31 July 2015 | Hoax


The Game of Secret Identities Returns


She approached the parlor where the rest of her ex-husband’s inner circle was gathered. None of them looked familiar, so they likely wouldn’t recognize her, either. Quickly, she wiped away her makeup, took off her pearls, and tied back her hair before entering the room. “Hi, y’all,” she greeted them with an uncharacteristic smile and fake Texan drawl. “I heard Mr. Vargas kicked the bucket, an’  I thought I’d come by to pay my respects. I’m his private chef. Nice to meet y’all.” 

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce a new edition of Hoax, the game of secret identities designed by Bill Eberle, Ned Horn, Jack Kittredge, and Peter Olotka. 

Hector Vargas built a glorious multibillion dollar empire on a string of shady business promotions and Ponzi schemes. His life ended rather ingloriously, however, when a champagne cork shot into his windpipe and he choked before anyone could provide aid. Now, you have a chance to inherit his unbelievably large fortune. All you have to do is prove yourself worthy by showing that you are as clever, ruthless, and deceitful as he was. 

In Hoax, three to six players each take on the secret identity of a member of Vargas’ family or household. No matter what your identity, your goal is to eliminate all your competitors by catching them in a lie – but making a false accusation will take you out of the game. If you want to make informed accusations, you’ll have to amass resources and spend them to investigate other players. To win, you’ll have to both avoid accusations and judiciously make them, all the while making your opponents believe that all your lies are true. 

This edition, crafted with the help of Bill Eberle and Peter Olotka, brings the game into a contemporary setting of family rivalry, class resentment, and staggering corporate wealth. The number of characters has been increased from six to seven, and each character's privileges and immunites have been fine-tuned. Included reference sheets help you keep track of assumed identities and past lies, and a new scoring system invites you to play Hoax over multiple rounds and discover who among you and your friends truly is the best liar. 

False Identities

Hector Vargas’s wealth was originally gotten through nefarious means, so naturally his family and household use underhanded tricks to inherit it. You begin the game with nothing but your actual, secret character, and some cash, prestige, or evidence. You’ll need to spend some cash, prestige, and evidence every time you investigate one of your rivals, so you’ll need to acquire more than what you begin with. That may involve a few… fabrications.

The “claim” action lets you acquire resources by using the stated privilege of a character, whether that character is yours or not. Let’s say your secret identity is the Chef, and you have one cash token and one evidence token, but no prestige. The Chef can only exchange resource tokens with other players– you’d have to sacrifice a resource to gain one. The Distant Cousin’s privilege, which lets you take prestige outright, would be far more helpful. So you say that you’re the Distant Cousin and try to claim his privilege.

Before you snatch up that prestige, though, hold on. Another player may suspect (or even know) that you’re not the Distant Cousin and call “Hoax!” stopping you in your tracks. Then, everyone vying for the fortune has a chance to talk and vote on whether or not you’re lying. If they believe you, it doesn’t matter whether you’re telling the truth or not – you can go ahead and claim the resource. But if they catch you making a false claim, you have to confess, losing both the chance to acquire the resource and the ability to impersonate the Distant Cousin in the future. 

If you had actually been the Distant Cousin and they didn’t believe that you were, then you would have won the game. With every claim you make, you’ve got a few choices. You can tell the truth, and use only your character’s privilege. Or, you can lie in order to get the resources you need. If you tell the truth, you benefit when others think that you’re lying. If you lie, you want them to believe that you’re telling the truth.

True Accusations

Just amassing resources won’t eliminate your opponents. You’ll have to investigate them, deduce their true identities, and accuse them of falsehood. To investigate an opponent, spend one token each of cash, prestige, and evidence, and pick your target. That player will hand you four suspicion cards: one matching their true identity and three that they’ve selected to mislead you. This information may be incomplete, but by combining it with clues from other investigations and the knowledge you’ve gathered through other characters’ false claims, you may be able to accuse someone based on solid conjectures, if not certainty.

Make your accusation by selecting the suspicion card for the identity you believe your opponent actually has and secretly hand it to her. She must reveal whether it matches her identity or not, but never what that identity is. If your accusation is true, she is eliminated from the game, secret identity intact. If your accusation is false, then you have actually eliminated yourself. 

With these three actions and seven possible identities, you and your rivals for Vargas’s fortune can weave a tremendous web of deceit as you attempt to trick and outwit each other. You can also incorporate immunities into the game, which prevent other players from stealing your resources. Of course, whenever you claim an immunity, someone can call “hoax," so be careful in telling your truths and lies as you do so. 

Become Filthy Rich

In the ruthless struggle for Hector Vargas’s riches, lies are ubiquitous and the truth is elusive. You know who your rivals might be, and suspect that they're very different from who they say they are. You have more to gain from pretending to be someone else than from professing your true identity. Hoax demands mixing truth and fiction, executing clever strategies, and making shrewd deductions. Only a master of telling lies, discerning the truth, and navigating sticky situations can inherit Vargas’s wealth, become filthy rich, and win. 

If your curiosity has been whet and you’re at Gen Con, you can come try out Hoax at the Fantasy Flight Games booth in the Exhibit Hall. Otherwise, visit the Hoax minisite for more information. The game will appear in stores in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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