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Subject: Simplicity at its best... rss

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Mark Delesdernier
United States
Metairie
Louisiana
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Spy Alley » Forums » Reviews
Simplicity at its best...
I bought this one at a garage sale for $1 and didn't really expect that much. We've all seen games that are well produced but horrendous and I figured that this was just another one of the bunch. But Spy Alley, while light, can fill a niche pretty well and for the right price would be a nice addition to anyone's collection. It seems that there are a dearth of Spy Alley reviews and that is a disservice to this game that I would like to remedy. To be honest, this is not the gamers' game that so many on this site will rave about. There isn't really that much to the game; but game play flows smoothly, will probably finish in shorter than the 45 minutes on the box, and has just enough for those times when a lighter game may be needed. So here are a couple of thoughts.

Gameplay

Each player gets an ID card which gives them the nationality of one of six spies. During the game each player will try to get the entire collection of their nationalities spy effects -- password, keys, codebook, disguise -- and make it back to their embassy and ... win/ gain diplomatic immunity?. Here's the twist: at any point in time someone else can try to out someone as a spy of a certain nationality. If they're right, the accused person is exposed and out of the game. If they're wrong, then the accuser is out of the game. Either way the player leaving the game has to turn over all his/her coveted spy goodies to the other spy involved in the exchange. In order to throw the other spies at the table off the scent, every spy can buy every piece of spy gear for each nationality. So, this game boils down to a bluffing game which slowly builds to a head as everyone gets closer and closer to either winning or being exposed. And that's all there is to it. Rules are short, streamlined, and clear; and even new gamers should be up and running within a few minutes.

Components

The components for this are very well done. Player boards are an extra thick cardboard that should last for a while. The board is well produced and the art has just enough campy humor to put everyone in the right frame of mind. ID cards are made from plastic and move and gift cards are coated. Prime production values all around. (One exception: one of the player boards looks like it was stamped crooked; so, while useable, it is a little off putting.)

Overall

So, this is not going to be the go to game for the night. There's just not enough there to keep you coming back for more than a play or two at a time. With that being said, this could work wonderfully as a filler or as a finisher especially if a few adult beverages have been consumed considering the rules are extremely easy to pick-up and it finishes quickly. Overall, this one gets 7.5/10 : firmly between usually willing to play & might suggest a game and won't turn a game down. If you're looking for something light and quick that you can play with up to 6, you can't go wrong with Spy Alley.

n.b. - I've only been able to play this one with 2 so far, but have had an enjoyable experience with two and am intrigued to see how it plays with more. It does seem like more people will add to the time, but the game moves quickly enough that it shouldn't be a problem.
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Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
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My college friends and I always had a ton of fun with this one, and we were (almost) always sober when we did. More players doesn't make things take TOO much longer. Having 6 players seems to make deduction easier - i.e., I know none of those 3 are that dirty Spanish spy, but someone has to be....
 
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