Am I bluffing? Most of the time, if I am, it’s pretty obvious. I suffer from a crippling inability to bluff. In most cases, being hard-wired to be honest is a great thing. Unfortunately, it puts me at a real disadvantage in games where bluffing is key.
This edition of the Board Game Night Playlist is the equivalent of my board gaming Kryptonite. These games are certainly fun, though my inability to bluff puts me at a huge disadvantage in all of them. Still, bluffing is a very popular board gaming mechanic and one that can lead to a hilarious night of tabletop gaming. If you’re in the mood to lie through your teeth, try out this trifecta of bluffing goodness!
Cash ‘N Guns
In the midst of a dispute over loot, things escalate to a Mexican standoff. This is Cash ‘N Guns, where players will point foam guns at each other’s heads, either scaring their opponents away from the loot or forcing them to retreat with fresh bullet holes. As grim as this sounds, it’s actually a hilarious party game that works incredibly well with a high player count.
As a bluffing game, it doesn’t require bluffers to do anything extra, though their actions are just as powerful without having to put on an act. When you’re assessing the room for a target, do you think you can fake them out with a blank bullet, forcing them out of the round so that you can get the cash for yourself while saving a real bullet for later? Or more importantly, when someone points a gun to your head, do you believe that it’s loaded?
I’ve had times when three people have pointed guns at me, only to realize after the fact that all three shot blanks. Knowing that I could have survived that still drives me nuts to this day. Then again, I once saw my friend stand his ground against three guns, only to get shot three times and immediately eliminated in the first round of the game. Getting bluffed out like that is equally hilarious. Are you daring enough to call someone’s bluff with a foam gun in you face and thousands of fake dollars on the line?
Also set in the same universe as The Resistance, Coup is a game in which players take on the roles of rival factions fighting over control of the government. In this fast and cutthroat card game, you’re using the special abilities of your party to dispatch of your opposition. However, as a means of getting the upper hand, you can take a character-specific action of a character outside of your party…unless you get caught. The penalty for getting caught in a lie is just as bad as having your party disposed of by an unblockable coup.
While lying in key moments can give you the advantage, you can also play the game straight and still win. Granted, it’s harder (and maybe less fun) to win this way, but you don’t have to put yourself in a risky situation if you don’t want to. Another benefit to Coup is that moves very quickly. Rounds can end in 5-10 minutes, making it a game that works wonders in short spurts.
Sheriff of Nottingham
Sheriff of Nottingham is basically Border Patrol: The Board Game. Players take turns as the Sheriff, inspecting closed bags of goods that merchants are trying to deliver to their shops. Some merchants are honest entrepreneurs that are simply trying to move their stash of legal goods, while others are trying to smuggle contraband such as booze and weapons. Without opening the bag, the Sheriff must make a call on which bags to inspect. If they successfully bust a felon, the felon must pay the Sheriff the equivalent value of the goods they tried to smuggle. However, if the Sheriff opens a clean bag, they must pay the merchant the equivalent value of the goods in the bag.
Maybe I’ve listened to too much rap music in my day, but I adore the theme of smuggling contraband across a border. If you don’t want to play it that way, there are also a number of ways in which the game incentivizes legal importing. Being the Sheriff is the toughest job of all, as your ability to spot the crooks can really change the outcome of the game. Even if I’m not the best at smuggling goods, I can’t get enough of the hilarious situations the game creates.