Overview: Mascarade is a social deduction bluffing card game in which at any given time, players may not know what secret role they have. At the start of the game, players get to see everyone’s initial roles, and start with 6 coin. However, that ends quickly in the first four turns as players are required to swap their card with another player (without looking at either card) or in the middle (when applicable). Note that players can decide whether to swap-or-not which is part of the bluffing of the game. Swapping is done under the table. After the first four turns, players can then do one of three actions of their turn. They can swap (or not) with another card, look at their card secretly, or announce they are a character and resolve the character’s power. Opponents have a chance to call their bluff and reply “no i am _____”. In this case, any opponent that challenges must reveal their card and the player who announced must also reveal their card. Whoever is the announced character gets to immediately do that power (regardless of whether it’s their turn or not) and whoever is not has to pay a coin to the courthouse. Game ends when a player has 13 coin or a player has zero coin. For the former, that player is the winner, for the latter, whoever is the richest at the time wins. If there’s a tie, there is shared victory.
Mascarade is a social deduction bluffing game in its finest. What makes Mascarade stand out from other social deduction games is that you may not know your secret role at any given time, and secret roles get swapped around the table. Also, calling someone’s bluff is encouraged in Mascarade as the only fine is to pay one coin if you are wrong. This differs from Coup, because you lose a role (or possibly get eliminated from the game) if you call someone’s bluff and you are wrong. Even though the secret roles get swapped, players can deduce who is who especially when cards are revealed on a bluff.
In Mascarade, it can sometimes be tricky to keep track of your swapped card and sometimes it gets lost in the swap. Hilarity ensues when you are sure you are a character, then realize that you might not have the best sleight of hand. The most hilarious situation is when both players are certain they are a character, and both aren’t! It’s this social part of the game that makes Mascarade extremely fun.
Mascarade is quicker than Resistance, and more complex than Coup. It’s a happy medium, as games usually take 15 minutes or less. Also what makes Mascarade awesome is being able to play with a very wide range of players (2-13), although more on a two player game in a minute. Players who enjoy bluffing and social deduction games will want Mascarade in their game library.
2 Player Experience
Mascarade for two players sadly does not work at all. It becomes a memory matching game as players control three secret roles with one of them protected, which adds more rules. Also, the social, fun aspect of Mascarade is lost in a two player game, since bluffing doesn’t work nearly as well. It’s very shocking they even added a two player variant, considering three player is also a variant. Mascarade with two players can work okay if players want a challenge with memory, but other than that, it’s not even worth called a game with only two players.
4 Player Experience
Four player Mascarade is incredible. For a social deduction game, it works surprisingly well. Games like BANG! can play 4 players but it’s not nearly as fun. Resistance can’t even do 4 players. There are no special rules for four player, and the bluffing works well. Sometimes a player can get away without someone challenging them but that is rare. With four people, players can keep a good track on the secret roles, but it’s not so easy that no one has to bluff. For a game with such a wide possible range of players, Mascarade is one of the best social deduction/bluffing games that can be played well with four players.