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Skyway Robbery» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Skyway Robbery - Heists, Turf Wars and a giant Airship rss

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Mathias Heilmann
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Essen
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This game is currently on Kickstarter.
Link to campaign

DISCLAIMER: For all games I've played I used the Print and Play version that I've assembled myself, so I can't say anything about the component quality, except for the artwork. This is also the first review I have ever written.



Overview

Skyway Robbery is a card driven board game in a Steampunk setting. Each player takes over the role of a gang leader who, during the game, acquires more gang members and equipment that will help him or her to complete heists or win turf wars. The gang leader with the most reputation (victory points if you will) wins the game. All the players are travelling on the same huge airship, visiting five (of ten) exotic locations, each offering a new opportunity for a heist.

Contents


22" x 33" Game Board
10 Location Mats (to represent the locations you are currently visiting and what defenses you'll have to overcome)
10 Location Tiles (used to randomly determine the flight route and then to show the progress of the cruise/game)
5 Double-Sided Player Boards (both sides feature the same character, but with a different dirty trick i.e. special ability)
5 Dirty Trick Cards (those are flipped after one-time-use dirty tricks have been used as a reminder)
35 Action Cards (7 per character. Each character has access to the same actions)
49 Gang Member Cards
32 Equipment Cards
14 Defense Mini Cards (defenses that you have to overcome with your gang members and their equipment)
10 Loot Cards (one for each location, 5 used per game)
9 Turf War Cards (at each dock you visit there are some resident crooks that your gang can beat up for some reputation)
9 Side Job Cards (these heists are available on the airship itself)
9 Airship Crew Cards (the crew of the airship can be bribed or bullied to help you with your schemes)
30 Silver and 30 Gold Ingot Tokes (the games currency)
60 Reputation Tokens (to represent the reputation you get for ratting out your opponents)
1 Airship Token (to represens the current location on the Location Tiles)
1 Stater Player Ticket
5 16mm D6 Custom Alarm Dice (these are thrown when there is a chance of gang members getting arrested)

The Deluxe Edition, also available on Kickstarter, adds 122 wooden tokens which replace the Reputation, Money, Airship and First Player tokens.


Rules

The rules are pretty straight forward and fit on only six pages.

During setup the cards are seperated by card back and placed on their designated spaces. Each player starts with $8K ($1K is the smallest unit) and a hand of 3 gang members of which he can buy one, then everyone hands their remaining hand to the left and can buy another member from the new cards. Any remaining gang members go to the brig (and can be retrieved by a successful jail break action later). Whoever has the most money left after paying for his crew becomes the first starting player.

Additionally, every player starts with his 7 Action Cards, which I'll briefly explain now:

Acquire Asset: Pay the cost printed on the card (Gang Member, Equipment, Airship Crew) to acquire it. Airship Crew can also be bullied by gang members with the strength symbol (white fist on red ground).

Pickpocket: Gain $2K. Not considered an illegal action for gameplay purposes.

Use Skill: Some Gang Members have a green arrow icon on their card. Use this Action to activate one of thoses Gang Members skills.

Anonymous Tip: You gain 2 Reputation for each illegal action any of your opponents undertakes after this card is revealed. On top of this you make it harder for them to complete the heist/turf war, because they have to add one alarm die.

Local Heist or Jail Break: Illegal action(s). Try to acquire the treasure of the current location or try to free two Gang Members from the brig.

Turf War or Side Job: Illegal action(s). Beat up Non-Player gangsters on the dock for reputation, or try a heist on one of the airships prized assets.

Repeat: Repeat one other action you have already revealed this turn.

Rules Download
Rule Questions


Gameplay

Gameplay Overview (as written on the Player Boards):

1. Play 3 Action Cards face-down

2. Resolve Action Cards
a. Starting Player resolves #1 action.
b. Players to the left follow until all #1 actions have been resolved.
c. Last player to resolve action #1 immediatley resolves action #2
d. Players to the left follow until all #2 actions have been resolved.
e. Last player to resolve action #2 immediately resolves action #3
f. Players to the left follow until all #3 actions have been resolved.

3. Pass Starting Player ticket & move Airship

The important part in this is, that the first player has the chance to resolve an illegal action before anybody else can resolve an anonymous tip. Or he could play an anonymous tip himself to have the highest potential for bonus reputation and opponent harassment.

If there was a successful local heist during the current round the airship will move to the next location afterwards, regardless of how long it has been in the current one. On the other hand, if no one scores the local treasure for four rounds, the airship moves on to a new location as well and the price is lost for this game.
This mechanic gives the game a variable number of total turns from 6 (unlikely) up to 21 (very unlikely), since there is one starting round with reduced cards on the board, which makes it also easier for new players to get a grip on the gameplay. A reasonable number of turns would probably be around 10.

Heists explained

Local Heists, Side Jobs and Jail Breaks work just the same with some minor differences. During each of them you have to overcome a number of defenses, which are represented by the same icons that can be found on the Gang Member and Equipment Cards.

