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Average Rating: 3.5 in 2 reviews
The game mechanism could be improved. My group has played Hoax several times and there was always the same problem - the game ending prematurely because the majority of the group thinks a player is bluffing when he is not.
We decided to change the rules slightly, so that instead of a simple majority, all the players, except the one being accused must agree. This changes the nature of the game, makes it longer, but also means that the game will generally end with all players but one being eliminated.
However, despite this, the game is fun and quick, which is why it gets 4 stars.
I will say up front that I like Hoax, and I am sure that I would equally enjoy its progeny, Die Erben von Hoax, which adds a tiny bit more to the base game and gives it nicer componentry. The reason that the game is not getting 4 or 5 stars is simply that it is almost impossible to get players to play it well, and this can be frustrating.
Hoax is a very simple game of bluff and deduction. Each player begins by receiving a role card. This is one of several roles in a medieval kingdom, ranging from the King down to the lowly Peasant. Each role has a specific way of gaining tokens during the course of the game, as well as some other special ability. The trick, however, is that a player is not restricted to playing the assigned role. Au contraire...
The goal of the game is to be the last player still active in the game. Each player can take on any role they wish at any time, using its powers. There is some danger in this, as other players may call you on a particular role. A vote is called, and if more players disbelieve you than believe you, then one of two things happens. If they are correct in disbelieving you (i.e., you fibbed about your role) you are forbidden to play that role again for the rest of the game. If, however, they disbelieve you in your real role, you automatically win the game.
A player can be eliminated outright if another player wants to make a direct accusation. This is a one-on-one duel of wits, as one person secretly accuses another player of being a particular character. If right, the accused is out of the game. If wrong, the accuser takes a hike.
The tokens mentioned above are an important element of play. A combination of a Gold, a Grain, and a Wine token can be turned in to buy a clue about another player, who must reveal one false character to the buyer. Buy enough clues about another player, and you can logically deduce exactly who they are and eliminate them.
Where does the game fail? It falls short in that it seems like a much lighter game than it really is. Players make capricious guesses without enough actual knowledge, and one bad accusation can throw an unexpected vitory into someone's lap, not through their own actions as much as through the mistakes of other players.
Recommended for those who like deduction games and want something a little different than another game of Clue.