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Spyfall» Forums » Variants

Subject: The Red Herring Variant rss

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Mark Fuelle
United States
Illinois
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For this variant you will set everything up the same as the base game, except swap out one of the location cards with one from another set. Whoever is dealt this incorrect location is the red herring. They are still part of the team and win normally, but because they don't know the location their teammates are at, they will most likely look suspicious and have strange answers to questions until they figure things out. Even if the red herring realizes that they are the red herring, they must proceed to ask questions as normal. This ambiguity allows the spy to assume a fake role in a random location and stick to it while they bide their time or even turn the table against the red herring. If the spy guesses the location of the group OR the location of the red herring, the spy will win.

After many plays of Spyfall we found it wasn't being played as much because there is an immense amount of pressure as the spy, especially in smaller groups. That's why we came up with a variant that gives the spy an out, but still makes it fun for everybody. The fact that the red herring exists throws some doubt into the voting and helps avoid bandwagoning that "they didn't answer this perfectly, they MUST be the spy" or the one that happens in my group: "they didn't laugh at this inside joke immediately so they must be the spy!". Also people that are part of the group can start asking strange questions in order to lead the spy to think that they are the red herring. There's lots of bluffing on both sides. By the time the red herring has figured out the group's location and has blended in, the spy most likely has done the same, so everything is still tense, just with less pressure on the spy. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

(Not sure if this variant already exists, apologies if it does)
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Locutus Zero
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It sounds like a game of two spies, but the team has to identify the correct spy, and the red herring spy has less information than the real spy (he doesn't start out knowing he's a spy). Seems way in favor of the spy.

Have you tried straight up two spies?
 
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Mark Fuelle
United States
Illinois
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But the red herring is not on the spy team, he's just unknowingly throwing a wrench in the conversation. The red herring still wins with the rest of the group and is trying to convict the real spy.

I've tried the game with 2 spies to accommodate larger groups and things fall apart for the spy team even faster. We played that if either spy was found out, they rat out the other and it is game over. It was still a ton of stress for the spies and I wasn't a fan.
 
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Locutus Zero
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It just seems more likely for the rest of the table to kill the red herring, and there's nothing the red herring can do to convince anyone, he actually has less information than the spy.
 
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Mark Fuelle
United States
Illinois
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One possibility we discussed was that if a person figured out they were the red herring and was sure of the group's location, they could stop play and call out the groups location. If the red herring guesses correctly they (along with the group) would win, but if they were incorrect (or were wrong about the red herring being their identity) the spy would win.

That way it would be almost like a race between the red herring and the spy, but both would still be trying not to get found out. If the questions were left very vague, the spy and red herring would both be left in the dark, but if clues accidentally become obvious it could help both sides. I haven't had a chance to try this additional rule yet, but I imagine it would give the red herring something to do and could help balance the ambiguity afforded to the spy.

I still recommend trying the red herring variant before you call it unbalanced, but this rule could help.
 
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