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New deduction game Hidden Leaders pits siblings against each other for control of the throne

Fratricidal fun.

Fill the empty seat and reinstate control of the island empire of Ostra, but not before clobbering your brothers and sisters in the new secret role and social deduction board game Hidden Leaders.

The old emperor has died and left control of Ostra to one of his six children. Ranging in ages, allegiances and ideology, none have agreed on a rightful heir and instead have chosen to rally the tribes and peoples who call the island home and go to war. Each leader has promised two of the four factions results for their support, but their true agenda won’t be revealed until the throne is won.

Publisher BFF Games’ upcoming board game Hidden Leaders shoulders two to six players with the mantle of would-be emperor, if only their siblings weren’t so adamant on seizing the same prize. Cards representing troops from the island’s four factions - the Imperial loyalists, the Tribes from the hills, the diplomatic Water Folk and the restless Undead - are doled out and played during each round to affect the power of the two main factions.

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Both the Empire and the Tribes have a claim to the throne and use their forces to directly influence the balance of power. This is represented on the board by two tokens in a tug-of-war from one side to the other. Whoever ends the game with the highest prowess wins, while a tie favors the peaceful Water Tribe. The undead want to push the war to its logical conclusion - if both factions end the game with too much power, they mutually destroy each other and fuel the zombie army.

Wrinkling this straightforward conflict is the secret role aspect of Hidden Leaders. Though all players will deploy troops from the various factions, their own commander remains face-down throughout the game. Individuals can pursue either win condition from the split allegiance of their leader - denoted by the two-coloured background of the card - but must strive to conceal their agenda lest the others plan some keen sabotage.

It’s quite likely two or more players might end the game with their faction’s win condition fulfilled. At that point, victory comes down to who managed to amass more forces from that side - sometimes wars are decided by the larger mob of armed fighters.

BFF Games is a relatively new outfit of designer composed of three real-life friends, and Hidden Leaders is its inaugural production. The studio brought on artist Satoshi Matsuura to provide the illustrations for the board game, lending it a colorful and distinctive fantasy aesthetic with bold lines and bright colours.

The Kickstarter campaign for Hidden Leaders runs until May 14th, with backers able to secure a box for €20 (£17/$24). Shipping throughout the worlds is expected to begin in January 2022.

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