The Secret is Out: Secrets Sucks


My mouth was watering for Secrets the second I heard about it. This is a joint effort from two well-known board game designers Eric Lang and Bruno Fiadutti. Eric Lang’s Blood Rage is one of my favorite games and I am all in on his new big thing: Rising Sun which looks even better. Bruno I know a little less, but I was immediately beguiled by Incan Gold for it’s fun and simplicity. Now I hear that these two got together to create a cold-war era bluffing social deduction party game with cool artwork? What could possible go wrong!

secrets board game spread out on table

How It’s Played

4-8 players all get a hidden role which is either CIA, KGB or hippie. CIA and KGB players are on teams and add up their scores at the end of the game with the highest scoring team winning. The hippie players (1 or 2 of them depending on number of players) are not a team, they are playing independently and win alone if one of them has the lowest single-player score at the table.

In addition to player’s roles there is another extra face down role in the middle of the table. All players get to look at their own role, and the role of the player to the right at the 5-7 player count. At 4, players only look at their own role and at 8 the middle role is also revealed.

There is also a deck of cards. This deck is comprised of 8 different characters like the Diplomat, Scientist, Assassin, Double Agent etc. Different cards have different abilities, such as: swapping the roles of two other players, peeking at any role on the table, swapping a player’s role with the role in the center, forcing a player to reveal their role to the table but not themselves and a few others. Each card is also worth points. Suffice to say a cards are either good or bad in varying degrees relative to the team you are on.

Game play consists of a player drawing two character cards off the deck revealing them to everyone, then presenting one of those cards face down to a player of their choice.

For example if you are CIA and you know the player to your right is CIA, you might offer that player a “good” character. On the other hand if you know the player on your right is KGB you might offer them a “bad” character. Of course the player on your right doesn’t know who you are, so they need to decide if they want to accept or reject the card you offer.

If they accept the card it is revealed and played in front of them, they must activate the card’s ability and then keep the card for it’s point value. If they reject the card, then you take it back, reveal it, activate the ability and keep the card for points.

There are a few other minor gameplay mechanics to consider as well. If a player ever has the same two characters in front of them, both of them are flipped upside down and are worth zero points instead of the printed value. Also the player who has the least cards gains the UN token granting them the ability to intercede and steal a proposed card.

The game ends when a single player has 4 or 5 cards in front of them (depending on player count). Once a player gets that last card, all players reveal their roles. First it is determined if the hippie has the least points, if not, both teams add up their total points and the highest scoring team wins.

What Alex Thinks

Though it’s hard for me to call this a bad game, I will say there is no place for this game. It doesn’t do anything better than other popular games that already do the same things.

  • It is a worse quick filler party game than Love Letter
  • It is a worse bluffing game than Coup
  • It is a worse social deduction game than Resistance
  • It takes longer to play than most of them

Being worse than other games isn’t even the worst of it, the worst part is that Secrets isn’t fun. The game offers no satisfaction, it isn’t fun to win, and it’s even less fun to lose. Allow me to illustrate the game’s shortcomings.

To be fair, I played this game only ten times with a mix of 4-7 players. I know that isn’t a huge sample size, but how many times should I be expected to force an inferior game on my friends?

“Why don’t we just play Resistance” they would ask. I had no good answer. After ten plays most players were already yawning at the idea of bringing the game out, so I had to shelf it.

Same Objective

One of the fundamental problems with the game is that both the CIA and KGB team have the same goal: score as many points as possible. During the game you will probably switch teams a few times, but you take your points with you so it actually doesn’t affect your strategy very much to have your team switched.

The hippie role exists to mitigate this a little but there is only 1 (or 2) hippie in the game, and because of all the random role-swapping that will eventually take place, you are never actually going to play for least points because the chances that you end up being the hippie are very slim. Even if you get the hippie, unless it’s near the end game, you should still try to gain as many points as you can for the mid and late game. Because of this, game play is pretty stale and samey.

What Are We Deducing?

Another symptom of the symmetrical player goals is how it waters down the deduction. You don’t need to know the roles of all players, you only need to know the role of a single team mate before you can start playing your gameplay (giving your ally all the good cards, and accepting good cards back). There is bluffing of course… But I am not sure what the point is.

Filler Game?

The game isn’t short. For a game that has about as much strategy as Love Letter, it still finds a way to last five times longer.

We tried to play this during lunch at work and we were lucky to get a single game in. While we regularly play 2 games of Resistance.

