12 Addictive Social Deduction Games to Play With Friends

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If you're looking to figure out which of your friends is the best liar, social deduction games are the way to go. Fun, absurd, and occasionally maddening, these games offer the chance to sabotage or get sweet revenge on the hidden saboteur. You're also probably more familiar with these games than you think. Imagine playing Clue where one of the players was secretly the murderer, actively derailing your attempts to use logic to find out whodunit (and where and with what).

That's the basis for many of these games, but the popularity of the form has demanded new creative iterations and scenarios—from the goofy destruction of Among Us to the high-society fakery of A Fake Artist Goes to New York. There may be one poseur in the mix, or everyone might be incentivized to hide their true identity. No matter what, these games are a great way to learn how surprisingly sneaky your 8-year-old niece is. Here are 12 social deduction games you should try out.

1. Among Us; free (but there are in-game purchases)

The most downloaded mobile game in December 2020 has a lot to offer in terms of quirky, murderous frustration. You and your friends (or randoms from the internet) try to complete a series of tasks before getting stabbed in the back by the sabotaging Imposters. Or you try to stab everyone in the back before they can complete their tasks. Everyone comes together in chat rooms for emergency meetings to make accusations, avoid detection, and vote on who to boot off the ship (choose wisely!). After just a few games, you'll adopt its addicting slang, call people in real life "Sus," and want to buy a funny hat for your character. If you want a bigger screen, it's also available on Steam for $5.

Buy it: Steam

2. Secret Hitler; $35


Germany. The 1930s. Liberals are trying to pass laws and keep Hitler from coming to power. Fascists are trying to put Hitler in control of the government and pass as many laws as they can. Detecting the baddies isn't just a matter of who's lying, but also how they play their turn. Did a fascist help a liberal law succeed to gain trust? Did a liberal pass a fascist law because they were given no choice? There's an element of chance that complicates the straightforward task of sussing out the hidden Hitler, and fascists gain special powers if they pass enough laws. It's a blood-boilingly tense game for all involved. Just make sure to apologize to the teammate you assassinated by accident because you were so sure it was them.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Coup; $15

Indie Boards and Cards/Amazon

Available as a tabletop game with a ton of expansions as well as a mobile app, the magic of Coup is that everyone is encouraged to lie to get what they want. Fast and delightfully aggravating, there's only a slight chance it will destroy your friendships as you all try to gain enough wealth and power to snuff out your opponents. Players are assigned roles that give them special abilities, but you'll never survive without pretending to be someone else. Slow and steady does not win this race.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Spyfall 2; $25


The game mechanic of Spyfall (and the embiggened Spyfall 2) is deceptively simple. Everyone except the spies is given a location and, through several rounds of casual-yet-strategic questioning, players have to find the sweet spot between assuring others that they know the secret location and being so specific that they give the answer away. It's eight rounds of winks, nods, and the occasional hilariously wrong answer from a foolish spy. Super easy to learn, very hard to master.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Town of Salem; $5

Another great option for quarantine times, this computer game takes the classic game of Werewolf/Mafia and cranks the ridiculousness up to 11. There's a werewolf, and members of the mafia, and witches, and a town filled with people just trying to survive the night. With dozens and dozens of possible roles, the game could go hundreds of ways even if you're really good at detecting who has the power to kill. Plus, it's easy to stay engaged in the game even after you're offed with the in-game chat.

Buy it: Steam 

6. The Resistance: Avalon; $20

Indie Cards and Boards/Amazon

Even though strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, this game drops you into Arthurian times replete with quests, sabotage, and chaotic wizardry. It's also probably the most well-balanced game of social deduction, structured much like Secret Hitler but greatly minimizing the random chance element so that it's essentially a coin flip whether the loyal servants of King Arthur or the minions of Mordred prevail. Good guys win by completing enough successful quests, but watch which knights you invite, because those serving Mordred have the option of making you fail. And even if Team Arthur is headed for victory, the evil forces still have a shot at stealing a win by correctly guessing which player was the omniscient Merlin. Every game is a close one.

Buy it: Amazon

7. One Night Ultimate Werewolf; $25

Bezier Games/Amazon

This app-enabled game solved the problem of the classic Werewolf campfire game (also called Mafia). Instead of players getting kicked out every round and having to watch the rest from the sidelines (or drifting away to get some s'mores), this version gives villagers only one night to correctly remove the werewolves in their midst. Plus, the app narrates for you, so no one has to volunteer to miss out on the fun. Everyone is assigned a role—villainous werewolves, card-swapping troublemakers, card-peeking seers, and much more—and then the accusations start flying.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Dracula's Feast: New Blood; $20

This is the second iteration of the wildly popular Kickstarter-backed game, and much like the first, it's unique in that you aren't trying to detect a single imposter in your midst. Instead, you're trying to figure out everyone's monstrous identities so you can accuse everyone by the end. It's a cute, lower-stakes alternative to some of the more complex games where everyone is always chopping off heads or trying to rise to power through subterfuge and malice. The plot is fine for ages 10 and older, featuring a party filled with classic monsters. Ask them to dance and use their answers to figure out who's who. As a bonus, Jellybean Games has several free print-and-play games that follow similar formats, and the design is delightful.

Buy it: Jellybean Games

9. A Fake Artist Goes to New York; $50

Oink Games/Amazon

Another game of hidden roles that's safe enough for children, A Fake Artist Goes to New York is a mash-up of Exquisite Corpse, Pictionary, and Spyfall. Everyone has to work together to draw something, but one person doesn't know what they're supposed to draw. If the fake is outed, they have a chance to win by guessing what the drawing was supposed to be. Sound simple? Consider how vaguely you'll have to draw something to keep the fake from knowing what it's supposed to be. The results are comically weird drawings, constant accusations, and a showcase of colorful nonsense.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Don't Mess with Cthulhu; $20

Indie Boards and Cards/Amazon

The basic concept of Yusuke Sato's game is similar to most other social deduction games: Team A vs. Team B in a race for dominance. But the gameplay is diabolically clever because the cards you use to win get jumbled up after every round. Everyone gets a role—either the cultists trying to summon the Old Gods or investigators trying to stop it. Players then get cards, proclaim (honestly or not) what they have and take turns shining a light on those cards hoping to reveal the right combination to help their team win. It's silly, wildly fun, and just complicated enough to get you hooked.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong; $40

Grey Fox/Amazon

Remember way back in the introduction where we asked you to imagine a game of Clue where one of the players was the killer? That's this game. Beloved by social deduction fans, Deception lets the murderer help derail an investigation guided by a forensic scientist who must give clues and remain frustratingly silent throughout the discussion phase. Everyone gets cards with murder weapons and physical clues. After the forensic scientist offers vague hints regarding the cause of death, location, and more, players are encouraged to pitch a narrative of how the crime happened using the other players' cards. Does "loss of blood" mean the killer used a baseball bat or a rabid dog? Does a "lovers" relationship mean the killer left behind a scarf or dentures? You be the judge, but accuse wrong and you'll lose your badge.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Two Rooms and a Boom; $30

This one will have to wait until we can all be together again. You can play with as few as six players, but the game gets better and better the more people you have (up to 30!). Another Team A vs. Team B deception game, this one involves physically separating two groups of players trying to figure out who their allies and enemies are. The Blue Team has a president they want to keep safe, and the Red Team has a bomber they want to end up in the same room as the president after the last round of hostage swaps. It's an irreverent game of multiple deceptions and identities, and it includes 100-plus cards to add an amazing amount of variation to the base game—including players who are only in it for themselves and wild cards like Romeo and Juliet who win if they're together with the bomb at the end.

Buy it: Tuesday Knight Games