Game Buzz: Burgle Bros 2

Having followed the games of Tim Fowers since the release of Wok Star in 2010, I was incredibly intrigued when Burgle Bros came out in 2015. I got my own copy at Gen Con 2016, and it has since risen through the ranks to be one of my all-time favorites. Now, we’re getting a sequel:

image by BGG user Fubeca

Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers was designed by Tim Fowers and Jeff Krause. It’s to be published by Fowers Games, following its already highly successful Kickstarter campaign. The game is for 1-4 players, and like the original, is a cooperative game that follows a team of criminals trying to pull off a big heist. This one takes place in a Casino.

As in the original, the boards is set up in 4×4 grids – however, just two in this one, as opposed to three in the original. The box even folds out into a board that can be elevated to give that two-floor feel (or, you could just play with the floors side by side). The Control Room and Escalator are on the ground floor, with the Safe and Staff Elevator on the top floor (along with a staff elevator). You’ll choose a Casino layout at random, and place walls, doors, and chips as indicated. Each player gets a character, as well as three face down gear cards, and bouncers for each floor are assigned their starting location by drawing the top card of a Bouncer deck. The Bouncer on the first floor gets a destination in the same manner.

image by BGG user kalchio

Each player will begin the game at one of the corners on the first floor. Players don’t have to come in at the same spot, which is a change from the original. The tile and chip on it (if any) is revealed and activated if appropriate. On your turn, you can take up to four actions:

  • Peek. Reveal at an adjacent room and its chip, activating it if necessary.
  • Move. Enter an adjacent room. If it was unrevealed, reveal it and activate it, as well as the chip that was there.
  • Unlock. This is a new mechanism for this system. Basically, there are walls, which you can’t get through without special equipment, and locked doors, which you can attempt to unlock. Roll a die, and if you get a 4-6, it’s now unlocked. If you roll a 1-3, you fail, but can spend another action to try again, this time with two dice. Keep adding dice and spending actions until at least one die shows a 4-6 when you roll. You can always lock an unlocked door for free.
  • Activate. If your room has an effect, activate it.

I’ve mentioned chips a few times, and this is another new mechanism in the system. This adds some extra variability to the game, as there are different effects that get added to rooms. The floor might be slippery, which causes you to slide straight into the next room. There could be a balcony, allowing you to move down a floor. There could be intel, which helps you get the dice you need for cracking the safe. There could be a salesperson, which stalls you until someone else enters or moves you. There could be a blind corner, which causes a Bouncer to appear. There could be a crowd, which allows you to hide from a Bouncer. There could be an extra action, which is, simply, an extra action.

You’ll also need to watch out for certain rooms in the Casino. Some of them have conditions that will set off a Commotion. If there’s a Commotion, the Bouncer will change his route to head there instead (kind of like with the Alarms in the original).

When you have completed your actions, you can reveal one of your Gear cards. These are limited use items that help you out. They’ll become available over your first three turns. This replaces the Tools of the original game. After this, the Bouncer for the floor you ended on takes a turn. This consists of moving three spaces towards its destination, revealing a new one if necessary. If a Bouncer moves through an unlocked door, he locks it and gets an extra move for the turn since he’s now suspicious. Whenever a Bouncer enters a room containing a crook, that player takes two heat unless he is otherwise protected.

When a Bouncer runs out of destination cards in their deck, he goes into Hunt Mode. This means that he’s always going to head for the closest player’s room.

You’re looking for two things on the first floor: the Escalator and the Control Room. The Escalator will take you up to the first floor (and back down), and the Control Room is how you add dice to the Safe. Intel is how you get dice, and it costs two actions to transform one Intel into one die. Once dice have been deposited in the Control Room, a player in that room can spend an action to send a die to the Safe, once you’ve found that.

On the second floor is a Staff Elevator (a second way to get downstairs) and a Safe. Once dice are on the Safe, you can roll them, trying to get the numbers marked on tiles in the Safe’s row and column. When you do, you’ll flip the Casino card to its Finale side, which gives you the end game conditions – smashing walls, stealing a piano, or hopping in a car and trying to get out. If you manage it, you win. If one person ever takes six heat, you lose.

image by BGG user kalchio

The original Burgle Bros did a great job of simulating the tension involved in a heist. A lot of work went into streamlining the system, making it a bit quicker, and making it into a different game. I can’t say that this is any kind of improvement as I haven’t played it, but I am interested to see the changes. I’m a little disappointed that the game wasn’t made to work with the original, but I imagine someone might come up with some kind of variant to that effect. As much as I enjoy the first one, I am eager to see how this works.

By the way, this post was not sponsored or sanctioned in any way by Fowers Games. Burgle Bros 2 is going like gangbusters on Kickstarter right now, and I was very interested to see what was different. If you’re interested, check it out – you have until Thursday, September 5 to get in on it.

That’s it for today! Thanks for reading!

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