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If machaivalli invited the lads around for an evening, what games would they play?
January 11, 2011 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Machiavelli Filter: I'm looking for games in which I can lie to, betray, manipulate and sow discord among my friends. All in the name of supreme victory fun, of course.

I love being the traitor in Shadows Over Camelot, being a werewolf in Werewolf and playing a callous, unreliable, truthful-but-dishonest character in our sporadic D&D sessions. Despite (or pehaps due to?) being honest to a fault in real life, I enjoy all of this underhandedness and deceit more than I can tell you.*

So: Please suggest some games in which I can lie to, betray, manipulate and sow discord amongst my friends! And vice versa, of course.

I'm equally interested in co-op games with a traitor mechanism and "every person/team for themself" situations. Board games, bluffing games and more free-form games are equally fine. I have a preference for games with a strong component of deceit through direct communication, as opposed to deceit by misleading play (e.g. Cheat over Poker). Generally, the more sustained and involved the plotting and scheming can become, the better.

If there's a slow-burning game (e.g. a few minutes of activity a day spread over a week or two) that a group of about 6 people could play over the net, I'd especially love to hear about that.

And yes, a variant on Strip iterative prisoners' dilemma is already on the list for the next party.

*Or do I?**
**Yes. Yes I do.***
***Or do I?
posted by metaBugs to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (51 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Euchre. Not only is it a game in which you can (and indeed must) lie to, betray, manipulate, etc., but it is the greatest game of any kind ever invented (slight hyperbole - but really, it's awesome).
posted by The World Famous at 4:05 PM on January 11, 2011


Diplomacy is the classic example.
posted by mhoye at 4:06 PM on January 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


The Battlestar Galactica is supposed to have a fierce traitor mechanic (the hidden Cylons, natch).
posted by Paragon at 4:06 PM on January 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Diplomacy is the granddaddy of discord-sowing games. Warning: there is a high chance of losing friendships. Diplomacy over email is quite popular.

Risk has similar potential, but is not nearly as potent.
posted by kmz at 4:07 PM on January 11, 2011


Diplomacy can be played via the post and allows you to bluff to your dark heart's content.
posted by autopilot at 4:07 PM on January 11, 2011


Balderdash?
posted by theredpen at 4:08 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The game you want is Mafia. And all you need is a pack of cards... you can probably even get away without those if you've got pen and paper though.
posted by Caravantea at 4:08 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember an old post on the blue (question on the green?) about a game where players are assigned professions: a sherrif, a mayer, a thief(?) etc. in a community. One of them (more than one) is not who they seem, and is also/actually a murderer. Every night, the murderer attempts to kill someone else. Every day the village takes actions to try and protect themselves/ferret out the killer. If I recall, it's played mostly online and may have a particular hub website that organizes games and ranks players. And it's free.

Truly horrible description above, but hopefully someone after me will recognize the game from what I've typed. It's almost exactly what you want.
posted by jsturgill at 4:08 PM on January 11, 2011


This was my experience playing the Munchkin card game with my friends.
posted by Neofelis at 4:08 PM on January 11, 2011




If you like D&D, i suggest the card game munchkin, which had endless potential for manipulation and stabbing people in the back.

Also, Risk, obviously. And the even more complicated board game Shogun.

There are lots of card games with the potential for this, obviously, the favourite amongst my friends being presidents and slaves, but i cant find rules similar to ours online - it may be the house rules that make it so good.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:09 PM on January 11, 2011


Diplomacy is exactly what you describe. You can play it online, and in my opinion it actually works better over the web with a week-long timeframe than in person. It looks a lot like Risk, and the object is the same, but there are no dice and tactical skill isn't nearly as important as the willingness to be a terrible human being to people who are ostensibly your friends (although that doesn't stop sites like diplom.org from going over strategy in chess-like depth).
posted by theodolite at 4:10 PM on January 11, 2011


Good lord. Also known as Werewolf. Also known as Mafia. You already know this thing. And if I'd stopped to think it might have more than one name, I'd have clicked on that Werewolf link and figured that out.
posted by jsturgill at 4:10 PM on January 11, 2011


it's fun being the Cylon in the Battlestar Galactica game.

on a simpler level, Saboteur is a fun little game.

Funny enough, both games seem a little weighted towards the betrayer in their gameplay. But I enjoyed both a lot - Cylon in one, honest little gnome in the other.
posted by jb at 4:13 PM on January 11, 2011


"Diplomacy" has been known to break friendships. For real.