Especially in the late game when it’s kingmaker time, decisions can get pretty complex and analysis paralysis can strike. Maybe with enough plays it gets easier and faster but in my plays that it took a surprisingly long time.

No Fun!

The biggest problem with the game is also the most damning. Winning isn’t fun. The end-state of the game generally looks like this: all players are one or two cards from ending the game (totaling between 2-6 points). Both teams have pretty good knowledge of at least a single team mate and most everyone knows who the hippie is.

This means if some players get just one more card, the game is over and the outcome is obvious. At this point whoever is the dealer basically gets to choose who wins. Either by simply giving a high-scoring card to a team mate and ending the game, or by giving a team mate a role-shuffle effect to simply swap a high scoring enemy with a low scoring hippie (not too low!) ending the game. Either way, it’s uneventful and no one get’s the coveted bluffing moment of truth:

“Ugh I am not sure what to do… You could be lying but I trusted you all game… I am just going to take a chance and give you the scientist… NOOOOOO YOU ARE A COMMUNIST!”

More like this:

“Alright, this is a journalist for you, and I think I have less points than the hippie so pretty sure we win right? Ok good game.”

The hippie “wild card” is a complete joke because of the late-game role-shuffle. Even if you foolishly think you are going to be a wise guy and just reject every deal to stay at your pristine 0 points, you are just going to get swapped with a blue or red guy. There is NOTHING you can do about it. It is in the best interest of BOTH teams to swap the 0 point player with a player from the other team because not only does it remove the possibility of a hippie loss, but it also secures a team win. So… have fun being clever with the hippie.

Secrets doesn’t have a place. It takes longer then other light filler games like Love Letter, Coup or Skull. It has worse deduction elements then Resistance or Secret Hitler. It offers no epic plays or amazing throw-your-hands-up moments. But most importantly it isn’t fun.

Cocktail Kits 2 Go Review

A cocktail kit is a little Altoid-sized box with non-alcoholic ingredients and instructions to make a particular drink. Note that the alcohol is not included so this kit does not include the primary ingredient. That being said, this is a very adorable package that provides a nice “DIY” experience.

Currently (April 2017) the site only sells old fashioned, although a Daiquiri is shown as coming soon with it’s own unique tin. The old fashioned box contains a little wooden spoon, two sugar cubes and a little bottle of bitters along with a business card with instructions how to make the drink. I had never made an old fashioned before so I had a great time learning it and crafting the drink myself.

So the product is great, but the price is pretty high. Each kit is $15 and that is before shipping! Which appears to be another $5 (flat rate). Which leads me to believe that this isn’t really a product you buy for yourself, but rather as a gift for others. Here are some ideas:

  • Conference giveaway items, perfect for hotel rooms
  • Stocking stuffers
  • Secret Santa gifts
  • 21st birthdays
  • Corporate “great doing business with you” gifts
  • “Atta boy” gifts

I am excited for this idea to develop to the point that we can order a 4-6 kit variety pack. Now that would be something! In the meantime, if you are looking for a cute little pocket gift, this is pretty original.

fast food vegan

Fast Food Vegan: Taco Bell (Updated)


Taco Bell has been, and will continue to be, one of my favorite fast food spots. The price is right, the variety is great, I love Mexicana and it’s is just a comfort food for me. I go there at LEAST once a week, and every time when I go out to the movies. I actually look forward to my Taco Bell more than the movie itself on movie nights. When I switch to vegetarian and later vegan, I was afraid of cutting Taco Bell out of my life.

I always knew Taco Bell had bean burritos which tasted “pretty ok.” I knew this because I had several vegetarian friends in high school. I never cared much about how good they tasted or what else was available for vegetarians at the time. But now, I really hoped they tasted better than just ok. So I went to Taco Bell, as a vegetarian, to explore my options.

Taco Bell Burritos
Taco bell sides

I spoke to my regular server, Danny. Me and Danny go way back. I show up at his Taco Bell at 10:30pm most friday nights. I started asking him some questions about substituting other things for meat in tacos and burritos. It turns out there are many things you can sub for meat! The classic refried beans are there but there are also black beans, guacamole, fiesta potatoes and rice. I found that fiesta potatoes offered the best element of heartiness and saltiness that I have grown accustomed to with beef and chicken. However, if you plan on replacing protein with protein then beans are probably the best choice. Or you can mix and match!

