The Grimm Masquerade
You’re invited to a masked ball for the Beast’s fairy tale friends.
Earn magical tokens by keeping your identity secret while collecting special items that will help you reveal the identities of other characters in this masquerade.
The Grimm Masquerade is a identity-deduction and set-collection game for 2-5 players from Druid City Games and Skybound Games. Designed by Tim Eisner, Ben Eisner, and James Hudson, with beautiful art from Mr. Cuddington, it’s accessible for ages 8 and up and a complete game takes about half an hour.
How to Play
Give each player a Character card, face-down. They may peek at it, this is their secret identity for the round. Players get to draft their first Artifact card from a randomly-drawn set (more cards than players, so that everyone gets a choice).
Your goal is to gain roses. You can do this by collecting your Boon, unmasking other players, or keeping your identity secret the longest.
Artifacts – Banes and Boons
There are eight Characters and eight types of Artifacts. Each Character has a “Boon” item and a “Bane” item marked on their card (and on the main board).
If you can collect three of your “Boon” Artifact, you’ll immediately win the round. However, two “Bane” Artifacts will immediately unmask you!
On Your Turn
On your turn, you’ll draw two Artifact cards: you’ll keep one, and give one to another player. Draw only one card at a time, making this a difficult choice. Draw your first card and make your decision – do you want this one? If you keep it, the second card must be given away. Conversely, if you give away the first card you draw, you must keep the second.
Why is it difficult? As you already know, if you accidentally collect two of your “Bane”, you’ll unmask yourself. However, if you can give another player a pair of their Bane Artifact, you’ll unmask them!
In addition, any time a player receives a pair of cards that could potentially be their Bane, they must place an evidence token on the board, indicating that they are NOT the character that could have been unmasked.
There is a reason to risk revealing information about your identity: pairs of cards are valuable. At the end of your turn, you may discard a matched pair of Artifacts to perform a special action. The Actions are randomly selected each round, but always include “Point the Finger” (a way to unmask other players and earn an extra rose). The rest of the actions may allow you to redistribute Artifacts, peek at the unused Character cards, or force other players to reveal information about themselves.
There are two ways your secret identity can be revealed. One is when you take a second of your “Bane” Artifact for any reason. The other is if a player has deduced your identity and chooses to do the special action “Point the Finger”. Either way, the player who unmasked you gets a rose token (two if they used Point the Finger).
But you’re not out of the game! Take all your Artifact cards into your hand. On your turn, draw a card, then give any card from your hand to any player who has not been unmasked. You can still win roses this way by giving a player their Bane, even though you can’t win the round.
But wait, there’s more! You are also allowed to pick a “Wager” card after you are unmasked. Choose one secretly; you’ll be awarded the same number of roses as the round winner if you picked their character. You don’t lose anything if your wager is wrong, but you’ll only get one Wager for the round, so choose carefully!
End of the Round
The round ends when all players but one have been unmasked, or when one player has obtained three of their Boon Artifact. The winner of the round gets a special rose Trophy (the trophies increase in value from round to round), and if another player wagered correctly, they’ll get roses equivalent to the trophy value.
After three rounds, the game is over. Add up your rose value and discover the winner of the masquerade.
After you’ve mastered the other rules, try adding special abilities to your game. At the end of each round, the player(s) with the lowest score gets the special ability matching the character they just had. These abilities give a little bit more power to their player(s), allowing them to catch up to the leaders if they play wisely.
We adore The Grimm Masquerade. It’s easy to learn and accessible, appropriate for a wide range of players.
If you love social deduction, you can play The Grimm Masquerade sneakily. Misdirect your opponent(s) by keeping Artifacts you don’t need and ignoring your Boon and Bane. If you prefer logical deduction, remember that no bluffing is allowed when placing evidence markers. Keep creating pairs for the other players, so they must place markers; you’ll narrow down the options of who they are. There’s some information you’ll need to keep in your head (especially with Actions that let you peek at unused Character cards), but most of what you need is visible on the table.
There’s a hefty dose of luck, both in your own Artifact draws and in what other players choose to give you. The increasing value of the rose trophy for each round means that a player is rarely out of the game, no matter how low they’ve scored thus far.
Much like The Grimm Forest, the art for The Grimm Masquerade is lush and keeps the fairy tale theme from feeling childish. We love the small touches, like the “broken mirror” cutouts that can be used to cover a character on the board once they’ve been unmasked.
The rules and concepts are simple, but there is some reading involved. We think the recommended age range of 8+ is right on, although “gamer” kids who are a bit younger could probably handle it.
We’d highly recommend The Grimm Masquerade if you’re looking for an easy-to-play game where your decisions have meaning. It’s great for mixed-age groups and only lasts 30-40 minutes, even at a full player count.
Find The Grimm Masquerade for around $25 on Amazon or ask for it at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of The Grimm Masquerade from Skybound Games for this review.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
The Grimm Masquerade
Number of Players: 2-5
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 20-40 minutes