12th January 2022
Wednesday gaming round Simon's concluded with Mascarade, a fairly chaotic hidden role card game.
What's in a game?
Mascarade's components are normal standard you'd expect from a modern game, the game's standout quality are the colourful, detailed illustrations on the mask cards and courthouse board which to me look to have a late medieval/renaissance theme.
The game features a small amount of straightforward easy-to-understand iconography, having said that, the game also features a whole bunch of different roles to try and remember; which are only displayed on player guide cards.
How's it play?
On to play
Mascarade's opening is quite unique; the initial 4 turns must always be the exchange masks action, which is understandable as it randomises the cards that were initially shown. After these 4 turns, play proceeds as you would expect, the active player takes their turn, then play progress clockwise.
During their turn, the active player may perform 1 of the following 3 actions.
There are 2 criteria to ending a game.
If a player acquires 13+ gold coins, they win.
If a player loses all their gold, the game immediately ends and the player with the most coins wins.
For a large part, Mascarade feels like a pretty standard hidden role game, what makes it stand out though is the card-swapping mechanic.
During play, it's likely that players will quite quickly lose track of which character they have and announcing a card can always be risky; now that's what I call a hidden role!
This can of course be remedied by taking the look at card action, but is it worth spending an entire action to do so while other players could be earning money? Maybe it's worth taking a the risk - or bluffing!
Nudging players into this central dilemma is what makes it unique and interesting.
Otherwise, you'll be on pretty familiar ground if you like hidden role games: Trying to work towards your goals while also trying to calculate what other players are doing or which character they have - although the randomness of Mascarade has made that trickier!
It's hard to gauge a game Mascarade because like many hidden role games, it's quality is dependant on the players involved, as you tend to play the player and not the game.
Like most hidden role games, Mascarade can be a bit divisive. If you don't like this style of games, you can probably give this a pass.
However, if on the other hand hidden role games are you thing and particularly if you like a bit of unpredictability in your game, then Mascarade is definitively worth a try.
I play, I paint.