Starting with Dr. No, the films featuring international spy James Bond have nurtured a genre with a combination of mystery, action, and gadgetry. If you’re going to boil the many elements of interest here into a small dice game, what better place to start than with mystery and action. Mayday Games new title aims for just that.
H.I.D.E.: Hidden Identity Dice Espionage (HIDE) is a dice game and deduction game rolled into one for 3-5 players. It takes about 30 minutes to play and is best with as many players as you can get.
The first part of every round has players selecting a die at random from a black bag and placing it secretly behind their screen. They choose a die face that represents one of the four targets for their mission: satellite, power plant, submarine, or army base. The value of these missions is determined by a display of random intel cards. Every player also receives a Rank card which will later help players win the game.
In the Main Phase, the start player draws a number of dice from the bag based on the number of players. On each player’s turn, they select a die and place it on their player board or on top of their screen. The decision where to place it is based on how much information they want to reveal, what color + die face it is, and whether they want to make an assassination attempt.
If the selected die matches neither the color nor the die face icon of their own hidden die, they place it on their player board, and their turn ends. If the selected die matches at least one property (color or face icon) of their own hidden die, they place it on top of their screen and can make an assassination attempt on another player. They must announce the color and die face icon they believe a chosen player has behind their screen. If they are correct, they receive a Rank card. Furthermore, all the Rank cards currently held by the assassinated agent turn into money value for the assassinating agent.
Once every player has a combination of four dice on their board and/or screen, the hidden dice are revealed. If players went after the same target, they roll the dice placed on top of their screens in a shootout to determine a winner. The winner of each target receives the payout cards and a Rank card. Once this is done, a new round begins. The goal of the game is to be the first player to receive 5 Rank cards from assassination or completing missions.
Some light games can turn heavy gamers off. There might be too little decision making or the light-weight of decisions just makes the game inevitable. For a light game HIDE seems to hit this balance just right.
The turns are relatively straightforward after some initial explanation of how to deduce a die color/face, but it demands some memory of previous guesses and answers as well. The choice of dice to use for deduction changes each round, and so a player’s tactics for the round might need to change as well. This is just the right mix of calculation that makes a deduction game fun.
In addition, the theme, rather than feeling pasted on, is very appropriate. When choosing a die and deciding how much information to reveal, there’s a definite balance based on what’s rolled. This can easily get players into the theme of secret agents maneuvering in the shadows to take down opponents.
One of the negatives, however, is that there are only 16 combinations of possibilities for players to select from, and if you play with three players, the number drops to 12 (one of the targets is unavailable). This makes it really easy to guess an identity from a random guess and end the round early for a player.
With the negative of some player elimination, the positive is the playtime. The short length of the game means players can start a new game or move on to something else. This can operate as both a filler or a slightly longer game, especially if players want to raise the number of rounds or number of Rank cards to win.
Gamers looking for a light deduction game with an element of random chance will be rewarded with H.I.D.E. It’s got a fun mix of information revelation and a light, appropriately implemented theme. It may be a little too easy to guess a player’s hidden die for some, but that does add to the challenge in a light game. H.I.D.E. is an easy pick to get new gamers interested in modern board games or for families who love to shoot each other.
Final Score: 3 Stars – Fun with families and new gamers with a good implementation of theme.
• Somewhat easy to guess hidden identities
• Slightly confusing rules at the beginning
• Partial player elimination