Recommend
34 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Assassin» Forums » Reviews

Subject: ASSASSIN: ENNUI AS A WEAPON OF CHOICE rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Richard H. Berg
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
(This review originally ran in "Berg's Review of Games" (BROG) in 1994.

ASSASSIN by CHRIS BAYLISS

from AVALON HILL

16" x 22" mounted board; 252 perforated cards; 6 plastic pawns; Rule folder. Boxed. From TAHGC, 4517 Harford Rd, Baltimore MD 21214 c.$20

Reviewed by RICHARD H. BERG

The origin of the word "assassin" is one of etymology's better items. Seems that back around the time of the Crusades, a sect of Muslim heretics, the Ismai'lis, run by someone called The Old Man of the Mountains, ran a gang of rent-a-killers. To get their hired hands into the proper mood, they plied them with large doses of hash-hish. Pretty soon these Hired Knives became known as Hashishin … or assassins.

I bring this up not to raise your cultural awareness but to point out that the only way anyone is ever going to enjoy Avalon Hill's Assassin will be to get an invite to one of the Old Man's parties and head straight for the Controlled Substance smorgasbord. Assassin is as vapid an exercise in inanity and boredom as we've seen in quite a while.

Shows you how misleading box cover blurbs can be. To judge from the back of the box, Assassin sounds like its going to be a really neat card game, players running around Europe, bumping off other players, hitting a few civilians … all in less than 90 minutes. Turns out that the description on the back of the box is about as exciting as things ever get. And as for the box, itself …

I think its time that we, as gamers, started sending telegrams, faxes, even ticking packages to The Hill, letting them know that "purple" is NOT one of the four major chromatic groups, nor is it a color one likes to see staring up at him every time he or she looks at the AH section in the local store. Once again, AH's art department seems to be under the aegis of someone immersed in a purple haze. (Another hashishin?) It wouldn't be so bad if the cover didn't also feature a full-face close-up of what appears to be a misguided effort at what passes for "cool". Assassins are supposed to be faceless, blending in so as to be invisible. The only place this ersatz greaseball would be invisible is in a meeting of the Trailor Park Troglodyte Association. Then again, it does bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Jack Dott.

The rest of the package isn't half bad, ignoring the Parker Brothers-style plastic pawns. The map is unexciting but clear; it's also quite up to date, especially if you want to know where all those new countries-on-the-block are, such as Slovenia, Moldava, etc. The best thing about the recent rush to Balkanization is that I now know where all those stamps I had as a kid were supposed to go in my stamp book. There are also 252 cards, but they're of the 2nd Class Citizen, perforated kind … and purple pervades yet again. Whoever is responsible for this ought to be tied to a chair and forced to listen to Jane's Addiction singing "Deep Purple" over and over again.

Then there's the game. Remember break time in the grade school yard? You used to play a game where one of you was it - sometimes you didn't know who - and "it" went around tagging kids, most of whom spent the period running away? Well, that's Assassin. It's Milles Borne with a tag game thrown in. Except Milles Bornes was somewhat more exciting.

Players are dealt 7 cards of the following possible types: Destination Cards, Transportation Cards, Hit Cards and Hazard cards. The object is to travel from one city to another using the first two. You play a Destination Card, on top of which you play a Vehicle (Planes, Trains and Automobiles time), followed by mileage cards. You can actually try to bicycle from Paris to Istanbul. If you happen to be in the same city as the Assassin - who remains unknown only until his first attempt - he'll take a shot at you, against which you play some "defense"-oriented cards, several of which intimate our Cook's Tour Killer hits a kid instead. (And you said Plague was tacky, Jack?)

That's it.

Fly to Budapest … nothin' happenin', so get a few plates of veal paprikash and head to Berlin. No one around, so fly to Madrid (where, unless you're careful, you're stuck for umpteen turns). And so on, until either your eyes glaze over or someone suggests you'd all be better amused watching a Susan Powter info-mercial. (Now, there's a subject for a scary game.) Granted, the rules are very clean, they're easy to learn, and you can get started in about 5-10 minutes. Unfortunately, you'll have more fun separating the perforated cards then you will playing the game.

The game, itself, also has some system cul-de-sacs that can create even more stagnancy than the game itself. For example, each player has seven cards, of which 2 or 3 he's getting rid of/playing per turn. However, there are a fairly large number of "May Not Discard" cards in the decks, which means you either have to play them - which you often cannot because you don't have the other cards needed to do so - or pass them to your opponent, which is most unadvisable, as they're the few interesting cards in the game. This, effectively, reduces your hand to 2 or 3 playable cards. (At one point I had a hand of seven Do Not Discard cards.) Even worse, you can get stuck in some out-of-the-way post, like the aforementioned Madrid, with only a bicycle to get you out. That takes about 475 turns.

It's somewhat of a mystery as to why Assassin was ever published. There's just nothing happening here. The game is so random - which is not necessarily as bad thing - that strategy seems to devolve to simply avoiding everyone else. There's no joy, no humor, no tension … and no game. Someone ought to get a contract out on this one.

CAPSULE COMMENTS

Graphic Presentation: Clean, crisp, purple and garish.

Playability: Easy to learn, boring to play.

Replayability: For those who like watching reruns of Safe Driving films.

Wristage: None

Creativity: Interesting idea dies aborning.

Historicity: Not applicable.

Comparisons: A stolid Milles Bornes. Like buying a Pet Rock.

Overall: The type of subject John Prados usually handles with panache. Unfortunately, John is nowhere around. Even more unfortunately, the game is.


