Game Review – Speakeasy

Designing a game suitable for 40 players seems extremely difficult, if not downright near impossible. Most gamers I know though have experienced the pain of games that do not scale well. This is especially true when group sizes get into the 10+ range. In comes, Speakeasy, a game literally designed for large parties.

The game comes stacked with over 200 cards, 40 of which are devoted to player roles. Playing time is estimated at 75 minutes for players age 16 and up. Can’t think of a theme for your next large party? Speakeasy may be your best bet! Let’s take a look under the hood.

Speakeasy is one of the first games I’ve seen to target groups larger than 10!

Premise:

The game is set in the Roaring Twenties. A time where the United States was at war with The Mob. Each player is given a role related to one of two sides – The Mob or the Feds. The ultimate goal of the game is to covertly identify and distinguish between teammates and enemies; and through the use of passwords and deduction, sabotage the other team in order to get points. The game requires a moderator, and the overall experience is positively correlated with prep time. Don’t let that discourage you, however, as the payoff is well worth it.

Each player is given a role card and a password card that can is used to identify oneself with their teammates. Different player roles may carry with it different powers that will aid them in attaining points for their team. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, if your role is the Con Artist (part of The Mob), your role card stipulates that you may receive one of the other team’s Password Cards from the Moderator once per game. This information could be used to disguise yourself as part of the feds in order to sabotage their team (i.e. preventing them from getting points).

While the game comes with password cards, there are also some blank password cards for you to customize yourself!

Each role has different abilities, and no one knows who each other is at the outset of the game. This means the strategy of play will vary depending on who gets what role and how they decide to play the role they’re dealt. Because there are up to 40 role cards, literally dozens of people can be wandering around trying to unmask who is friend from foe. At the end of the stipulated time, the information attained regarding the other team is gathered (along with other information) to determine who scored the most points.

This is obviously an oversimplification of the rules, but it would be way too long of a post to go in depth with all the cards/roles included in the board game. It’s worth emphasizing that the game is designed to be played with at least 10 people; so don’t look to break this game out unless it’s going to be an adequately sized group. You can always try to play with less, but the value of play hits a high note when you play with the stipulated amount of players.

The Goods

Speakeasy is a great game to play if you have a large group of friends. It plays well with strangers even, so it can also be used as an icebreaker. Do you have a lot of family in town for a special event and/or holiday? This game could potentially be the cure for finding an activity for almost everyone to enjoy. The ultimate key to this game is the moderator. If you’re willing to put in the effort, it can be very enjoyable watching the game develop as new events unfold. I imagine the more moderating one does the more streamlined the game becomes. You will almost never have a game where everyone has played before so you knowing your stuff is key.

There are 40 roles included in Speakeasy, plenty for your next large group party!

The various roles have extreme breadth, as there are 40 roles covered in the game. The theme of this fits great with the mechanics as well. The default when playing a game like this is to be very secretive, and this disposition gives you the feeling that you’re in the Roaring Twenties either trying to snoop out the mob or find out who’s been snitching! It’s a passive game in that it can be played while doing something else. I could easily see the game being played at a party or an unrelated event. While everyone is there for the party or otherwise just hanging out, people can secretly be trying to sabotage the enemy.

The passwords could have been a weak point in this game. After all, there can only be so many passwords included, and once one memorizes the passwords being used after a few plays the game might be dull. To combat this, there are custom password cards that be utilized when that time comes. I love this aspect of the game because of how much it opens up the possibilities for replay-ability.

The last point worth mentioning again is about the game’s target market. Most games don’t scale well past ten people or so, while this game was literally designed for at least 10 people. The strategy is simple enough, though it can get complicated due to the number of people playing and the various roles. This ties back to why the moderator is key because they will be the point of reference for everybody in the room. This isn’t a party game you pull out because you’re bored, it’s an intentional tool that can be used for a night full of fun as well as an amazing icebreaker. The play time is around an hour, so depending on how well it plays you can always play multiple rounds if desired.

Wrap Up

Speakeasy is upping the ante when it comes to large party gaming. The game is passive enough to appeal to basically anybody and the strategy can range greatly depending on the audience. The key, as stated before, is the role of the moderator. If you’re having a get together with a large group of people, chances are you doing at least a little bit of prep work around the house first. After cleaning the dishes, vacuuming, and getting the essential party snacks, add this game to your list. It gets everybody in the room talking and the play time is right in that sweet spot where you can always play more or less depending on who you’re with and how the game went. Every audience is different, but one thing seems sure – you will have a fun time and you will know everyone in the room a lot better after playing this game.

Until next time,

Meercat
@Meercat

Speakeasy is a fantastic game for larger groups of 10+ people. Its custom password feature, strong theme tie in, and wide audience appeal are the reasons why I gave this a Meercat Approved rating.

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