Publisher: Fowers Games
Designer: Tim Fowers
Duration: 45-90 mins.
You’ve picked the right crew. You found a good place to break in. You know there’s loot on each floor, and you have a helicopter waiting for you on the floor. The night has come and you enter the first floor. Do you peek around the corner, or rush into the next room because time is of the essence? Are those footsteps you hear? Or maybe that’s a laser wire in the next room, but you might not have time to check before you enter because the guard is coming right behind you. And even when you find the safe, you better hurry with that combinations because you never know when the guard is going to be walking your way…
Burgle Bros. is a co-operative game (like Pandemic Iberia) where you and up to 4 of your friends pull of the ultimate heist, Ocean’s 11 style. You enter the building must steal 3 pieces of loot and make it with your roof, but guards are always and patrol and there are sensors everywhere slowing you down. But if you co-ordinate properly you can get all get to the rooftop, then you can escape with the treasure! Do you have what it takes to be a Burgle Bro?
What’s in the box?
Inside the box there are 48 room tiles, 24 wooden walls, 9 dice, 9 player figures, 3 guard figures, 4 player aids, 9 character cards, 53 patrol cards, 26 even cards, 13 loot cards, 13 tool cards and a bunch of tokens. The components are really nice quality, this tiles and nice cards. The wooden pieces are nice, and the art is awesome. It feels like a throwback to a 60’s heist movie, and it really fits in well to the theme of the game.
The box is nice, and is shaped like the building you are trying to break into (complete with a helicopter pad on the roof). However, there are a lot of components and while they fit in the box, they do feel a little cramped in there. The box could have been bigger, but it works, and is of great quality.
So how do you play?
To begin the game, set aside the 3 safe tiles and 3 stairs tiles. Shuffle the remaining 42 tiles and operate them in 3 piles of 14 tiles, and add a safe and stairs tile in each. Shuffle them again and lay each out each pile in a 4×4 grid, and put the wooden walls down according to the game instructions. Shuffle all the respective tool, loot and event cards and lay them down. Then set up the guard decks for each floor, and take a guard token for each deck and give each guard a die, set at 2 pips for the first flor, 3 for the second and 4 for the 3rd.
Then each player randomly chooses one of the 9 Character cards, and gains the respective player figures and 3 stealth tokens. Each character has a special power or item that you will get to use during the game. Each character card has a basic and advanced side, it’s recommended you start with the basic but you are free to choose whichever side you wish. The you flip the top card of the first floor’s guard deck, and put the guard there. Now all the players choose an entry point on the first floor, flip over that tile and put a stairs token on that tile. Now draw the next card on the first floor guards deck, and put the guard die there. Now that’s the guards destination, and the heist begins!
To win the game, you must break the safe and steal the loot on each floor, and then make sure every player gets to the stairs on the top floor and makes it out. On your turn, there are 2 phases: The player phase and guard phase. On the player phase, you will take up to 4 of the available actions:
- Peek at a tile: You flip over one of the adjacent tiles next to you, it is now permanently flipped and available for everyone to see. The effect of the card doesn’t happen yet, and you can’t flip a card if there is a wall. If you are on a stair tile, you may peek on the tile on the next floor that’s on the space.
- Move to a tile: Move to an adjacent tile (again, not through walls). You can move onto a tile even if it’s not revealed, but it could be an alarm or a lock. If it’s an alarm tile, you may trip it depending on the type of alarm, if it’s a stop tile, you don’t get to move on it and stay on your current tile. You may also move from one floor to another via stairs. If you move onto a space with a guard, discard one stealth token.
- Hack a computer: If you’re in a computer room, you may hack a computer. Each computer can have up to 6 tokens on it.
- Add a die to a safe (2 actions). If the safe is revealed, you can spend 2 actions to add a die to that safe, up to 6 dice per safe
- Crack a safe: Roll the dice on the safe. Each tile in the game has a number on it’s bottom right corner. The combination to the safe will be on the 3 tiles in the horizontal row and the 3 tiles in the same vertical row as the safe. Roll all the dice on the safe and whichever correspond to the numbers on the revealed tiles, put a safe toke on them. Once you have covered all 6 tiles, the safe is cracked, the player who cracked it takes the top tool card (which is good) and the top loot card (which has a negative effect), and add one pip to the each guard die on your floor and the floor below it. If you didn’t crack the safe, put all the die back on the safe tile.
If you take 2 or less actions, you must draw an event card. Event cards can be positive and negative, so you never know what you’re going to get.