Taco Bell also has a magic phrase “Fresco Style.” Saying Fresco Style will replace all cheeses, creams, and guacamole with pico. Usually I tell them to leave the guac on when it’s relevant. Here are go-to items to order after years of experience.

  • Mexican Pizza, fresco style, sub beef for rice, add guac (or side of guac)
  • Cheese quesadilla, sub refried beans for cheese, add rice, add red sauce
  • Bean burrito, fresco style, add rice, add potatoes, add guac

The bean burrito is especially amazing because you can refrigerate and then reheat it later (if this is your plan I suggest keeping the guac off). I often order 4 of these at a time and keep 2 for later, or the next day. Let me know what you come up with!

fast food vegan

Fast Food Vegan: Noodles & Company (Updated)


Hey guys thanks for reading! I want to let everyone now that since writing this series I have officially become a full-fledged vegan. Going forward, this series will be called Fast Food Vegan. I will amend all of the previous article toward a more vegan focus. Obviously vegetarians are still welcome. Stay awhile!

Alex Krasny
Alex KrasnyCEO

Often when trying to think of a good vegan eatery it’s easy to lose track of places that don’t even need to try that hard. Pasta is a food that lends itself very well to vegan cuisine because even omnivores usually don’t complain about a lack of meat when sitting in front of a hearty bowl of noodles.

Unfortunately most of the sauces are cream based such as Alfredo and the creamy pesto they use. But they do offer traditional marinara as well as a variety of peanut-based asian selections.


It gets even better, Noodles carries marinated tofu as a meat alternative and of course you can add additional vegetables to your meal like mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, whatever. They also have salads, soups, and breads to round out the meal.

I am actually surprised with myself for taking so long to realize that Noodles is one of the best places for me to go! At Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway I always feel like I am being “weird” for modifying the standard food with vegetarian substitutes but not at Noodles. I can order my Japanese Pan Noodles with confidence.

Recently Noodles added something called “Buff Bowls” to the menu. These dishes contain double the normal amount of vegetables and lay them over a bed of spinach instead of noodles. If you are afraid of carbs, have a gluten problem, or simply LOVE vegetables, check them out! My wife and I had some and we are sold.


Do You Even Fidget Bro?

I kickstarted the fidget cube when I first saw it because it just seems like an awesome toy to have at your desk. What can I say, I love it! Watch my video for a full review and get your own cube from AntsyLabs! They are $23 now which is pretty steep, but they make great gifts.

There a tons of knockoffs selling for less than $1 even but I am not sure how good they are. I watched a few youtube videos comparing real ones to knock offs and they certainly look worse but I have to wonder are they really that bad? I mean if I can buy 15 stupid fidget toys for the price of one, does it really matter if they are bad? I guess that depends on you. Watch this comparison and decide for yourself.

I am not sure why this particular product is getting decimated by knock offs. Sure knockoffs always happen but I have never seen it as blatant as this. Did they hire the wrong production house in China? Or are they just bad at protecting their IP? Or do I just not have visibility into other products which are knocked off because I am not paying attention? i have many questions.

Playstation 4 First Impressions: Second Worst Console On the Market


So I got my PS4 and the first impressions were not great. Not that I am thinking that Xbox One is any better… I really just think consoles are trash now, and big developers are just making fat stacks exploiting us pathetic customers. Thankfully I purchased my PS4 second hand, so at least I can take solace in the fact that Sony didn’t make that money…

Something I didn’t mention in the video, because I didn’t realize it until some weeks later. There is a feature called “Players Met” which also existed on Xbox360. It is a list of the recent players you played with online, you can send them messages and even friend them. Well this feature on PS4 just DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. So it’s pretty much impossible to meet people on PS4 thanks to this… What am I supposed to do? Keep a fucking notebook next to me so I can jot down “PoleSmoker420Blazit” and send this player a “good game” later? What a joke.

Also why the hell does the feature still exist if it doesn’t work? I mean the system has been out for over 2 fucking years they haven’t fixed it yet? They don’t even have the self respect to REMOVE IT so people like me don’t rage about it two years later?

You are so pathetic Sony.

Coup Review, How To and Variants


I can’t say enough good things about this game. What I will say is anyone who doesn’t like this game either hasn’t played it enough, or is simply stupid. Sorry ladies and gentlemen, but it’s true you are wrong about it.