16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Danny Stevens
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
flag msg tools
Games: Design 'em, rewrite 'em, play 'em!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
All these years I thought we were the only ones that wanted our money back. the thing is I always wanted a "secret assassin" style game. I used to play Steve Jackson's "Killer" at university. That was a cool game. Why wasn't this one?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Normally I find your reviews rather curt with a large degree of sarcasm - I can't believe that THIS is the game you have decided to be kind to with your comments.

Why? It is so undeserving!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Garramone
United States
Nashville
Tennessee
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Later this evening I will be running a play-test of my rules re-write for this game. It's actually quite good and everyone so far has enjoyed playing it. After several years of off and on work, I've managed to put the "assassin" back in Assassin. I've talked to the original designer of the game and though it's been a few years, I do intend to show him my redesign, which does incorporate some of the ideas and rules from Eurohit. So don't throw away your copies just yet; or better yet, go get a cheap copy now so you can play my redesign later. Peace.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thom Denholm
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So, William, how did the playtest go?

I have played this with the original rules and with the EuroHit 2000 rules. While the latter was cleaner, the fun was still lacking. In post game discussion this weekend, we thought maybe having a second assassin card would help.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Garramone
United States
Nashville
Tennessee
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The play-testing went rather well. I have revamped much of the rules, added some tokens, some playing cards, and other things to help with the rewrite. I do apologize greatly for being so very long in posting the new rules and such. Life has a way of getting on, so they say. I've got about 20 play-tested games in, but in all honesty, I need closer to 50 play throughs to make sure it all works nicely.

Some things in my version are:

1) The name change to "Travelers & Assassins" (The main thrust of the game is traveling and so much has been done to make this scoring aspect more interesting and strategic, yet simple.)Not to fear, the Assassin aspect is still in there.

2) The Gun Cards actually have another effect other than whats contained in the rules...the holder of the Assassin card beware! Also, the Gun Cards act as Time Scoring triggers that pause the game and score several things on the board. The holder of the Assassin card is in for a potential nasty surprise.

3)I borrowed a popular euro-game mechanic from Settlers of Catan that uses "The Longest Road" and "Largest Army" concept. Each player has their own set of travel tokens that they place on the board as they reach a destination that can create a chain of connected cities traveled to. The longer the chain, the more points scored...at least until someone travels to a city you have a travel token in and it is broken. There is a rose compass token I have that serves to identify the Traveler with the longest chain of connected cities traveled to. Also, there is a little cardboard gun token that serves to identify the person with the most current Hits at the table. I call it the Master Assassin token. As in Catan, these two tokens can get passed around depending on who has the longest chain of cities traveled to and the most Hits. It's a whole lot of fun competing for these. When the game ends, whoever holds these tokens scores extra points.

4)Players now have a simple character card that represents what kind of "traveler" they are (a.k.a. high priority target for the Assassin). This matters for the additional decks I've created. The four type of characters in the game are: Political target, Religious target, Scientific target, and Criminal target. It's possible that every player at the table could be one of these or more than one of these, depending on which character card they randomly draw. When a player reaches a destination, he/she may discard their character card and draw a new character "persona".

5) I've added a Travelers Deck and Mission Deck and an Awards Deck to the game. Every player will have a Travel Card and a Mission Card in front of them at all times. The Travel Card will have a particular Destination printed on it that will allow the traveler to draw a card from the Award Deck if they complete traveling to that Destination. The Travel cards vary and some of them say things like, "If you are a Criminal target, travel by plane to Kiev for an underworld meeting with the Russian Mafia." Some Travel cards say to use a certain mode of transportation, some say to utilize a travel line that crosses over a certain country, etc. It really adds flavor and purpose to the game. The Mission Card will have a particular target on it such as: "Religious target" Make a Hit on a religious target, etc.... Some mission cards are even more specific like, "Religious Target: The church has sent religious delegates to the cities of Vienna, Rome, Warsaw, and London. Make a Hit on a religious target in one of these cities." The holder of the Assassin card will also gain a card from the Award Deck if they can pull this off.

Keep in mind that, players don't have to fulfill these Travel and Mission Cards. They can still make Hits on any targets if they're the assassin and they still score points for traveling. They will just get more points for pulling these feats off if they do. Overall, it really adds flavor and purpose to the game and gives a sense of being hunted.

The Awards Deck has a bunch of cool things like: extra points, altering game effects on the board, etc.

Also, I'm wanting to get some cool mini's to represent the travelers instead of the pawns, greatly enlarge the map (I've blown mine way up), add a scoring track on the board, and so many other things. Hopefully, i can get it to the kickstarter stage. I've talked with the original designer a long time ago and I fully intend to give him the first prototype copy to play and get his feedback and input. And he certainly deserves the credit for the idea of such a game. I'm just sorry that Avalon Hill basically destroyed his original design and I think the game has awesome potential! Everyone that has played with my prototype up to this point really likes the game. And just imagine what an updated map, pieces, tokens, cool looking Travel, Mission, Award Decks, and everything else would look like in this awesome age of board gaming!

There is a bit more that has been added and reworked, but I'll save it for the final disclosure. And the beauty of it, is that the game flows very smoothly and isn't really that much more complicated at all. But it does add that "fun factor" that just felt missing to me, especially for such a hard hitting title name.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simmy Peerutin
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Danny from Tower wrote:
All these years I thought we were the only ones that wanted our money back. the thing is I always wanted a "secret assassin" style game. I used to play Steve Jackson's "Killer" at university. That was a cool game. Why wasn't this one?


I posted this game back to AH and wrote a covering letter stating that I actually paid to post it back from South Africa to the US to demonstrate how bad I thought this game was and how angry I was that AH had published this rubbish. It’s the only game that has provoked this reaction in me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.