Review: The Secrets Game
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Year: 1987
Tagline: (none)

This cover is burgundy with The Secrets Game in gold

how we met

I do not have a clear memory of picking up The Secrets Game (surprise!), so I am pretty sure Bill found it on one of his treks in the thrifting wild. He recalls opening it up and looking at a single card to make sure that the game was not an instant veto, and then it ended up at our home!

Party games are good for our group. They mostly meet us at our level and let us define the level of enjoyment. We will pick up a lot of party games.

how it plays

The Secrets Game is a party game where one player acts as a Storyteller and takes prompts from cards and tells a story about themselves that is either true or false. The fellow players, the Listeners, vote using hidden chips whether what the Storyteller said is TRUTH or a LIE, while the Storyteller uses their own hidden token to let others know either way.

Hidden tokens that say LIE on one side and TRUTH on the other
The TRUTH and LIE tokens

Everyone reveals their hidden tokens at once. Each Listener that matches with the Storyteller receives one point. The Storyteller gets one point for each Listener that does not match with them, because they tricked that player!

Unpunched scoring tokens
You are supposed to track your score with tokens (seen here, unpunched) and write it down at the end of each round. We just wrote it down the whole way instead

The game continues until four rounds have been completed, so until each player has been the Storyteller four times. Then the player with the most points wins The Secrets Game!

how it went

We played this one at the end of our game night, and I would even venture to say it was at the point that most of us assumed game night was over. We had already played four games that evening, including one of our active legacy games. But as enthusiastic as I am to get games into my house, Bill is also very enthusiastic to see them out again. And so he pulled out The Secrets Game. And we rallied.

There’s something deeply comforting about learning what things in life you are terrible at. Whether in future you choose to avoid them or just accept them, at least now you know. And I am terrible at bluffing.

But I was okay at guessing when my friends were bluffing, so I was able to score some points anyway. So being a good bluffer is just part of the play with The Secrets Game.

At the end of the night, I had the last play. I already couldn’t win, so it didn’t totally matter what I did. But I tried to play it straight because I am a very serious board game player. And the best chance I had with the cards at my disposal was to tell my awful friends a tale about how I responded to a dating ad once. Which I have never done. Because I am shy and generally ungainly.

Some of the cards including things like "The last time I lied about my age was..."
Here are some of the awful choices you will have during the game!

So I start this tale about how in my early 20’s I responded to a Missed Connection from Craigslist. This was met by laughter. I stayed strong and straight-faced and said the event happened in a grocery store. More laughter. At this point I started laughing myself, and I was only just able to explain that we both reached for the same pineapple before I collapsed into hopeless giggles. Everyone slammed down their LIE tokens, and we ended the evening. Bill won in a landslide.

The scoresheet shows Bill with 17, Jen 12, John 12 and Keri 9
See what I mean? The scoring tokens seem superfluous. I think they just wanted to put the logo on more stuff

play or pass

Pass. We had a lot of laughs with this game, but I think it has some fatal flaws. I am not a very good bluffer (read: I am the worst bluffer of all time), but even I can take a real story and change only minor details and claim that it is a lie. Or the cards will quite obviously not apply to a given player at all. These things break the game for all but the most steel-faced and creative of game groups. And where’s the party game in that?