Burgle Bros. is a co-operative game from Purple Meeple favourite Tim Fowers, and although he won us over with word game Paperback, Burgle Bros. is a decidedly different, tile based, exploration game, with this said does Burgle Bros. steal the show, or get caught by the guards?
In Burgle Bros. you’ll play as a group of master thieves trying to infiltrate a secure location guarded by not only a number of security personnel, but also several complex alarm systems. You’ll need to locate the safe on each floor, and crack the combination to get your hands on the valuables within before working your way to the next floor, breaking into the next safe along the way. Ultimately hoping to get to the roof for your aerial extraction before you’re captured by those pesky guards.
So in Burgle Bros. you’re greeted with a wonderful range of characters to play as, there’s 9 in total (6 guys and 3 girls) all with their own unique abilities that can benefit you throughout the games development – each character also has two different abilities on their card, offering a beginner and advanced skill, with different character image to match, alternating between street clothes and full-on professional thief attire.
You’ll create a grid of 16 face-down tiles to create the layout for each floor of the complex you’re breaking into (usually there’s 3 floors, but you do have the option of playing “The Office Job” which is a quicker 2 floor game) you’ll also use a series of wooden cuboids to represent walls between certain rooms.
Once you’ve selected your characters, assembled the building you’ll be relieving of it’s valuables, and given yourselves the correct number of stealth tokens (which function essentially as lives, which you lose one of each time a guard spots you) you’re ready to flip a card of the ground floor at random to use as your entry point.
Now this is where things can get interesting, because you can enter the building literally anywhere, so the first tile you flip could take you into the safe, or onto the stairs of the next floor, in which case you can either immediately split your group efforts and send some of you up to the second floor, but if you have entered through the safe, you’re adventure doesn’t end there, as you’ll still need to explore the rest of the floor you’re on in order to open the safe, why I hear you ask? Because to learn the combination to the safe you need to investigate the rooms which share a row and column with the safe, each of these tiles will contain a number in the bottom right corner which is part of your combination. As one of your actions you can roll a dice to try and hit one of the required numbers to break part of the combination.
Now while we’re talking actions,
On your turn you can do up to 4 of the following:
– Peek into an adjacent room.
– Move into another room.
– Hack a computer.
– Add a dice to the safe (2 actions).
– Roll a dice on the safe.
And if you use 2 or less actions you have to draw an event card.
But why would you use less than all 4 actions you say? Well there are times when the guard can move in your direction and you need to avoid him, which might mean using 2 or less of your actions, which can result in drawing an Event card, which without giving anything away can give you an advantage or disadvantage within the game, which might only effect you immediately or continue for more of the game.
On each of your turns you’re likely to encounter one or more alarm system, these can be deactivated in a number of ways, by hacking a computer (which will be located in another room) or by simply completing the requirements on the alarm tile. However some alarms, such as the Thermo Alarm are only activated if you finish your turn there. When an alarm goes off the patrolling security guard from your floor will be drawn toward it, altering his path, which is usually set at the end of a players turn when you will draw a card that will dictate which sector of the floor he is currently heading to. On each floor the guards can move faster than the guard on the previous, so on the ground floor the guard moves 2 spaces each turn, on the first floor he can move 3 and so on, this can be increased depending on event cards and alarms that are activated.
Should you crosspaths with the guard you will lose one of your stealth tokens, and should you be caught without any, the game comes to an end. There are ways to restore stealth and gain extra due to event and tools cards which are likely to come up throughout the game.
With coop games I’m often put off by the “alpha gamer phenomenon” interfering with an otherwise enjoyable game, but in Burgle Bros. that just doesn’t seem to happen, everyone maintains control on their own turn, whilst easily working together to complete your mission, honestly I think this is mostly due to the mystery of what tiles you’re going to flip on your turn, it’s not easily to tell someone what they should be doing if they have no idea what’s coming next. Between the different tools you can pick up and the variety and sometimes bizarre-ness of the loot you’ll get away with keeps Burgle Bros. interesting on multiple plays, which is only added to by the constantly changing floor plans and guard movements. The components for all parts of the game are great quality, from the cards and tiles, to the wooden meeples, which are cut into specific shapes to line up with the individual stickers for each character, and as mentioned earlier there’s two sets of attire for each character which means there’s even two sets of stickers so you can choose how you want the characters to look, and although not necessarily a component it is definitely worth mentioning that the box is the building you’re breaking into! It even has the helipad on the top! Perhaps the only thing that’s missing (for our copy at least) is that I’d like to get the tower (see photo above) that allows you to play the game on actual different floors.
This is a game that promises an Oceans 11 style heist of a board game, and for me at least it delivers.
If you’re looking for a great gateway co-op game, with an interesting theme and great quality components this is it in my opinion, not to mention the modest footprint of the game box makes it hard to say no to if your collection is already pretty space consuming!
Review by Zach