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Secret Hitler Rules: How Do You Play the Secret Hitler Board Game?

Overview: Secret Hitler

You are a German politician of 1932 (pre-ww2). You are tasked with holding the liberal government together in the face of the rising tide of fascism… or perhaps… you work against it.

Game type: intuitive, verbal, high player interaction, deception.

Number of players: 5-10

Suggested age: teen-adult

Game Pieces

17 Policy tiles (6 liberal, 11 fascists)

10 secret role cards

10 party membership cards

10 card envelopes

10 Ja! Ballots

10 Nein Ballots

1 election marker

1 draw pile card

1 discard pile card

3 liberal/fascist boards

1 president placard

1 chancellor placard

Pregame Setup

Distribute players to their parties:

note: 1 fascist will be Hitler, and liberals always start with an advantage.

5 players = 3 liberals, 2 fascist.

6 players = 4/2

7 players = 4/3

8 players = 5/3

9 players = 5/4

10 players = 6/4

Select the fascist track that corresponds to the correct number of players and it next to a liberal track.

Shuffle all (11) fascist tiles and the (6) liberal tiles together in a single policy deck, placed face down on the draw pile.

Prepare an envelope for each player where the contents of each envelope should include a secret role, party membership, and one of each Nein and Ja ballot cards.

Liberal or fascist secret roles must always be packaged together with their appropriate (liberal or fascist) membership cards.

Shuffle the envelopes and distribute to players at random. Players should keep their secret role and party membership from prying eyes.

Randomly select a president candidate using whatever rules you determine to be fair. Give that player both the chancellor and president placard.

This occurs AFTER randomly selecting a president.

In games of 5-6 players everybody is blind (close eyes).

Fascist and Hitler can open their eyes and acknowledge each other.

Then close their eyes again and everyone then opens their eyes. This allows the fascist to know each other while keeping them hidden from the liberals.

In a game of 7 to 10 players then everyone is blinded again, but extend a fist out in front of them.

all fascist who are not Hitler will open their eyes and acknowledge each other.

Hitler must keep his eyes closed, but will form a thumbs up instead of a fist. This allows the fascist to know who Hitler is and each other, but not Hitler to know the fascists.

After a short delay, everyone should return to their eyes closed and put their hands away. Once that is done, everyone can open their eyes and the game can start.

If there was any confusion about this, it should be dealt with now. The underlining idea is that the fascists know each other and the liberals know nothing. In large games, Hitler is also unaware of who the fascists are.

Playing the Game

Each round or turn in the game consists of 3 stages.

The first stage is the election to form the government.

The second stage is a legislative session to enact policy.

The third stage is executive action.

This concludes the turn. New turns start until the game is over.

First stage

Election: Pass the presidency. At the start of the round, the President placard moves clockwise to the next player. This player is now the presidential candidate.

Nominate a Chancellor: the presidential candidate chooses a chancellor by passing the placard to any other eligible player. The candidate is encouraged to get consensus from the other players in their selection to make it more likely the election succeeds.

Eligibility: players that were the chancellor or president in previous round are considered “term-limited” and cannot be nominated as Chancellor. This applies to those that were elected only, nominations do not count towards term-limit and ONLY applies to Chancellor. Anyone can be president.


If there are 5 or fewer players remaining in the game, then the last elected president may be nominated as chancellor.

Vote: once both president and chancellor candidates have been chosen the players must now vote. Discussions are encouraged prior to the vote. Every player votes (including candidates) by placing their appropriate Ja(yes) or Nein (no) cards in front of them face down. Once the votes are ready to be counted, every player will reveal their vote at the same time.

If a tie or a no vote occurs, then the candidacy is moved to the next player and the election tracker is advanced by one.

Election tracker is used to count up to 3 failed votes in a row. If this occurs then the country is “thrown into chaos” and the policy at the top of the deck is immediately enacted, forgoing any powers it might grant to the president.

All term limits are reset and the election counter is placed back at 0.

Election counter is automatically reset any time a new policy is enacted.

If the vote is yes, then the game proceeds as normal with the new president and chancellor.

Second stage

Legislative session: President will draw the top 3 tiles from the policy deck, keeps their contents to themselves, discards one policy tile face down into discard pile, sends the remaining two off to the chancellor who then discards another policy tile face down (nobody can see) into the discard pile and enacts the last one, face up, on the correct track.

Communication of any kind between the president and chancellor is forbidden and they may not choose a policy at random nor can they perform any action that would require them to select one at random. The president should hand over both policy tiles at the same time. Using any method (clever or otherwise) to circumvent this rule is against the spirit of the game and considered cheating.

Discarded policies cannot be revealed, but the President or Chancellor may say whatever they want (including false information) about what they threw away.

If fewer than 3 tiles are left in the policy deck at the end of a legislative session, then shuffle the discard pile back into the draw to create a new draw pile.

If a fascist policy is enacted that gives new power to the president, then that power must be used that same turn by the sitting president. Presidential powers are only used once.

Liberal policies simply end the turn and start a new round of elections.

Stage three

Executive action: in the event that a fascist policy gives the president a new power, it must be used that same turn and will only be used in the turn that it is played (powers do not roll over into other turns).

The president may discuss with the other players what to do with the power, but ultimately the decision lies with the president.

Presidential powers:

Investigate Loyalty – the president chooses a player and that player must reveal (only) their membership card to (only) the president. Do not reveal your secret role. The president is free to do what he will with this information (without the proof of the card, of course), and as always, players are free to lie about what they know.

Special Election – the player chooses any other player to be the presidential candidate. This bypasses term limits for the president, but not for chancellor. Elections proceed as normal afterward.

This action does not actually skip players, the “normal rotation” will continue where it left off prior to the special election.

If the player selects the next candidate for a special election, then that player would run for president for the current special election, and then again on the next turn during the normal rotation.

Policy Peek – the president looks at the top 3 policies, then returns them without changing their order.

Execution – the president executes one player by name, that player is removed from the game. If Hitler was executed, then the game is over with a liberal victory. If that player was not Hitler then nothing is revealed and players are expected to guess rather or not a liberal or fascist was executed.

The removed player is not allowed to influence the game in any way.

Veto power – this is a special rule that comes into play once five fascist policies have been enacted. This gives the executive branch a permanent new ability to discard all three policies tiles if both the Chancellor and President agree.

For a veto to happen the president passes 2 policy tiles to the chancellor as normal, at which point the chancellor may announce that they wish to “veto this agenda” if the president consents then the remaining two policies are discarded and the turn ends.

Every veto represents an inactive government and increases the “election tracker” by one.

Winning the Game

Liberals will win the game if five liberal policies are enacted or if Hitler is assassinated.

Fascists will win the game if six fascist policies are enacted or if Hitler becomes chancellor at any time after the third fascist policy is enacted.

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