Deduction and bluffing games can be hit or miss with our family and probably most gaming groups. At the end of 2020 our family played a game that we immediately fell in love with called Sacred Rites. In this party game from Story Machine Games, players are all part of a secret cult, but some players at the table are “outsiders” trying to blend in.
You may be saying “Woah Ryan! I’m not sure my family wants to play a game about a cult.” Give me a moment to convince you and let’s walk over to our table of Kool-Aid.
Knowing the Ritual
Each round begins with players receiving an envelope with a small window on the bottom side of the envelope. Depending on the player count, one or two players will receive an envelope that doesn’t have this little window.
The top card of the ritual deck is picked up and slid face down into a players envelope. That player secretly looks at the window of their envelope. The player will either see the secret rite (a single word) printed on the card or they’ll see the word “Outsider” printed on their envelope.
The outsider(s) in the game will have no clue what the secret rite is during the round. Players will pass around this rite card facedown so everyone gets the chance to view the word through the window of their envelope. Once the card has made it around the table, it’s time to share our Traditions.
In Sacred Rites, “Traditions” are printed on wooden boards that are pulled from the middle of the table. Players won’t know what what Tradition they choose until they take a look at the wooden board they have in hand. Traditions include Sound, Clothing, Color, Smell, Food and more. Players have to find a way to tie the secret rite to the Tradition they are holding. If you’re an outsider, you are solely dependent on listening to the other players and faking your way into the cult.
Here’s how this plays out. Let’s say the secret rite is “whale”. A player with the Color Tradition, could say “grey” or “light blue”. Neither of these clues are strong enough to give away the secret rite to the outsiders at the table. If a player with the Food Tradition says “krill”, the outsider(s) now have a significant clue that they can use to blend in.
Sacred Rites puts the outsider(s) in a tough position. As an outsider, if you wait until everyone else shares their Tradition, it’s going to look like you are playing off the other players clues. Outsiders must find a way to fit into the flow of a round and appear to know what the other players are talking about.
Some of the Traditions in the game are really difficult. You have Traditions such as Season, Movement or Mark. An obscure clue given by a player who actually knows the secret rite can make the entire table grow suspicious of you.
At the end of the round, players have to vote on who they believe the outsider(s) are at the table. There’s no discussion, no table talk, just finger pointing accusation. Players gain points in the form of wooden flower tokens based on correctly guessing the outsider(s). The outsider(s) gain points by evading accusation and correctly guessing the secret rite. The first player to accumulate 13+ points is named the “Master of Ceremonies”.
A Winning Formula
Prior to playing Sacred Rites, the game Chameleon was the reigning champ of party deduction/bluffing games for our family. If you’re a fan of this style game, you’ll find a familiar formula here.
What sets Sacred Rites apart from other games like it has to be the theme. Players state their Tradition on their turn by saying “The [tradition] of our Sacred Rite is…”. All other players at the table must repeat back “Ahhhh… [repeat the clue in unison]”. The first time your family and friends say “Ahhhh… pickles” in unison, you’re going to laugh your head off.
Sacred Rites brings an absurd premise to the table and creates memorable moments. Our family loved playing this over the holidays as we sat around the coffee table laughing out loud.
It’s the little additions to the formula of deduction and bluffing that makes Sacred Rites stand out. The pastel watercolor art style and wooden components bring everything together to make one of our new favorite party games.
If you have family and friends who would appreciate the absurdity of this game, Sacred Rites is a must buy. We’re excitedly looking forward to a day when our house is hosting weekly game nights again and we can introduce our friends to Sacred Rites.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
Excellent components and style
Sharing your “sacred rite” and player response is hilarious
Fosters creative thinking to fit the chosen Tradition
Players stay engaged the entire game
The cult theme could be a deterrent for some