Insider Review - 20 Questions, One Complete Guess

Who remembers "20 Questions"? The old classic party game of trying to guess a clue word by shouting an insane amount of questions at some poor sap who can only respond by way of Yes, No or Maybe. It's not exactly one that's played much if at all these days, but most people will have at least heard of the concept.

Well now someone has taken 20 Questions and added a hidden role to the mix. As well as trying to figure out the clue word, you're also trying to suss out who in your group knew the answer to begin with. And that person is attempting to stay hidden while ensuring that the group guesses the clue word eventually.

Sounds like a weird combination, but could it actually work?

Designer: Akihiro Itoh, Kwaji, Daichi Okano, Kito Shinma 
Publisher: Oink Games
Age: 9+
Players: 4-8
Time: 15 Minutes
RRP: £14.99

From Board Game Geek

Do we really have free will? Who decides this? Are we controlled by what we hear and what we see, even while thinking we decide freely? Insider is a game that deals with these questions. While communicating to others, you have to find the right answers to a quiz or find the "insider" who is manipulating the discussion. The insider will do everything to hide their identity while misleading the others.
In more detail, players are assigned roles at random. One player is the "master", and they secretly select a word from a set given in a deck of cards. (In a variant given in the rulebook, they can freely select and write down a word.) The "insider" player, whose role is not known to the other players, will then secretly view the word. The rest of the players are known as "commons". The commons then have approximately five minutes in which to ask the master "yes" or "no"-type questions so that they can deduce the secret word. The insider attempts to secretly lead the commons towards the correct word. If the commons fail to guess the correct word, everyone loses.
If, however, the word is correctly guessed in the allowable time, the master flips the sand timer, and the commons and master have until the sand runs out to discuss the game and deduce the identity of the insider. If they guess correctly, they win the game together; if they do not, the insider wins.


For what you get in the box, ideally this should have been priced below the £10 mark to side with micro games like Love Letter. With an RRP of £15 it's a little pricey for basically a bunch of clue words, a sand timer and some role tiles. I don't know why games include sand timers these days, we have these amazing contraptions called smartphones that can handle any timing task imaginable. Not in the 21st century? Use a watch! Really don't get it!

The rules are on a fold-out sheet and explain "most" of the game well. I found the second round rules where you have to guess the Insider to be a little fiddly to grasp at first and even more fiddly to explain to other people. You have to make it crystal clear what you're voting on, how you vote and why otherwise the game will break.


Now the first round plays out like any other game of 20 Questions. Shout out the questions, get the answers and try to guess the clue. Pretty generic for most players, but being the Insider is more fun as you have to be careful what you say and when, but of course you want the group to guess the clue as a consensus no matter what. The clues themselves are fairly generic, but all fit specific themes. Eventually there's no reason why you can't just simply write your own if you want something a bit more adventurous.

The second round is where things start to fall apart a bit. Firstly you have to vote as a group whether you believe the person who guessed the clue correctly was the Insider. Much like Werewolf it comes down to a majority vote. Assuming the group thinks they're not the Insider and they reveal as such, you then have to vote on who you actually think was the Insider.

Sounds fine, but then how do you determine whether someone is the Insider or not? By the quality of their questions? By the speed they sussed the clue? Or whether they were quiet the entire game? All of these are legitimate reasons and as a result you've really got next to no means of making a reasoned decision. You may have a couple of introverted, quiet players who say barely anything during the first round, but how can you possibly tell if one is the Insider? What if the clue was guessed in barely 30 seconds because you just instantly started on the right track by luck. You've had no time to make any kind of judgement on a player. At least in games like Resistance and One Night Werewolf, you have all the character abilities and mission results etc to form some kind of reasoned argument or even think logically. Here, it might as well be "roll a die, pick that player" and that destroys the second round in at least 75% of the games you play.


Even though it can be a little pricey for what you get, it's a very short and portable micro-filler game. A lot of your enjoyment of Insider will come down to if you enjoy playing "20 Questions". If not, then don't even bother. The old classic is expanded with the addition of the Insider role, but it doesn't work as well as you would hope.

The rules for the second round are a little fiddly when you are getting used to the game, but the biggest problem is trying to figure out who the Insider is simply because it's hard to pinpoint an Insiders behaviour.  Lucky guesses, quiet players, these will constantly throw off your better judgement. The whole process end up in a common situation where your choice may be entirely random.

It's a neat idea and a cool twist on an old party classic, but the execution of the hidden Insider just doesn't really work in most situations. You'll get the odd great experience, but most of the time you'll just be trusting to luck. It's good that it's highly portable and takes next to no time at all, but then so does hunting werewolves. . .



You enjoy hidden traitor/role games such as Werewolf or Resistance

You love the old classic pastime of "20 Questions"

You want a super-portable micro-filler game.


You feel the price tag is a little high, though it's hardly going to impact you too much.

You feel the second round is practically a random guess.