When it comes to wish fulfillment, there are few fantasies more potent than being a spy.
Surrounded by daring, deception, and dudes that want you dead, stepping into James Bond’s shoes for an evening can be a very tempting proposition. But finding games that let you live out your dream can be tougher than running across a row of crocodiles.
So, here are eight of our favorite games that let you live out the glamourous (and often terrifying) life of a super-secret agent. Starting with-
8. The Resistance (2009)
Will you root out the spy or will the Empire prevail?
A stone-cold classic for a reason, Resistance pitches you into the far-future as a ground of cyberpunk rebels attempting to take down an evil corporation. Played across a few rounds, players are asked to vote who to take on missions – with enough successful results resulting in a victory for their team. However, your group has not accounted for the spy lurking in their midst. This traitor (or traitors, if you are playing with enough people) must keep their cool and play their role as a double agent without being found out. And when you’re in the hot seat, you’ll quickly find out just how demanding it is to tell a fib to a friend, never mind carry a license to kill.
7. Decrypto (2018)
Who will decipher the opponents’ code first?
When it comes to the world of spies, there are glamourous tasks and…those that maybe aren’t as cool. A vital part of real-world spycraft, codebreaking is an essential skill and delivered with aplomb by Decrypto. Pitting two teams against each other, players are forced to crack their opponent’s codes using verbal clues, letting them guess two of the four secret phrases given to each side at the start of the game. Tense, inventive, and hilarious – Decrypto perfectly captures the adrenaline and frustration involved in cracking your opponent’s ciphers…and the despair when they unpick your own. Play it across a proper gaming table and perfectly recreate the stress of code-cracking over a pina colada or two.
6. Confusion: Espionage and Decepction in the Cold War (1992)
The galactic epic on your table!
When viewed at the highest level, spying is a delicate game of chess. A move here, a feint there, a poisoning here. Always aiming to keep one step ahead of your opponents, Confusion’s abstract take on the genre must be played to be truly understood. Combining bluffing and deduction, players are required to move their pieces to capture a neutral token at the center of the board…when neither side knows how their randomized pawns move. However, your opponent enjoys full knowledge of your board and, before long, you’ll use deductive reasoning to move with speed and confidence. Just be sure to be careful about the double agent placed in your ranks.
5. Dead Last (2016)
Will you do whatever it takes to win?
What’s more ‘spy’ than a game of social collusion? Build around a game of card and hand management, players are part of a tontine – a loan that pays out more per annum to members…with the value increasing as its members die out. This leaves the group to collectively decide who to kill each turn Werewolf style, without giving the game away. Side with the popular vote and you’re safe, go against it – or prove to be the target – and you’re out. Built around duplicity and non-verbal communication, this is the perfect pick for players looking to get sneaky…and kill a friend or two.
4. Don’t Get Got! (2018)
Can you get the other players to do your missions?
A beloved party game for two to ten, Got is an exceptional choice for sneaky so-and-so’s in the aftermath of the festive season. Designed to be played during a party, the game gives each player a shopping list of secret tasks to accomplish. This can be as simple as “get someone to try on your hat” all the way to taking part in a master plan to manipulate a friend into saying a selected phrase. High-stress but (relatively) low complexity, this is the perfect pick for groups of all ages and confidence levels, letting you play out the role of a secret-spy and getting found out instantly.
3. Agents of SMERSH (2012)
Thwart Dr. Lobo’s sinister plans!
Named after Bond’s infamous enemies, SMERSH is co-operative storytelling game that lets you take on the evil organisation and weave a unique tale for each of your characters. Built using a storybook similar to the iconic Tales of Arabian Nights, the game uses encounter cards to track your run-ins with the evil Dr. Lobo and his forces as you try to fight and outwit your opponents. Featuring all the tropes of the series, Smersh lets you create your own thrilling spy story as you harvest intel, uncover schemes, and take down you enemy’s henchmen one at a time.
2. Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 (2020)
Where it all began
The latest release in Rob Daviau’s long-running and beloved series, Zero winds the clock back from a troubled present and a doomed future to the events that started it all. Set during the cold war, players create their own team of spies and work to eliminate their Russian opposition, whilst discovering exactly what the hell it is that their enemies are up to. Sessions will see you ‘eliminate’ enemy agents, work together to complete objectives, and manage your sense of dread as you all kind of know exactly where this is going. Ideal for campaign play, there’s truly nothing like it on the market. But if you really want to be shaken and/or stirred-
1. Legendary: A James Bond Deck Building Game (2019)
Name’s Bond… James Bond
There was only ever going to be one pick, wasn’t there. Offering an officially licensed take of the film franchise, players take on the role of Bond as you fight your way through one movie to the next using the established deck-building and hand management formula with a few key tweaks. Players are able to work through four of the most iconic bond movies (including one of our personal favourites). Each turn sees you progress against the movie’s villain, strengthen your deck with the help of Q branch, and avoid the odd assassination attempt here and there. Throw in an expansion pack that adds 300 cards and two more scenarios, and you’re in for a treat. Keep your boot knives sharp and pick up a copy today.
What board games make you feel like a 00 spy? Tell us in the comments!