I wanted to start this review off with a clip from The Italian Job or Ocean’s 11, but we weren’t able to get the rights.
Plus, I don’t really think video clips translate well to text.
It’s a Heist!
Burgle Bros. is another beautiful game in a long line of beautiful games from one of our favorite creators, Tim Fowers. One to four players become members of a crew, trying to pull off a difficult heist in a way-too-secure office building.
Gameplay takes place on sets of 16 room tiles, each of which makes up a floor of the building. Each floor also has walls in place that impact how players can move from tile to tile. On each floor, players must work together to find a safe and to crack it open, retrieving the loot inside of it.
Guards patrol each floor, moving around the grid according to the coordinates given by a stack of cards. If players ever cross paths with the guards, they will lose one of their stealth tokens, which serve as your hit points or life in the game.
Breaking the Bank
Room tiles are full of all kinds of traps and surprises that may ruin your plans. Many tiles can trigger alarms that will cause the guards to change course and head to the source of the trouble. Other cards will impact your movement, like service ducts which allow you to move more quickly across a floor, or walkways, which collapse under you and send you back down to the floor below. Basically, players must always be on their guard to ensure that they can successfully navigate to those safes.
Your work doesn’t end once the safe is found, because you have to break into it! This is done by rolling dice to match the numbers found on the tiles in the same row and column as the safe. Not only does this add a little chance to your game, but it also forces you to explore each floor thoroughly, even if you find the safe quickly.
I Have the Power!
Now don’t think the game is going to leave you high and dry as you face these challenges. There are a few different ways in which the players can power up to face the difficulties of each mission.
First off, each character has a couple of unique abilities, and players choose which one they want to use at the beginning of the game. Each of these abilities will come in handy to face different types of obstacles along the way. The Acrobat, for example, can move through the same tile a guard occupies without giving up stealth. The Spotter can peek at the top card of the patrol deck to see where the guard will be headed next. All these powers will make your life a little bit easier, so you’ll have a hard time picking which one you’ll want to use.
In addition, there are tools that are acquired in various ways throughout the game. Maybe you’ll get dynamite, which allows you to blow away a wall. Or maybe a donut, which allows you to stop a guard’s movement for a turn.
You’ll need your tools, your abilities, and some great cooperation if you and your team hope to find the safes, break them open, and escape through the roof before any player loses all of their stealth. Pull that off, and you win the game!
It’s More Fun As a Team
I’m a big fan of cooperative games, but there are certain elements that have to be present to make sure that the game is good. The game has to provide enough challenge to keep the players engaged. That certainly happens in Burgle Bros – players never know what rooms lie underneath upside-down tiles, nor where the guards will be headed next. Players will have to balance out a good strategy and a little risk-taking in order to be successful.
Cooperative games also have to make sure that they allow everyone to participate. Some games can lead to one or two people taking everything over while the other players just sit around and move their pieces wherever they are told. Burgle Bros could be played in such a way, though character abilities and tools do help prevent that a little bit. However, more dominant players could certainly have their run of the place if they so desired.
I Love a Life of Crime
It’s really hard for me to describe what I like so much about Burgle Bros. The theme definitely plays a big part – you just feel like you’re part of some heist from a classic movie. The art and components give each role a lot of personality.
There is also a good balance between strategy and luck. There are times when something terrible will happen due to randomness – the guard moves straight to a space where you are located, or the dice rolls just don’t go your way. Generally, though, you’ll keep control over how the game operates.
Burgle Bros is a beautiful game that looks just as great on the shelf as it does on the table. The way it approaches the theme is perfect – not too light, not too dark, but full of engaging twists and turns. All in all, it’s a title that I believe most hobby gamers will want on their shelves.
But please, buy it; don’t steal it.
You can pick up a copy of the original Burgle Bros from Fowers Games or your FLGS.
- The game is just so beautiful, from box to cards to tiles
- A solid cooperative experience with the right amount of challenge
- Plenty of characters and layouts provide lots of replay value
- Some of the randomness can make the game unfair