Mascarade Review


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14 April 2022
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Mostly about bluffing

There is something delectably exciting about the mystery of a masquerade. Who is behind the mask? Can you tell their identity from their gestures or manners? Maybe they will give themselves away in a careless conversation? Bruno Faidutti’s Mascarade raises the stakes: not only that you don’t know who other people are, most of the time you don’t know your own identity under the mask!

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Mascarade is a game of hidden identity and bluffing, where each player starts as a certain character with a unique power but almost instantly becomes someone else. To win the game, a player will need to gather 13 gold, which they could easily do if they are, for example, an Empress who takes three gold from the bank as an action. Except, maybe they are not an Empress and they are bluffing, or maybe their card got switched secretly to a Fool. Or maybe they don’t know who they are or simply forgot (this happens a lot!). Pretending to be someone is just as risky as calling another player out: guess wrong and you will lose coins! Even if someone’s identity is momentarily figured out, within a round they are another character, and the guessing game continues.

Perhaps, some extraordinary mind can remember each identity and track them around the table as the game progresses. However, for most mortal beings, Mascarade is mostly about bluffing. If you have a convincing enough poker face and a voice that doesn’t waver, you can be any character in the game at your will. This is, however, hard and takes practice. So, despite its simple rules and small playtime, Mascarade works better with a more experienced group of players. Even better, a group of friends who know each other better and can read even the smallest of tells. A game of Mascarade can be disastrous with a group of people who are unsure or are uncomfortable with each other. However, it can also be the highest point of the evening if you assemble the right characters.

ALEXANDRA SONECHKINA

PLAY IT? YES

Designer: Bruno Faidutti

Publisher: Repos Production

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Time: 30 minutes

Players: 4-12

Ages: 10+

Price: £20

 

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