We love games in the Three Time Daddy household but with our tech-heavy life, it’s easy to forget just how much we enjoy sitting down and playing real board games or card games.

So when we were asked to review a new game called The Pretender from Gamely Games, I jumped at the chance. We have enjoyed two of their other games (you can see what we thought of Randomise and Soundiculous) so looked forward to giving this one a go too.

The Pretender Game

What’s it all about?

The Pretender is all about bluffing and deduction, where the aim is to work out which player the pretender is.

You need at least 4 players, and you’re all dealt a card with 10 items that relate to a particular category. One player will pick a number and that is the item that you all have to act out.

However, one of you will be ‘The Pretender’ – this means their card won’t have any items at all and they will have to try to guess what everyone else is acting out and avoid being caught out.

Starting with the player who picked the number, each player takes turns acting out the item on their card.

This is the crucial part of the game – be too obvious and The Pretender will guess what it is themselves and just copy the charade and try to fit in. However, be too obscure and you will be suspected as being The Pretender by the other players.

After each round, everyone gets to point out who they think The Pretender is. The player with the most votes must reveal their identity – if they aren’t The Pretender, the real Pretender wins the round. However, if they are, the other players will win the round unless The Pretender can accurately identify the item on the card.

Scoring is optional but is it recommended that you have 10 rounds for a standard length game.

The Pretender Game

How did we get on?

The instructions sound more complicated than the game actually is – once we started playing it was fairly easy to pick up and everyone quickly worked out that strategy is the most important aspect of the game.

There are 18 categories in total, each with 10 items so there is lots of variety. The categories vary from the fairly straightforward such as ‘transport’ and ‘zoo animals’ to some that would require a little more effort to act out, such as ‘high street’, ‘bad habits’ and ‘kids characters’.

It is recommended for people aged 12 and over, but we played with NJ (age 9) who had absolutely no trouble learning the rules and bluffing. On the first few goes his expression immediately gave away whether he was The Pretender or not, but he soon learned not to be so obvious. Although Roo (age 5) joined in too and loved acting out the items, she was certainly guilty of giggling or announcing ‘I’m The Pretender!’ more than once!

What did we think of The Pretender?

If you’ve read my other reviews, you will know what I look for when picking a game to play with the kids:

  1. Will it give them the chance to be creative?
  2. Will I have to spend two hours explaining the rules?
  3. Will it leave thousands of bits all over the house that will inevitably get lost?
  4. Will it be too hard and make one of them cry with a) frustration b) anger or c) disappointment?

Like Gamely Games’ other games, The Pretender works for me in all of these areas. It is probably more calculating and subtle than Randomise or Soundiculous, which explains why it is aimed at older kids, but it doesn’t mean that younger ones wouldn’t enjoy it.

Players get to be creative by using their imagination and bluffing skills – they got used to analysing the other’s expressions and it was funny seeing just how suspicious they became. I always seemed to be accused of being The Pretender, no matter how I acted, so I must just look like I’m lying all the time!

The rules were fairly easy to pick up but it did need a few practice runs to properly work it out. As with their other games, it comes in a compact box – basically the size of two packs of playing cards, so transportable and light.

Overall, we would recommend The Pretender to any families (with perhaps older kids) looking for a fun game that tests your ability to bluff and avoid suspicion.

The Pretender is currently available on Amazon here and online at John Lewis.


Disclosure: We were sent this game by Gamely Games in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are genuine and our own. 

One thought on “Review: The Pretender – A Game of subtle deception

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