Playing Face to Face

Hexcell Games provides everything you need to play Deduce or Die! online, but it was originally designed to be played face to face.

You can use the rules on this page to play face to face. You will just need to prepare some game components:

  • Motive Deck: Create this from one deck of playing cards by removing all cards except the 1-9 of Spades, Hearts and Diamonds.
  • Interrogation Deck: Create this deck from two decks of playing cards with the same back. Remove the same cards as above, leaving two each of the 1-9 of Spades, Hearts and Diamonds.
  • Deduction Sheets: Each player will need a deduction sheet to record their findings.

Game Rules

Original rules by Larry Levy.

Game Summary

Deduce or Die! is a deduction game in which the players are trying to find out who among them is a murderer. The actual murderer is as anxious as anyone else to determine the facts of the case, as that will allow him or her to pin the blame on someone else. The first player who can correctly accuse another player of the crime wins the game.

Number of Players: 3 to 6.


Two decks of cards.

  1. The Motive deck (27 cards) is composed of 1-9 of Hate (Daggers), Love (Heart), and Money (Dollar Sign).
  2. The Interrogation deck (54 cards) is composed of two copies of each of the cards in the Motive deck.

If you want to play face-to-face you can make the above decks from three decks of playing cards.

You also need pencils, and a deduction sheet for each player.


Shuffle the Motive deck well and place two cards face down to the side, making sure that no one sees what they are. These cards are called the Evidence cards. Then deal the following number of cards to each player face down:

  • Three players - 8 cards
  • Four players - 6 cards
  • Five players - 5 cards
  • Six players - 4 cards

All the cards are dealt out in a five player game. Otherwise, there will be one card left over. Expose this card, let everyone take note of it, and then place it aside, out of the game. The players can now secretly look at the cards dealt to them and make any notes they like on their deduction sheets.

Shuffle the Interrogation deck, place it in the center of the table. Randomly choose one player to go first.

Determining the Murderer - Examples

Example One: If the two Evidence cards are the 5 of Hate and the 7 of Love, the Murder card would be the 3 of Money (5 + 7 = 12, 12 – 9 = 3, and Money is the third suit).


Example Two: If instead the two Evidence cards were the 1 of Love and the 8 of Love, the Murder card would be the 9 of Love (1 + 8 = 9, don't subtract anything because the sum isn't greater than nine, and the suit is Love because both Evidence cards are Love).

Determining the Murderer

The murderer is defined by the two Evidence cards. Once these cards are known, they identify a third card. This third card is called the Murder card, which is used to determine who the murderer is and who can be accused of being the murderer.

Here's the procedure for using the two Evidence cards to generate the Murder card. The rank of the Murder card is equal to the sum of the two Evidence cards. If this sum is greater than nine, subtract nine from the total to determine the rank. If the two Evidence cards are of different suits, the suit of the Murder card is the third suit. If the two Evidence cards are of the same suit, the suit of the Murder card is the same as the Evidence cards' suits.

Normally, the player who holds the Murder card is the murderer. However, if the Murder card is one of the Evidence cards or is the exposed card, then the player holding the card which is one rank higher and the same suit as the Murder card is the murderer. If this card is also one of the Evidence or exposed cards, then the player holding the card two ranks higher than the Murder card is the murderer, and so on, until a card which is held by a player is found. Ranks go around the corner, so the 1 of Money is one rank higher than the 9 of Money.

The objective for each player is to deduce the Murder card, determine who holds it (or, in the cases outlined above, who holds the card one or two ranks higher than it), and accuse them of the murder. However, the murderer's objective is to accuse an innocent player. If a player figures out the Murder card and realizes it is in his hand, he needs to find the player who holds the next higher card of that suit that isn't in his own hand. Again, if this card is an Evidence or exposed card, the card of that suit of the next higher rank is used.

Here's an example to help clarify this. Suppose Sheryl has deduced that the two Evidence cards are the 1 of Love and the 8 of Love. Therefore, the Murder card is the 9 of Love. But Sheryl has the 9 of Love in her own hand, so she is the real murderer. So who can she (falsely) accuse of the crime? It's the player who holds the next higher Love card, the 1 of Love. Since the 1 is one of the Evidence cards, she needs to find the 2 of Love instead. Looking at her hand, Sheryl notices that she has the 2 of Love as well, so that means she really needs the 3 of Love. If she can deduce which player holds the 3 of Love, she can accuse him and win the game.

