Game Buzz: Gentlemen Thieves

Sometimes I get interested in games just because they look cool.  Such is the case for:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Gentlemen Cambrioleurs (which will be called Gentlemen Thieves in English) is a game designed by Catherine Dumas, Charles Chevallier, and Pascal Pelemans.  It was released at Spiel 2012 by Bombyx from France (Asmodee is releasing it in the US).  It’s a game for 2-5 players aged 8 and up that takes 45 minutes to play.  It’s a hidden identity game where players are thieves trying to collect the most loot.  The characters are based on the work of an author named Maurice Lablanc, who I am completely unfamiliar with – Wikipedia tells me he was a writer of stories involving Arsène Lupin, the Frnch equivalent of Sherlock Holmes.  The cover art attracted me initially, but it fell off the radar for me after Spiel.  I don’t know why.  So, here’s a look at it.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The game comes with five burglar tiles, 10 helping hand tokens, 5 alliance tokens, a matchmaker tokens, 12 special tokens, a brigadier token, 75 equipment tokens, and 5 location tiles.  The game also makes use of the box – the lid folds out to become the board.  In the beginning, each player gets one burglar tile and keeps it secret.  This is your character for the game.  The five location cards are laid out on the table, with a tunnel next to the Manor, a lock next to the museum, two loot tokens next to the bank, and the remaining tokens (tunnel, car, and six loot tokens) to the side.  Two equipment tokens are randomly placed next to each location.  The remaining equipment tokens are placed in the box with the Brigadier token shuffled into the last six.  The first three equipment tokens are placed on the equipment space of the board.

The start player has the Matchmaker token and divides the five alliance tokens into two teams on the board – two in the White Alliance, three in the Black Alliance.  Then, in clockwise order beginning with the next player, everyone can take a single action.  They can choose one of the three faceup tokens from the game board and place it next to a location, replacing it with the next one from the box.  They can also draw the first equipment token from the box and place it next to a location.  You can also spend a Helping Hand to move a special token from one location to another, or from the supply to a location.  The special tiles include the tunnel, which links two locations into one; the car, which allows you to move one equipment token to the location with the lock; the lock, which prevents players from splitting the loot at that location; and loot, which are extra tokens to get split up.

Players keep taking actions until one location has all five types of equipment (mask, grappling hook, lamp, gloves, stethoscope).  You’ll determine which alliance gets the loot by seeing which alliance has the most tokens of their color next to the tile.  The tokens are then flipped over and split evenly between the alliance, with any leftovers removed from the game.  If there’s a tie for the win, all loot tokens are lost.  Loot is collected on the player spaces of the board to preserve everyone’s identities.  Two new equipment tiles are then drawn and placed next to the location.

The round ends after the loot is split.  The Matchmaker token passes to the left, and that player must move at least two tokens to form new alliances.  Play continues as players take actions and resolve burglaries until the Brigadier token is drawn from the box.  At that point, the game is over.  Each player reveals their identity, and the one who has collected the most loot wins.

This seems like a fairly simple family game.  The hidden identities are what keeps you from ganging up on anyone in the beginning, but I would imagine that it won’t be too difficult to figure out what other people have.  You can try to move different colors around, but you run the risk of not being in their alliance if they are staying around for several rounds.  Still, it doesn’t look bad.  In fact, it seems like a fairly fast introduction to deduction, set collection, and hidden identity games.  The components look very nice, and I think it’s great that it uses the box.  I don’t think I want my own copy, but I might suggest it to people looking for this style of family game.

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