People enjoy lying. It doesn't always have to be a bad thing, and in some situations can help people, but we just enjoy being deceptive. This trend of being deceptive has always been a part of games. Whether you're trying to get a friend to pick the old maid, or believe that you'll make an alliance in Monopoly it's fun. Plenty of games have now pivoted from being games where you can lie, to games where the point is lying and getting away with it. Social Deception games really began to become popular back in the 80s with Mafia and more recently with Werewolves. Now Destroy all Humans! The Official Card Game from Pegasus Spiele is reworking the formula once again to fit the invasion of planet Earth by the Furons.
If you're aware of Werewolves, Mafia, Secret Hitler, etc then you'll have somewhat of an idea of how the game works. The game is for 8-24 players and will require a narrator to walk those playing through the game. Each round a single card will be given out to the players that will determine the role that they play. They could be an alien like Crypto-136, the protagonist of the Video Game, a secret agent from the Magestic company trying to stop the aliens, a special human, or a regular citizen. After getting to see their card the players will be asked to close their eyes and the narrator will walk them through the ability phase of the game. During the ability phase the Narrator will weave a story of the Furons invading earth and that they are hiding among the humans. Following the rulebook the Narrator will call each of the special roles to open their eyes or interact with the group, rotating any decisions that needed to be made.
Once all of the special roles have been called upon then all players will be able to open their eyes, learn of any deaths, and then begin their discussion of who they believe are the aliens. Players can use all kinds of auditory clues from the Ability Phase. Magestic Agents will try to communicate results with one another, Furons will try to pick up on others body languages, and as a group everyone will decide who deserves to be voted against. There are also special roles particular to this section of the game such as the Mayor getting multiple votes or the President who announces his identity to the group proving that he is a human but painting a target on his back.
Here's where the chaos unfolds and knowing who you're playing with comes in handy. Is any person being quieter or more vocal than usual? Is anyone making eyes at one another? Is someone using strange language as if they're trying to deliver a coded message? For the Narrator you get to sit back and watch chaos unfold as people start hurling accusations across the room at one another. Once a decision has been made on who to vote for you'll then see if they live or die. You have just as much chance of killing an innocent, as potentially letting an alien go free.
This is the most entertaining part of the game and one that is always fun to have in a game. The time that you spend not looking at cards or at a board in front of you but interacting with people directly. It allows players to get free form with thoughts and accusations, maybe you know a nervous tick of theirs or just want to hurl some insults and see if you get a rise out of them.
The roles include the Furons who can decide to kill one player a turn, the Psi-Mutant who can kill another player once per game, the Crackpot who is on his own team and will win if he's killed by the aliens, and the Silhouette who can pick one person per turn to reveal himself to. The Magestic Agents 1 and 2 are an interesting pairing when it comes to their power. Agent 1 will be able to select a person that they want to find out the identity of, but Agent 2 will simple get a thumbs up or down as to whether the person selected is an alien. One will know the person, and the other gets the results forcing them to secretly communicate during the discussion phase to keep on the same page.
The Agents role was the only one that we had issues with, either by smart play or dumb luck one agent was always out early leaving the other with nothing to do ruining whatever chances they had of gleaning any information. With no concrete way to get results at this point everyone had to rely on luck and deduction to find the aliens. It would be nice if there was some kind of solo ability for them to use, even if at a great disadvantage. All in all there are nine types of human special roles, four alien roles (including one poor mind controlled human), and the Crackpot playing for his own team.
In contrast with Werewolves the Destroy All Humans! Card Game has a lot more of these special roles. While the immediate thought is that more to be keeping an eye out for would be more complicated these roles are all so clearly and easily defined both on the card and in their rulebook description the game is extremely easy to play and adapt. Even cards that interact with one another, like Orthopix-13's ability to block other special roles abilities is well defined. Each character will have a "______ and Orthopix-13" section in the rule book describing exactly how to react as the narrator when it's required. Even if you have never played a game like Destroy All Humans! before the script given to you in the rulebook is so comprehensive and clear everyone will pick it up in no time.
With so many players and roles to try to work through finding a balance might be a difficult prospect but again the rules have the answer in an incredibly easy to understand format. Each of the different cards have been assigned a point value, with the aliens assigned negative numbers and humans given positive values. The aim will be when building up a deck of included characters to get them as close to 0 as possible, but you can also use it to make the game easier or harder for either side.
If the value ends up being a negative number then the aliens might have an advantage, but if it skews positive then the aliens are going to be fighting an uphill struggle. A clear way of balancing the characters makes it really easy for the narrator and group to swap roles in and out and not worry about creating an unfun experience. Between rounds there was always a fun discussion about what people liked having in the game, and what we'd try leaving out. The Crackpots score is a +0 and while he doesn't add anything to either side he's the joker trying to attract the Aliens to kill him. In smaller games the Crackpot might want to be left out as there's such a smaller chance of killing him in a small group, but in large games would be a great wildcard.
The Bottom Line
Pegasus Spiele has done a fantastic job working Destroy All Humans! into the Werewolf formula while providing its own unique twist. While 8-24 players is a lot of people to get together if you do manage to pull it off this game should definitely be one in your collection to bust out. With extremely clear instructions not only running the game but customizing the player roles you'll be able to get all kinds of entertaining combinations out of it. It's fast to learn style also means that there doesn't need to always be a designated Narrator when you play, meaning you can get just as much of a chance to play the game as you would to run it. While the role of the Agents feels like it could use some expanding it's something that wouldn't come up as quickly in larger games, some simple house rules could also immediately remedy the issue.
Get This Game If:
- You have 8-24 players to routinely get together
- You enjoy lying to or investigating your friends
- You're a fan of the franchise
Avoid This Game If:
- You prefer to always be playing and not running the games
- You prefer more structured games
The copy of Destroy All Humans! The Official Card Game used in this review was provided by the publishers. At the current time Destroy All Humans! The Official Card Game is not available for sale.