Among Us: A Board Game impostor

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A lot of board games get digital adaptations. Just look at the top board games of the decade: Gloomhaven, Wingspan, Scythe. All of them are eventually moved over to give players the ability to start games with people thousands of miles away. Not to mention completely eliminating the tedious process of setting the game up and tallying up scores every time.

Sometimes a video game will make the opposite jump. Two of the most highly funded board game Kickstarters right now, The Darkest Dungeon and Frostpunk, are video game offshoots. This is a more uncommon route to take and it’s easy to see why. Whole genres of video games just can’t make the jump like FPS and MMO games.

Games like Crusader King’s or DOTA 2 seem like they would make good board games except for the complicated calculations involved or the number of people needed to make it work.
However, Among Us has hit the sweet spot for a good board game version. The game has become a go-to for many recently, it peaked at over 400,000 concurrent users and endless amounts of streams and viral videos surrounding it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it involves a crew of astronauts silently doing daily tasks on a ship. One (or some) of the crew members are actually aliens posing as crew members. The alien’s goal is to discreetly kill crew members and outnumber the crew to take over the ship. After a person is found dead, the crew has a meeting to decide who they think is the imposter and vote on who to kick off the ship.

At its core, Among Us already has the feel of a board game. A lot of that is thanks to the base mechanics of the game: it requires a group in order to play, you silently manage tasks while watching out for the imposter, and you vote on a person to expose (or accidentally kill)
In fact, there are some great tabletop games with almost the same rules. Werewolf and its popular variant One Night Ultimate Werewolf both have the nightly tasks to be done and a mechanic for voting a player off, although, in the One Night variant, you only get one shot to pick the imposter.

Still, Among Us has a special feel to it that I don’t think other tabletop games manage to pull off. I’ve never liked going anywhere alone in Among Us, there’s an uneasy feeling to it. Likewise, I’m always wary if it’s just me and one other person in the room. Not to mention the horror of being trapped in the airlock for those few seconds with a person you suspect to be the imposter.

The way voting works only makes this game even intenser. If you’re not completely sure you’ve figured out who the imposter is, it’s sometimes better to not vote at all. You’ll only end up narrowing you’re pool of real players if you’re wrong.

On top of this, the strict adherence to silence while doing tasks (and once you’re killed) makes you focus more on what others are doing around you. It also makes you consider whether you are making yourself look suspicious because you can’t explain what you’re doing.

There are a lot of things that would be difficult to maneuver into a tabletop game, like the simultaneous movement and the ability for someone to happen upon a murder. If those few kinks get figured out, Among Us would make a great board game.


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