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Subject: Mechanical Review: The Perfect Heist rss

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Mech Gamer

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I like to think I am not a "game" reviewer, rather a mechanics reviewer, and with that in mind, it seems rather remiss of me to begin an article talking about the quality of a game's components. It becomes especially unnecessary when the game is question, The Perfect Heist, has come from a small, one-man Kickstarted enterprise, but, for the record, the components were definitely disappointing. In the interest of brevity, I will just quickly list the issues with no further comment.

1. The board was crinkled and had the minimum information possible.
2. One of the pieces was slightly malformed and couldn't stand properly.
3. The backs of the cards were not a uniform colour.
4. The instruction book is not well laid out, and learning takes far longer than it should.
5. Notoriety points just have to be scored on a separate piece of paper.

None of these really affect how enjoyable the game actually is, nor any of its core mechanics. So what are they?

Standing on the shoulders of Munchkins

Let's get this out of the way - Perfect Heist is really like Munchkin. Like, really. Instead of kicking down doors, you go on heists. When you draw a card, unlike a monster when you kick down a door, you do not have to play it, you can save it for later.

Until you become a professional, and then the game gets even more like Munchkin.

I mention this only to say these two things: it doesn't really matter, and that The Perfect Heist is better than Munchkin. The more I think about it, the better I think it is.

So how does it work?

The Perfect Heist is played in a series of turns, and on each turn, you have the opportunity to draw a two cards, and then play a heist. For heist, read "monster", if you are so inclined. Heists have a difficulty rating in their top-left corner, and a Loot rating in the bottom right.

If the kit you have accumulated in front of you is equal to or higher than the heist difficulty, then you pass (give or take a roll of the "chance die", another discrepancy of the Munchkin template). If you don't manage to make the score, you can form a "crew", which can then add all of their ability points together to make a higher hand.

You then perform the heist, and get any resulting notoriety points and any loot that the card provides. As mentioned above, there is no method of recording these notoriety points, so have an app or piece of paper handy.

So, I think I've kind of given the game a hard time thus far, so I'm going to mention a few things it does really well.

The first is the History cards. They sit to your left and right, if you've drawn them, and lead to increased interaction between the players. It just adds a little bit of extra attention that needs to be paid to the other players. If there's one thing that - yes I'll mention it again - Munchkin lacks is any real feeling that you're all in this together. Yes, from time to time you help out someone - for a share of the loot - but The Heist actually cultivates a feeling that you're part of a team. Sometimes you work together, sometimes you don't, but there will be occasions where you almost have to work together - certain heists just cannot be completed without other people. You may, for instance, require someone who has the driver speciality - but they will know they are in demand, and the price will rise. Overall, the interaction between players is done very entertainingly.

The second is keeping a lid on the zaniness. This is not as slapdash as... you know what I'm going to say. There is one rule that prevents it from falling into chaos - and that is that new cards cannot be played once the chance die is rolled. What this means is, there is a time when you know you are safe, that no more cards can be played to thwart your best laid plans. I prefer this to the Munchkin way of never knowing when you are completely out of the woods.

And the final thing is humour. I talked in an earlier article (Galaxy Trucker, I believe it was) about the difference between a game that is funny because there are jokes written into it - these can get old fast - and games that are funny due to the way they play out. The Perfect Heist falls into the second of these two groups, the much superior one. It's funny because of the way things work out. Hiring a Mastermind to help you rob a banana stand with a grenade launcher is a funny situation. It's funny because your brain imagines the funny situation, not because there is a joke on the card that you've read 20 times before.

Final Thoughts

This is quite simple. If you're bored of hearing me compare it to Munchkin - well, tough. It's the same game, re-themed. How much you mind about that probably depends on how much you like Munchkin and whether or not you're Steve Jackson.

If you're a big fan of Munchkin, then stick with Munchkin. There's probably not much here for you. But if you don't like Munchkin; if you think it's too zany, the cards get old fast, and you've no control over your fate, then I would definitely suggest giving The Perfect Heist a go. It's a bit more tactical, a bit more "thinky", and personally, I prefer robbing corporations to fighting Orcs. That's just me, but Perfect Heist hits the spot.

If you'd like to read the review with all fancy pictures and stuff (though I have uploaded them all here too) then feel free to check out http://mechanicalgamer.tumblr.com/post/56164485458/mechanica....
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Nice review! Just one thing to note, you can actually complete heists solo that require specialties you don't have, you just add four to the difficulty of the heist for each specialty you don't have on the heist. Echoing your point about the rulebook, it took our group three games to actually put that rule into play because we missed it the first two times.
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Karl Tiedemann

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Nice review.
I'm concerned about the card color and board. I'm breaking in, as it were, my domestic printer.

--K
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