A while ago, I was contacted on Instagram by an independent game designer named Stephanie and asked if I’d like a preview copy of her new card game, Who’s Bluffing. A couple of email exchanges later and I had a copy in my hands – yay! 🙂
Unfortunately, due to various life events, extending our patio, redecorating my hobby room and developing my own proof-reading service for the tabletop industry, it’s taken me a while to get this game to table.
Well, I rectified that recently by playing a few rounds with some friends! 🙂
With this being a “Family fun, Educational card game”, and to see how accessible it could be, I played with some friends who don’t usually play many tabletop games – be that card or board games. The game is for two to five players and we played in groups of two and then four. I was the most experienced tabletop gamer in the group, often playing much heavier games that can take hours, but we all had a blast with Who’s Bluffing as a large part of the game is player interaction and calling each other’s bluff. In my opinion, as long as fun is had by all, that’s the sign of a good game!
As you can see on the packaging, this deck of cards is based on English cities and towns, which is great, as everyone playing either lived in or grew up in different regions of England. Almost all of the places in the game were known to us, but imagine playing this as a kid (it’s a game rated for 9+). You’d probably be learning of cities and towns you may never have heard of – not only that, but the cards have some extra facts printed on them making it even more educational – another aim of the game.
Inside the box are 54 cards and a rules sheet. This is a game designed to be bought in the store one minute and playable the next – once you’ve got it home, to the cafe, your tent or the beach. Wherever you can find a friend and eek out a small table’s-worth of space, you can play!
There are six regions covered by the cards: The North, Yorkshire and The Humber, The Midlands (home of BGY!), East of England, South West and South East & Greater London. Each region has a ‘Ruler card’ and then eight corresponding place (city or town) cards.
A Passion Project
Who’s Bluffing is clearly a labour of love. When you read ‘The Story‘ section on the website, it has an interesting starting point – from a rather serendipitous challenge thrown down to everyone in the room one day. It’s a common theme in the tabletop industry (most industries, really) that who you know is important and can be the making of you.
I think it’s inspiring to read that for Stephanie, just being in the right place at the right time lead to the conception of a whole new game! Creativity springs from all kinds of sources and I think it’s interesting that Stephanie herself isn’t sure exactly where the initial idea for Who’s Bluffing sprung from. I guess the timing, environment and people around her meant her idea sprang to life there and then!
Aim of the game
You win who’s Bluffing by getting rid of all of your cards before your opponent(s).
- Out of the 54 cards there are 6 Ruler cards. The Ruler cards are shuffled and placed face down in the play area.
- The top Ruler card is turned face up.
- Next, the remaining 48 Playing cards are shuffled and five are dealt to each player. (Regardless of the number of players, it’s always five.)
- Place the rest of the Playing cards face down near the Ruler cards, forming the Draw pile.
- Leave space for a central, shared Discard pile.
Playing the game
The starting player is the person reading the rules, with play continuing clockwise around the table.
The first player takes a look at the face-up Ruler card and decides which of the following three actions they take:
1) If you DO have a card in your hand matching the Ruler’s region, you can play that card, calling out its name and placing it face down in the Discard pile.
2) If you DON’T have a card in your hand matching the Ruler’s region, you can pick up a card from the Draw pile, hoping it matches the Ruler. If it DOES, you can play it immediately, calling out its name and placing it face down on the Discard pile. If it DOESN’T, you add that card to your hand.
Lie through their teeth:
3) You can choose to get rid of any card from your hand, whether it matches the Ruler or not and call out the name of a different card.
Calling your bluff
Obviously lying through your teeth comes with some risk because you might make the mistake of claiming you played a card that’s actually in your opponents hand! If you do, it’s their chance to call you a great big Bluffer! (Or “Bluffalo” as we ended up calling them!)
- If someone calls you a Bluffer, you need to turn the card you just played face-up.
- If you were bluffing, you must add all the cards in the Discard pile to your hand.
- If you were NOT bluffing, the player that called you a Bluffer must add all the cards from the Discard pile to their hand.
The player that picked up the Discard pile also then resets the current Ruler card. They do this by shuffling the face-up Ruler card into the face-down Ruler cards and turning a new card face-up.
If each player has taken a turn without anyone calling a player’s bluff, then that’s considered the end of the round, and the Ruler card is reset as above.
The other rule worth mentioning is that you’re not allowed to play a card that DOES match the Ruler but call out that it doesn’t. That’s just not cricket!
To sleeve or not to sleeve?
Now I am a self-confessed sleeving fiend! If a card exists in our house, you can bet I’m gonna get it sleeved within minutes of touchdown! 😉 I tend to have a stash of commonly-sized sleeves on hand, so I thought I’d see what suited Who’s Bluffing. Now with this being such an affordable game (it retails at around five GBP), you may choose to forgo sleeves, but I find cards easier to shuffle in sleeves.
I can tell you with confidence that both Mayday premium 63.5x88mm sleeves fit nicely – as do HyperMAT 66x91mm sleeves. So there, now you know! 🙂
Who’s Bluffing is available to pre-order from the website in two variants so far, with European Cities and Towns being the other. A third is on the way, which will be American Cities and Towns. This presents the opportunity to learn about foreign and domestic settlements across three different regions of the world, one of which you might call home.
Being a player of Magic: The Gathering and Arkham Horror: The Card Game, I’m accustomed to more complex and/or narrative gameplay when it comes to card games, but I still had fun with my friends as it was easy for them to pick up and play with next to no preamble.
I’m sure this will find an audience in families with young children as well as in people of all ages, whom are keen to learn more about metropolitan areas of the three global regions found in the game. It’s a compact game that travels well and required only a small play area. Ideal for back-packers, no? I could even see this selling in airports to make the long flight overseas fly by.
Who’s Bluffing is a pure idea which translates into a highly accessible game, that can be both a learning experience and a doorway for youngsters and yet-to-be-gamers into the wonderful world of further tabletop adventures!
Who’s Bluffing can also be found on Instagram.