Black Vienna Rules

The following rules are for playing the boardgame version of Black Vienna. They have been modified to conform to this online version and are based on the translation from the original by Joe Huber and Aaron Fuegi. Specific instructions on how to use the online version can be found here.

Game Components

  • 27 Person Cards, each representing a single person, marked with the initial letter of their name. (A-Z, plus Ö.)

  • 36 Investigation Cards, each representing three persons, marked with the initial letters of their names. (e.g. AOR, BHV.)

  • A supply of markers to place on the Investigation Cards.

  • 1 Investigation pad. (A copy of this, customized for your particular case, can be viewed for printing by clicking the "Printable Notepad" link at the bottom of every page. This link only appears if you're logged into a case.)

Game Goal and Short Description

Three Person Cards are secretly selected and set aside. They represent the three members of the criminal ring "Black Vienna," whose crimes are plaguing post-war Vienna. The players will each attempt to be the first to determine the identity of these three criminals.

Each player is secretly dealt a certain number of Person Cards. Consequently, everyone knows some people who don't belong to the criminal ring. Each player must give these people an alibi if asked.

By conducting investigations and using logic and deduction, players will discover the Person Cards in the other player's hands. Doing so will eventually lead to the unmasking of Black Vienna.

The Course of the Game

  1. The Dealer Deals
  2. One player acts as dealer and shuffles the 27 Person Cards.

    First, the dealer puts aside the three uppermost cards. These three cards represent the three members of the criminal ring "Black Vienna".

    Then he deals (face-down) the remaining 24 Person Cards, starting with the player to his left. With three players each receives eight cards, with four each receives six, and with six each receives four. If five players participate, the dealer receives four cards, the other players five.

    Each player now has secret information in her hand. Each player knows that the persons represented on his cards are not members of Black Vienna. He must give them an alibi, if asked.

  3. Prepare the Investigation
  4. The dealer shuffles the 36 Investigation Cards and turns over the first three. These three cards represent the three possibilities for regular investigations.

  5. Investigations and Alibis
  6. The dealer begins. He takes one of the three face-up Investigation Cards and places it in front of any other player. He thereby asks this player to provide an alibi for any or all of the suspects shown on the card.

    The player who has been investigated then places one marker on the card for each matching Person Card he holds in his hand (if his hand contains none of the indicated persons, he places no markers). For example, if a player receives the "BLM" Investigation Card and he has "B" in his hand, but not "L" nor "M," he must put exactly one marker on the Investigation Card.

    Another Investigation Card is drawn from the deck and placed face-up on the table (so that there are always three available Investigation Cards).

    The player who was just investigated conducts the next investigation. (When playing with the 'Active Players Only?' option, this may not always be true.)

  7. Special Investigations
  8. Once each player has been investigated at least once and at least six Investigation Cards have been played, "special investigations" become available.

    Instead of choosing one of the three face-up Investigation Cards, a player may instead choose an Investigation Card that is in front of any player so long as that card has no markers on it. This card is then placed in front of another player just as in a regular investigation (the investigated player must provide alibis as usual). (When playing with the 'Restricted Specials?' option, you can only choose a card in front of another player. That is, you cannot choose a card in front of yourself.)

  9. Accusations
  10. If a player thinks he has determined the identity of Black Vienna, he may make an "accusation." Each player can do this at any time, whether or not they were involved in the latest investigation.

    The player making the accusation marks the initial letters of the three persons he believes comprise Black Vienna with three clear circles on his investigation sheet. Then he covers his investigation sheet, looks at the three Person Cards set aside at the start of the game, and checks whether his accusation is correct or not.

    If the accusation was incorrect, then the game continues. The player who made the false accusation has lost but continues to play (and may not make another accusation). (When playing with the 'Active Players Only?' option, the eliminated player no longer conducts investigations.) If all players make incorrect accusations, then the game ends and Black Vienna has escaped.

  11. Game End
  12. If the accusation is correct, however, the game is over and the successful accuser has won. The three criminal cards are then uncovered for all to see. (When playing with the 'Multiple Winners?' option, the remaining players will have 24 hours to make their own accusation before Black Vienna is revealed.)