well, okay, so this quick, silly card game isn’t going to turn your kid into the next Richard Nixon. Keeping things in perspective, the “lying” theme is really pasted on in this abstract design for a humorous flavor only. The stories tacked on to each other don’t even logically relate. But that’s not the point.
Lie Your Face Off is a light card game for family and casual gamers. It might work as a filler for more serious gamers, as long as they’re aware that it is, indeed, really light.
The rules are very simple. As long as you know how to count, the concept of adding greater Lies on top of a ladder of progressively larger untruths is easy enough to grasp. The special abilities are not cumbersome at all, yet still add a bit of depth and variety. It’s still a card game at the mercy of the draw, as are most traditional and commercial designs within the genre. But the additional actions give you a feeling of some control.
There is an interesting tension in the push-your-luck aspect. As your stories get bigger, they become likelier targets for attack from your opponents’ Embellishments. So you have to decide whether or not to play your own Embellishments on top to protect your biggest lies, but then risk getting stuck with them for negative points at the end of the game. Or you can play a single, high-value Lie in its own separate story that will be removed in the event of a reproach. However, even if it survives, it will only be worth 1 point at the end of the game – you’re unlikely able to earn its full value, because it’s more difficult to play enough higher Lies above it in order to complete it as a story.
The spite element is actually the strongest aspect to Lie Your Face Off. Generally, it is effective without being overly brutal or harsh. For a light, filler-style game, it’s an appropriate level of interaction. One way to soften the blows against you is to have multiple stories going at the same time. Therefore, it’s not totally irreparable when having to trash a card or two. Then also, the number of attacks is mitigated by the usual “one play” rule. If you concentrate too often on targeting others, none of your own stories are growing in the meantime.
The flip side to being spiteful and playing your own attack cards is that they come with a slight cost. You have to discard your highest value Lie just like everyone else – although the story to which you just played such an Embellishment is immune for that action. Plus, those attack cards are a point penalty if they remain. Sometimes you can get rid of one that you play to your own tableau by tactfully placing it on top of your biggest story, waiting for another player to attack so that you may conveniently remove it! Thoughtful planning will behoove you before using one.
Lie Your Face Off is highly accessible and pleasingly quick. If you’re a fan of lighter, commercial card games with a traditional feel – or looking for something in that vein – this design should be a good choice. It is on the humorous side with some charming artwork and would also be a good option to acclimate kids and casual gamers to interaction and spite. Just make sure they keep their lying in the game!
Lie Your Face Off will run on Kickstarter through November 7. If you’re interested, head on over to the campaign page to pick up a copy. You can get the basic game for a $20.00 contribution, which includes all the terrific fibbing you need to spin a whopper of a story, with other perks possible at higher funding levels – and that’s no lie!