Enigma Beyond Code (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designers: Sergei Pritula
  • Artists: N/A
  • Publisher: CrowD Games
  • Players: 1-5
  • Time: 15-60 Minutes
  • Times Played: 2 times to three wins and a handful of random plays (Not played Solo)

During World War II, the Germans were using the Enigma Cipher Machines to communicate in a way that only they, the ones with the Enigma Machines, would understand. Enter a group of code breakers, who hole up in an old Victorian Mansion who are trying to break the Enigma Code while in a Mansion that seems to evolve and change all the time. Everyone has their goals, all of them are surely good, right? 

In Enigma Beyond Code, up to five players will be taking turns looking into rooms to discover where they are in the mansion, and taking actions based on where they are. This is all in an attempt to gain the knowledge that your role needs in order to end the game. Be careful though, use too much time and chaos begins to descend on the players and the mansion. 

To start the game, take the nine mansion cards and shuffle them before placing them out in a three by three grid, face down. All of the players are then dealt a secret identity. The rules will suggest a setup of cards to deal from for your first play, after that, we’ve just thrown them all together and dealt them all out. Each character is going to have a set goal to win the game that is spelled out on the bottom. Most of the time you just want to be able to name where certain rooms are and maybe have certain token. Everyone gets a handy dandy player aide that is going to tell you what every room does and what every role needs to win. One person becomes the time keeper and moves the time token to the first yellow hourglass spot and starts the game. 

On a turn, players will do two things. They will look at one of the mansion cards, keeping it secret from the other players, and then take an action by claiming what that room is. You can be truthful and tell everyone what the room is and take the action associated with the room, or you can lie and hope that everyone believes you and lets you take the action of the room you claimed, even though that isn’t what you looked at. Each room has a specific action assigned to it. These actions will let you look at other room cards, or collect tokens or even swap and move some mansion rooms around. 

If another player doesn’t believe you about the room you are claiming, they may say that you are lying and then you have to show them the mansion card to prove that you weren’t lying, or to confirm to the player that you were indeed lying. If you are lying, you take a silence token that you keep until your next turn and you do not get to perform the action. While silenced you cannot speak, meaning you cannot accuse others of lying. On your next turn you may only flip over one card and look at it, you may not take the action. If you are telling the truth, the accusing player will take a silence token instead. 

When the first player takes their next turn, they will move the hourglass token forward one spot and continue playing. If you believe that you have fulfilled the requirements of your identity, instead of taking your action, you flip your identity card and show that you know the information that is needed, if you cannot, you are simply out of this round of the game. If you are successful, take a Triumph Token to show that you have one win. Most of the time when playing Enigma Beyond Code, you’ll play till someone has won three rounds. Other times, you may just want to play it as a five to ten minute filler, either way, it’s up to you. 

One thing of note, if time runs out, chaos wins, unless of course there was a Saboteur was in the game, then that player wins a Victory Token. 

We don’t play a lot of Deduction games around here anymore. Our Deduction dealer has left town, but when I took a look at Enigma Beyond Code, I noticed that it was a deduction game that would play well with three and had some elements of one of our favorites, Coup. So of course we took the fine folks at CrowD Games up on the offer to review it, and I am glad that we did. 

Enigma Beyond Code plays super quickly, and it is really easy to explain thanks to the wonderful player aides that spell everything out. Component wise CrowD Games has done a fantastic job. Nice, quality cards that are just fine on their own, but then throw on the sleeves that come with the game and it’s even better. Sleeves are kind of important with a game that has cards that are handled as much as they are here. You don’t want any marks on them for that one person to find and use to their advantage. Cardboard is of good quality for all of the tokens and Enigma Beyond Code even comes with some small notebooks for you to mark information down on, just in case you aren’t one hundred percent sure of your memory. We’ve played it both ways and I don’t really think that it is going to matter, especially when the mansion rooms change places. Also, did I mention that the player aides were really well done? I think I did, but just in case, I’ll say it again. The player aides are really well done and spell everything out for the players in easy to understand language. Which is kind of needed as the icons can be a bit confusing at first. 

The identities are a good variety and the suggested starter identities worked perfectly to get everyone up and running and ready for all of the other identities. The Ghost is especially fun, with having to find a certain room so that they can “possess” another identity in order to win, and the Saboteur proved to be challenging. We thought it may be impossible to win with that identity, but it wasn’t, some shrewd play and knowledge of the mansion made it happen. 

Three wins can take a while at full player count and maybe a bit too long as I don’t think that folks would really want to play this regularly for an hour, it’s simply a nearly perfect deductive filler at five to ten minutes and shines really well in that 20-30 minute range. You just have to hope that folks are okay with someone winning with less than three Victory Token marks. 

Hopefully I get a solo play or two in, and can talk about it in the future, possibly in one of my Three Games Articles, maybe I can find a couple other solo games to give a whirl one month. But in the meantime, I hope to continue playing Enigma Beyond Code with my family and friends, as it is a fun, quick, challenging deduction game. It’s tough to do that in the time frame that Enigma Beyond Code succeeds in. 

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers:

Chris Wray:  A deduction game that has some social deduction aspects, Enigma Beyond Code was enjoyable (and indeed felt a bit like Coup), but ultimately is a bit too clunky to be something I’d pull out often.  The game is clever, and deduction fans here will find things to enjoy.  But the problem is the interaction between the randomness and the game length: one play wouldn’t be enough — there’s way too much randomness for that to be satisfying — but playing to three points takes a bit too long.  

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it.

I like it. Brandon K

Neutral.  Chris Wray

Not for me…

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