Designed by Ryan Kelems and Cory Muddiman, Hysteria is published by Brouhaha Games and themed around the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, tho' it's nothing like the similarly themed Die of the Dead (Radical 8).
Hysteria is a social deduction card game for 6–9 players playing in teams. From the cards you are dealt, you'll either be 'team human' or 'team skeleton'. Players are all dealt three cards face down in front of them from a deck constructed to reflect the number of players. Most of the cards are skeletons but with six players there will be 3 human cards, there'll be 4 human cards with seven or eight players and you'll play with 5 human cards in a nine-player game. You can always peek at your own three cards to see what they are. If all three of your cards are skeletons, you are on 'team skeleton'. If at least one of your cards is human, you are on 'team human'. The skeletons are trying to find and 'catch' the humans; the humans are trying to evade capture. 'Team skeleton' wins if three or more human cards are revealed; 'team human' wins if two or fewer human cards are revealed.
The game is played over three rounds and involves 'peek' and 'accuse' actions. You peek by placing your peek token on any card that hasn't had a token on it. Of course, what you report to the other players about what you see may or may not be true... Alternatively, a player can accuse another of being human. To do this, they place an accuse token on the specific card they believe is human. Players then vote on whether or not to 'capture' that card.
The twist in Hysteria is that you don't necessarily stay on the team on which you started. Just as in Battlestar Galactica (FFG) you can discover halfway through the game that you are really a Cylon with objectives that conflict with those you thought you had at the start, so in Hysteria you can find you start off as 'team human' but become 'team skeleton', and vice versa. Cards are passed each round and an extra card is dealt to each player at the start of the second and third rounds. That means that by passing a human card to your neighbour, you can try deliberately to choose to switch teams and will at least initially know where that human card is. Will you tho' be able to convince other players to vote for your accusation?
This all makes for a merrily chaotic if not necessarily hysterical game. Hysteria is fun and it's pretty fast: our Board's Eye View plays mostly ran to around 20 minutes, with much of the enjoyment and chagrin flowing from the mid-game changes of allegiance. It helps too to have a good memory of what cards are where...
Shown on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of Hysteria ahead of its launch on Kickstarter on 6 October so there could be some changes in the finished version that will go to backers. We liked the art by Vanessa Morales but for much of the game you're mostly only looking at the card backs, which are rather plain. And the cards fall foul of our perennial complaint about dark printing that bleeds to the edge: the card backs can show up the slightest nick. If that's still the look in the finished version, then we'd strongly recommend sleeving the cards before play - tho' sleeved, the cards won't fit into the tuck box... We're hoping that'll be sorted in the upcoming Kickstarter campaign, and we'll post a link to that when it goes live.