INSIDER & the Power of Influence
You are being influenced. The question is: who is doing it? Moreover, if you are the one influencing, how are you covering your tracks?
That is the basic premise of Insider, where players will be challenged to find out who among them is the Insider. If they find out, they win. If not, the Insider does.
This simple parlor game comes from Oink Games, a Japanese company known for their striking minimalistic graphic design and neat little boxes. The games are pretty good, too.
To begin, tiles are dealt out to each player to indicate which roles they will be playing. They could be a “Common,” the “Master,” or the eponymous “Insider.” The Master shuffles the word deck and, like many other social deduction games directs the “eyes open/close’ phase. First, the Master instructs the Commons and the Insider to close their eyes, after which the Master deals the top card off the word deck onto the table. The card will have six numbered answers on it, the top of the deck indicates which numbered response to use. So if the top card on the deck says “2” as in the picture below, the answer to guess on the card would be “Power Pole.”
Then the Master closes their own eyes and tells the Insider to open theirs. The Insider then learns what the secret answer is. The Master will direct the insider to close their eyes, then stacks the answer card face-down back on the pile, using the Master tile to cover the number. Everyone opens their eyes, and the guessing game begins.
At this point, the Master and Insider both know the secret answer (“Power Pole” in this case), but the Master does not know who the Insider is. The game proceeds with the sand-timer, and the Commons and the Insider have a minute to guess the answer, free-form, 20-questions-style. The Master can only say, “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know.” If the answer isn’t correctly guessed in one minute, everyone loses. If they get it right, the game continues to a confrontation phase.
Now, here is the influence part. Notice the Insider is participating in the guessing as well, so the key for the Insider is to ask questions that lead the group into guessing the correct answer, but they don’t want to be too helpful as a win for the Insider depends on not being too obvious that they know the answer. During the confrontation phase, all the players have one minute to discuss if they believe the person who guessed the answer correctly is the Insider. At the end of the minute, everyone who thinks that person is the Insider raises their hand. If they are indeed the insider, and there is a majority of hands, the Commons win. If there is a minority of hands, the Insider wins. However, if the person who guessed the answer is a Common, and there are a minority of hands, then the game not quite over yet.
Without any deliberation, everyone points to whom they think is the Insider If the person who gets the most votes is a Common, the Insider wins. If the insider gets the most votes, then the Commons (& Master) wins.
Many games of this genre rely on a player bluffing or lying to achieve their goal (win) or protect their identity. Here, it is a bit more subtle as, initially, everyone’s goal is aligned. Nobody wins if the group does not get the word in time; virtually a non-zero-sum game.
The Insider does not need to deceive others outright; they just need to stay hidden enough to last the voting rounds. The “20 questions” part of Insider is just a stage for the real drama to occur, as the players all start internally over-analyzing other’s motives as they are guessing. “Could she be the Insider? She sure seemed to make a big mental leap there with THAT question. How did HE conclude the answer was ‘power pole’ so quickly? I thought for sure the answer would be ‘tree.'” The Master may have a slight advantage, as they can spend mental energy on sussing out the Insider instead of focusing on questions.
A note on social deduction games, in general, is that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. You can have a rousing game with one group and have it fall flat with others just based on environment, temperaments, attitudes, and the like. Some people have a difficult time playing games that involve deception. Other popular deduction games, like Werewolf, can last a long time depending on player count. Players being eliminated early may have to wait a while to play again while others are still participating, and that can be no fun. A round of Insider is literally a three-minute game, no matter how many players are involved. There is no elimination, and everyone is engaged. People who have tried other deduction party games and not enjoyed them may want to try Insider out to see if they like it as I see that it addresses common issues people have with this type of game. If not, well, it was only three minutes.
You can find Insider right here: https://gumroad.com/oinkgames#