Among Us! (InnerSloth/PlayEveryWare) is an increasingly popular online social deduction survival game that, for some, has supplanted longer established social deduction games like Werewolf. Even if you've not yet played the game, you may well have encountered one of its better known acronyms like AFK (away from keyboard) - used to indicate when you're stepping out of the game but also to fool other players when you're really playing but pretending you're not... AFK was coined in the early days of the internet but Among Us! has given the acronym a new lease of life?
Why are we discussing an online game? Because So Sus is a real-world board game analogue of Among Us!, albeit with a change to the setting. Whereas the online game is set on a spaceship, the setting for this board game is an Evil Empire. The 4-10 players each have a secretly assigned role which specifies that they are members of the Evil Empire or that they are an Imposter (with 1-6 players, there'll be just one Imposter, but you play with two Imposters in a 7-10 player game). Players have various tasks to complete in each of five categories (Numbers, Words, Luck, Skill and Physical), and the Evil Empire collectively win when two tasks have been completed in each category.
No-one is permitted to speak during the game, at least until one of the players pushes the buzzer and calls an Emergency Meeting, which each player can only do once per game. When a meeting has been called, players have a strict 60 seconds to discuss who should be voted out. Players then point to the player they want eliminated. Vote the Imposter(s) out and the Evil Empire players win; but if an Evil Empire player is eliminated then the game continues. The Imposter can also assassinate players during the silent game play by placing their hand on another player's shoulder. Obviously, the Imposter is unlikely to do this in plain sight of other players tho' while there is still a possibility that they can be eliminated in an Emergency Meeting.
That's pretty much the game, tho' there's an option to extend it by playing over multiple rounds and using a board, points and one-off special Power cards.
If you've played Among Us! online then you'll be keen to try this board game version. But So Sus certainly doesn't require any prior knowledge or experience of the online game, and having played that won't be of any particular help coming to this analogue version. The tasks are mostly fairly easy, and some are specifically marked as child-friendly (even easier) to make the game playable by children as young as 7. However, this is a game about suspicion and deceit: the Imposter(s) will want to seem to be contributing to the tasks while really undermining them. And remember, no-one can speak. If I take on the task of hopping to the bathroom (on one of the physical task cards) and I put both feet on the ground before completing it, am I just clumsy or unlucky, or am I an Imposter trying to sabotage the Evil Empire?
Game play in So Sus is quietly chaotic. It's a game that plays quickly but you'll probably find players want immediately to play again - which is where the extended version with the board and power cards comes into its own. For us, the game is at its best at higher player counts and, ideally, in a location where players are moving between different rooms so aren't always within sight of one another: pretty much an essential requirement if the Imposter(s) are going to be able to assassinate other players.
Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of So Sus produced ahead of its launch this month on Kickstarter. The 'masks' add to the atmosphere so that players can be identified by colour (the masks all have different coloured side arms) and the buzzer certainly fulfils its role in ensuring everyone's attention as they immediately stop what they are doing to join an Emergency Meeting. Has the person who pushed the buzzer called the Emergency Meeting because they have clear evidence of who the Imposter is or are they the Imposter themselves, pressing the buzzer to interrupt our progress in completing our Evil Empire tasks...? We'll add a link to the KS campaign when it goes live.