If you are interested in how to play the game please watch my how to play video. If you are interested in some hard hitting variants, scroll below to read all about them. (I do also go over the variants in the video.)


Coup is a simple and compact deduction game with deviously deep lines of thinking. It really feels remarkable how much decision making goes into every action a player does, and how much information a player gives with each action. The problem is it often takes many game sessions to really get it.

From my experience players go through three phases of appreciation for the game.

  1. Amusement
  2. Apprehension
  3. Breakthrough

The first phase is people getting used to the game, generally fumbling around using the reference card and clumsily attempting to pretend they have duke after 2 players ahead of them take foreign aid which they “forgot” to block. They have a few laughs about how tense getting assassinated is and generally have a good time.

In the next phase people have a firm grasp on all of the roles and possibly even begin understanding which roles are more or less important or powerful at different stages of the game. This is also the phase where people begin thinking they have this game figured out, and the winner is mostly determined by luck. This is often when you will hear cries of frustration that sounds like “must be nice to ALWAYS have contessa…” or “Wow you start with duke every game.”

After an extensively long and intense session players will finally have a breakthrough. This is when the game truly opens up to them and they will realize that the cards in your hand almost do not matter. All that really matters is reading your players, not making blunders and extracting the maximum amount of information from everything available. This is the phase in the game where a player might knowingly let 2 people call foreign aid, and even call foreign aid themselves while holding a duke for a future tricky play.

With strong players who know the game well, you will never experience a more brutal psychological deathmatch.

Player Counts

This game runs best at 3-4 player. I personally feel it drags a little at 5-6 but it is still certainly playable.

The 1v1 variant presented in the manual is pretty poor and I am happy to present a superior and excellent 1v1 variant below. (I didn’t come up with it, I read about it on BoardGameGeek.)


The entire game consists of 15 cards (3 each of 5 characters) and 50 currency chips called ISK. The box also comes with some large reference cards which new players can have in front of them reminding them what all of the actions and counteractions are.


The cards are an awkward size. They are quite a bit bigger than your standard playings card and will require 65mm x 100mm cases to fit. I highly recommend you buy the cases too, because unlike many other games, if a single one of your cards gets noticeably damaged the entire game will be ruined.

As for the currency, they are a thick cardboard little hexagons with futuristic designs on them. When I play the game at home I use poker chips instead, but these tokens do the job.


After my hundreds of games, and input from many players both from my playgroup and from avid posters on Board Game Geek, I have determined that these two variants greatly enhance the game. I highly recommend you try them out.

Call the Coup Variant

After many dozens of games playing standard coup, someone on reddit tossed the “Call-the-Coup” variant my way. It is so simple I can’t believe it isn’t the default way to play.

When you perform a coup, instead of simply spending 7 coins and targetting a opponent, you need to correctly name one of the opponent’s cards. They must answer truthfully if they do not have it, otherwise they reveal the named card face up and lose it. If the player who performed the coup guesses poorly, they simply lose 7 coins and the game continues.

This improves the game in the following ways:

It disincentives honesty

The advantages of being honest are enormous, not only because you are 100% certain your action will succeed, but because if someone challenges you they lose! Because of luck/fate, it’s possible to always have the perfect cards and never have to lie which is overpowering in standard coup. It happens rarely, but it can happen during a key string of plays.

Of course I will admit being honest CAN be harmful, but this variant pushes player to lie to conceal their hand even when playing honest might be the best course of action. Which is good for gameplay.

It reduces textbook play

In the standard game of coup actually deciding who to coup isn’t much of a decision at all. You simply always coup the most powerful player, usually that is a richest player, or the player with the most cards. It’s obvious and non-interactive. With this variant you actually need to think. Sure you still WANT to coup the strongest player, but that player knows who he is and it keeping his hand a secret. Do you blind-guess? Or do you take a sure thing on a weaker player? Additionally, when you are the strongest player you actually have some defenses from getting torn apart by the table. (Keeping your hand concealed.)

It buffs Ambassador

The ambassador is arguably the weakest card. In the base game the ambassador is only used when your hand is poor, or sometimes late game to gain information. But generally, any action which doesn’t actively get you closer to killing another player is weak. With this variant, once a player reaches 7+ coins, players who have played their hands in an obvious ways have a good reason to mix it up as a coup defense. Which, in turn, gives them a great reason to bluff having an ambassador.