Interrogations - Examples

Example One: The lower card is the 3 of Money and the higher one is the 7 of Money, the range is the 3 through 7 of Money.


Example Two: Instead, the 7 was declared to be the lower and 3 the higher, the range would be the 7 through 3 of Money.


Example Three: The lower Interrogation card is the 3 of Love and the higher is the 5 of Hate, the cards in the range are the Threes, Fours and Fives in all suits. If the 5 was the lower and 3 the higher, the range would include every card in the deck except for the three Fours.


Example Four: The two Interrogation cards are both 2 of Hate, the player could make the range be either all three Twos or all nine Hate cards.

Initial Revelations

Each of the lawyers begins the confrontation with a brief statement. Their sharp-eyed fellow lawyers are able to use this to discern something of their current mental state. To reflect this, immediately after the cards are dealt out, each player, beginning with the first player and continuing in clockwise order, must truthfully reveal which suit has the fewest number of cards in their hand. If a player's hand has more than one suit with the smallest number of cards, he can reveal whichever one of these suits he wishes.

Interrogating Opponents

After the players have made their initial revelations, the first player takes her turn. She draws the top three cards from the Interrogation deck and exposes them. She then selects two of them and uses them to question one of her opponents. She picks one of the cards to be the lower one and one to be the higher one. Together, they define a range of cards.

The range depends on the suit of the cards. If both cards are of the same suit, the cards being asked about are those of that suit from the rank of the lower Interrogation card to the rank of the higher Interrogation card. The rank of the cards extends around the corner, so that Aces lie above Nines.

If the two chosen Interrogation cards are of different suits, the range consists of the cards between the two ranks of all three suits.

The one exception to this rule is if the two cards are identical. In this case, the player has the choice of making the range either all the cards of that rank or all the cards of that suit.

The active player chooses a lower and higher Interrogation card, picks an opponent, and asks how many cards in the range that player has in his hand. The player must truthfully answer out loud. The players record this answer however they like, after which the three Interrogation cards are placed in the discard pile. The player to the interrogator's left then becomes the next active player and turns over three new Interrogation cards. This process continues until the game ends. When the Interrogation deck runs out, reshuffle the discards and form a new deck.

After turning over the three Interrogation cards, a player has the option of not making an interrogation on her turn. Usually this will occur late in the game, when a player knows that no question can give her more information but might assist her opponents. If a player chooses not to interrogate, the three cards are discarded as usual and the player to her left takes his turn.

Once a game, each player may make a Secret Interrogation. After exposing the three Interrogation cards, the player declares that he will exercise this option. All three cards are discarded and instead, the player takes a slip of paper, writes down a range of cards, and hands it to an opponent. The range must be one that could be normally generated—thus, for example, a single card could not be asked. The opponent takes the slip, writes down how many cards she has in the range, and passes it back to the interrogating player. Neither player should give any indication what either the request or the response was. After receiving the response, the player ends his turn.

Winning the Game

At any time (not necessarily on his turn), a player can make an accusation. The accuser states who he thinks the murderer is and then writes down what he thinks the two Evidence cards are.

To verify his prediction, the accuser first secretly looks at the Evidence cards. Whether or not his guess is correct, he asks the accused player to pass her cards to him. If the accuser correctly deduced the Evidence cards and the player he has accused holds the Murder card generated by the Evidence cards, the accuser reveals these cards and his written prediction and wins the game.

Alternatively, if the accuser can produce the Murder card from his own hand and shows that the accused player has the next higher card in the same suit (skipping over any cards in the suit which are in his own hand, are Evidence cards, or were exposed at the beginning of the game), he has successfully pinned the crime on another player and wins.

So for example, if the Murder card is the 5 of Money and the accuser shows that he has the 5 and 6 of Money in his hand, he needs to find the 7 of Money in the accused player's hand in order to win.

If instead, the accuser's prediction for the Evidence cards is incorrect or if the accused player does not have the card which will allow him to accuse her, the accuser announces he is wrong (he doesn't say why) and drops out of the game.

The game continues until someone makes a correct accusation. Players can still interrogate the player who made the incorrect accusation and he must answer their questions correctly, but he takes no further turns himself and can make no further interrogations.