Since the introduction of games like Pandemic, the cooperative game has become more popular amongst tabletop hobbyists. They provide a chance for teamwork, productive and funny table conversations and sometimes it’s nice to change gears from your typically competitive games night.
Well, another cooperative board game has hit the shelves and this time it’s by Tim Fowers and it’s called Burgle Bros. In a nutshell, it encapsulates the heist movie genre almost perfectly!
Tim Fowers is what you might call a boutique game maker. He’s not particularly large-scale to my knowledge but his output so far seems of very high quality. One might call him a board game artisan. We also had the opportunity of playing Paperback, which is another of his titles, and were also impressed. That review will come shortly…
We don’t bore you or ourselves with lengthy rules explanations on this site, but to give you a brief idea: this game plays out with a modular board made up of tiles that build levels of a skyscraper you have to stealthily work your way through whilst avoiding the ever-present guards. On those tiles, which are generally kept hidden from the players until they enter the room, you will find an assortment of rooms with puzzles to crack and solve and traps to avoid. From safe rooms to frustrating keypad rooms and boring old foyers, there are chambers designed to equally frustrate and delight you. There is plenty going on here, including the genre-specific laser room! Just think of a svelte Catherine Zeta Jones in the movie The Entrapment… Give me a minute…
Though this game can be played solo, which will be a chief criticism shortly, it’s a lot more fun working with other mischievous thieves to find the loot and escape the building. It’s a wonderfully modular game that accommodates short or long play times and enables players to setup 1, 2 or 3 building levels in the skyrise your burglars will navigate their way through. We will say that with 4 players on three levels it did outstay its welcome a little bit but only with some of us.
The artwork, as with Tim Fowers’ games generally, is absolutely fantastic. It looks like 1950s or ’60s cartoons. It’s a little bit Mad Men and a lot of Hanna Barbera and the quality throughout is fantastic!
There were some rules that were a little clunky here and there (but write to Tim and you will actually get a response, which is very impressive. Tried getting a response from Fantasy Flight Games? Then you know what I am talking about!) But for the most part, the rulebook is super clear and I had a couple of novice board game players up and running in no time. This is novice and family friendly indeed without becoming a soon-to-bore-you, one hit wonder.
Now on to our chief concern… This isn’t a peculiarity to this game but it is to the cooperative genre. Like any cooperative game, you are meant to work as a team. However, there is always someone who has more knowledge than the others or, as is sadly sometimes the case, an alpha player who insists on making all the decisions for everyone. We did not experience the latter but there was no doubt that I had more knowledge of the game than the other players and it was, on occasion, difficult not to dictate the best course of action. But that’s where the player must imbue a sense of patience and team spirit. Who cares if the decision by a less experienced player spells capture and a lengthy jail sentence for everyone!
But for people who take their games seriously (yawn!), a word of caution is advised. Generally speaking if I see a game that calls itself cooperative that can be played by one player I’m always a little hesitant. If it can be played well solo is it truly a team game? That is to say, are other players’ involvement vital to the success of a game? In this case it’s not and in the case of most cooperative games it is not. For that very reason, I am not really a fan of cooperative gaming. But this is one game that is light enough to not bother me in that area so much.
It’s a keeper. Bunyip Kingdom thoroughly recommends trying this game out!
We were kindly supplied a review copy by Tim Fowers. But spare him not from criticism shall we!