Game Buzz: Burgle Bros

Here’s a game that successfully Kickstarted back in April, and is now being delivered to backers:

image by BGG user Fubeca
image by BGG user Fubeca

Burgle Bros is the latest design from Tim Fowers, of Wok Star and Paperback fame.  It’s a cooperative heist game for 1-4 players where you are a thief trying to rob a high security building.  You have to make it through three floors to the roof where your helicopter is waiting.

image by BGG user Fubeca
image by BGG user Fubeca

The game comes with 124 square cards that make up the Loot Deck, Tool Deck, Patrol Decks, and Event Deck, as well as Character cards.  There are also 48 cardboard tiles that make up the different floors of the buildings.  You also get 9 character meeples, 3 guard meeples, 9 dice, 73 tokens, and 24 wooden walls.  For each game, you’ll choose one of the given scenarios.  The first one in the book, which is the basic game, is The Bank Job.  You set up three floors, each consisting of sixteen tiles.  One of the tiles on each floor must be a Safe, and another must be the Stairs, but otherwise, they are random.  Tiles are placed face down in a 4×4 grid with walls in various places.  Each floor also has a 16 card Patrol Deck, a Guard, and a die.  The die is set to a different number based on the floor (2 for the first, 3 for the second, and 4 for the third).  Each player receives a random character card which will tell them their special ability for the game, as well as three Stealth tokens.  Draw the top card of the first floor Patrol deck to determine where the first floor Guard will start, then choose any tile on the first floor for your characters to enter the building, revealing it.  Before beginning play, draw the next card of the first floor Patrol Deck to see where the guard is heading, marking it with the die.

On your turn, you may take up to four actions.  Here are your options:

  • Peek: Flip over an adjacent tile.
  • Move: Move your character to an adjacent tile.  If it’s face down, reveal it.  If it shows a STOP icon, you may not enter – the door is locked.  If the tile has an ALARM icon, you may have just triggered an alarm, which means the guard is now heading to your position.
  • Hack: If you’re in a Computer room, you may add a Hack token to it.  These can be used to prevent alarms from going off.
  • Safe: If you’re on the same tile as the Safe, you may spend two actions to add one die to the Safe.
  • Crack: If you’re on the same tile as the Safe, you may spend one action to roll all dice on the Safe.  In order to successfully crack the Safe and steal the Loot, you must have all the numbers represented on the other tiles in the same row or same column as the safe – that’s your combination.  If you roll some of the numbers, you may lock those, and the next time you attempt to crack the safe, you only need to roll the ones that haven’t matched yet.

If you only use two actions or fewer actions in a turn, you draw an Event card.  This could be good or bad.

Your turn ends by moving the guard.  Look at the number on the die in the guard’s destination tile, and move the guard that many spaces following the shortest path to his destination (add one for each Alarm that has been tripped).  Don’t reveal tiles he crosses.  Once he reaches the destination, flip a new card from the Patrol Deck and move the die there.  If you need to reshuffle the Patrol deck, add one to the die for that guard.  If a guard ever enters a room containing a thief (or if a thief enters a room containing a guard), the thief loses one Stealth as he hides.

Once you find the Stairs, you can now move up to the next floor, to the same relative position as the Stairs you just took.  This, however, reveals the next floor’s guard who can already move a little faster.  Only the guard on the active player’s current floor will move.  Once you have cracked all three Safes and gotten everyone up the Stairs on the third level, you win.  If you are out of Stealth tokens when a Guard enters your tile, everyone loses.

There are several different scenarios presented in the game rules, including a two-floor introductory game (The Office Job), a two-floor expert game (Fort Knox), and rules for advanced wall layout and a mini-expansion.  As an add-on for the Kickstarter campaign, you could also get a high rise three-level tower that can add a 3D aspect to your game (I think I’d prefer the 2D experience).

This game looks pretty stinking amazing.  I love the theme of the game, and it looks like there’s some great tension in the game as you try to avoid the guard while also trying to avoid alarms.  It’s definitely a cat and mouse thing, and I think that the guard AI has been smoothly designed so that it just keeps coming (much like Furunkulus in Fearsome Floors).  There appears to be a lot of variability in the box, as well as some unique gameplay and high stakes.  I think this is a game I’d really enjoy playing – I’ll have to see if the guy in my group who got it can play it with me soon.

Tim Fowers is really developing into a designer I want to know more about.  He’s had three very unique games so far – Wok Star is a brilliant cooperative game, and I hear great things about Paperback.  He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on – I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.  Thanks for reading!

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