Designer: Chang Yu Di
Artist: Zaza (炸炸)
Playing Time: 5-10 minutes
Times Played: 3 with a purchased copy
I’m a sucker for card games, and even more so when they have an explicit player count. It doesn’t play 2 to 4, it plays exactly 3. Inside Man is a Taiwanese card game that was the penultimate add to my Game Market shopping list from this last Spring (with the last add being a 5-player only card game.)
While playing exactly 3, it only comes with enough cards for 2 players –because that is all you need. I don’t totally follow the theme, but roughly, a mafia boss has discovered some sort of undercover cop, a mole of sorts, and has suspicions on another. He’s devised some sort of test. Also, everyone’s a cat.
(Back to moles for a second, that 5-player only card game is also about moles.)
Anyway, the players each take on one of those rolls: the boss cat, the mole cat, and the possibly-a-mole cat. One player won’t need cards, but the other 2 players each take a set of cards. One player receives cards numbered 2 through 13, and the other receives 1 through 11, and a “x2”.
The game is a test over 5 rounds. The player with 2-13 vs the other 2 players. In each test, the players with cards choose 2 of their cards to play, face down. The player without cards examines them for which pair has a higher sum, and reveals 1 of the 2 cards from the higher pair.
The game ends when one of the two players with cards has “won” three tests.
The rub is that the player without cards can choose to lie once during the game. Flip over a card from the losing pair rather than the high pair. If the no-card player’s team wins 3 tests, the 2-13 player has one chance to pick which of the pairs was a lie, and if they do, they’ve won afterall.
(If you want the full rules or need the theme, they are linked on the Game Market page here.)
There’s something here. In that nebulous miasma of deduction games and bluffing games and social games and guessing games it’s too far in one of the concavities that’s not for me. But I think it’s for someone.
I can feel a spark of it. In all of the roles. Choosing the pairs, choosing the lie. Which card to reveal. High rounds and low rounds or middling rounds throughout. The mind games from repeated plays and role rotation.
In this time and place, it isn’t quite for me, but I didn’t want to skip over it either. If I love a game, it’s unlikely I’ll ever “recommend” it to anyone, as, well, that’s stronger than I’m willing to go. I know my tastes are several standard deviations outside the mean and the odds that you’re interested in what I’m interested in are slim. So this isn’t a recommendation, but it’s also not an unrecommendation. It’s a radar blip. Byoop….byoop…..byoop….
For someone who doesn’t necessarily “get” most bluffing microgames, I’m surprised that this one feels within my grasp, even if I can’t reach it. Which is to say, I think there might be folks more at home here that wouldn’t mind it coming across their radar. Byoop.