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Dubious Review

Review of: Dubious
Board Game Review by: :
April Wilson

Reviewed by:
On Mar 14, 2024
Last modified:Mar 14, 2024


We review Dubious, published by Arcane Wonders. Dubious is a social deduction game where you are trying to sus out the occupations of your fellow players.

DubiousDo you ever feel miffed that you don’t know your friends’ occupations? I mean, come on, you and Fred have been buds for twelve years, but for all you know he could be a hairstylist or something! And rumor has it, he’s secretly allergic to pets! That’s right, Fred’s got a closet full of skeletons, and you’re going to find out what they are!

But you can’t just ask … no, that would be too easy. Instead, you and your friends will engage in an evening of intrigue, mystery and deception. The game is Dubious and for the next thirty minutes things are about to get real, as you and up to five other friends seek to uncover each other’s secrets, without revealing too many of your own.

Gameplay Overview:

To set up a game of Dubious, start by choosing a setting out of the three included in the box: Modern Day, Medieval, or Fantasy. Next, create a deck of five question cards and give each player two Occupation and two Secret cards, a player screen, pencil and a record sheet. Choose one of the secret and occupation cards to keep, then make note of the ones you rejected as that information will come in handy later, as you attempt to suss out your opponents’ identities. This is also a good time to determine how many rounds you want to play, as it’s up to the players to choose the game length.

Dubious Cards
Some of the Victorian occupations from the game.

One player will then flip the top card of the question deck and read it aloud. All players simultaneously write their own answers to the question, then read them aloud. This is repeated for a total of five questions. Finally, each player will take turns reading their answers to the questions one more time (feel free to also name your character and embellish as you like), after which everyone will take a guess at each other’s occupations and secrets. Each player will score one point per correct guess. The player being guessed will score a point for each correct guess given by the other players, unless everyone guesses both their occupation and secret correctly! Sorry, Fred, your hints were too obvious, no points for you.

After all guesses are in, the player with the most points wins! Repeat for as many rounds as desired.

Dubious Gameplay
Players will answer questions from a deck of cards in order to discover each other’s secrets and occupations.

Game Experience:

Social deduction games, for me, are hit or miss. I tend to enjoy the ones that don’t involve direct lying, but rather a clever veiling of the truth. So, considering Dubious is just that – a game in which you’re telling vague truths, I’m kind of surprised I didn’t enjoy it more. I think, for me, the game is just too open ended. There is a heavy reliance upon the players to create the atmosphere and theatrics, and even some of the rules, like choosing how long the game will last, are left up to the players. That isn’t bad, per se, but it places an additional burden upon the players to fill in some blanks.

Dubious Gameplay
Who will discover the most secrets while keeping their own identity hidden?

For some, that’s great! It might be exactly what you look for in a game, but for me it feels a little tiring. When I really enjoy a deduction game I often find myself itching to play more, this one I found myself not wanting to play more than a couple rounds in a single sitting; by the end, I was just kind of tired of it.

Now, with the right mix of friends who all enjoy that sort of thing, I could see this game being a riot. I think a theatrical club, for example, could have a lot of fun with it. Among the groups I played it with, however, it was just a middling experience. It does feel different from other deduction games, which is refreshing, it just didn’t exactly wow us!

It also just felt kind of fiddly to me, with the player screens, the large record sheets and the various decks for different eras, etc. On the upside, I think the all black pencils look super classy, and having those added eras makes for some replay value, just not as much as you would think.

Final Thoughts:

While Dubious could be fun among the right groups, I found the need to bring your own theatrics to the table somewhat tiring, and the rules a bit open ended. The game also feels just a little fiddly. I found it to be fun for a couple of plays, but it doesn’t feel like it has much to offer long term- the available question cards feel limited and I don’t think there’s enough variety in the base box to keep it fresh.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars – Not to be lugubrious, but Dubious isn’t quite meritorious (it’s okay)

2.5 StarsHits:
• Feels somewhat unique
• Leaves room for creativity

• Low replay
• Rules feel vague

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