A few of us on the DWP staff are fresh back from the second annual Board Game Basecamp. It’s weekend of gaming and fun held outside of Kitchener, Ontario. Although there are a lot of industry folk in attendance, the gathering is much more about playing games and connecting with people, then any sales or promotions. I got to play a lot of new titles that I’d been meaning to get to the table for months, but the game that stood out to me the most was a complete surprise. One I hadn’t heard of before.
Oink Games is quickly becoming one of my favourite publishers. Their games uniformly come in tiny little boxes, which belie the fun waiting inside. Deep Sea Adventure and A Fake Artist Goes to New York are both excellent games to play with a group. The lesser known In A Grove, is also really good. So when Insider was plunked down on the table in front of me, with the familiar small box and minimalist art, I was pretty excited for what lay ahead.
Essentially, Insider is 20 Questions with a twist, but that twist makes it incredibly fun. At the start of each round, players are dealt an identity. Most will be Commons, but one person will be the Master, and one will be the Insider.
The Master reveals themselves immediately, but the Insider keeps their identity secret. The Master is in charge of running the round. They’ll instruct everyone to close their eyes and then they’ll flip the top card of the deck. The cards all have a number between 1-6 on the back of them. The face of the card has words numbered 1-6. When the top card is flipped it reveals the back of the next card in the deck, with a number on it. The number refers to the flipped card, and identifies what the word is for the round. These can be anything from a location, person, thing, concept etc. all real or fictional.
Once the Master has the word they will close their eyes and instruct the Insider to open their eyes and get the word. After a brief time the Master instructs the Insider to close their eyes, and then for everyone to open their eyes.
From then it’s a game of 20 Questions, but here’s the twist: the Insider knows the word that everyone needs to guess, but they play as if they’re just a regular Commons player. They’ll ask questions like everyone else, all the while knowing what the word is. Their goal is to get the group to guess the word without giving up their identity.
Once the word is guessed, the Master and the Commons will get two opportunities to identify the Insider. Firstly, the person who guessed the word gets a vote. If the players think they are the Insider they vote yes, majority rules. If they vote to trust the guesser, it then becomes a debate to try and find the traitor in their midst. You can consider what questions people asked and when. Why they made certain leaps in logic. What was going on in their head at the time, or yours for that matter. Once people are ready, or the timer for the round runs out they point at who they think the Insider is. If they’re correct then everyone, but the Insider wins. If they’re wrong, the Insider wins on their own.
Insider is very easy to learn and play, but so much fun.
As the player who secretly has some extra knowledge, you have to carefully craft your questions, trying to lead people in the right direction, but not betray your position. As the Commons or the Master, you have to analyze the behaviour of the people around the table and sniff out the Insider.
This game takes a familiar idea and makes it 1000 times better. It’s a fantastic experience for 4-8 players. As the Insider you’ll be sweating bullets and trying to throw suspicion on anyone but yourself. The Master and the Commons will be trying so hard to understand who could’ve possibly had the advanced knowledge.
Now unfortunately, like other Oink games, this one can be tough and expensive to track down. However if you can get your hands on a copy, I highly recommend it. You’ll be surprised how much fun comes out of a tiny box.