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Subject: Are You the Traitor? - A Quick Review rss

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Bill Reed
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Are You the Traitor? is the newest game from Looney Labs. It’s a spin on the Mafia/Werewolf game that fixes what I believe to be the biggest problem those games have. Once you play this, you may not want to play the others ever again.


Components
The cards for Are You the Traitor are stored in a small box with a lid, rather than the more standard card tuckbox. Inside are the rules sheet and two types of cards: character cards and treasure cards.


Gameplay
The goal of Are You the Traitor is different from werewolf. To win, you must collect treasure cards to bring your total to 10 points or higher. The first player to do so wins the game. It usually takes several rounds to accumulate that much treasure.

Although the goal is different, the gameplay for Are You the Traitor is very similar to Werewolf games. The character cards are shuffled and dealt to the players. The characters included change depending on the number of players. You must have at least four, but can play with as many as ten players. Every game must include the following characters: a keyholder, a guard, a traitor, and a wizard. Wizards are then randomly given a card that tells them whether they are good or evil. Guards and keyholders are on the good team with the good wizard. The traitor is on the evil team with the evil wizard.

Each character has their own goal for the round. Good wizards and guards try to unmask the traitor. The keyholder tries to find out who is the good wizard. The evil wizard tries to capture the keyholder. The traitor tries to avoid capture. Once a wizard, guard, or keyholder believes they know the answer to their goal, they call out “Stop!” and make their accusation. If it’s correct, their team wins. If the guess is incorrect, the other team wins. Each player on the winning team, draws a treasure card. Treasure cards have values from 1 to 5 points. The first player to reach 10 points after several rounds wins the game.

Having more players really changes the strategy dramatically, as you add more wizards. Both will be trying to convince the keyholder they are good. At some point you get additional traitors as well, who can work together in trying to assist the evil wizard. But the fun of the game is that while everybody has some information, nobody initially has enough information to make an accusation, so the round is spent trying to get somebody to reveal a little more than they intended.


Pros
The most important improvement over werewolf, to me, is that when an accusation is made, the round is over, and a new one begins. In werewolf, players are slowly eliminated. Often this causes some players to be sitting idly for 20-30 minutes, waiting for the game to end. This was my least favorite part of werewolf, and it caused me to stop playing it after a while. In Are You the Traitor, nobody is ever “out”. The accusation is made, treasure points are earned, and EVERYBODY gets a new identity as the next round begins.

You can play with as few as 4 players. Most werewolf games require a minimum of 8 players. Granted, Are You the Traitor is not as fun with only 4, but it can be played with the included rules. Age doesn’t seem to matter much. I’ve played with groups composed of 4th graders and 50 year-olds with other ages in between.

Are You the Traitor is quick. An entire game of 5-8 rounds lasts about 20 minutes. We can play it again, or move on if the group isn’t “into it.”

It’s a small thing, but nobody is “killed”. I often play with children (I’m a father and an elementary school teacher) and there was always a bit of me that felt uncomfortable with the werewolves killing and the townspeople lynching. Not enough discomfort for me to remove the game, but a little. In Are You the Traitor, nobody dies. However, I’m feeling a little guilty encouraging the children to “lie” about who they are. The more I think about it, I guess this difference isn’t really THAT different.


Cons
The biggest problem with Are You the Traitor is that if you end up playing with someone who decides to just randomly guess, the interaction that you get is lost. You never have a chance to learn another player’s tells, but someone will win points. It may not be the guesser’s team, but points are earned. I’ve played with one group of children who thought this was fine. The game seemed too random to them anyways, I imagine, so they just guessed as soon as they got their cards. Some of them lost, but they didn’t care. I won’t pull this game out with them again.

Another problem is that the best player may not win. If he or she happens to get low point treasure cards, and another player gets high point treasure cards, luck could blow the game.

As with werewolf, you need to be careful with the cards, or players could discover that “the one with the bent corner is the keyholder card.”

