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How To Play Deception


A murder has been committed… in Hong Kong. One pesky rascal is trying to get away with it in this social deduction game for between 4-12 players. The rules for it are very simple, so allow me to take you by the hand and walk you through them! Here's how to play Deception!


At the start of the game, each player is given their role card. One person will be the forensic scientist, responsible for giving clues in the game. One person will be the murderer, and up to eight people will be investigators. There are also two additional roles that can be used, the accomplice and a witness (but only in games of six or more players). Only the forensic scientist is known to the group, and everyone else keeps their role secret.

Apart from the forensic scientist, each player is then given four red clue cards and four blue means cards, that they have face up in front of them. All players apart from the forensic scientist are given a badge too, ready for when they want to crack the case.

There's Been A Murder

Once all Deception players have looked at their cards, the forensic scientist asks everyone to close their eyes. The scientist asks the murderer (and the accomplice if there is one) to open their eyes. The scientist then asks the murderer to point to a clue and means card from their hand. These are going to be what the investigators need to identify to win the game. Once confirmed, the scientist asks them to close their eyes once again.

If there is a witness in play, the scientist will ask them to open their eyes. They will then identify the murderer and the accomplice by pointing to them, but not saying which person is which. Once the witness has confirmed they know who has been pointed out, they are asked to close their eyes.

Finally, the scientist asks everyone to open their eyes – this is where the fun truly begins!

The Investigation

The main part of the game is played over three rounds. Each round has two parts to it: the selection of evidence, and the presentation.

The forensic scientist sets aside the scene tiles that say “location of crime” and “cause of death” on them. They then shuffle the rest of the scene tiles into a facedown pile. The scientist then chooses one of the location tiles, the cause of death tile, and four of the facedown deck. All six tiles are placed face up, visible to all players.

Without talking or giving physical clues, the forensic scientist then places a wooden bullet marker on each tile, trying to steer the team to the correct means and evidence. Whilst this is happening, everyone but the scientist can discuss theories and try to make connections between the clues.

The Presentation

Once discussions have ended, each investigator can make a presentation of their theory when playing Deception. This is done uninterrupted, and the game suggests each player gets roughly 30 seconds (though this can be adjusted as you see fit for your group).

If nobody is brave enough to solve the case at this point, then the game moves onto the second round. The forensic scientist replaces what they deem to be the least useful clue (but cannot remove the location or cause tiles) with the next one from the face down deck. After a brief discussion, the cycle of presentations start again. If nobody has correctly solved the crime by the end of this round, there is one last round to be played. Again, the forensic scientist removes the least useful clue tile and swaps it for another. After this, there is another round of presentations but be warned: the game ends immediately after the final round of presentations.

Solving The Crime

If a player is confident enough, they can attempt to solve the crime. They should announce their intention to do so, identifying a clue card and means card. If that player is correct, the forensic scientist will confirm this, and the investigators, forensic scientist (and witness if there is one) will all win.

If they’re wrong, the forensic scientist will simply say “no.” The investigator will then have to hand their badge in. They can still play an active part in the discussion, but can no longer make a formal attempt at solving the crime. If nobody solves the crime before the third round of presentations have finished, then the murderer (and accomplice if there is one) will win.

In games that involve an accomplice and witness, there is still a chance for the murdering team to win even if they are correctly identified. If they can work out who the witness is (and have them killed off) they win the game!


Players may want to make the game easier or harder for themselves by adjusting the number of clue and means cards they have. To make it easier, just have three of each card. To make it harder, give players five of each card.

There are also event tiles that can be shuffled into the scene tile stack and can appear during the game. The text of these should be read aloud and the actions carried out. These make subtle changes to the game, such as giving the forensic scientist more options, or asking players to flip over incorrect clue cards.

As I mentioned, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a very simple social deduction game to just pick up and play if there is a big enough group of people. It’s also possible to adjust parts of the game depending on your group. If deduction games are your thing, then Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is strongly recommended!