Genre: Co-Op Action Points
Player Count: 1 – 4
Play Count as of Review: 15
- Burgle Bros. is a cooperative heist game that plays up to four players. It has players moving about a grid-style map that spans multiple floors and each player can have unique powers to aid in the heist. There unfortunately will not be any photos accompanying this review as they were corrupted. My apologies.
- The game features three types of setup: Easy setup vs. Regular setup vs. Hard setup. Easy setup has two floors and is more of a tutorial than an abridged game. We thought the two floors would create a quicker game for when we wanted to play Burgle Bros. but time was against us. While the game is quicker, it’s also much easier and I cannot remember a time that we lost the two-floor game. I would recommend this for learning the game but once you move on from it, I would never look back. Regular setup includes three floors and is fine. When playing with three or more players, the game devolves into at least one to two players just dicking around so that the guard movements are varied and the other player(s) can finish unlocking the final vault. Once you know the ends and outs of the game, this setup doesn’t prove particular challenging either as you just split up and do your own thing. Hard setup however provides the real challenge of the game as it mitigates the best strategy: splitting up. Instead of three floors, there are just two larger floors and that means that players cannot split the guards movement up as easily.
- While the floor layout and special ability of your character will change with each play, each game feels relatively the same due to the guards. It can create a rather formulaic situation. Someone somewhere will need to occupy a guard just to ensure a break for the remaining players and the game can quickly become unfun for that player(s). It felt like every three- or four-player game ended with this scenario. It was basically player elimination while you still contributed. The more players you have at the table, the more they move. On one hand, you could argue that this makes the game more deliberate and strategic as you need to carefully plan your course of action but on the other hand, the game has so much randomness that spending your down time planning could be moot by the time your turn comes around. Now, you do have the stealth tokens which will help you survive an encounter but they’re a finite resource and there are times where you may just get stuck (due to no fault of your own).
- There is a heavy amount of randomness. “But you just said the game was formulaic!?” I know, but it can be both. With the random design of the floors, there are some scenarios where you create incredibly difficult floors to navigate through no fault of your own. A badly placed tile and an opportune guard can easily derail a game within the first few turns. The game can also run long when playing with the full three floors and more than two-players. This in of itself isn’t an issue (as game length will vary for all players and some people will want a long Burgle Bros. experience) but man does it suck when a random tile ruins a game out of nowhere. Sure, you can peek at a tile before revealing it but that’s not always an option and sometimes there’s nothing you can do.
- What may be a bigger issue than the randomness is how tight the maps are. In a three-floor layout, the floors are too small and the walls too tight to create any sense of creativity in tackling a problem.
- Burgle Bros. plays one to four players but I feel like the sweet spot is two. Quarterbacking can be an issue at any player count but the real issue is that following each player turn, the guards move. At four players, you may end your turn in a perfectly safe place only to have someone go two players later and put you in jeopardy. It’s easy to say that you should just talk it out to ensure that this scenario doesn’t happen but it’s not that easy. The board is only so big and the pathways only allow so much movement. The bigger issue (and this can make two-players too easy), is that players will split up to slow the movement of the guards. In a two-player game, this makes it fairly simple to avoid the guards as you can control when they move. In higher counts, the challenge exists but again, players can easily split. This does force more comradery on the team but can also lean heavily into having a player quarterback.
- The artwork, character design and most of the actions that players take tie directly back to the theme of the game (which is that of a heist). The artwork and theme definitely had us come back to this game several times more than we would have compared to similar co-ops. Regarding the physical components, there are no negatives here. Everything is high quality and while the box is a tight fit, everything does fit snugly back where it came from.
- The game takes up a lot of surface area (which is surprising coming from such a compact box) and the setup can be time consuming with the unique tile placements and walls. The small box that the game comes in is nice for traveling and storage but everything does need to fit back into the box in just the right way.
- The game is fairly light and more often than not, the players turn is ‘how do I get to this tile’? I feel like what drove me away from Burgle Bros. is that I didn’t feel like I had enough options to diminish the randomness. For a game with lightweight decisions, it hurts to have them stripped away because the only solution is to do it again.
- I personally dislike Burgle Bros. because I felt like my actions weren’t meaningful. In Pandemic and Flash Point: Fire Rescue, I have the option of doing something of substance each turn and in Burgle Bros., that wasn’t the case. Sometimes I spent an entire turn peeking at tiles just to learn that they’re all bad. But the reason I don’t like it is the reason others will; you’re not putting out fires on every turn and you can better prepare for future turns by what you’re doing with your current actions. The stress doesn’t really rise with each action. You’re fighting against the guards movement (which is mostly known) and the random tiles (which you can look at).