Genre: Word Deduction
Player Count: 4-8
Play Count as of this Review: 11
- First and foremost, this is Insider with additional game modes. You can also use Insider and Insider Black to have a team competition if you have both (or honestly, just split the deck of cards in half). Besides the new modes, the new cards are said to be more difficult than the regular edition of Insider. I have not personally been able to compare nor have I seen a review that compares the basic cards to the black edition cards so I cannot comment on if they are actually more difficult. If they are, then I can only imagine the base Insider cards are mad basic. Lastly, the included timer is three minutes as opposed to five.
- The timer being changed from five to three minutes is a monumental change. I have not played the regular edition of Insider but having played Black, three minutes is almost too much time as is for the guessing of questions. I cannot imagine adding an additional two minutes. For the groups that I have played this game with, there is no way we would not get the answer guessed in five minutes.
- The first new addition is that of the ‘follower’ role. This can only be used when there are six or more players and their role is to assist the ‘insider’ during the round. I honestly do not see the value of this role. I can see where it benefits the insider (as the follower can feed off the direction of the questions being asked and possibly help steer the questioning) but they do not see the answer so they are also in the dark like the commons. Maybe we just didn’t have a strong grasp of the follower role but I would not include it unless playing with a maximum allotment of players.
- The other addition are ‘off-limits question cards’. There are five unique cards that make certain question types illegal for the round. I think this is a worthwhile edition to the Insider game as it can make question asking (and guessing) harder. This helps address an issue I have with the game (more below) while also forcing players to think outside the box. I really appreciate this addition and it also opens up easy to incorporate house rules around questions in the event the guessing is too easy.
- Insider is basically ’20 Questions’. There is a question master (who knows the answer and is facilitating the round), the insider (who knows the answer and is trying to nudge the players in the right direction without being found out), and the commons, who are guessing without any idea what the answer may be. The trick to this game is that the insider is trying to nudge the players without giving away that they know what the answer is. Players are randomly assigned a role and spend the duration of the sand timer asking the master ‘Yes/No’ questions until they either guess the right answer or run out of time. If they get it right, they will then try to guess who the insider was.
- Insider is an interesting dive into social deduction games because you are not only interested in the answers, but also who is asking the questions. If you like games such as Spyfall and A Fake Artist Goes to New York, you’ll find Insider sits in the same classroom as those.
- Insider is very hit-or-miss. The game only really works with a word that is of medium or higher difficulty. Too easy of a word and the round will be over before it begins. The inverse can be a problem too; if the word is too hard players may know who the insider is based on their questions. When Insider hits, it is a very fun experience for a group of people. When it doesn’t, it is just 20 Questions with the word being guessed before the time is up.
- To double down on the last point, when the game is played as intended, I cannot see any reason for the Insider to actively work towards ensuring the team guesses correctly. The only time the insider should work towards that is when their side is clearly not going to win. Unfortunately, in most of the games we played, that was never an issue we ran into. The group would guess the question with little to no help from the insider (or standard guesses from the insider). This led to a weird scenario where the commons would guess less, trying to force the others to guess more. The problem is that with this strategy, there is a high possibility that the word is not guessed and no one wins. This goes against the nature of the game (in my opinion). This meta strategy locks players into a weird question struggle that dampers the entire mood of the game.
- To rebuttal my last two points, I do not think this will be an issue for every group. I know some groups will love this game and I know other groups won’t care about the issue with the insider role I described. There is a perfectly good social deduction game here. The debate around the insider, when truly a mystery, is incredibly interesting and engaging when it happens. Insider seems more accessible than a similar game like Spyfall (as players are not being forced to lie necessarily) and the fact that the game is basically a travel game gives it some major brownie points.
- “Kurt, it is a party game. You’re thinking way too much into this” you say. But that’s the problem. Playing it as a party game just ends with the clue being guessed before the time allotment is up. The fun of the game is lost if each round ends with the players winning, regardless of the outcome of the insider vote. We only had one game where we failed to guess the word.