Last Updated on December 15, 2022
Social deduction board games are some of my favorites. The lying, intrigue, and analytical thought that goes around the table are hard to beat. They’re great party games and even better for players who “aren’t into board games”.
Usually, the majority of the game is talking and interacting with your fellow players, so it’s easy to get any “non-gamers” into the fray.
The only problem is that there are a ton of social deduction games to choose from. So to alleviate that pain, we’ve come up with a list of the best social deduction board games you can find.
Strap in, ladies and gents, it’s going to get heated.
Our Top Picks for Best Social Deduction Games
In a hurry? Check out our favorite social deduction board games before you dash off.
Social Deduction Games
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
Battlestar Galactica has made some serious waves in the sci-fi genre. From screen to table, it’s always been a particular sci-fi favorite of mine and the board game just makes me love the franchise even more.
For those who are unfamiliar with the show (you should probably watch it if you’re into sci-fi), I’ll give you a quick rundown. The world was destroyed by Cylons, robots created by humans, who rebelled.
Humanity as we know it is lost and the only survivors are looking for our ancestral planet Earth as the last bastion. Cylons have grown smarter and sneakier though. They don’t just look like walking tin cans. They look exactly like us now.
Battlestar Galactica is a semi-cooperative social deduction game. Players must deal with the ever-present threat of Cylons by keeping the fleet constantly jumping just out of harm’s way. As problems arise, everyone has to add cards to resolve the issues.
Is it truly bad luck that’s hindering the fleet? Or is it a Cylon saboteur causing all of the chaos? You better find out.
Secret Hitler made some waves for the simple fact that it has “Hitler” in the title. Don’t let the scare-mongers and knee-jerk reactions to the name deter you from giving it a try.
Secret Hitler is a hidden traitor social deduction game of fascists and liberals. Hidden among the group is, of course, the Secret Hitler whose main goal is to get elected or to remove all other opposition to gain the majority of votes.
The Resistance: Avalon
The minions of Mordred have invaded King Arthur’s court and plan to sow discord from within.
It’s one of my favorite hidden traitor games and I prefer it over the Resistance version. It works great as a larger party game from 6-10 players, as with a lot of the games on this list, the more the merrier.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
There’s been a murder most foul! No surprise there, as this is actually is a pretty common theme among social deduction board games.
But there’s always a catch. The murderer is part of the investigation team and is actively trying to misinterpret and sabotage the investigation. The murderer must be subtle lest they tip off their fellow investigators.
For a game that takes a little over 20 minutes to play, it packs a ton of goodness into a single box. The gameplay is tense, the murderer gets ample opportunities to be crafty, and the various roles add a ton of flair.
Did I also mention it probably has some of the best components out of any on this list?
Dracula’s Feast: New Blood
Looking for a ghoulishly good time? That was awful. I’m sorry.
I’m not sorry for adding Dracula’s Feast to our best social deduction board games list, though. Dracula’s Feast, now re-released as Dracula’s Feast: New Blood, is a quick little social deduction game in which players are having a masquerade party hosted by none other than the Big D himself.
The New Blood version includes better artwork and components and if you’re looking to get a copy, I definitely would suggest the New Blood version.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Werewolf falls into a “love it or hate it” among social deduction games but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most popular ones on the market.
At the beginning of the game, each player is given a role card and over the years a lot of role cards have been added to the game. Each role is given a good guy (villagers) and a bad guy (werewolves) designation and then some kind of special ability.
The object of the game is to find the baddies and collectively vote them out. The magic happens with the conversations and player interactions around the table.
The game does have one glaring flaw, however. Once you’re voted out, there’s literally nothing for you to do until the next round. The One Night variant effectively removes this flaw, though. If early player elimination is one of your pet peeves, be sure to check out the One Night version instead.
A Fake Artist Goes to New York
This social deduction game originated in Japan and is a weird mashup between Telestrations and social deduction game.
Each round, a question master chooses a category and a word from that category. Everyone gets that word except for the “Fake Artist”. Players take turns drawing a single line on the paper and then passing it to the next player.
A Fake Artist Goes to New York is super quick and the perfect party game for players that are sick of charades or other classic cocktail hour games.
Few games in my collection have seen as much playtime as Love Letter.
Love Letter is the perfect budget and travel game. It’s literally 16 cards. Each player tries to get their love letter to the Princess and the card in your hand represents who currently holds your love letter.
Whoever is last standing or whoever has the highest value card at the end of the round, wins. It’s fast-paced and full of bluffs, poker faces, and card counting. There’s a set number of each card, after a card is played it stays face-up in front of everyone.
The trick of the game is that there’s always at least 1 card taken out of the deck. Your card counting could be spot-on but there’s always a possibility that it’s one of the removed cards.
I highly suggest if you don’t own a copy, get one somehow. Buy it or even turn it into an afternoon DIY project and make your own.
Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker
I was rather impressed with this Game of Thrones-inspired game. There were quite a few games that popped out of the franchise at its peak popularity. None of them were as atrocious money grabs as some of the Harry Potter franchise, but there were definitely a few duds in the mix.
Oathbreaker does not fall into the dud category. It’s a rather fun take on the tried and true hidden traitor mechanic. A king is chosen and everyone else assumes the roles of the noble houses to either sow discord as a traitor or order as a loyalist. The king has a bit more power by ordering royal decrees.
To further muddy-up the roles, each player has a personal ambition that could be at odds with the king.
It’s probably one of the better thematic games on the list, and it works really well as a social game. It’s great to play in before a big-box game like the actual Game of Thrones board game and really gets you in the backstabbing mood.
From Bezier Games comes Werewords. Capitalizing off their major social deduction board game hit Werewolf. Werewords uses a similar mechanic to Avalon’s Merlin and Assassin roles, but much simpler.
