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Secret Hitler

Updated: May 9, 2020

My group has been playing this since it first appeared in a print'n'play version but there is an added joy playing with this beautifully produced edition, complete with its lavish wooden box.

For the uninitiated, let me reassure everyone that this game is not a celebration of Nazism. It is a hidden role game where each player takes an envelope containing either a Fascist or Liberal Party membership card. Each has a second identifying card but only one (Fascist) player has the card identifying them as Hitler. Players close their eyes and the Fascists open their eyes and identify themselves. Hitler signals with his thumbs to identify himself to the Fascists but, depending on player numbers, Hitler does not usually open his eyes do he doesn't know who the other Fascists are.

One player takes the role of President - a role that circulates around the table with each turn. The President nominates another player to be Chancellor. Players then vote on whether to accept or reject this government by casting a Ja! or Nein! ballot card. If the govt is rejected, the Presidency moves on and another attempt is made to form a government. When a government receives assent, the President draws three face down legislation cards. He looks at them without comment, chooses one to discard and passes the other two to the Chancellor. The Chancellor discards one and the other is placed into law - it will either be a Liberal or a Fascist measure.

It's at this point that recriminations and accusations may begin. If the Chancellor puts out a Fascist law, he will probably protest that the President gave him no choice because he gave him two Fascist cards. The President may confirm this but he may insist that he actually gave the Chancellor one Fascist and one Liberal card... in this way, players build their knowledge and suspicion about each other's roles.

The Liberals win as soon as five Liberal laws are passed; the Fascists win if five Fascist laws are passed or sooner if, past a certain point in the game, Hitler is elected as Chancellor. At some points in the game some other special effects are triggered by a Fascist law being passed - including the President choosing a player to be shot (eliminated from the game).

This is a tense hidden role game that never outstays its welcome. It has rules and playing grids that are specially balanced for different numbers of players, from five upwards (that's five players not age five!)

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