Review: Spyfall 2

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Length

Release Date
spyfallcoverDesigner: Alexandr Ushan
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Category: Party Game, Social Deduction
Player Count: 3-12
BoardGameGeek Rating: 7.2 (25 votes)
Price: $25
The incredible success of the game The Resistance led to the advent of the “social deduction” genre. This is an evolution of party games involving some sort of secret element that only certain players know—2a hidden identity or answer. You can even trace this idea back to classic party games like Loaded Questions, but recently it’s used in various capacities in Coup, Mysterium, Codenames, and Spyfall
Spyfall is a timed game where everyone is at the same secret location. One player—the Spy—has no idea where that is, even though he’s with everyone else. (Is he drunk? Does he have a concussion? I don’t know.) Players ask questions in real-time to clear themselves while trying to find the spy, while not being too obvious. The spy, of course, is trying to discover the location before he gets caught. It’s a truly unique, hilarious concept, and I’ll never forget my first time playing it, at a friend’s bachelor party. (There were tears of laughter shared that day.) Spyfall 2 takes the same formula, but adds a few new rules. In doing so, does it maintain the magic of the original?

Content Guide

The game is simply 20 different piles of cards, and most cards in each pile have the same picture (one of the 20 options). There is little-to-no-text in the game. Some of the 20 images feature somewhat over-sexualized women, as does the cover. 

Review

spyfall2_beautyThis review will largely be a comparison with Spyfall, so I should begin with my full thoughts on that game. I think it’s one of the best party games ever designed, though hamstrung by its lack of player aids. There are thirty possible locations for the Spy to consider. The only access to them is a two-page spread in the center of the rulebook. Without a clear list of the locations for each player, it’s fairly obvious when a newer player is the Spy. I’ve played the game enough that it’s not an issue when I’m the Spy, but it’s a huge annoyance.
So, I’ll begin with my huge disappointment. Spyfall 2 STILL has no player aids other than the rulebook spread. Fans have been complaining about this for two years now. On the upside, Spyfall 2 only has twenty locations available. I actually think this is a very good change. There’s still plenty of variety, but it makes the Spy’s job much more manageable. While the game is then easier for beginners, in other ways it’s tougher (or at least stranger). That’s because most of the “normal” locations (bank, school, beach, zoo, etc.) were used in the original game. Spyfall 2 definitely has a stranger slate of locations overall, although Spyfall had its share. That can make for a really funny game as well, which is really more the point than winning. 
The reason there are only 20 locations is because Spyfall comes with 12 cards per location instead of 8. This means you can play with up to 12 players! With large groups, the rulebook suggests you play with two spies instead of one. We have played several 9-player games with two spies, and no one liked that concept. For such a simple game, the new rules were too convoluted. Sometimes they win together, sometimes separately, and sometimes they have to guess independently. I did find amusement in one game where one spy guessed wrong, because he was using the answers from the other spy as legitimate clues. At best, with 12 people, you could actually divvy up the cards into two entirely separate six-player games—oh, but if only you had more than one player aid… Even with nine, it was a little silly—we could have just split up into two groups, anyway. I think a max count of 8 for this game is just fine, although in a weird way I’m grateful they went to 12, since I’m happy to be down to 20 locations.
Spyfall 2 also doesn’t really integrate with Spyfall much at all. You could mix all the locations, but now your Spy must choose among fifty locations. There’s no amalgamated list of them, and it will be incredibly obvious unless you are playing with Spyfall addicts. So, now it’s really a matter of picking one or the other, if the mood fits. I hope to eventually see a mobile version of this game, where everyone is in the same room, but using the app to pick a custom list of possible locations. Everyone would be able to see the timer and the possible locations privately in front of each person. (There are some free sites that do something similar, but they aren’t very flashy.)
For now, though, take my complaints with a grain of salt. They are mostly about trying to play the game well to win, but winning was never the point. Spyfall 2 is just as hilarious as Spyfall was, even in those mundane moments where someone says something as meaningless as possible. And those moments where a Spy trips up horribly—or says something brilliant and gets away with it—are still incredible. The funny new locations and the smaller amount of them means for the immediate future, I’ll grab this one off the shelf over Spyfall—and over most other party games.
Thank you to Cryptozoic Entertainment for providing a review copy of Spyfall 2.

The Bottom Line

 

Derek Thompson

I've been a board game reviewer since 2011. I love card-driven games and party games. I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics and teach the subject at Taylor University in Upland, IN. My wife and kids are my favorite gaming partners.