It allows you to coup defensively

It is easy to think this variant is a nerf on the coup action, now a coup can wiff. However, there is also subtle buff. You can neutralize a specific character. Take this hopeless situation: You have a single Captain in hand, your opponent (still 2 cards) just used the Assassin to clean up an opponent and you are confident the assassin is legitimate. You have enough money to coup, and your opponent has enough money to assassinate again. With standard rules this situation plays out in a very boring fashion, you coup your opponent, he flips the non-assassin. Then you are assassinated. Sure you can bluff contessa. But with this variant your coup is so much more powerful. You simply name the assassin and it must be discarded. Now it’s an even game and you actually get some gameplay.

My group and I are hundreds of hands deep into this variant and we are all convinced that it is far superior to the standard rules.

Coup Duel (1v1 Coup)

The standard rules, frankly, work like shit in a 1v1 game. It’s just both players playing chicken with duke until someone blind-calls and that is pretty much game. There is no meta game, and there is no deduction. Basically, it’s unplayable.

Thanks so much to Anarchosyn and Zakimos for helping me develop this variants which makes 1v1 play an absolute blast. Both players have 5 total loyalty, but still limited to holding 2 cards at a time. This means once a player loses his first loyalty, he places it face up as normal, but then draw another card. If he loses again, place the next card face up and draw another. Once he loses his third card, and draw back to a 2 card hand, he will not longer draw. His last 2 cards (his 4th and 5th) are the last he gets.

The longer you play / the less starting hands matter / until bluffs are called

It is possible to have both player down to a single card, which means a whopping 8 cards are already revealed face up. This really opens up the game to plenty of deduction and metagame plays. Usually when we play this way we play first to 5 wins, which takes about 45 minutes. By that time we feel like we are taking camping trips inside each other’s minds. It’s a blast.

X-Arcade Solo USB Joystick on OSX Review


I have been considering getting one of these babies for probably about two years but I was always too scared. My main concern was if I could perform with this stick as well as I can with a controller. After all I have twenty years of practice playing with a controller. Well it was my birthday and I got it for myself! The verdict? A resounding 1/1. I have never felt better playing the arcade games of my childhood. Yes it will take me a long time to reach the same skill level I have with a controller but I will get there. The nostalgia is too strong.


There are some hardcore gamers who will ask questions like “What kind of stick technology does it use?” That conversation is way over my head. You can read all about that on I can say this uses a US stick which is a “Happ” model characterized by a long pear-shaped stick and convex buttons. Some people prefer the asian-influenced round-knob sticks and concave buttons. I grew up with US arcade games and this makes me feel the most nostalgic.

The product itself feels amazingly solid. If I dropped this on the ground I would only be moderately concerned that I broke it. It weighs about 5 lb and sits on a desk very firmly. The stick is firm and springs back to centers nicely and the buttons make excellent clicking sounds. There are 8 face buttons, 2 side pinball buttons, a power button and a start button. My model shipped with a USB adapter but they do not ALL SHIP WITH THAT! Make sure you know what adapters you are getting, they cost extra.


In my video you can see me test the stick on a variety of MAME-emulated games. The joystick is 100% plug and play on OSX. The system simply treats it as a USB keyboard. You go to map your buttons and the joystick inputs some random keys and the game is ready to rock. Of course it works great on Windows and a variety of consoles as well. If you are considering getting an arcade stick, I think this is an excellent bet.



Sterling Scott Neckwear Review


sterling-scott2 sterling-scott6 sterling-scott5

I am so excited about this new neckwear option. The only thing keeping me from wearing these ties MUCH more often is my shortage of vests! I have set it before, and i’ll say it again:

I have a vested interest in investing in vests.

While you are checking out my videos keep in mind that if you use the promo code AGREEorDIE you can save 33% on any of your Sterling Scott purchases!

Please check out my unboxing and review of the Sterling Scott collection.

Some key takeaways:

  • Small productions runs
  • Production numbers proves authenticity
  • Double sides ties
  • variety of fabrics and designs
  • unique malleable look

These tie’s unique sticking and fabric offer a unique opportunity for knotting. The patented Scott knot showcases this versatility as demonstrated in my next video specifically about the knot.

Check out the Sterling-Scott website right now and check out the variety of ties available! Make sure to use promo code AGREEorDIE for some great savings.

Comcast Chat Support Live Tweet

Comcast has been slowly but surely increasing my bill by about $2 every month. It went something like this: $55, $55, $65, $66, $67, $69. When it got so close to $70 I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to investigate.