Are You the Traitor has a maximum number of 10 players, unlike Werewolf, which can accommodate groups of 20 or more,

As I mentioned, I feel a little guilty when playing with children, because I’m helping them improve their skill of lying. At least when I play with my own daughters, I’m hopefully improving my ability to catch their “tells.” God help me when they’re teenagers.


Summary
I like Are You the Traitor better than werewolf, because, for me, the waiting while I’m dead in werewolf ruins the fun of the game. I like the quick rounds, I like the confusion of each character having different goals, I like the teams of good versus evil, I like the treasure cards. Because it’s quick, we can play it repeatedly if we want, or use it to fill between longer games.

If you like Werewolf, I think you’ll enjoy Are You the Traitor. Using BoardGame Geek’s rating scale, I rate Are You the Traitor? an 8: A very good game, I like to play. Probably I’ll suggest it and will never turn down a game.

Oh, and if you’re the keyholder, pass the key to me. I’m the Good Wizard. Honest.
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Nathan
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
Thanks William, great review, always interested in other werewolf type games coming out and learning how they combine mechanics!

I'm a little uncertain about the deduction element of AYtT. I haven't played it before, but it seems very random (?).

I haven't played 'Are You the Traitor?', but I get the impression from reading about it that there may be some big problems with a lack of concrete info within the game, thus leading players into random guessing, yelling, countering each other with no real basis for accusations. AYtT just seems to be random discussions, and random guessing, with few people actually knowing what is going on, and only one misguided person needed for a round to end with a random accusation? Is there something I'm missing from the game that provides information to people? Can someone look at a card or some such rule?

Without having played the game and having no knowledge of how it plays out (and not wanting to quash a game with no experience of playing it), it seems after reading a few reviews like: "everybody draws a numbered card from 1-10, then you have to discuss with the group and find out who has got card number 4, whilst the person to your left is trying to find card number 7. All the while people are saying 'I'm a 5, I'm a 5'...". In addition, this 'random guessing' fear is made worse by the 'random treasure draw'. So I could win 6 games, and be on 6 points (6x 1 treasure cards), but my neighbour could win 2 games, and be on 10 points (2x 5 treasure cards)?

ATtT actually reminds me of a game of Cluedo I played last year with a friend who was new to the game, after two turns he was 100% convinced he knew who the killer was, we tried to talk him out of it, assuring him that he could not possibly know at this early, but he was sure he had deduced it, proceeded with his accusation and, when horribly wrong, gave us all a very confused expression and was removed from the game early.

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alan beaumont
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Are you the mathematician?
I've not played this yet, as I don't tend to go for this sort of thing, but it sounds better than werewolf. Good review.

Amnese wrote:
....I could win 6 games, and be on 6 points (6x 1 treasure cards), but my neighbour could win 2 games, and be on 10 points (2x 5 treasure cards)?

Several things occured to me: Are the Treasure cards evenly distributed in value? If so out with the marker pen and adjust the average to make a bell curve. If marking cards is heresy just play to 11, so you need at least 3 scoring rounds to win.
I must admit I'm not keen myself on changing components so here is another suggestion: Allow the players to choose to use the triangular scoring system to score sets of cards; a single card is worth 1, a pair is worth 3, 3=6, 4=10 etc. The twist here is that if you score any of your sets (2+ of a kind) this way, you score all of the sets this way. Play to 11 to get around the two 5s problem. Four 1s is 10, so any fifth card would win.
This sounds more complicated than it is, but you could just treat the 1s and 2s this way and get a similar effect.
 
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Brian Bowling
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
Good review, and while I agree with most of your points, I prefer Werewolves to Are You the Traitor. (Just to be clear, I'm comparing the Werewolves of Miller's Hollow, not Are You the Werewolf, to AYtT.) My experience with AYtT was close to what Amnese said. Lacking information, and in a group that's pretty good at not letting things slip, we ended up with a lot of random guesses.
Since the roles change after each accusation, there's no opportunity to build up information.
Werewolves has much more interaction and deduction. I'm usually one of the first persons eliminated, yet I find it entertaining to watch the interplay between the villagers and werewolves. It's even fun to be the moderator.
A big problem I see with AYtT is that it's possible for the "winner" to be someone who never makes a deduction. Since everyone on the same side draws a treasure card, it's possible for someone who barely contributes to draw the high numbers and win. With Werewolves, everybody has to make decisions. The villagers survive by making good decisions and the werewolves survive by coaxing villagers into bad decisions.
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Lance
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
Quote:
It's even fun to be the moderator


