Under My Bed: Review

In what was quite possibly the fastest Kickstarter delivery ever, Fairway received his copy of Under My Bed. Under My Bed is a micro, deduction game by Chris Rowland. Find out if the Fairway’s scared of monsters or whether there’s only good fun in this tiny game.

Under My Bed is three- to eight- player, micro, deduction game in which players are either a kid masquerading as a monster trying to figure out what monster is under his bed or one of the monsters trying to unmask the kid.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. The monsters (and the kid) are all very cute.
  2. The idea of making a deduction game that’s kid-friendly and adorable is pretty great.
  3. The premise of a kid hiding among the monsters trying to figure out which is under his bed is also funny, even for kids.
  4. The single question and lying/truth-telling mechanic isn’t the easiest to convey to younger players.

Game play ^

In Under My Bed is entirely a card game. The deck consists of a series of monsters, a child dressed up like a monster and a bed.  At the start, the bed and child are taken out of the deck. The monsters cards are all shuffled and a number of monsters are turned face up equal to the number of players.  The rest of the monster cards are set aside as they’re not used in this game.

The game provides you a reference of the monsters in the game. We marked all of the monsters in play that turn.  The in-play monsters are then shuffled and one is placed under the bed card.  Then the child card is shuffled into the small stack of remaining monsters.

Players secretly take one of the cards. This is their hidden identity.  The result of this rigmarole is that one monster is under the bed, one player is the kid, and the rest of the players are monsters.  Now the game begins.

Starting with the youngest player, they can ask any other player a single question about their monster so long as the question isn’t something like “are you the kid?” or “are you a monster?” We’ve also disqualified questions like “are you wearing a costume?” and similar ones that get at whether a player is the kid or not. In any event, the question player must answer the question truthfully if they are the monster. However, if they’re the kid instead, the player can lie.

The game continues until one of two things happens: a monster makes an accusation about a player being the kid or the kid attempts to guess which monster is under the bed.  In the first case, a monster can accuse a kid, but all of the other monsters have to agree.  If they agree and are correct, the game is over and the monsters win. If they’re not correct, the game continues.  In the latter case, the kid may reveal himself or herself and guess which monster is under the bed. If the kid is correct, the game is over and the kid wins. Otherwise, the monsters win.

In the hole ^

Under My Bed is short and sweet hidden role game that’s easily playable by kids.  Considering there are only really nine playable cards, it’s got a bunch of things going for it.

The Art.  The art is reminiscent of Monsters Inc. or illustrations by Maurice Sendak. That is, the monsters are a scary in a not-scary kind of way.

Portable.  This game can go anywhere.  Having the reference cards set out as a reminder is really the only thing that takes up any real table space.

Play time. Each game, including selecting roles, takes at most five to ten minutes. The more players the longer it takes, but even then, most players learn enough about the other players after only a few times around.

Creative Questioning.  We really like the way this game forces players to think hard about their question.  Ask the wrong question and you’re likely to reveal information about yourself.

Where it comes up short ^

Lying.  I’ve said it before, but I don’t really like kids’ games where lying is a primary mechanic or a necessary requirement to play the game. That’s pretty much always the case for the kid in this game.

What’s more, the “lying” component of this game makes it particularly difficult for younger players to comprehend, which is really rough especially when they asked a particularly clever question.

Low player counts.  While this plays only three, those games go really fast and, in some cases, can end after a single series of questions.  It plays much better with more than four.  So I wouldn’t recommend this game if you’re not looking at playing with at least four players.

In the hole ^

Under My Bed is an adorable, family-friendly deduction game. While I don’t like the fact that lying is a necessary mechanic and skill in this game, there is still a lot to like about it. The game rewards creative, thoughtful questioning of other players and deductive reasoning.  The fact that it plays quickly and is ultra-portable is a win in my book.

Under My Bed is in the hole for a Par. ^

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