In Werewords, everyone is trying to guess the secret word assigned at the beginning of the game. The only players that know what it is are the Seer and the Werewolf characters.
Players need to guess it before time runs out or the Werewolf wins. Everyone gets a redemption round though. If players can’t guess the word in time, they can still win by guessing who is the Werewolf. If they do guess it correctly, the Werewolf can still win by guessing who is the Seer.
It’s fast-paced and super easy to play.
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Bang! The Dice Game
Bang! gives a lot of “bang” for your buck.
It’s a fantastic budget game that packs a punch. As usual with western-themed games, gunslingers face-off with the sheriff and his deputies and this town ain’t big enough for the two of us.
Bang! The Dice Game is a perfect travel game and we play it at the pubs quite frequently. What goes better with a social deduction game other than a pint? Not much.
There are 3 factions in the game. The Sheriff and his deputies, the outlaws, and the renegades. The only player that is revealed is the Sheriff, and each player has their own winning criteria.
Deputies need to protect the Sheriff. Outlaws need to kill the Sheriff, and Renegades need to simply hide out in the background and survive.
The actual actions players can perform are all dice related and each player has a special ability. It can get loud but hey, it’s a gunfight after all. Make sure not to bring a knife.
Shadows Over Camelot
Shadows Over Camelot is one of the few big-box social deduction board games on this list. As you might expect, players take on the role of the heroic knights of Camelot and need to fend off the minions of evil and the dreaded Black Knight.
Players can choose to send their heroes questing for the legendary sword, Excalibur, defend the castle, or even duel the Black Knight. If Camelot falls then all is lost, but even more sinister is the enemy from within.
One of the players is a traitor and is hidden among the group. Will you be able to find out who they are before they sabotage the defense?
Set in the same world as The Resistance, Coup seeks to steal some of the franchise’s thunder, but with a much smaller player count.
Although it shares artwork and a universe with the Resistance, Coup is most decidedly its own game. Players have influence in the government represented by their two role cards and they try to remove everyone else’s influence (cards).
Each card grants a special ability that can be used on their turn and there are three abilities that anyone can use regardless of what cards they have.
The best part about Coup is that you can lie… and you’ll lie a lot.
If you’re familiar with Spyfall, its predecessor is basically the same thing but bigger. Spyfall is a social deduction board game that uses a shared location to root out the spy who doesn’t know where they are.
Each player is given a location card with enough information to narrow down the spy. Players can ask questions like, “What are you wearing?” or “What’s the weather like?” Anything that can help narrow down the location is fair-game to ask.
If you don’t already own Spyfall, I highly suggest checking out Spyfall 2. It’s the same game but with more location cards, more players, and the option for 2 spies per round.
Nothing like a good old-fashioned witch hunt except here, the witches are real and they’re out to get you.
Salem 1692 takes the tried and true hidden traitor formula but adds a bit of a twist. Players have to gather evidence, accuse, and defend other players.
If you’re a fan of the genre, I highly recommend giving this one a go. The additional rules really add a lot of flair to the game. It’s often described as Werewolf for people who don’t like Werewolf.
Fun fact: During the actual Salem Witch Trials nobody was burned at the stake. 25 people lost their lives. 19 through hanging, 5 died in jail, and 1 poor man was crushed to death by rocks.
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space
I freaking love this game. Its designers clearly show that it’s a passion project… and it shows.
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is slightly different from other social deduction board games. It’s not just a long name but it’s also a big box, pencil & paper game. Normally, those two don’t quite go together but it works amazingly well here.
Players have a piece of paper with the shared location of a crashing spaceship and the humans are trying to get to the escape pods. Unfortunately, the ship is infested with an alien parasite that turns the humans into monsters.
All the movement is hidden and players will have to lie and convince each other about their true location and their true motives.
Mafia is one of the original hidden traitor / social deduction games with a mafia theme.
It’s long been overshadowed by its many successors but that doesn’t stop it from being a classic.
In Mafia, there’s a hidden Godfather among the players and if they’re not found, everyone is going to die.
Newer versions of the Polish classic have added new ability cards and updated components.
Hail Hydra changes up the social deduction / hidden traitor genre by pitting players against a common enemy. Players fight the villains of the Marvel world while hidden Hydra agents sabotage the fight from within.
The Hydra and Shield roles are assigned at the beginning of the game but at any point during the game, the Hydra agents can reveal themselves by yelling out “Hail Hydra!”.
Set in the same universe as Specter Ops, Crossfire pits players against each other as the familiar ARK and Raxxon factions.
You’ll also find a Raxxon VIP mixed into the group, complete with its own retinue of bodyguards with ARK assassins hidden among them.
Each social deduction board game has its own unique spin on how they play around with the base mechanics and Crossfire is one of the most interesting I’ve seen. Players take turns looking at a role card and then shuffle.
There’s a set rotation of cards and by the end of the round, each player will have seen at least a few of the role cards on the table. From there, they’ll need to identify who the VIP is to either assassinate or protect.
It’s incredibly quick and the shuffling mechanic is the best of its kind that I’ve seen.
There are a lot of themes that lend themselves to social deduction board games but a masquerade ball might be one of the best.
Mascarade uses a similar mechanic as Coup. Players have a character card with a pool of cards available in the center of the table. Each individual character has their own special ability associated with an action and any player can claim to use any one of them at any time. If, however, they’re caught in a lie, they lose a coin. The first player to 13 coins wins the game.
Mascarade is one of those simple games that just keeps getting pulled off the shelf over and over. It’s easy to learn, a ton of fun, and always leads to ridiculous conversations.
That’s it for our best social deduction board games round-up. If your favorite didn’t make the list, don’t fret. We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.