RogerBW's Blog

One Night Revolution 24 November 2015

One Night Revolution, by Ted Alspach after Akihisa Okui, is a game of hidden identities, deduction and deception for 3-10 players.

Disclaimer: I demonstrated this game for Indie Boards and Cards at Essen SPIEL 2015 and received my copy as payment in kind.

This is not just a re-skin of One Night Werewolf, but a substantial improvement on it. It follows a similar basic pattern: there are ID cards for three secret police informants and N honest rebels; each of the N players gets one, with the three spare ID cards being left face-down at "headquarters". Informants know who each other are; rebels don't, and once the game has started you can't look at your ID card again unless you're told to. Separately, there are Specialist cards equal to the number of players; these give an instruction for an action to take in the night phase, which may vary based on which side someone is on.

During the night phase, all players have their eyes closed; each player in turn opens their eyes, does their Specialist card action, closes their eyes again, and says "Task Complete" to cue the next player. Those actions may be as simple as viewing their own ID card (because it may have been changed by someone else), or involve viewing someone else's card or exchanging cards with other players.

Then in the day phase each player takes a token indicating the specialist role they claim to hold; this doesn't have to be the truth, and players can take tokens from in front of other players if they like. The tokens have no game effect except to serve as a purpose for the following discussion, where players try to work out who's who.

There are several different things going on here. Rebels want to know who the informants are. Informants want to direct suspicion towards the rebels. Everyone also wants to know which side they are now on, because they may have changed sides during the night phase and aren't allowed to look at their IDs again. The game gives players what feels like about one third of the information they actually need; the rest has to be extracted from conversation.

Finally, everyone points at the person they think most likely to be on the opposite team: the one with the most votes (or more than one if there's a tie) is executed. If there's at least one informant among the victims, the rebels win; otherwise the informants win. (If the players are sure they're all rebels, they can agree not to execute anyone, but in that case they lose if there's even one informant left.)

That's it, and it takes about ten minutes to play including five minutes for discussion. The resolution can be surprisingly cathartic, even if one's on the losing side, as the game's good at engendering a feeling of paranoia and persecution.

The game comes with eight specialist roles and two cards for each, with suggested lists for each number of players from three to ten; every game needs some uncertainty and therefore some specialists whose job is to jumble things up, but too many can be counterproductive. The Kickstarter edition adds three more roles.

One flaw is that some of the roles aren't explained as well as they might be. The Reassignor, as an Informant, turns one Rebel to an Informant by swapping his Rebel ID with an Informant ID from headquarters, but it's not quite explicitly stated that he needs to look through the headquarters IDs to find an Informant there, and this can throw people on their first game.

Vital differences from One Night Werewolf are that actions occur in player order, not by specialist card, so there's no need for a player to sit out and act as game controller (or a smartphone app for the same thing); and actions and loyalties are separate cards, though they can be affected by each other.

For me this game has displaced One Night Werewolf and become my preferred one-round hidden-role game. It seems very simple, but having run it for groups of from three to eight players I've gained an appreciation of how well it works. I do think one loses some of the fun in the three-player game, and it's at its best from four or even five upwards, but it does still work in the small group.

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