The year is 1932. The place is pre-WWII Germany. In Secret Hitler, players are German politicians attempting to hold a fragile Liberal government together and stem the rising tide of Fascism. Watch out though—there are secret Fascists among you, and one player is Secret Hitler.
At the beginning of the game, each player is secretly assigned one of the three roles: Liberal, Fascist, or Hitler. The Liberals have a majority, but they don’t know the roles of other players; Fascists must resort to secrecy and sabotage to accomplish their goals. Fascists know the identities of the other Fascists and Hitler. Hitler plays for the Fascist team, but doesn't know who the other Fascists are and must work to figure them out.
Whenever a Fascist Policy is enacted, the government becomes more powerful, and the President is granted a single-use power which must be used before the next round can begin. These powers range from choosing the next President to killing one of the players.
Every player has a secret identity as a member of either the Liberal team or the Fascist team. Players on the Liberal team win if either:
Players on the Fascist team win if either:
The 11 Fascist Policy tiles and the 6 Liberal Policy tiles are shuffled into a single Policy deck. Games with 6, 7, or 9 players have the option of being "rebalanced" to make the gameplay more even for both sides. If rebalancing is enabled: 6 player games start with a Fascist Policy already enacted, 7 player games start with 10 Fascist Policies in the deck instead of 11, and 9 player games start with 9 Fascist Policies in the deck.
Each player will receive a Secret Role card. The table below determines the correct distribution of roles and whether Hitler knows who the Fascists are or not.
|Fascists known by Hitler?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No|
Secret Hitler is played in rounds. Each round has an Election to form a government, a Legislative Session to enact a new Policy, and an Executive Action to exercise governmental power.
At the beginning of a new round, the President placard moves right to the next player, who is the new Presidential Candidate.
2. Nominate a Chancellor
The Presidential Candidate chooses a Chancellor Candidate by selecting any other eligible player. The Presidential Candidate is free to discuss Chancellor options with the table to build consensus and make it more likely the Government gets elected.
The last elected President and Chancellor are "term-limited", and ineligible to be nominated as Chancellor Candidate.
3. Vote on the government
Once the Presidential Candidate has chosen an eligible Chancellor Candidate, players may discuss the proposed government until everyone has cast their votes. All players, including the President and Chancellor Candidate, vote on the proposed government. Once everyone has cast their vote, the Ballot cards are revealed simultaneously.
If the vote is a tie, or if a majority of players votes no:
The vote fails. The Presidential Candidate misses this chance to be elected, and the President placard moves to the next player. The Election Tracker is advanced by one Election.
Election Tracker: If the group rejects three governments in a row, the country is thrown into chaos. The next Policy on the top of the deck is revealed and enacted. Any power granted by this Policy is ignored, but the Election Tracker resets, and any existing term-limits are forgotten. If there are fewer than three tiles remaining in the Policy deck at this point, they are shuffled with the Discard pile to create a new Policy deck.
Any time a new Policy is enacted for any reason, the Election Tracker is reset.
If a majority of players vote yes:
The Presidential Candidate and Chancellor Candidate become the new President and Chancellor, respectively.
If three or more Fascist Policies have been enacted and a majority of players vote yes:
If the new Chancellor is Hitler, the game is over and the Fascists win. If the game didn't end, other players will know for sure the Chancellor is not Hitler.
During the Legislative Session, the President and Chancellor work together to enact a new Policy in secret. The President draws the top three tiles from the Policy deck, looks at them in secret, and discards one tile face down into the Discard pile. The remaining two tiles go to the Chancellor, who in secret discards one Policy tile face down, and enacts the remaining Policy by placing the tile face up on the corresponding track.
The chat for the President and Chancellor is disabled during the Legislative Session. Attempting to telegraph the contents of your hand using randomness or any other unusual selection procedure violates the spirit of the game. Don’t do it.
Discarded Policy tiles are not revealed to the group. Players must rely on the word of the President and Chancellor, who are free to lie.
ABOUT LYING: Often, some players learn things that the rest of the players don’t know, like when the President and Chancellor get to see Policy tiles, or when a President uses the Investigate power to see someone’s Party Membership card. You can always lie about hidden knowledge in Secret Hitler.
If there are fewer than three tiles remaining in the Policy deck at the end of a Legislative Session, they are shuffled with the Discard pile to create a new Policy deck. Unused Policy tiles are not revealed.
If the newly-enacted Fascist Policy grants a Presidential Power, the President must use it before the next round can begin. Before using a power, the President is free to discuss the issue with other players, but ultimately the President gets to decide how and when the power is used. Gameplay cannot continue until the President uses the power. Presidential Powers are used only once; they don’t stack or roll over to future turns. If the government enacted a Liberal or Fascist Policy that grants no Presidential Power, begin the next round with a new Election.
The President chooses a player to investigate. Investigated players show their Party Membership (not the secret role card that also reveals whether the player is Hitler or not, not just whether he's a Liberal or Fascist) to the President. The President may share or lie about the results of their investigation at their discretion. No player may be investigated twice in the same game.
Call Special Election
The President chooses any other player at the table to be the next Presidential Candidate. Any player can become President—even players that are term-limited. The new President nominates an eligible player as Chancellor Candidate and the Election proceeds as usual.
A Special Election does not skip any players. After a Special Election, the President placard returns to the right of the President who enacted the Special Election.
If the President passes the presidency to the next player in the rotation, that player would get to run for President twice in a row: once for the Special Election and once for their normal shift in the Presidential rotation.
After selecting the Policy deck, the President sees the top three tiles.
The President executes one player by selecting them. If that player is Hitler, the game ends in a Liberal victory. If the executed player is not Hitler, the table does not learn whether a Fascist or a Liberal has been killed; players must try to work out for themselves the new table balance. Executed players are removed from the game and may not chat, vote, or run for office.
The Veto Power is a permanent special rule that comes into effect after five Fascist Policies have been enacted. For all Legislative Sessions after the fifth Fascist Policy is enacted, the Executive branch gains a permanent new ability to discard all three Policy tiles if both the Chancellor and President agree.
The President draws three Policy tiles, discards one, and passes the remaining two to the Chancellor as usual. The Chancellor selects one, and then both the President and Chancellor vote on whether or not to veto the results of this election in secret. If so, both Policies are discarded and the President placard passes to the right as usual. If either the President or Chancellor doesn't agree to veto, the Policy passes.
Each use of the Veto Power represents an inactive government and advances the Election Tracker by one.
This part contains definitions for common acronyms/terms and also some commonly seen strategies. You may skip this part for now and come back later once you've got hang of the game.
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