RogerBW's Blog

Human Era: first look 03 September 2018

Human Era is a new social deduction game by Zach and Jake Given.

I backed the Kickstarter last November, and it arrived at the end of August, only about a month behind the original schedule.

The materials for play are a custom six-sided die, a time era display, and many cards; it could easily have been fit into a shallower box, and I may end up re-boxing it for portability.

Humans invented time travel, and the universe started to fall apart. Fortunately, the future machine civilisation will put everything right! But those pesky humans insist on putting their trivial priorities, like "survival", ahead of the really important goals.

Gameplay consists of trying to return people, and animals, from various eras of time to their original periods (go to period, choose a team to do the job, vote on that team, then when a team's accepted get them to perform the job); but some players will be machines, who want to subvert this mission and bring on the rise of the superior beings, and some are cyborgs, who can share a win with the machines by tipping the game towards them, or go for a solo win later on. Only one copy of each of the six beings can be visible at a time; if there are more, that's a paradox, and the older one vanishes, revealing another

As with Homeland, another "second-generation" social deduction game (with The Resistance and its kin being first generation in this model, and Werewolf/Mafia being zeroth), play gets away from the basic "find the traitor" model by giving the third player role a reason to play for either side at various points during the game. Also as with Homeland there's an extra card added to each mission to make it harder to assign blame when things go wrong.

I need to get the rules properly lodged in my mind before I start explaining it to other people, but it's a short (20-30 minute) game that I'll certainly try out with the local group. Core gameplay supports 4-8, 9-10 with slight modifications (in effect playing two games at once with joint scoring); and there's a solo variant, playing a harder version of the core "get cards into their right places" mechanic without the treachery angle – suggesting the designers have some confidence in this part of the gameplay.

The rules are reasonably clear though not perfect, and I look forward to getting this to the table.

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