Psychobabble is an intense social deduction game which will test every players ability in each round. One player is dictated the “psychiatrist”, the rest of the players are the patients. Although they do not know it yet, one of the patients is quietly insane, thus will have different cards from the rest of their co-patients.
Setting up PsychoBabble is rather simple. Take the two decks of cards out of the box. There are four different decks of dream cards, marked by the colour on the back of the cards.
Using the largest deck, lay out a 4×4 grid of randomized face up “Dream” cards.
Take four cards from each of the four different decks, make sure to use the same four cards from each deck for each row. Then place the small deck into four separate piles, face down. Each has a corresponding group labelled “A, B, C and D”. The small deck shows all the possible combinations of a two dice roll, linked to a 4×4 grid.
Someone decides to be the Psychiatrist, and they will take small cards from one pile, enough for all but one of the players/patients, then they take one card from another pile. They will then shuffle these cards and hand them out face down to each player that is acting as the role of patient. One player will have a different set of numbers to everyone else. This person, although they do not know it, is our insane person.
Now the Psychiatrist in PsychoBabble rolls the two dice. Each player must find the roll on their card and then determine which dream card represents their dream from last night. For example, if a one and a five were rolled, the dream card on the bottom left is your card if you hold the above small card, so will start to study the card showing four prawn type creatures on the bottom left of the 4×4 grid.
You’ll need to look at all the other cards to get an idea of the similarities and differences between the 16 cards visible. This is so you can offer vague clues as to which dream card you have, and guess which dream cards other players have.
How To Play
Taking turns, starting with the player sat to the left of the Psychiatrist, the first player will then give a short description of their dream, about a sentence in length. You’ll want your clue to be specific enough so that the other patients don’t think you’re the insane player, but not so specific that the psychiatrist can guess which card you’re referring to. Don’t worry, during your first game it might be hard to find the right balance between subtle and accurate, but it’s pretty easy to catch on. The best thing to do it to go with your first instinct and keep your response vague.
After every player in PsychoBabble gives their description, they each can ask one question to one other player. The point of this is to discover the insane patient, whilst the insane one is trying to remain hidden and cause the others to doubt themselves. That is of course… If they’ve figured out who they are. Multiple people may think it’s them, or no-one might. This is the perfect opportunity for the psychiatrist to step in. They have the chance to ask each patient one question to try and determine the dream cards they have picked. Still, the patients can lie at any point when answering questions or giving a description, but beware, the others may think you’re the insane one!
After their series of questions, the psychiatrist must guess which card was the “common” Dream card. If they guess correctly, they win! This is why the patients need to be vague in their dream descriptions. If (and likely when) the psychiatrist is wrong, then the patients get to guess who they think the insane. After all the votes are cast, the patients all flip their dream cards. The insane patient will have the odd card out. If the majority of the votes were on the insane patient, then the rest of the patients win. But if they guessed wrong then the insane patient wins. Yes, this isn’t a 2-way game, there are chances for a psychiatrist, an insane patient and a group of patients all to win, making this more interesting.
This game really is a delicate mix if you are playing the role of patient. You don’t want to give yourself away too soon, yet you also want to be informative enough that you aren’t mistaken for insane.
I found it easier in this game to assume I was the insane patient, listening for cues as to whether the rest of the group had things in common with one another rather than trying to assure myself I had things in common with them. As the psychiatrist I found it a little harder to pin point the common card, but each player has their own strengths and weaknesses, which you’ll discover as you try it for yourself. I found that after playing with the same group a few times, you learn to recognise each other’s tells and cues, which is an important part of trying to win this game, and a funny event watching the psychiatrist struggle to find out who’s lying and who’s insane.
PsychoBabble is incredible in so many ways, from the detail on the cards, to the funny atmosphere it’ll create between you and your friends. The confusion trying to figure out who is the insane patient is by far my favourite aspect of playing this game. It’s always great to look around and see every patient being suspicious of everyone else in the circle. Watching the Psychiatrist try (and usually fail) to guess the common card among the group. But the best part of the confusion is sitting and wondering whether or not you’re the insane patient among the group.