Humans, Cyborgs and Machines each have their own agendas in this social deduction game from Lay Waste Games. Human Era is for four to ten players, and also includes a solo variant. Players take on the role of crew members in the last time machine who need to save space and time from the chaos created by human time travel. However, there is a problem, some crew members are machines or cyborgs (half humans-half machines) who have their own agenda.
So What Exactly is a Social Deduction Game?
A social deduction game is a game where players have a hidden roll and/or objective. The other players try to deduce the roll of their opponents based in the choices and actions they take. These games often call for players to lie or be deceitful, which can be challenging for some, and especially for younger players.
- 1 pink die with the letters c, a, m, t, n, h
- 66 Being Cards
- 10 Identity Cards
- 1 Score Tracker
- Hex board (double sided)
- Pilot tracker wrench
- 1 score tracker nut
Goal/How to Win
During game set up, each player receives an Identity Card. They are either a Human, Cyborg, or Machine. A player’s goal and win condition depends on the role dealt.
Human’s objective is to correct the space-time continuum by getting all six eras correctly matched with the beings that belong there or 4 or more correct eras when the fuel runs out.
Cyborgs’ object switches with split loyalties as half-human and half-machine. There are several win scenarios for the cyborgs.
1. For the first half of the game if there are zero correct eras at any point you win with the machines.
2. Cyborg Crisis: exactly three eras correct and three incorrect at the end of a round with five fuel tracker cards remaining.
3. When the fuel runs out if two eras are correct you share a win with the machines, three correct eras the cyborgs win, four correct eras share a win with the humans.
Machines’ objective is to deceived the humans and stop them from correcting the time-line. To win instantly have zero correct time-lines at the end of a round or two or fewer correct eras when fuel runs out.
Human Era plays in a series of rounds, and contain six steps per round. Those steps include;
- Malfunction (except in the first round)
- Era selection
- Discussion/Discard and Draw/Nomination
- Vote/Card Placement
- Ending the Round
All rounds except the first round have a malfunction. One player rolls the die to determine the era affected. The top card from the deck is placed in that era. Any resulting paradoxes need to be resolved. Details on resolving paradoxes are below.
2. Era Selection
Human Era includes six eras you are trying to correct, or sabotage depending on your identity. The six eras with their coordinating beings are:
- The Beginning of Time (Amoeba)
- The Age of Dinosaurs (T-rex)
- The Rise of Civilization (Neanderthal)
- The Discovery of Time Travel (Human)
- The Fall of Civilization (Cyborg)The End of Time (Machine)
- In this phase of the round the time machine defaults to the earliest era with no cards. If cards are in all eras the die is rolled to determine the era being traveled to.
3. Discussion/Discard and Draw/Nomination
Two steps happen in this phase. First all players have the option to discard one card and draw a new card. Second, the player with the Pilot Wrench is the pilot for the current round. The pilot nominates the players that will time travel. Either two or three players nominated depending on the number of players. Players are allowed to talk about what is in their hand and strategies. Because players cannot reveal their cards, this point of play allows for deception for the non-humans.
4. Vote/Card Placement
The remaining players vote to approve the crew with a thumbs up or down. If the vote fails, instead players draw the top card from the deck and placed in the Era selected at the beginning of the round. If the vote passes the crew each give one card face down to the pilot and an additional card drawn from the deck.
5. Resolving Paradoxes and Chain Reactions
Once placement of the cards completes, players examine the top card on each era to see if a paradox occurred. A paradox occurs when two of the same cards are in two different eras. For example if there is a T-Rex in two different Eras. If there is a paradox the newest card places is removed and placed in the discard pile. The new top card is revealed in that era, and treated as the newest card should another paradox occur.
6. Ending the Round
First, players adjust the score to reflect the number of correct eras. The score is determined by looking at the top card (active card) in each era and seeing how many have the correct.
1. Draw a card if one was used this round
2. Discard one fuel tracker
3. Check if any win conditions have been met.
4. Move the pilot wrench to the next player clockwise.
Family Game Assessment
Human Era is a social deduction game with a theme the whole family can enjoy. The hidden roll design incorporates a simple captivating story, and is easy to understand for those new to the genre. While the game is for ages 8 and up, the hidden role is a challenging mechanism for gamers at the lower end of the age range.
If you need a gateway game for new players to the genre of social deduction, Human Era can be a great fit. A new or young player would benefit from a “partner” to coach them so they don’t inadvertently give away their roll. There are lots of details in the rules to learn, and it can seem a little overwhelming. The mechanics of the game, while they are detailed, flow nicely within a round. With only a few rounds of play, the steps within a round become intuitive. There are many steps within a round, the rounds themselves don’t take very long.
Confession time, I have a hard time being deceitful and lying even in a game setting. I needed to come up with a strategy that would allow me to play without having a “tell” to the other players. I used the strategy to be honest with the cards I had in my hand during the Discussion/Discard and Draw/Nomination. My deception would be to use a different card that the one discussed. This kind of strategy might be useful for players that have a “tell” when they lie or are trying to deceive their fellow players.
Human Era is a great game from Lay Waste Games with interesting mechanics and theme. It is streamline enough to work as a gateway into the social deduction genre of games, and is an asset to any game collection.
FCC Disclosure: A copy of Human Era was provided for review.