Burgle Bros.: Get In. Get the Loot. Get Out.

A while back I backed some board games on Kickstarter, just for the hell of it. Some of those choices were good, many not so good. These days I don’t even look at KS anymore. But the final one came in this weekend, Burgle Bros. It’s a cooperative heist game where you’re infiltrating an office building looking for safes and avoiding guards. It’s cleverly done.

It turns out it’s a really fun game. It moves away from the direction of many co-ops, with a constant, tenacious threat (roaming guards) instead of making you play whack-a-mole with pop-up disasters. The guards are just brutal, and not learning guard management fast will knock you out in no time. It’s a tough game (a rule we messed up made it even tougher) but it’s a lot of fun to play, and we got a lot of great “story” moments out of it. Like the other game I’ve seen from Time Fowers, Paperback, it’s got a great look to it. The art by Ryan Goldsberry is top-notch.

Cracking the safe on the first floor and heading for the stairs.

However, all is not fantastic here. There is a deck of “Event” cards you can draw from by sacrificing actions. I can’t see ANY reason to do so. The events are sort of split between good and bad ones, but the good ones are only sort of okay and several bad ones that can be devastating. Considering you’re giving up actions to get them, they are simply not worth it. Furthermore, the events resolve immediately, so even a lot of the “good” ones can be useless if they happen at the wrong time. In our game I went first and decided to grab an event (we had not looked at them in advance) just to see what we got and it was a horrible one that smacked us down right out of the gate. After seeing a few more, and after looking through them after our game (which we lost), I would rather spend actions doing NOTHING than risk that deck. After discussing this with another person, he pointed out that you have to draw an event if you don’t use all your actions. I think it makes more sense to think of the event draw as a penalty, as incentive to use as many actions as possible. On the other hand, I’d still try to find janky ways to “use” my actions over drawing from this deck.

Second, when we opened our first safe, the loot we got was a Persian Cat, which had an “ability”. I looked in the rulebook to understand the ability and there was no mention of it. Heading to BGG, I see this from Fowers:

cat is attracted to the nearest room with an alarm icon at the start of the turn of the player holding him. it does not take an action to pick the cat back up once you are in his tile.

Sorry, the loot was a stretch goal and I didn’t clarify them in the rules more.

That is absolutely infuriating and one of my key problems with Kickstarter. You are producing a game, produce that game. I’m already not down with taking a supposedly finished and tested design and then throwing in a bunch of new additional stuff just because you got more cash, but when you don’t even include rules about the new additional stuff? Because they were a last-minute addition? That’s obnoxious, and does not add to my already shaky confidence in KS games to begin with.

(To be honest, the loot “abilities” can probably just be ignored, especially at first. They add unnecessary difficulty to an already tough task.)

A motion detector outside the bathroom? That’s harsh, boss.

All that aside, though, Burgle Bros. did pretty well for us. We got all the way to the third floor (of three) before I got caught by the guard. This ends the game for everyone because we are bad thieves who will rat each other out instantly. (We’re also bad thieves because we’re busting into a heavily-patrolled building with zero knowledge of its layout or even what it is we’ll be stealing, but that’s another story.) Unlike many other co-op games, there was no “alpha player” problem and we all worked together to figure out how best to outwit the guards and avoid alarms. Towards the end we were even purposely setting off alarms to draw a guard away from other players. It’s easy to learn and the task at hand is pretty straightforward without a lot of gamey nonsense bunging it up. There’s a lot to like here.

Hopefully more plays will smooth out the disappointment from the event deck. It should be a minor thing, but it really bugs me. I’ll also have to convince my usually co-op-averse group to give it more tries.

Burgle Bros: it’ll steal…your heart.

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