Spyfall 2 is the all action sequel to Spyfall, a very silly game of very silly conversations. The premise is as simple as it is ridiculous. A spy has infiltrated some secret location, but it’s so secret even he doesn’t know where it is! He needs to figure it out based on the conversations of the people around him. Except it usually turns out to be a Jazz Club, or a Coal Mine, or a Cat Show…
• Designer: Alexandr Ushan
• Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
• Number of Players: 3-12
• Playing Time: 10 mins
This insanity works using the game’s decks of location cards. Each ziplocked bag contains an amusingly illustrated location card per player, except for the unfortunate spy, who just gets a spy card. Everyone bar the spy will know where they are and need to identify the spy before the time limit runs out. The spy needs to figure out the location. Simples.
To do this, you partake in the world’s most awkwardly stilted conversation! One player will ask another player a question. Any question. What do you think of the weather? And they will answer it. “It’s… er, fine? It’s fine!” Because no one wants to be accused of being the spy, they want to say the right thing. But the non-spies also don’t want to give too much away to the spy who is totally listening in right now.
The thing to remember here is that you are supposed to be all ordinary people in these scenes. In fact, each location card has a player role that can be role played as much or as little as you like in answering questions. From perfectly sensible roles as the Bride at the Wedding, to the less expected, like the Canary in the mines. But regardless of roles, you have to imagine that everyone at this library is talking in weird suspicious whispers to each other in case someone is listening in. Although, I suppose that is kind of what already happens at a library… Sssshh!
Should someone accuse another player of being the spy it goes to a vote. In the case of unanimous condemnation of that player, they must flip their card. But if they aren’t the spy then all the non-spy players lose – they have been tricked! Mostly by their own incompetence. On the other hand, the spy can choose to flip their card and guess the location in a make or break bid to win, at any time. It’s especially good if they do so theatrically, and promptly get it wrong!
Spyfall (the original) was an immensely entertaining game. Easy to crack out with up to 8 players, it only takes a single play for everyone to get the hang of it. Then you get to explore your cunning, your pun making questions, your random and unjustifiable suspicions. It condenses down a lot of the fun of more involved hidden role games while making a joke out of the whole process. But now it has a sequel.
Spyfall 2 does 3 main things: it adds a bunch of new locations, it increases the player count up to 12, and it adds a second spy to the proceedings!
New locations refresh the original but also force you to learn all those new locations. The spy needs to have some idea of where they might be, and that means they ideally need to know all the locations in the game. It was kind of the biggest flaw with Spyfall 1. There are fewer locations in this set, but that has a different problem: less reason for confusion. Even a fairly pointed clue from a non-spy could point to 2-3 locations in the original and that’s important to keep it from getting too easy for the spy. Spyfall 2 cuts that a bit close. Of course, if you’re combining Spyfall 2 with that original set, this is far from an issue!
More players is obviously a good thing in a party game, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily a good thing here. The structure of the game hasn’t changed. It’s still one person asking a question of one other player. When the max player count was 8 it was impractical to properly quiz everyone before the time limit ran out, at 12 a game can literally end before everyone gets asked a question. A game of Spyfall is entertaining enough as a casual observer, and you are always paying attention to what everyone says regardless of your role, but it still feels a little sad to not be directly involved.
So we are left with the second spy. She throws a real spanner into things! Now two players don’t know where they are and the two spies are competing! Non-spies just need to identify one of them to win. The spies, on the other hand, are in a race to identify the location first. If either of them flips their card, they both have to make a guess. This is a really neat twist. It drives the spies towards guessing the location, rather than running down the clock. This could be an issue with the original set, the spy figures out the location, and then just answers questions rather than risking the guess; the spy wins if they can blend in for long enough.
Now, in Spyfall 2, this is not an option. If you know it, chances are your opposite number knows it, so you should guess. It keeps the games ticking along nicely, you aren’t left going round and round unable to make any sensible accusation. It does mean that if the first guesses it wrong, the second spy will probably get it right, but likewise with two spies out there you have more chances to identify one of them.
Spyfall 2 is a great game because it is Spyfall, just more so, and I absolutely recommend either Spyfall or Spyfall 2! The question then is which of these two you should get? Or, if you already have Spyfall, do you need the sequel? I think mixing in the new set with the original would be great, dramatically increasing the variability. It would be easy enough to have a floating second spy card you added to the drawn set, if you wanted to use two spies with the original.
For complete newbies though, I think I’d lean towards the original, there are more locations and the combination just seemed better. More misleading for the spy. Unless you have a particularly large group, and I don’t think Spyfall 2 really scales that well, I’d go for Spyfall 1. Now, this is usually the bit where the secret agent disappears off with the beautiful girl, right? …right?