I have seen "Scruples" cause major rows, too. Especially between partners. It's such fun.
posted by Decani at 4:14 PM on January 11, 2011


I was coming in for BSG, but someone beat me to it, so I'll have to do what I usually do in RPG/ board threads and rec Fiasco.

Be warned that they will do the same to you, and it will all end poorly, but you'll have a ton of fun on the way.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2011


Illuminati can be pretty back-stabby.
posted by hades at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Solium Infernum has a reputation for this. Make sure to read the Rock Paper Shotgun posts about it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:19 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


3rding Munchkin. Also maybe Bang!, which has got a Mafia element to it. My friends really enjoy Pandemic and the On the Brink expansion has a bio-terrorist challenge, though we haven't played that yet.
posted by natabat at 4:19 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my Freshman year, there was a one-move-per-day game of Diplomacy that made enemies that lasted at least until graduation.
posted by dws at 4:20 PM on January 11, 2011


BANG! is related to the Werewolf idea, but involves outlaws and lawmen, and nobody knows who's who. Each of the 4 different types of players has a different victory condition, and secrecy and subterfuge are the name of the game.
posted by richyoung at 4:22 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paranoia - hell - you don't have to share forms or tell them the rules. Plus, you can just go ahead and turn them into the system. Trust no one, unless you have to. and then expect them to betray you - so betray them first!

Also Eve Online has probably a good amount of large scale backstabbing for you - and it is a favorite of the blue.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2011


I'd like to propose a game I invented a couple years ago called Duplicity. I tried it out on a weekend gathering of friends and the result was massive mistrust of anything anybody else did.

Sounds like exactly the thing you're looking for.
posted by schrodycat at 4:30 PM on January 11, 2011






"Diplomacy" has been known to break friendships. For real.

Yeah, you may want to reconsider getting too far into the kind of games where the winning strategy is picking just the right moment to knife your friends in the back.
posted by mhoye at 5:04 PM on January 11, 2011


Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but get the card game Pit, the stock trading game where the goal is to monopolize a 'market' by getting all of one type of card. But instead of playing to win play make it so no one can win! Prevent anyone from winning by getting one of each type of card. Pit is the kind of game where it will take quite awhile before anyone realizes you did this, unless they've seen it done before themselves.

(someone did this with my friends and I and it was pretty hilarious once we figured out we'd been trading for a good ten minutes without the possibility of winning).
posted by Green With You at 5:20 PM on January 11, 2011


I think I'm the fourth person to recommend Battlestar Galactica. The loyalty system works exactly the same way as Shadows over Camelot, HOWEVER there are multiple traitors and all the traitors are guaranteed to come into play. Halfway through the game there is a "Sleeper Phase" where the rest of the loyalty deck is dealt out. The game itself is also a lot of fun, and it's not just a remaking of Shadows.
posted by Deflagro at 5:20 PM on January 11, 2011


kmz: "Diplomacy is the granddaddy of discord-sowing games. Warning: there is a high chance of losing friendships."

nthing this. I know of marriages that have broken up over betrayals and arguments in Diplomacy.
posted by turkeyphant at 5:27 PM on January 11, 2011


If you don't way to pay $15 a month for EVE Online, there is also now an EVE board game. Diplomacy and BSG are also right up your alley, I think.
posted by BZArcher at 5:30 PM on January 11, 2011


Munchkins. For a less marketing driven description, wikipedia. Definitely falls under the heading of 'lighter fare.'
posted by Ys at 5:31 PM on January 11, 2011


I always enjoyed the Illuminati card game, which has a fair bit of this sort of thing.


And yes, a variant on Strip iterative prisoners' dilemma is already on the list for the next party.

Heh. Lends a whole new meaning to this strategy...

posted by dersins at 5:45 PM on January 11, 2011


30th-ing Diplomacy. It is exactly what you are asking for.
posted by dfan at 6:00 PM on January 11, 2011


you answered your own question:
Machiavelli the Prince
posted by spacefire at 6:48 PM on January 11, 2011


Cosmic Encounter is back in print! Lying, scheming, co-operation, and backstabbing is inherent. The key game mechanic is that each player is a race that gets to break one of the game's rules in a unique way. One version of the game involves these traits to be kept secret for at least part of the game. Not everyone must have the same win conditions. Sound like fun?
posted by fatllama at 6:57 PM on January 11, 2011


Family Business is a Mafia card game that is a ton of fun to play, especially with 4 - 6 players.
posted by mogget at 7:42 PM on January 11, 2011


Monopoly ( or my new favorite board game Aquire) with interplayer trading and alliances enabled can get real dirty real quick.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2011


JUNTA!

