Board Game Review, Previews

Triple Bluffing a Lie (ALIE Trust Thine Enemy Preview)

If you prefer a video over a written piece, our video review of ALIE can be found here!

You can find out more about the campaign and game here!Mind games in combat are more important than you might initially believe. Identifying the opposers plan, derailing it, and overcoming them all come through thinking. Not through brute force, although that can help too! Often the difference is the amount of collateral damage caused in the process! ALIE Trust Thine Enemy is a top trumps style game with deceptive opportunities, and combat based on dice rolls. It allows you to lie, deceive, and attempt to twist a bad pick into a win. But get ahead of yourself and you risk being caught… Be warned… The Eye of Truth may be watching!

How To Play

To begin playing ALIE Trust Thine Enemy, shuffle the deck and deal 10 character cards face down to each player. Then give each three Eye of Truth cards. The Eye Of Truth cards should be laid facing the deck so the opposition cannot see the character at the bottom. The cards are then tilted so the opposer can see their foe’s stats. The game runs on the same principle as that of Top Trumps: have the highest value in a specific trait. The twist? Your opponent calls your stat, and they can lie. Be warned though! Should your opposer believe you are lying, they can play an Eye of Truth card to reveal your deceptions! When caught, the accuser gains the card and retains that Eye of Truth. However, a false accusation causes them to lose their card to the opposition and lose the Eye Of Truth card to the box.

To kick off, you identify the attacking player by seeing who rolls the highest. The attacking player chooses an attribute. Both they and their opposer then declare the value of one another’s, both choosing whether to lie or not. If no call is made on any suspicious declarations, the play continues its natural course. The attacking player rolls the black (attack) dice and adds the stat stated plus their attack/defence value on the face of the card to generate their total. The defence does the same. They can then use the card’s unique ability if they rolled an even number as an attacker, or odd as a defender. The loser gives their card to the winner and cards are placed at the bottom of the deck, above the Eye of Truth cards. Players lose the game when they have no more characters, or no more Eye of Truth cards.

How It Handles

ALIE Trust Thine Enemy is a game unlike any we have played before. Lying, dice based combat, bluffing, and variable card powers. It sounds a lot to pack into a game that’s light and quick to play. The card box the game comes in packs all its cards and dice in snugly, and that can easily for in your pocket. This of course raises some questions… How can this game contain all these elements? And does it manage to balance them well? In short. Yes. In long? Read on!

Lying About Lying!

The game relies on a confidence to lie when necessary. Putting it bluntly, if you aren’t going to lie, you probably aren’t going to win. The cards are unlikely to run in your favour! You’re only going to lie about one element, and that one element will determine your opposers initial card value. You mix in a few extra numbers to calculate your muscle power, but that first number will give you a hint as to whether you’ll win or not. In example, if you call a ten and they call a four, you’re not going to have a good time.

What’s wonderful is the amount of things you can lie about! Contrary to what your parents may have told you, lies do help! The only thing you can’t lie about is the dice value: that’s public. What’s not is your bonus (should you earn it with a lucky dice roll). And that’s where it can get fishy! Should you be telling the truth, your maths will be on point. Your offensive value is your stat value (said by your opposer), plus the die you roll, plus the bonus only you can see. And there can be a fair amount of memory loss between these numbers, meaning you’ll either get caught, or you’ll do the catching! No end of times was I caught because I couldn’t remember the stat I’d thrown out at my opposer. Was it a three? A six? Who knows. But I’ll tell you what it definitely was, me being caught.

There’s a subtle art to lying, and ALIE Trust Thine Enemy adds in the subtle art of timing. Lying at every opportunity will raise serious questions and get you caught. Not lying will do you no favours, either. Choosing the opportune time to tell fibs may mean rolling with the punches whilst biding time, but will also put the opposition on the back foot. Unpredictable, sporadic, and purposeful lies will get you the win. You’ll be a deceitful ninja! But it makes the game more tense as you’ll need to be able to hold a poker face when calling number… and let the mask slip when telling the truth for the double bluff!

Unpredictable Buffs!

ALIE’s characters are vibrant, interesting, and a ragtag bunch of misfits. But they also vary in what they do. Their abilities vary and benefit you as the attacker or defender differently. Some defenders and attackers block specific damage, so having them out at the prime moment can be wonderful. But that’s dependent on the dice roll. Now, initially we found this annoying. Especially when we had the perfect ability! Over time, we recognised its importance. Were we able to constantly choose when we fancied throwing an ability out, some of our characters would have been near indestructible. And we could moan the dice roll foiled us, but odds vs. evens is fairer than a value pass. A six may not have given me a huge buff to attack, but it was never anything to fuss about!

