If you’re less into lying to your friends and more into hidden goals with mild social deduction, Shogunate might be up your alley.
While Shogunate has been around for a few years and we actually have a review of it on our site, this is a new edition which features some brand new art and an overhaul of the rules.
Rather than having hidden roles or teams with a traitor. Shogunate provides each player with 2 character cards – if you can get those particular characters to total 12 points between them, you can claim victory.
Each round begins with a card flipped over that indicates which position(s) in the line of character cards will earn points.
One player is the active player (which goes by a term I cannot remember) who gets to determine player order; the other players choose one card from their hand to resolve. These cards can move the characters up and down the line, award them honor points, or get you a glimpse at the loyalty cards of another player. You might even swap loyalty cards.
You can only play any given card once, and everyone starts with the same cards.
After all cards are resolved, the characters earn points based on their position. A shinobi token (which may or may not be moved) removes one honor from its current position. And the next round begins.
If at the end of the round a player has loyalty cards aligning with characters that have 12 honor between them, that player wins! I believe it is entirely possible for multiple players to win the game at once.
While still maintaining an element of social deduction – figuring out who has which loyalties can help you manipulate the board away from other player’s favor – it’s less intense and doesn’t require so much lying to each other’s face. It’s more about trying to outguess and outmaneuver your opponents. It certainly plays quickly, and the art is nice.
I do wonder, however, the replay value of the game. It certainly was fun to play once, but I fear that multiple plays could reveal a distinct lack of control over what happens, or falling into patterns of playing the same things at the same time. It might be best thought of as a quick filler rather than a deep social gaming experience.