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Insider

Designers: Akihiro Itoh, Kwaji, Daichi Okano, Kito Shinma

Publisher: Oink Games

(4 plays) Insider is a bit of “20 questions” mixed with “Werewolf" or "Spyfall," and it plays up to 8 players in about 15 minutes.

The Gameplay

One player is the Master, one is the Insider, and the rest are Commoners (or "Commons"). Everybody closes their eyes but the the Master, who draws a card with a word on it. (Each card has several words on it, but there’s a mechanic to pick a particular word using the back of the cut in the deck.) The Master then closes his eyes, and the Insider looks at the word. The Master hides the word, and everybody wakes up, and the game begins.

Everybody — including the Insider — can ask the Master yes/no questions to try to guess the word, sort of like in “20 questions.” Players aren’t limited to a particular number of questions, but they are limited by a sand timer with approximately five minutes worth of time. If the players don’t guess the word in time, everybody — including the Insider and Master — loses. Since the Insider knows the word, they can steer everybody towards the right answer with clever questions.

If the group gets the word, the hunt is then on for the Insider. The timer is once again flipped, and the Commons and Master have until the sand runs out to discuss the game and deduce the identity of the Insider. If they guess correctly, they win the game together; if they do not, the Insider wins.

My thoughts on the game...

A fellow writer on The Opinionated Gamers had recommended the game on our internal email list, so I was eager to try it. After his recommendation, there was a debate among several people about how well the game works. I played it four times at BGG.CON, and I do think it works well. In one game, everybody lost because we couldn’t guess the word (“Gift”) in time. In another game, the word (“Milk”) was guessed quickly, which made it hard to find the insider. In the other two games, the words (“Tennis Court” and “Sea”) were guessed after a few minutes, and the hunt for the Insider was fascinating. It all depends on the quality of the clue.

We played the game with two different groups — my Kansas City friends, and then several people at the nightly Werewolf game — and both groups really liked it. And when people saw me carrying Insider around, they stopped me to say how much they enjoyed it.

Is it my favorite social deduction game? No, I’d still rather play Werewolf, and I’ll admit that the gameplay in Insider can be hit-or-miss. You really need a medium-difficult clue, and you need to be able to pay attention to who is asking each question.

But for a 4-7 person crowd, this works well, and to get a feel for it, I recommend playing it at least 3-4 times. It is currently available from Oink Games in Japan, and I hope it makes its way to the BGG store soon.

In the mean time, I ordered a copy from Japan, and I hope it arrives soon!
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