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Passengers Review


For those looking for a medium-lightweight social deduction board game that is loosely themed around mesopotamian afterlife beliefs, and I’m guessing you’ve been looking for a while, there is Passengers. In this board game, 4-8 players will assume the role of “Guides” loading passengers onto boats destined for the afterlife. The guides will be loading souls and demons onto the boats, and, depending on their hidden role, “Soul Guide” or “Demon Guide”, trying to get as many passengers of their type across the river of limbo.


The game components are pretty good quality. In the box you will find 6 comfortingly stiff boat boards. The Passenger, Item and Silence (temporary rule change) matt cards have a premium feel, and although the passenger cards are smaller than standard playing cards, they don’t need to be bigger. The voting cardboard coins are thick and the “voices”, perhaps unnecessarily so for a small game, are wooden.

Don’t be alarmed by the 16 page rule book - the last 6 pages run you through an example round, with hints and tips useful if you haven’t played a hidden role/deduction game before. The first spread is a little chaotic as there are different set ups for different player counts, but once you get past that, then the rules read well and there are no contradictions. If you find rule books in general tiresome, then your best bet is a 10 minute how to play video from the dice tower here;

Personally, I have a lot of games with phenomenal artwork so I set the bar high in this category. The artwork for passengers is nice, simple and clear, but not brilliant. Given the theme and 12+ age suggestion I would have expected it to be a little creepier. This version of limbo has more of a gentle evening boat ride vibe, with lots of pinks and purples and a cute little chameleon. Some of the demons look a little soul-like and vice versa, so best to double check the icon on the bottom of these cards before mistakenly playing the wrong passenger type. That said, these icons; a circle for souls, star for demon, along with the items, are really clear and easy to match between the board and the cards.


After roles and the master coin (first player identifier) are randomly assigned, Passengers is played over the course of three short rounds. In each round two boats are laid in the centre of the table and each player will be playing one passenger into one of them. Each player will

Place a passenger face down on a space on one of the two boats.

Pick up the item card matching the image below the chosen boat space and pick up the number of wooden “voices” tokens matching the number depicted.

Once everyone has placed one passenger. The item cards are then played in numerical order. The effects of these include letting players peek at passengers, switch passenger seats or change the holder of the master coin.

When everyone has used their items there is then a vote to which boat of the two, and the passengers on it, makes it through to the afterlands. The other boat is removed from play without revealing who was on it. The number of votes you have depends on how many “voices” you picked up in the first step, and ties are broken by the master coin.

At the end of the third round the three boats that won the votes are arranged vertically above one another, and all passengers are revealed. The scoring is then based on the position and colours of the souls and demons relative to one another.


It is possible, but not enjoyable, to play this game in silence. For review / play testing purposes; our gaming group tried it. The result was no-one knew which boat they wanted to vote for at the end of the round, and the end scoring was pure luck. Because of this, we introduced two additional house rules which improved the playing experience for all following games.

Everyone when placing a card must say at least one thing about it. E.g. ”I play a soul” or “I play a blue card.” Neither of these statements have to be true, but you need to have said something, this sparks more conversation and general strategy in the gameplay.

Before the vote, we found it helpful to talk a bit about which boats we think should go through - again - no need to be truthful, this is a bluffing game after all.

Who is this for

Social deduction games tend to sit in two categories. The first is lighter gateway games such as One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Avalon or the phenomenal 1st edition Sheriff of Nottingham. The other is the heavier games for more experienced board gamers. Blood on the Clock Tower and Dead of Winter are particularly good in this category. Passengers sits on the lighter side, but still between the two. It shares many of the mechanical elements of Werewolf and Avalon; hidden roles, bluffing, negotiation and voting, but lacks the simplicity. I’ve introduced this game to board gamers and non-board gamers. While both groups could easily grasp the mechanics of the game, I found the gamer group to be a little more comfortable in the first play with the amount of possible strategies. It’s definitely worth considering Passengers if you like games like Avalon, but are looking for something that, although still playing in around 45 mins, gives you more to think about. I’ve included some comments from the lucky bunch I played this with.

“(This game) works well provided that everyone is talking otherwise, it's just a guessing game. I think it would get better the more you play it” - Sh

“(Passengers) is trying to replicate elements of Werewolf/Mafia, but I’m not sure this comes through enough, or is watered down with the complexity around the what goes where” - B

“I could see the more experienced players were putting a lot of thought into their decision-making…I’d be keen to play again, and to start developing some strategies.” - A

“This game would be quite fun for people who enjoy devising strategies and bluffs” - Sy

The general consensus is that there is a lot going on in a game of Passengers, and you can play a variety of strategies. Firstly, the bonus scoring for “Demon Guides” is dependent on the position of the souls in boats that made it across the river, so there is a memory element for all players. It is advantageous to not only remember the colour and type of the card you played in the previous round, but also what you have peeked at, and what was claimed by the other players on the boat that was voted in. In all the games of Passengers I have played, there was a lot of asking the other players “What did you say this card was again?”. Most players commented on the memory aspect, as it is a large part of the game's strategy.

Even if you don’t remember anything of any previous round, when placing a passenger on a boat there are a lot of things to consider. Do you have a strong preference for which of the two boats makes it across the river, so need voting voices? Do you want more information, or the first player to change, so need to place your passenger based on the corresponding item card you can pick up? Or - do you believe you know enough about the existing cards in play to place your passenger to score the most bonus points for your side? It’s an intriguing balance, especially as you are only playing 3 cards over the course of the game. This isn’t a huge amount of time to determine who of your game group is playing each role.

At even numbered player counts there is one additional role in addition to Soul and Demon Guides; the Yaesther. This role scores a static number of points at the end of the game, and consequently the role of the Yeasther is to make sure the Demon and Soul Guides score less than this. I personally did not enjoy playing this role, as you have no allies and the style of play is more negative. If you have 5 and 7 players, this isn’t an issue as the Yeasther is not played at those player counts..


The box indicates that this version of Passengers comes with 3 free expansions. I personally wouldn’t have called them expansions, as they round out the game, and are only small additions. One, called “The Silence”, adds some additional rules that can be optionally added on a given round. For example; “you may not speak if you are holding a blue passenger.” The other two are additional sets of item cards you can switch in for the base game set, which give slightly different effects. These add necessary variety to the games.

Final Thoughts

This game has a lot of potential with a gaming group that will throw themselves into hidden role bluffing games and be vocal, as the game itself doesn’t force it. It requires some thinking, but it still plays in a short three rounds. You could teach and play this game in around one hour. It is overall, quite good within the hidden role and voting board game category, and will be staying in my collection. Could it be reskinned, yes, the style isn’t integral to the gameplay and scoring. That said, if you are a player in a 5+ size gaming group that enjoys social deduction games regarding the recently deceased, you fit a niche that is practically perfect for Passengers.