Once your turn is done, the guards phase begins. Only the guard on the active players turn moves, and always heads for the die in the most direct manner. and if multiple ways are the same lengths they always move in a clockwise manner. The guard may require multiple turns to reach their destination. If the guard reaches their destination and still has movement points, reveal the next card on the floor’s deck and the guard starts moving there with the remaining movement points. Alarms or stop tiles done stop guards, but walls do.If a guard lands at any point on a tile a player is on, they immediately lose one stealth token. When you have no stealth tokens and something happens that would make you have to discard one, you get caught and rat out all your accomplices, and you all lose the game.
So let’s talk about alarms… there are alarm tiles all throughout the building. Some will only be activated if you stop your movement on them, some immediately activate when you land on them, some if you’re carrying loot or tools, or some just instantly trigger. That’s here computer rooms come in: the tokens in computer rooms can be discarded to disable alarms, but the type of computer must match the type of alarm. But if you do trigger an alarm, you immediately add point to the guards movement and they immediately divert to the source of the alarm. You can definitely trigger alarms to discard the guards from something more important, like someone who has no stealth trying to crack a safe.
Theres a lot of different tools and loot, but I won’t go into them, because I feel they’re so well done and when you first discover them they’re so well done and enjoyable. Tools are super beneficial, while loot is designed to hinder your progress, but is necessary to progress.
The room tiles are well done as well. Aside from the alarms, there are deadbolts that require dice rolls, bathroom stalls that have stealth tokens which you can discard in if you get caught, foyers in which guards can see you if you’re in an adjacent tiles and service ducts which you can use as quick access points when you find both of them, just to name a few.
There are also different setups, like the Office Job which is easier and only has 2 floors, or the Fort Knox which is a bigger 2 floor layout for advanced players, and then there’s an advanced wall layout as well. There is a also a mini expansion included called Lost Visual, where the guard can disappear for a turn (like you lost track of him) and then a new card is drawn and he appears at that spot. Overall, there is a lot of replay value in such a small box, and with the setup different every time, you never feel like your in the same building twice.
Is it any good?
Since Pandemic started the co-op game craze, lots of games have come out, and a lot of them start to feel like the same thing over and over again. When I play a co-op, I don’t just want to have solid mechanics, but I want to feel like there’s a goal to achieve, and actually work for that goal. I don’t want it to be impossible but at the same time, I want it to feel tense and challenging, knowing that the goal is within my reach but theres many obstacles in the way.
Burgle Bros. really achieves that criteria. Everything always feels like you don’t have much time, like in a real heist (or so I believe… I’ve never been part of a real heist… I swear!) You need to get through a door, but theres a guard that might be coming your way, do you take extra time to scout it or do you just rush in because it might be less dangerous. Do you spend more time adding dice to the safe so you can pick it easier, or just try to work fast with what you have?
The game feels tense, as you know the guard’s destination but once they gets there, you don’t know where they’re going next. There is a constant threat of being caught and that makes every decision feel important. It also works well sometimes to divert the guard with alarms if he’s about to catch one of your buddies. Everything about the design of this games feels well planned out, and it really shines through as you play the game.
As great as the variable setup is and keeps the game fresh, it can also hurt the gameplay. Sometimes the tiles really work against each other, and can make some really frustrating It’s challenging when you walk up the stairs and end up in a alarm room, with a guard just waking in and walls all around you, and it has cost us a game once. If you’re playing to win you’re gonna get disappointed, but we saw it as unfortunate circumstances and laughed it off, kind of like a worst case scenario that would happen to terrible thieves.
Burgle Bros. stands not only because of it’s unique look, but due to its unique and thematic gameplay. The mechanics are solid and work great, and they’re enhanced but how well the theme is integrated in the gameplay. If you like heist movies, or you’re looking for the next great co-op game, Burgle Bros is the one for you. I highly recommend it, it offers a solid challenge and every time you walk into the next room, excitement awaits.
- Really amazing mechanics that keep the co-op genre fresh
- Highly thematic, really feels like you are tying to pull of a heist
- The art is amazing, and does a lot to enhance the game
- Amazing attention to detail in every aspect of gameplay
- Variable setup and different scenarios gives high replayablity
- The box looks great, but feels too small for all the content inside
- Can be difficult and sometimes unforgiving
*Thank you to Fowers Games for supplying a copy of Burgle Bros. for this review. You can find out more about them and their other amazing games by clicking here*