- For ages 10 and up
- For 2 to 5 players
- Approximately 30 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Memorization & Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Hand/Resource Management
- Bluffing and Misdirection
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Be the world’s greatest spy, but keep it a secret!
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
The world of espionage is a shadowy place, where secrets are better than gold. It’s also a world of extreme competition, but not one you’ll ever hear about. Every agent hopes to be the top spy, but this is a game where the best of the best is also the most visible. And as any standard spy field guide will tell you, a visible agent is a dead agent. Strive to be the greatest spy, but do it in the shadows.
H.I.D.E. (an acronym for Hidden Identity Dice Espionage), designed by Keewoong Kim, is comprised of 1 Mission board, 5 Secret Hideout boards, 5 Player screens, 1 dice bag, 32 Mission dice (8 custom six-sided dice in four different colors), 16 Intel cards, 28 Rank cards, 1 Security card, 8 Gadget cards, and 1 Starting Player card. The game component quality is excellent. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card and the boards are very durable. The dice are plastic and feel a bit light, but work just fine, with the icons on each engraved instead of just being printed on.
Prepping for the Mission
To set up the game, first place all the dice in the dice bag.
Second, take the Mission board and place it in the middle of the playing area.
Third, take the Intel cards and shuffle them. Place the Intel cards face-down next to the Mission board. This is the Intel draw deck for the duration of the game.
Fourth, give each player a Secret Hideout board and a Player screen. Note that the Player Screen must be constructed. When completed, it provides the player with a place to hide their dice inside a small boxed area only they can see and a top area where they place dice they want their opponents to see. The Player screen and Mission board are placed directly in front of the player, with the Player screen being placed on top of the Mission board in a special designated area.
Fifth, take the Rank cards and give each player one to place in front of them. This card indicates the player’s Spy’s current global rank among all the other spies. Players place their Rank card face-up in the designated area found on their Mission board. Place the remaining Rank cards face-up next to the Intel draw deck.
Sixth, place the Security card and Gadget cards off to one side of the Mission board.
That’s it for game set up. Determine who will be the first player and give them the Starting Player card.
H.I.D.E. is played in three rounds, with each round further broken down into phases and turns. A game round is summarized here.
Phase One: Select Your Mission
The player with the Starting Player card (referred to as the “starting player”), takes all the Gadget cards, shuffles them, and deals one to each player. Players place their Gadget card face-up on their Secret Hideout board. Gadget cards are not active during this phase of the round, but will most likely influence the player later in the same round, helping them make some important decisions.
The starting player then draws an Intel card for each mission location on the Mission board, placing the cards face-up. If an Intel card is already in a space, a new Mission card is placed over it, but the values of all the cards in the space should remain visible to the players.
If playing with only two or three players, the starting player draws a random Mission die from the die bag and rolls it. The rolled value indicates where the Security card should be placed on the Mission board (the “gun” icon is wild, allowing the starting player to select the location of their choice). The Security card essentially “blocks” that location, making it impossible for any player to take action on it during the current round. Place the rolled Mission die back in the bag.
The last action for the phase is to have each player draw one random Mission die. Players should keep the die they drew secret, placing it immediately under the protective shelter of their Player screen. Once the die is safely out of view, the player then selects the icon that matches the Location on the Mission board they want to target, ensuring that the icon on top of the die matches the same icon of their selected location. Any icon can be selected except the “gun” icon or the icon currently blocked by the Security card. Once the icon is selected, the player can no longer alter the dice’s icon. This is a special Mission die referred to as the player’s “Identity”.
Phase Two: Attempt Your Mission
The starting player for the round randomly draws one Mission die from the die bag for every player in the game who has not had their spy targeted for assassination, plus one more. The dice drawn are added to any die that were not selected by other players during the game, adding to the overall total number of dice. The total number of dice the player draws is reduced as a result. The starting player then rolls all the dice they have available to them and arranges the rolled values in the front of them so all of their opponents can see the icons. This is the player dice pool.
Beginning with the starting player and continuing in turn order sequence, each player will select one die from the player dice pool and do one of the following. Note that the rolled values of the dice should never be altered:
- If the selected die does not have the same color or icon as the player’s Identity, it can be placed in front of the player’s Player screen. Any die with a “gun” icon can be placed in front of the Player screen, as well, regardless of the player’s Identity. Dice placed in front of the Player screen are used to complete missions and to collect Intel cards, but be careful. The more die you place, the easier it will be to determine the player’s Identity through the process of elimination.
- If the selected die matches the color or icon of the player’s Identity, it must be placed on top of the Player screen. If the selected die has the same color as the player’s Identity and shows the “gun” icon, the icon can be changed to any value before it’s placed. If the selected die does not match the player’s Identity color, the “gun” icon must be changed to match the player’s Identity icon. Players should take special caution when placing dice here, as they are revealing a great deal about themselves, which might lead to their spy being assassinated.
If the player placed a die on top of their Player screen, they have revealed just enough of themselves to make them a target, but by doing so, they can also target an opponent. The player can now point to one opponent and verbally guess the color and icon of their Identity die using what information they can see from the dice their opponent has selected.
- If the guess is correct, the opponent reveals their Identity and is out of the round (not the game), since their spy has been badly wounded. The player then takes their opponent’s Rank cards, placing them into their Intel pile. The player also adds one Rank card from the draw deck, adding it to their Rank pile.
- If the guess is incorrect, the opponent informs them that they are a lousy spy and no further action is taken.
