3 Laws of Robotics — Social deduction, social malfunction

I don’t think these are the 3 Laws of Robotics that Asimov had in mind.

I don’t think these are the 3 Laws of Robotics that Asimov had in mind.

Social deduction games are a lot of fun. It’s quite enjoyable to try to figure out who everyone else is in terms of the game you’re playing. 3 Laws of Robotics is a four to eight player social deduction game that’s the complete opposite of this 一 you know who everybody else is, but you have no idea about yourself. You’re either a robot, an AI or a cyborg, but working out which requires you to rely on the other players, assuming you trust them of course.

At the start of a round, each player is given a card that they hold up facing away from themselves which shows which faction you’re a part of, as well as your rank within that faction 一 from one to four. You also receive a security key that you need to give to the highest ranking member of your faction at the end of the round 一 or keep it to yourself if you think that’s the best course of action. Do this correctly and you’ll receive a points card.

3 Laws of robotics cards
The law cards are the real key to the enjoyment of this game.

You are allowed to ask one other player a single question during a round to determine what you are, as well as your rank. If you trust the person you’re asking then that might be easy enough, but players may want to lie to each other to ensure opponents don’t give their security key to the right player. After asking questions, everyone decides who they give their key too, point cards are awarded and a new round begins. On its own, this would be fine, but 3 Laws of Robotics throws a spanner in the works in the form of, well, three laws.

As the game progresses, law cards will be drawn that dictate how you need to act during a round. Maybe you’ll have to ask questions with your eyes covered or perhaps players will have to avoid any use of hand gestures. You’ll want to be on the lookout for these violations of the ever-changing rules as if you catch someone and yell “Error” at them, you’ll gain an additional point card at the end of the round. Each round gets a new set of laws, starting with one before moving up to three as the rounds go on. This means that things are constantly evolving and the way you ask questions becomes more and more absurd.

During the demo we had with Floodgate Games (of Sagrada fame) at UKGE 2019, we had a lot of fun trying to figure out who we were. I proved to be quite terrible at it, but the laws that kept on being drawn added to the fun of the game, regardless of how badly I was playing. 3 Laws of Robotics is also very lightweight 一 requiring very little teaching 一 and can be played in about ten minutes, making it a perfect filler game. It’s a great choice for gaming groups or families alike.

3 Laws of Robotics is available for sale right now, you can find out more about it on the developer’s website.

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