Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
Mascarade by Bruno Faidutti and Esdevium Games comes in a beautifully designed and high quality box, which is only 20x10cm so easy to store or take on holiday with you. The design on the front shows a Venetian style mask and also clearly displays the amount of players, 2-13, the age of player, 10+, and the average time of game, 30 minutes.
Inside the box there is:
1x Courthouse board
14x character cards including characters such as Queen, Witch, Peasant and Thief
14x character tokens with characters as cards
86x money tokens made up of 4×10, 18×5, 64×1 coins
5x player aid cards (these have an abridged version of the characters powers on to help you remember throughout the game)
All of the above are printed onto high quality thick card with intricate designs.
It took a while to push out all the coins and cards and read the instructions as they are quite complicated. The game is essentially a bluffing game and can be played with 2-13 players, but around 6 players gives a great game. There are also shortened versions of the game for 2-3 players. The aim of the game is to collect 13 coins, and on reaching this amount the games ceases and the winner is announced.
Players in the game start with six coins and a randomly dealt character card. Characters stay face up just long enough for the players to try and memorise them, then are turned face down. On a turn you take one of three actions:
1) Announce your character: Claim the power of a certain character and take the action shown on the player aid card, e.g. the Bishop takes 2 gold coins from the richest of the other players. You don’t have to have the actual character card but if you are a good bluffer just state you are the character you want and take the reward. If however someone else says that they’re that character and reveals the card to prove it, that player takes the reward instead and you lose one coin to the courthouse.
2) Swap cards or not: Take another player’s character card along with yours, place them under the table, shuffle them around a bit, then give one card back to the other player while keeping one for yourself. You should know if you have changed characters and therefore know who the other player is now, and you may know who you are now depending if anyone else has shown there character.
3) Secretly look at your character: You can just take a look at your character card to check who you are if you have swapped or forgotten.
The powers of the characters are such that you can lose as many coins as you win and with more players it makes it more interesting, if for instance you are the witch you get to swap your entire fortune with any other player of your choice.
This is an interesting game, beautifully designed but I feel the instructions make it seem much more complicated that it really is. Once you have the hang of it you find that the rules are easy to pick up especially with the help of character aid cards. Mascarade would make a nice gift for a family and perfect to pop in the case for holidays.
Suitable age: 1o years + | Players: 2-13 | Game Time: 30 minutes (approx)
Available to buy from Amazon here.