Each Gang Member can carry one piece of equipment, unless the card states otherwise, and can then bypass all defenses depicted on his cards. You can always send two Gang Members on a heist without any penalties, but you have to add one Alarm Die for each Gang Member beyond that and for any Anonymous Tips your opponets played during the current round. If you can bypass all of the defenses you roll those dice and for each handcuff symbol you roll, one Gang Member of the ongoing heist is sent to the brig. If at least one can get away, the heist is successful and you take your price (the Loot Card, the Side Job Card, or two Gang Members from the brig in case of a Jail Break). If all Gang Members are sent to the brig you gain nothing, since the heist was a failure.

After each successful heist, the defending cards are discarded and replaced by new ones. The Gang Members and Items you've used during the heist can't be used for anything else during the ongoing turn, but at the end of it you take them all back to your hand.

Vents: During Local Heists and Jail Breaks you can use Gang Members with the vent icon to bypass one defense of your choice. This can only be done one time per heist. It's like a Joker if you will.

Power Circuit: Additionally to the defenses there is also a power circuit on the airship and in each major location, which comes with its own defense. If you are able to bypass this defense and your heist crew has someone or something that can cut power circuits with them, you can bypass all defenses that are powered. Powered defenses have a blue border around their icon. This can give you an alternative way to acquire the treasue.

Vault / Code: During local heists, additionally to some unique and regular defenses, you always have to deal with either the vault or decipher the code. As for the other defenses there are Gang Members and Equipment that are able to do that.

Noise: Some of your Gang Members think poorly of all that "stealth" business or use loud Equipment. If you use these during a heist, you have to add another alarm die, each time you use a loud method to bypass a defense.

Side Jobs

Defense Cards

A successful heist



Turf Wars

Turf Wars are another way to gain reputation. Except for the first turn, there are always two possible targets for a Turf War until they are depleted. Each of them has a strength value from 4 to 10. Some of your Gang Members and Items have a strength value as well and just like during heists you can send two Members against a local crook without penalty, for more, you'll have to add alarm dice. If your strength value is equal or higher than that of the targeted card, you take that card and the reputation on it.

Noise doesn't matter during a Turf War.




Location-Specific Cards

Most locations you visit will probably have one or more defenses that you haven't encountered during the current game and which the regular Gang Members and Equipment cannot bypass. That's where the Location specific-cards come in.

Each time you travel to a new location all cards in the dock area are discarded and renewed. Additionally to more regular cards, there is one space for a location-specific item and two for location-specific Gang Members. So when you visit the Caverns of Dust (Location 1) you will get the chance to acquire the Spelunker, who is able the bypass the Caverns only defense: Cave. You still need a way to get past the Vault or Code, though (see above).
The Herpetologist, you can see on the picture in the heist paragraph, is another example. He can appear at location 8 or 9 and has the ability to bypass poison (a common defense) and snakes (which only occur at those locations).


Replayability

This game offers a lot to improve replayability:

- Foremost there are ten locations of which only five are used during each game. For the first game it is recommended to only use the odd numbered locations to balance everything out. As the reputation rewards for successful local heists rise with the location number, using only the lower or higher numbered locations (either on purpose or by chance) can change the focus of the players as side jobs and turf wars become more/less attractive when there is less/more reputation to be gained through the main events.

- Also the value of specific cards can change depending on the route you are taking. The Extreme Explorer for example can bypass the Ice defense of Location 4 as well as the Sandstorm defense of Location 5. If you can get him at 4 he will be usefull at 5 as well. But if your next stop after 4 is 6 or 7, you probably won't need him again, unless you equip him with something useful, or you send him to take the fall for another Gang Member, should push come to shove (i.e. send him to the brig).

- This game being card driven adds another plus to the replayability as it can make a big difference when which cards show up, or what combos the players are able to assemble.

- Each character has two different dirty tricks of which the player must choose one for each game. Some of those tricks require good timing and some luck to be most effective so that their strength can vary. But a well played dirty trick can change a lot, reputation-wise.


Artwork

Okay, I was pretty much into Steampunk before I knew about this game, but even from an objective point of view one can't really argue against the fact, that the Artwork for Skyway Robbery is amazing. Eight different artists created a beautiful Steampunk setting with lots of distinguished characters and fantastic contraptions and, despite being so many, managed to give the game a consistent look. Nothing more to say really. Just take a look at the image gallery here on BGG and let the artwork speak for itself.

Link to Gallery


Number of Players

The game is for 2-5 players. Until now I have played the game with 2 and 4 players and the experiences can be quite different.

Either way the game mechanics function as intended, but I noticed that the 2-player variant can be prone to having a runaway leader, because each player is the starting player every two turns and by this has a higher chance to acquire powerful card combos where there'd be a higher competition for them with more opponents. I also felt that the Thief and the Conman become very strong in a two-player game, since you can cripple your only opponents money influx by a great deal.

The 4-player variant however felt like this was the way this game was designed for. It becomes much less predictable what your opponents in crime will do and there is always the sword of Damocles in the form of Anonymous Tips hanging above each action you plan. Those tips become more important and rewarding with this player count and can also be a good choice should you need to prevent your fellow players heists until you're able to do them yourself. Mind though, that the first players first action can't really be interfered with. And even when one player scores some big reputation points through a local heist, there is a good chance that for the next, even bigger heist, someone else will have the better crew for it.

Naturally the 3-player variant would be something in between those former two and I think I would prefer it over a two-player game.

The turns in a 5-player game might become a bit long for some peoples tastes although the turn resolving becomes faster after a few rounds. