From the second we heard host Alan Cumming’s mischievous voiceover, we were hooked on The Traitors. Maybe it was the mystique of its Scottish castle setting, the charms of its alluring host, or the intense vibes around the banishing table. Probably, it’s that we love mess, and there’s no better mess than that intentionally caused by a traitor dead set on sabotage and subterfuge.
In the new Peacock reality TV competition, a team must work together for a prize of a quarter of a million dollars. But among the Faithful, there are secretive traitors, determined to sabotage their efforts to compromise the pot. If you loved The Mole or Squid Game, you may well relish a fresh chance to watch dangerous deception unfold from the safety of your couch. But if you want to get in on the game, well, we’ve got just the thing…10 of them, actually.
Here are the best video games and board games for when you want to play at sabotage. Lie, sneak, poison, but no matter what — go for the win!
Looking for a quick game that will still let you lie to your friends? Check out One Night Ultimate Werewolf, a game of hidden identities that moves at a brisk pace. The conceit is simple: Villagers are trying to find the werewolves living in their town. Players get just one round — made up of a night phase and a day phase — to catch them.
Each player gets a card assigning them a secret role, like a Werewolf, a normal Villager, or a specialized role like the Seer. During the night phase, these roles wake up in a specific order and wreak havoc, like looking at other players’ cards or switching roles secretly. When the day phase rolls around, players air their suspicions and vote on who they think the werewolves are. You’ll have to rely on your wits — and, if you’re a werewolf, your lying skills — to stay alive. Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
Warning: Fakin’ It is not for the faint of heart, and you may make you hate your friends for up to two weeks after playing. Here’s the gist. At the beginning of each round, each player is assigned a role, either “the faker” or just an unsuspecting participant. Then, all players will be sent an identical task to their respective mobile devices, like “Raise your hand if you’ve ever eaten food out of the garbage” — except for the faker. They’ll have to blend in as best they can without revealing their identity and hope that they answer in accordance with the rest of the group. If not, the faker will have to convincingly explain away their most recent dumpster meal or risk getting caught. It’s extremely stressful, but in the fun kind of way. And as a bonus, you’ll learn which people in your friend group you should never again tell your darkest secrets to. —Dylan Haas, Lead Shopping Reporter
Of course Among Us(Opens in a new window) was going to be on this list. Released in 2018, this 2D sleeper hit swept the globe in 2020. Its simple gameplay and reliance on communication made it an appealing option for socializing during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also excellent fodder for livestreamer collaborations(Opens in a new window).
In Among Us, players take on the role of stumpy little multicolored astronauts running around an enclosed area to complete a variety of tasks. However, some crewmates are actually imposters who are tasked with sabotaging the group’s efforts and sneakily killing them one by one. The crewmates must therefore work together to deduce who the impostors are and vote them out before everyone is murdered — which inevitably leads to a lot of lying, persuading, and general hijinks. —Amanda Yeo, Reporter
Forget dying of dysentery in the 8-bit hellscape of The Oregon Trail. This history-based board game offers some wild bite. Four to 10 players place character tokens around the board’s campfire. Each round, they collect three “hunting” cards to contribute anonymously to the group meal: either fish, squirrel, poison, medicine, or empty hands. If there’s not enough food to go around, someone needs to “die,” and that decision is made via group vote. The pioneers aim to oust the cannibals, but first they have to guess who these sabotaging sneaky people-eaters might be. Meanwhile, the cannibals have the advantage, knowing who’s who and leveraging lies, paranoia, and suspicion to survive.
Let me assure you this game of sabotage and investigation is wickedly fun. While the content of this game means it’s aimed at adults, I can confirm that grade-school kiddos will thrill at the excitement, debate, and the free pass to fib. But how you’ll explain what a cannibal is — well, that’s up to you. —Kristy Puchko, Film Editor
If you’ve already moved on from Among Us(Opens in a new window)(opens in a new tab) and are looking for a similar social deduction experience, First Class Trouble may be the move for you. The setting is a luxury space cruise liner, which sounds pretty nice — until you add in the small fact that this particular ship has fallen victim to an AI uprising of the “kill-all-humans” variety. You’ll have to cooperate with the other guests to survive the night and attempt to switch the AI onboard back to a non-murderous state, but there’s one issue: Some of them are part of the robo-rebellion themselves, and you might not figure out who they are until it’s already too late. —D.H.
Project Winter is a delightfully fun mix between a survival game where resource-gathering is key (see games like The Long Dark(Opens in a new window)(opens in a new tab), Valheim(Opens in a new window)(opens in a new tab), and even Animal Crossing(Opens in a new window)(opens in a new tab)) and a social deduction game like some of the other picks on our list. Stranded out in an icy wilderness with no means of rescue in sight, your group will have to repair, harvest, and craft their way to salvation, all while trying to figure out who the traitors within their ranks are. Unique features like proximity-based voice chat and private channels only increase the paranoia of it all, and make it an even greater challenge to figure out who you can actually trust as you go up against the elements. Beware, that one teammate who said they wanted to “brave the wilderness” together might actually just be leading you to a cave full of angry bears.—D.H.
Want to test your social deduction skills and curb the rise of fascism at the same time? Then Secret Hitler is the traitorous game for you. The year? 1932. The place? Germany. As members of Germany’s fragile liberal government, players are tasked with electing chancellors and passing policies. Unfortunately, a group of secret fascists — including the titular Secret Hitler — is working to sabotage the parliamentary proceedings right under the liberals’ noses!
Gameplay revolves around voting and secretly choosing between liberal and fascist policies. If the fascists pass more policies or if they elect Hitler chancellor, they win. This means that the real battle is fought in the discussions between rounds. Here, deception and wild accusations reign supreme, culminating in tense governmental shenanigans with high stakes. —B.E.
Gameplay-wise, Avalon shares a few similarities with other social deduction games like Secret Hitler. However, this one comes with a fun Arthurian twist: You’re playing as members of King Arthur’s court. Players vote on who gets to go on quests, but beware! Minions of Mordred lurk among you, hoping to fail each quest without getting caught.
To up the Arthurian legend vibes, you can play with a series of extra roles like Merlin, Percival, and Morgana. These hidden identities change what information you may know about others, like who is on the side of good or evil. It adds an extra layer of secrecy to a game that’s already full of backstabbing intrigue — perfect for betraying your friends in style. — B.E.
Bluff your way to the top in Coup, a game of social deduction, hidden identities, and murder. Each player takes on the role of a powerful government official striving for complete power over their rivals. To achieve this power, players get two influence cards depicting specialized roles like Duke or Ambassador. Their skills can help you gain money, steal from others, and even commit coups or assassinations. Once both of your influence cards have been eliminated, you’re out of the game. Last one standing wins.
The catch? Only you know the truth about your influence cards, so you can lie about your roles at any time. Of course, this means that other players can also call you out at any time, so watch out. If you’re caught, you lose one of your cards. But if you make a false accusation, you also lose one of your cards. It’s a double-edged sword, but for the chance to triumph over your enemies? It may just be worth it. — B.E.
What’s spookier than betraying your friends? How about betraying your friends…in a haunted house? If supernatural treachery is up your alley, Betrayal at House on the Hill gives you plenty of opportunities. The game starts with all the players working together to explore an old mansion. However, at some point in the game, one player turns on the others, and a haunt commences.
One of the best things about Betrayal at House on the Hill is that it’s different every time you play it. You build the mansion with a set of tiles that you explore as the game progresses, so you never play on the same map twice. Plus, the game gives you different win conditions for each haunt. Truly, a game with range — and plenty of fun frights. — B.E.