Vigilance. Paranoia. Furtive glances.
Now that’s a party game.
Wink, by Blue Orange Games, is a cousin of the Assassination and Werewolf games that I played growing up. In these games there is someone who is “it” but is trying to keep the fact a secret. Someone else, the “inspector” or “detective,” is trying to find out who is it before it is too late. In Assassination, the “it” player tries to kill all the other players by winking at them before being identified by the “Inspector.” Wink takes this mechanic and makes everyone it.
It’s a brilliant move. One of the problems with Assassination-style games is that there are few Assassins, and that’s arguably the best role. Being a victim is only fun when you have a particularly dramatic death, but otherwise once you are eliminated, you might as well go out for coffee. Elimination games do not lend themselves as well to repeat play.
Using some cards and a pawn, Wink gives everyone a chance to be the Assassin AND the Inspector.
There are 2 decks of 36 cards called Face Cards. The cards are numbered 1-36. One deck is placed face-up on the table in a 6×6 grid. The other deck (identical to the first but with a different colored back) is dealt out to the players so that everyone has an equal number of Face Cards. Each person also has a colored pawn and 4 ACCUSE cards.
On your turn you take your pawn and place it on one of the face-up cards in the grid. You may not place your pawn on a number that matches one in your hand. You announce the number and then it is the next player’s turn.
But wait there’s more! The number you chose on the grid belongs to someone else at the table. That person wants to secretly indicate this to you with a wink. While everyone is taking turns placing their pawns on the grid, you are looking around the table for someone to wink at you. Chances are, you will also have to find the right moment to wink at someone who placed their pawn on one of your numbers.
But wait there’s more! If you observe someone winking at someone else, you may ACCUSE that person by playing one of your ACCUSE cards and shouting “J’Accuse!” in your best French accent (or worst as was often the case).
Points are awarded by collecting the Face Cards. After you first placed your pawn, when your turn comes around again, you must guess who has the card matching your number. If you are lucky then you saw that person wink at you. If you are correct, you keep the card under your pawn and the other person keeps the card in their hand. That’s one point for each of you. If your guess is wrong, the card under your pawn is turned face-down and you move your pawn to another card in the grid. You may also earn points by successfully ACCUSING someone. If you shout J’ACCUSE and are successful you get both cards (the one from the grid and the one from the player’s hand). You only have 4 ACCUSE cards so you have to use them wisely. Unused ACCUSE cards are worth 1 point at the end but a successful ACCUSE is worth 2 points (plus you rob your opponents).
We played with 8 people and although I was good at winking at my partners without being seen, I was TERRIBLE at witnessing winks. On the other hand, my neighbor (the guy who won) was terrifying in his ability to successfully ACCUSE. I thought with 8 people I would catch at least one furtive wink but it was very difficult.
And Major Fun.
Everyone is always engaged. Right up to the end of the game. There is no elimination and no down time. ACCUSING is incredibly entertaining and is definitely the best part of the game (especially when you are successful). I’ve mentioned it before in reviews that many of the best Major Fun games have a little meanness embedded in them and Wink accomplishes this perfectly with the ACCUSE mechanic.
4 – 8 players. Ages 8+
Wink was designed by Fred Krahwinkel and is © 2015 by Blue Orange Games.