At anytime during the round, a player can use their Gadget card to either change the icon of any die remaining in the player dice pool to an icon of their choice or to add additional Life dice during a shootout. Once the Gadget card is used, it’s returned to the pile of unused Gadget cards.
After each player has selected one die from the player dice pool (or have had their spy eliminated for the round), the dice bag is passed to the next player in the turn order sequence who still has their spy in the game round. The phase is then repeated. This continues until all the players with active spies have had a chance to draw dice.
Phase Three: Completing Missions
All players who still have spies not in the hospital (i.e. avoided being assassinated during the previous phase) and have at least one die on top of their Player screen, simultaneously reveal their Identity. Any dice placed in front of the Player screen are returned to the dice bag. All missions are now resolved, starting with the “Space Shuttle Mission” on the left and continuing right.
- If the mission location was only targeted by one player, that player takes all the Intel cards underneath the location and adds them, face-down, to their Intel pile. They then draw one Rank card, adding it to their Rank pile.
- If the mission location was targeted by two or more players, there’s a shootout…
During a shootout, each player involved (those all targeting the same location) take the dice placed on top of the Player screen in hand. These are the player’s Life dice. Remember that players can use their Gadget card to add Life dice at this time, but only if the Gadget card has an icon that matches the contested location. Thematically speaking, the player’s spy came prepared. The Life die added is randomly drawn from the dice bag and added to the player’s total Life dice.
All players in the shootout now roll their dice.
- The player who rolls the most “gun” icons wins the shootout and takes all the Intel cards underneath the location and adds them, face-down, to their Intel pile. They then draw one Rank card, adding it to their Rank pile.
- If there is a tie, only those players who rolled the tie roll again. This continues until there is only one winner.
Master of Spies
The game immediately ends if either of the two conditions are met:
- The first player to acquire their fifth Rank card wins the game!
- At the end of the third and final round, the players add the values of their acquired Intel cards from successful missions and assassination attempts. The value of Rank cards are not added. The player with the highest total wins.
If only two players are available, each player will take on the role of two agents. These agents play as a team, but keep their own Rank cards. All Intel cards count towards a team victory. Game set up and play is slightly different from the game play previously described.
The Child Geeks very much enjoyed the game. H.I.D.E. They found it plays quickly and the constant rolling of the dice kept the younger geeks both physically and mentally engaged. As one Child Geek put it, “The game keeps you interested because the dice are always being rolled and moved around.” One aspect of the game that many of the Child Geeks enjoyed was that they didn’t need to remember anything, since all the dice were visible. What they quickly learned was that what they showed was the most important aspect of the game. According to one Child Geek, “The first time I played, I didn’t do very well with the dice. You have to learn to hide in plain site.” I thought this was a brilliant observation, as it’s not only true in respect to the game’s theme, but also the biggest challenge of the game itself. When all the missions were completed, the Child Geeks approved H.I.D.E.
The Parent Geeks also enjoyed the game, finding it not only entertaining with their family, but also with their peers. According to one Parent Geek, “I was concerned, at first, that the game would be a bit one-sided when playing with kids, but this is not the case. Even if my kid picks poorly, I still have to go through the process of deduction. Lots of times, it is even harder to find out who my kids are hiding as versus playing with adults.” Another Parent Geek said, “The game plays fast, is easy to understand, and a real joy to play. I like that the dice keep changing, making each round a new chance to hide.” The only aspect of the game the Parent Geeks didn’t like was that the Gadget cards didn’t actually provide something useful in regards to unique game abilities. This did not stop them from giving the game their full approval.
The Gamer Geeks were OK with the game, but didn’t find it all that interesting. According to one Gamer Geek, “I liken this game to the plumbing in my house. It just works. It isn’t interesting, but does the job.” Which is to say, this particular Gamer Geek (and others who agreed with her), found H.I.D.E. to be predictable and functional. What you did each round was obvious, with the only changes from one round to the next being which dice to select from. Another Gamer Geek said, “Solid game that lacks the feeling or intensity of a game themed around spies and espionage.” All of the Gamer Geeks agreed that H.I.D.E. was well made and solid, as far as games and game designs go, but they also agreed that the game was not for them.
H.I.D.E. does a great job of keeping the players involved, asking them at all times to make informed, but not highly educated, choices. As the game progresses, the information available to the player becomes more abundant, but nothing is given to the players for free. One aspect of the game I really enjoyed is the ability to strike at another opponent, but doing so meant that you had to put yourself in harm’s way. I believe the game referred to this as “stepping out of the shadows” and it most certainly feels as such. You can keep yourself hidden, but the more active you are in the game, the more visible you become.
Using dice was a nice touch, as it allows the players to keep interacting with the game and creating random values to play with. The cards in the game do little to strengthen the game’s theme, but are nonetheless useful. But, as the Gamer Geeks mentioned, H.I.D.E. does tend to stay on the rails a bit. I feel this was intentional, as the game itself plays very fast and feels exceeding streamlined. The problem with such a game is that it leaves little for the players to experiment with. This was seen as a negative by the Gamer Geeks, as the game felt very formulaic. Which, again, was both intentional and unavoidable.
The end result is a game that plays fast and keeps the players guessing. I enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it with both my family and friends. For the Gamer Geeks, there are other deduction and espionage games available that have more depth, but I do believe that even the most elitist of gamers will find a bit of joy in this game. Do give H.I.D.E. a try and see if it worth finding.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.