Monday, May 30, 2005

Review: Saboteur

"Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It's off to work we go!" I wonder what would happen if Dopey suddenly turned evil and decided to keep all of those shiny diamonds for himself? Would he stab Grumpy in the back? One could argue that Grumpy's been asking for it for years anyway. Pick up a copy of Saboteur, the new card game from Frédéric Moyersoen and Z-Man Games, and find out for yourself!

In Saboteur, the players are dwarves digging in search of gold. They've sunk a shaft and begun digging toward three locations that are potential gold veins. One location will have the shiny metal they crave, the other two… nothing. But there's a problem. Equipment keeps breaking and sometimes the tunnel gets dug in the wrong direction. One of the players must be a greedy saboteur who wants to keep the others from finding the gold so he can keep it all for himself.

Saboteur is a card game that's played over three rounds. At the beginning of each round, players are each assigned a random secret role. Most of them will be diggers but a small number of players might be saboteurs. Players take turns playing cards that extend the network of tunnels toward three goal cards placed seven card widths away from the start of the mine. If the tunnel reaches one of the goal cards, it's turned over to reveal whether or not the dwarves have struck gold. If they find the gold then all the diggers will share in the loot, with the one who found the gold getting the lion's share of the nuggets. However, if the deck runs out before the dwarves can find the gold, then the saboteurs will each get some nuggets. At the end of three rounds, whoever has the most gold nuggets wins.

Along with the tunnel cards (which expand the maze of tunnels), there are cards which break lanterns, picks and mine carts, cards which repair broken equipment, cards which remove tunnel segments and cards which allow players to have a peek at one of the three goal cards, giving them some information about where to dig.

The cards themselves are very nice. They're sturdy, plastic coated, and easy to shuffle. They're also nicely illustrated, particularly the tunnel cards which are all unique and contain the occasional bone or piece of mine litter.

Saboteur is a clever and entertaining game. It's easy to learn. It plays in around 30 minutes and it works well with a wide range of players. This isn't the deepest of games but it's quite good fun. Figuring out who (if anyone) is a saboteur can actually be quite tough because even if you're not a saboteur, you'll still have an incentive to stop the others, get to the gold first and collect the most nuggets for yourself. If you're looking for a nice light card game that plays well with almost any number of players, ages 8 and up then look no further!


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