The abilities are easy to understand for the most part, and are worded clearly. Everything is matter of fact and straight to the point. However, we found one or two caused some confusion… This is our fault. As players, we are used to having things laid out for us with examples and explanations, often that isn’t necessary. Sure it helps us learn big, heavy games, but that’s now what this is. ALIE is an example where we were fooled by our own inferences. Its lightweight and everything is straight forward. To put it bluntly, you need to take the ability for what it says. Don’t over complicate it! If it gets the support of the next card, it gets their stats.

A Sneaky Look…

The abilities themselves are diverse and hard hitting, but sometimes contextual. No one wants a clear win, it removes challenge! One ability allows you to keep that card if you win, and goodness me does it matter! If your opposer called a big number for you on Strength, you’ll want to call that again when repeating the combat. But here’s where the tactics can be either smooth, or sloppy. Should you have lied previously, you’ll be in with a much better chance of them not calling that big number. If not, and they now know that value, you’ll want to get rid of that card as quickly as possible! That one mistake may cause countless problems.

Another of our more favoured abilities is thematically linked to a few of the cards. It’s embedded, and it tells its own little story through it. And as a bonus, it’s a cracking ability! The cards run in an evolution of B.Ex, who starts as a robot, becoming a female cyborg, and finally an unstoppable machine! What forces these cards to interlink beyond the names is the robot’s ability. It simply says, swap with other B.Ex card. On a successful ability activation, you’d swap it with one of the other ones. What’s awesome is that it occurs even if your opponent has it – you straight up steal it!

My personal favourite is on the card One Shot. Now this is an incredibly weak card on the face of it… Low stats, low bonuses… But a crazy strong ability! As you can imagine with any sniper style character, a hit is going to hit hard… and it reflects that. No spoilers, but I guarantee you, a successful ability check will undoubtedly result in a win.

Running Low?

The game isn’t over until one player has lost all their character cards, or all their Eye of Truth cards. It’s a countdown effectively, with one’s numbers fluctuating and the other’s decreasing with every bad decision. So surely you’d see a rise in arrogance to correlate with the decrease in strength, right? Wrong. All cards are hidden from count. You’ll be able to feel the card stack’s size decreasing, but your opposition will never know for sure.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s the clear feel of your own card deck to support your ideas… But in the heat of the moment, will you remember how many Eye’s have been played? Or how many wins you’ve claimed? We didn’t, and suffered for it! On the flip side, we also played a round where we counted our wins and then arrogance was constant. An excitement built in the proximity of a win, and we became brash and reckless. Which didn’t bode well for us… It’s a dangerous game!

That Art

The artwork of this game has a wonderful feel to it. It’s hard to describe, but its theme is reminiscent of 80’s sci-fi. TRON and Blade Runner were the first to come to mind when flicking through the cards! But there’s a wonderful amount of extra depth to the cards too! They all appear to fit within the same universe, but are diverse enough to see more similarities between some than others. What’s more is the flavour text associated to each, giving that character extra depth beyond their visuals. It’s an impressive feat to manage to develop a whole universe through a board game, but ALIE’s visuals do just that. Everything ties together wonderfully!

ALIE’s card’s are also unique because they have a holo effect to them. There was some true nostalgic excitement to cracking the box open to see the beautiful shine of the cards! Like opening a trading card booster and seeing a glint of a rare at the back. But every card is shiny, and beautifully finished! Even the Eye of Truth cards get the beauty treatment, and it gives the game a real presence! The cards really stand out, but are still incredibly easy to read. Eye catching doesn’t do them justice, the whole package is just stunning!

Final Thoughts

ALIE Trust Thine Enemy is a game unlike any we have played before. The scope to tell lies whenever with risk is not unheard of, but the incorporation of needing to trust what the enemy says is a unique combination to us. Deception, deduction and combat, it has the whole package! The game is never unbalanced as it runs wholly on the basis of human interaction, and relies on you as players to drive the treacherous elements. Whether you tell lies or not, the game has no choice but to progress and inevitably end. How well you lie is what will determine your success, and that’s why we enjoy it!