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Burgle Bros. – A Strong Thematic Game with a Ton of Variety

I recently got my Kickstarter copy of Burgle Bros. in hand and I’ve had a great time playing a number of rounds with both my gaming group and my children.   It’s always great to find games that will hit the table no matter who I am playing with.  Burgle Bros. is a light cooperative strategy game with a family friendly theme and artwork with a distinctive style.

In Burgle Bros. all players work cooperatively to break into a three-story building pulling off a major heist and then leaving without getting caught.  The game’s art wraps up the theme nicely.  It all feels very 1960s, like the early James Bond movies and Ocean’s Eleven.  During the game, you can feel the tense strategy and timing of the game’s elements as each session unfolds.

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What I love most about Burgle Bros. is the variety it offers with it’s components.  During a normal game you will use nearly every component in the box, but the way that the layouts for the three floors work, you will never play the same game twice.  There is a bit of an issue with setup taking a long time, but hey, most of my games are like this.  To set up Burgle Bros., you make three stacks of room tiles from the whole collection of tiles, with only adding the required stairs and safe tiles into each stack.  With each floor having 16 tiles in a 4×4 grid, the replayability on Burgle Bros. is huge.  And then of course all the individual characters, guard placements, and loot which is also unique to each game. The question then is……Is the game worth playing enough that you can appreciate the variation each game will provide?

For me, it is.  Mainly for the reason I mention above: I can play this game with about anyone.  My normal weekend gamer group is a set of 30-40 somethings that get together and play games with our preferred games being strategic in nature.  Then there is my family which I game with nearly every day, a pair of ‘gamers in training’ in my two daughters.  Burgle Bros. is loved by both groups for sure.  For a cooperative game, it does a good job of keeping everyone engaged although I could definitely see how an alpha-gamer could try to take over everyone’s turns and just plainly control the whole game, playing for everyone else.  So…. don’t play with jerks and Burgle Bros. will be fun for your group.

Our games take around an hour to play, and we’ve lost a good number of our games despite doing everything as well as we thought we could at the time.   I’m not going to get too much in how you play the game, but I do want to mention my favorite mechanic in this one:  How you crack safes.

Each safe’s combination is a series of numbers that are on the tiles that are in the same column and row as the safe tile.  So you have to flip all the tiles that line up with the safe just to know what the combination could be.  Then a player needs to spend time on the safe tile space adding dice to a dice pool that is rolled attempting to hit the right numbers.  Once you crack that safe, you are only halfway through the game as your full team now has to get out of the building from the roof, loot in hand.  And note that each of the three floors have their own unique safe to crack.  I haven’t seen this safe mechanic before and I like how it forces the whole team to stick their necks out for the information that is needed.  And of course it fits the theme nicely.

I only have one issue with Burgle Bros.:

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That is the box there in the pic and it’s awesome and thematic, looking like a mini skyscraper.  But man is it hard to work with.  The game’s price is quite high for the size of the box, but the game is worth it for sure……but…..it’s because there are tons of components all packed into the tiny box.  My rulebook is completely munched and I fear that some of the cards will be ruined over time since everything is packed so tightly.  I’ve considered making a new box for the game just to protect the value of everything that is inside over time.

If I was back in my game store and you grabbed this off the shelf and asked me if it was good, I would ask you:

  • Are you looking for a light strategic cooperative game and don’t mind a lot of setup?
  • Are you planning on playing this with friends or family? (no alpha-gamers in the mix)
  • Are you good at Tetris, and can make a bunch of small components fit neatly into a small space?

 

If you are answering yes to those questions, and a 60-90 minute game of cartoonish thievery fits an empty slot in your game collection, then you probably can’t go wrong with your purchase.  When I get new games I normally make an assessment pretty early on whether or not I will add it to the next set of games I am getting rid of on boardgamegeek auctions, but Burgle Bros. will likely stay in my collection for a while.  It’s a unique game with some great mechanics and of course, I’m a huge fan of thematic art.

David Gerrard – @Dagerr

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