Not an online game, but super fun nonetheless! Who doesn't love to lie to their friends while trying to overthrow the government and accumulate as much money in their swiss bank account as possible?
posted by ruhroh at 9:39 PM on January 11, 2011


The War on Terror board game. The last time it was played in this household, it ended a 20 year friendship. Very entertaining and engaging, encourages Machiavellian plotting, can end in nuclear armageddon, and comes with a balaclava.
posted by tavegyl at 1:39 AM on January 12, 2011


I played Nuclear Escalation for a while and it's a good, short back-stabbing kind of game that inevitably ends with everyone getting nuked.
posted by plinth at 2:46 AM on January 12, 2011


I came in to recommend Family Business as noted above. We eventually had to ban it from family gatherings.
posted by mikepop at 7:02 AM on January 12, 2011


Thanks for all the suggestions so far, some of these sounds great!

I'm really intrigued by Diplomacy, but a little freaked out by the horror stories. The people I'd be playing with are all fine with separating in-game behaviour from out -- we've had some spectacularly vicious plays made in the past, but with no hard feelings taken away. Maybe it's only a big problem between some couples, who are horrified to learn that their partner has the will and ability to betray them at all?

Anyway: Is there anyone in the house who's played this a lot and didn't end up hating everyone else involved?
posted by metaBugs at 7:13 AM on January 12, 2011


My favourite game at the moment is seeing how many typos my fingers can slip in without my brain noticing. Ouch. Sorry!
posted by metaBugs at 7:14 AM on January 12, 2011


I'm really intrigued by Diplomacy, but a little freaked out by the horror stories. The people I'd be playing with are all fine with separating in-game behaviour from out -- we've had some spectacularly vicious plays made in the past, but with no hard feelings taken away. Maybe it's only a big problem between some couples, who are horrified to learn that their partner has the will and ability to betray them at all?

I think most of the blow ups over Diplomacy come from the fact that at the beginning of the game it tends to bring people who are closest to each other together as an alliance, and then the inevitable backstabs happen between those people. So people who are used to "having each other's backs" in things end up betraying each other in the game which can cause problems. If you are notorious already as a total bastard in games, it's not going to come as a shock to other players that you eventually betray anyone that is dumb enough to trust you, although that will also probably make it hard to get anyone to work with you in the first place.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:45 AM on January 12, 2011


Game of Thrones is a more streamlined and simplified Diplomacy set in a grim fantasy kingdom, it's very entertaining. You need five people to play it properly, though.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:13 AM on January 12, 2011


Munchkin is about stabbing your friends, but generally from the front: little deception is necessary. Same with Settlers of Catan.
posted by jb at 10:25 AM on January 12, 2011


Some suggestions:

- Munchkin is backstabby, but not necessarily deceitful
- Settlers can be fun, especially if you're friends will let you have more complex trades (I'll trade you one wheat for for all of my brick in the next 5 turns) - great discord
- The best suggestion I have though, is Nomic or what my friends call "The Rule Game". You start with 10 or so rules that lay out the basic premise of the game (how rules are created, how to resolve conflict, etc) and then you trick everyone else into changing the rules so that you win. There's no way to get out of the game without some really good manipulation to setup conditions and traps that propel you to the victory, great fun.
posted by mincus at 11:49 AM on January 12, 2011


I think Epic Mafia allows you to create closed games so just you and your buddies can play. It has exactly the kind of deception element you are looking for. The basic premise is that the Village tries to determine who among them is Mafia. The Mafia kills a Village person at night and the the Village votes on a lynch during the day. Plus there are different characters with different abilities. I think the learning curve can be a tad steep but the payoff is totally there once you get it.
posted by quadog at 11:34 PM on January 12, 2011


Oh, and for a fast and dirty game that calls for some deception you can't beat Liars Dice.
posted by quadog at 11:35 PM on January 12, 2011


Interesting post - what of these games can be played online? Any recommendations? I've played Diplomacy enough online and would be interested in similar online games.
posted by aarondesk at 1:13 PM on January 15, 2011


The Resistance is in the same vain as werewolf/mafia, but you play it with 5-10 people and without a moderator or player elimination. Lots of arguing fun to be had!

Intrigue should also be a good fit - "Players are seeking positions in the other families' businesses, and to further that pursuit players offer bribes. However, once accepting a bribe, the 'bought' player is under absolutely no obligation to honor the highest briber or any other verbal deal. In a word, this game is vicious."

I'd also recommend BSG and Saboteur, mentioned above
posted by radicarian at 11:01 AM on January 19, 2011


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