Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a huge hit!
If you saw our recent review of Clue: Harry Potter edition, you’ll know our family enjoys deduction games. Whether it’s a competitive or cooperative board game, we like trying to crack a tough case.
Deception has been such a hit in our family that it’s shot past a ton of other games on our “to review” shelf.
This isn’t like a checkout line at the grocery store – first come, first served.
Instead, it’s like at a desert buffet where the tastiest treat gets eaten first.
Or in this case – the game most played is the game next reviewed.
And with more than 15 plays in just two weeks, Deception is screaming for a review.
How to play Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
The premise of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is that a murder has been committed and the team of investigators needs to solve the case. It’s a semi-cooperative game where the goal of the game depends on your role.
Most players are Investigators trying to solve the case. One player is the Murderer who is trying to remain undetected through the game’s 3 rounds.
Depending on the number of players, there may also be an Accomplice and a Witness. The Accomplice wins jointly with the Murderer if the Murderer goes undetected. And the Witness is on the side of the Investigators.
Helping the Investigators solve the case is the Forensic Scientist.
The job of the Forensic Scientist is to give clues to the Investigators. However, the Forensic Scientist can’t speak. Instead he will use tiles to give hints to the Investigators.
If one of the Investigators solves the case, all the Investigators, Witness, and Forensic Scientist win.
To begin, everyone draws a role card, looks at it, and places it face down in front of them.
The player who draws the Forensic Scientist card places it face up in front of him/her.
All players other than the Forensic Scientist then receive 8 cards – 4 Means cards (blue) related to the way the murder was committed and 4 Clue cards (red) indicating key evidence left behind. Each player places the cards face up in front of them so all players can see the cards.
The Forensic Scientist then has everyone close their eyes. He’ll ask the Murderer to open his eyes and point to two cards in front of him (1 Means and 1 Clue). These cards indicate how the murder was committed and what was left behind.
If the Accomplice and Witness are in the game, there are further steps to take for them, but we don’t need to go into those details. Just know that they’re fun to have in the game as well.
Once the Murderer has chosen his cards, the deduction begins.
The Forensic Scientist then sets out the Cause of Death tile in the center of the table and choses one of the 4 Location tiles to also set out. Then he draws 4 random Scene tiles and places them in the center of the table as well. It’s through these 6 tiles that he will give clues to the Investigators.
To give a clue, the Forensic Scientist will place one bullet on each tile. He’ll place it next to a word on each tile that will help the Investigators select the correct pair of cards in front of the Murderer.
The Forensic Scientist can place the bullets as fast or slowly as he’d like. In many cases it helps to wait for the Investigators to discuss current clues before adding more. This way he can direct the discussions toward the correct cards.
After he has placed all 6 bullets, each player will have 30 seconds to present their thoughts on which cards may be part of the solution.
If at any time a player wants to make a guess to Solve the Case, they can do so. However, each player (other than the Forensic Scientist) only gets one guess during the game. So they need to be judicious when to do so. If they make an incorrect guess, they aren’t out of the game. They can still participate in all the discussion to help catch the murderer, but they just can’t make another guess.
After everyone has had a chance to present their case and/or make a guess, the round ends.
The Forensic Scientist then draws one new scene tile and replaces one already in the center of the table with the new tile. Many times he will remove a scene tile that is causing the Investigators problems or is directing them toward the wrong player.
Players continuing discussing the clues until they’re again ready to end the round giving their 30 second thoughts.
The third round is played just like the second round with the Forensic Scientist drawing a new scene tile and replacing an existing one.
By the end of the 3rd round everyone would have made their guesses. Either the Murderer is caught (someone correctly identified the two cards in front of the Murderer) or gets away.
While you wont find it in the rulebook anywhere, what happens next is that everyone talks through all their thoughts. No matter the role, everyone has plenty of thoughts to share at the end of the game.
Can the whole family enjoy Deception: Murder in Hong Kong?
Even though everyone we’ve played Deception with has loved it, we know it won’t be a fit for every family. The first reason is the name of the game itself. With the title including “murder”, many people may immediately be turned off.
In fact, my wife had the same reaction when I asked if she wanted to play. “Murder in Hong Kong” didn’t sound at all appealing.
After I told her more about how the game was played, she agreed to play. And she also quickly found that the game wasn’t morbid, as she had imagined.
Yes, the premise is that someone has been murdered and we’re investigating how it occurred. But the method of investigation is so engaging that she was hooked right away.
She’s also not a fan of bluffing games. Games that involve any type of deceit don’t go over well in her book. Yet for a game called “Deception” there isn’t any lying involved. The person who is the murderer isn’t telling people that he’s not the murderer. Instead, he’s simply suggesting cards in front of the other players that may incriminate them.
When we played Deception with our extended family last weekend, the game play itself also didn’t go over well with some players. Even after playing for a little while, some players just weren’t as engaged as others. It was clear that they weren’t as taken by the game as the rest.
I’ll also mention that we threw away 3 cards from the game. Yes, there are images of dynamite, cleavers, and swords. But by themselves on a card, they’re fairly innocuous. Yet, one card we immediately removed was one showing a knife at someone’s throat. The visual on that was too direct for our taste.
Other than that, Deception has made a permanent home in our game closet.
We love the unique game play of deducing a pair of cards from vague clues given by the Forensic Scientist.
In our family we’ve found everyone loves being the Forensic Scientist. In many games of this nature, our kids tend to want to be the culprit trying to escape. But with Deception, the Forensic Scientist is the coveted role. Since everyone wants to be the Forensic Scientist, from now on we’ll assign the role and rotate.
We’ll assign the Forensic Scientist card then randomize the rest. And in our subsequent play (because we know there will be another game) that role will move one player to the left with the other roles still being randomized.
As far as player count goes, we’ve enjoyed the game as much with 4 as we have with 9. With only 4 players it’s very difficult for the Murderer to escape. And with more players we love having an Accomplice and Witness in the game.
The first time I played Deception was with 12 players at SaltCon earlier this year. It was a blast. The amount of cards to consider goes up considerably with more players, but it makes for some fun discussions.
Having played it so many times in such a short period of time, you might think we’d be burned out. But we’re not!
Even though we’ve seen many of the cards multiple times, it’s always random in what they can be paired with. Add to that the fact that there are plenty of scene tiles to keep every game unique and intriguing.
How does Deception: Murder in Hong Kong score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
I don’t think we’ve ever played a game as many times before doing a board game review than we have with Deception: Murder in Hong Kong.
It’s not because the game is a short game. Rather it’s because everyone has enjoyed it so much that we just have to play “one more time.”
We’ve played Deception as a family, at Guys Game Night, and over the Labor Day weekend with extended family. And because it’s been such a hit, we can’t seem to stop playing.
Typically at our monthly Guys Game Night we play a few different games during an evening. This month however, Deception ended up being the only game we played with the 8-person group.
Each game ended with, “let’s do it again.” Until we just ran out of time.
If that weren’t enough to tell you how much they enjoyed it, over the weekend I got texts from 4 of the guys asking if they could borrow it. The only problem was that we had taken it with us on our long weekend away with extended family.
I guess that’s what happens when you have a hit game.
We’d definitely recommend buying a copy of Deception yourself.
Thanks Grey Fox Games for a fantastic board game!