It's a blast to be the moderator.
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Bill Reed
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
Amnese wrote:
there may be some big problems with a lack of concrete info within the game, thus leading players into random guessing, yelling, countering each other with no real basis for accusations. AYtT just seems to be random discussions, and random guessing, with few people actually knowing what is going on, and only one misguided person needed for a round to end with a random accusation? Is there something I'm missing from the game that provides information to people? Can someone look at a card or some such rule?

Without having played the game and having no knowledge of how it plays out (and not wanting to quash a game with no experience of playing it), it seems after reading a few reviews like: "everybody draws a numbered card from 1-10, then you have to discuss with the group and find out who has got card number 4, whilst the person to your left is trying to find card number 7. All the while people are saying 'I'm a 5, I'm a 5'...". In addition, this 'random guessing' fear is made worse by the 'random treasure draw'. So I could win 6 games, and be on 6 points (6x 1 treasure cards), but my neighbour could win 2 games, and be on 10 points (2x 5 treasure cards)?

ATtT actually reminds me of a game of Cluedo I played last year with a friend who was new to the game, after two turns he was 100% convinced he knew who the killer was, we tried to talk him out of it, assuring him that he could not possibly know at this early, but he was sure he had deduced it, proceeded with his accusation and, when horribly wrong, gave us all a very confused expression and was removed from the game early.


You understand it pretty well. That's the biggest problem.

HOWEVER, in the 20 or so games I've played, this has only happened with one group: the group of 4-6 graders who really didn't get the concept of what they were supposed to be figuring out, and they were really just humoring me by playing the game. They wanted to play The Game of Life.yuk

And whether or not this problem makes or breaks the game is going to be preference, I think. To me, the player elimination over 30 minutes "breaks" Werewolf. It won't bother everyone. So I guess I should have ended the review with that stipulation:

If the player elimination of Werewolf causes you to avoid it, Are You the Traitor may be the variant that you're looking for. It's lighter, to be sure, be it keeps everyone in the game.


Bill
 
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Nathan
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
I'm yet to play this either so cannot comment from experience, but The Resistance (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/41114) is apparently a similar game without elimination and it includes a fair deal of information.
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
I own Covert Action. Are these 2 games very similar? And, which one is the better one?

Best wishes, Xay.
 
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Mitch Morris
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
wmreed wrote:
However, I’m feeling a little guilty encouraging the children to “lie” about who they are. The more I think about it, I guess this difference isn’t really THAT different.


You are teaching the kids valuable lessons about telling lies. One keeping a lie going is hard, and Two how to spot a lier. I think you are doing them a service by playing this game with them.

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Lou Mad
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Re: Are You the Traitor?
I agree with Narmical, that Werewolf has a lot of interesting stuff to teach children. Not only about the mechanics of lying, but also that not everyone they meet in life will tell them the truth (useful even for thinking about TV adverts or disputes with friends). Also about standing up to a group and having their say, making a persuasive argument, as well as playing a particular role to get the job done, etc

I haven't played this game yet, but am looking forward to it. One of the problems with Werewolf I can see it solving is that it doesn't require a storyteller. I often introduce Werewolf to new groups of non-gamers, and only get the chance to play a handful of games with each, so people never become experienced. These groups never get to grips with the subtleties of Werewolf, so I think this game would suit them better, as well as giving me a break from having to lead (I've had some serious sore throats after two or three games in a large hall).

In response to the criticism that someone can win this game without ever having made an accusation, the same is true of Werewolf. Many times I've seen a wolf who's a bit bewildered by the game, appears perhaps not to get it, or to be shy and quiet naturally, doesn't offer any tells to the group and so ends up being the last man standing while the more active wolves are picked off.
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