Hoax

He hadn’t seen the family since the age of eighteen, so he was certain that no one would recognize him as that infamously ungrateful child. Instead of his normal three-piece suit, he went into the estate meeting with dirt on his hands, grass stains on his jeans, and a list of landscaping jargon pulled up on his cell phone. He sat down between the scowling butler and his late father’s current girlfriend, and introduced himself as, “Chad. You know, the gardener.” 

Hoax is a fast-paced game of secret identities for three to six players. When a ruthless and filthy rich business magnate chokes to death on a celebratory champagne cork, he leaves only one clear directive in his will: that his heir be as devious and remorseless as he was. An intense competition between the greedy members of his inner circle ensues, each determined to prove himself worthy of the business, the estate, and the accompanying billions. In Hoax, you and your friends each take on the role of one of these fortune-seekers as they attempt to eliminate their rivals using any means necessary.

Designed by Bill Eberle, Ned Horn, Jack Kittredge, and Peter Olotka, Hoax invites you to lie, steal, and accuse your way to victory. You start the game with a secret identity, a single resource (cash, evidence, or prestige), and no knowledge of who your competitors really are. To find that out, you’ll need to amass resources, spend them on investigating other players, and make careful accusations in order to eliminate your opponents. The last player remaining in the game wins.

Wealth and Privilege

Hoax’s seven avaricious characters each have a unique privilege based on their relationship to the recently deceased billionaire, Hector Vargas. As a successful businessman himself, the Son-in-Law can force other players to pay him whatever kind of resource he wants. The Lover tends to be short on cash, but has plenty of useful evidence and prestige. The Butler may be greedy, but he still likes helping others out: he can declare another player and they may both take one resource of any kind during the Butler’s turn. 

To use a privilege, simply announce who you are during your turn, as in, “I am the Bulter.” Your proclamation doesn’t have to be true. If you’re playing the Lover and want a sudden influx of cash, you might claim to be the Son-in-Law, Gardener, or even the Ex. Remember, however, that every time you make a claim, someone might call hoax. 

Lies and Truthiness

When “Hoax” is called, all players (except for the accused) commence a discussion about the veracity of the active player’s claim. They then vote on whether it seemed true or false. If they vote that the claim seemed true, it doesn’t matter whether the active player was lying or not—the claim proceeds and the player who made it reaps his rightful reward. If they vote that it seemed false, two things can happen. The player can reveal that he was making a truthful claim and win the game there and then, or he can back off of the claim, acknowledging that it was falsely made. He then can never impersonate the character he claimed to be again. 

Calling “Hoax” is one way of taking out your rivals, making a correct accusation is the other. Since you are eliminated if you make a wrong accusation, you’ll want to investigate your opponents and gain some evidence before you accuse. To investigate, spend one cash, prestige, and evidence, then pick your target. He will show you the suspicion cards for four identities, including the one that is actually his. That information, combined with some clever deductions based on false claims, may lead you to the truth. You make an accusation by passing to your chosen accused a suspicion card bearing what you believe to be their real identity. She looks at it and, if your guess is correct, silently withdraws from the game without revealing her secrets to anyone else. If you’ve guessed wrong, she will smile, shake her head, say “No,” and you’ll be eliminated. 

Acquired Immunities

More advanced players may want to introduce another realm of dastardly fictions into the game. Four characters possess immunities that can be played to prevent their resources from being stolen from certain other characters. The Lover is immune to the Son-in-law, the Distant Cousin is immune to the Chef, the Chef is immune to the Gardener, and the Butler is immune to the Ex. As with privileges, you can claim an immunity whether it matches your secret identity or not, but of course, a clumsy lie may be rewarded with the dangerous cry of ”Hoax,” and suddenly you may have one less character that you can pretend to be. 

Outwit and Outlast

Telling the truth may get you a quick single-point victory over your rivals, but it won’t earn you Hector Vargas’s gargantuan fortune. To gain a three-point victory, and prove that you are the rightful heir of this scheming and dishonest man, you’ll need to outwit and outlast your entire competition. Hoax is a game of convincing deceits, clever deductions, ruthless stealing, and bold accusations. May the best liar win! 

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10 – 20 minutes

3 – 6 players

Ages 14+

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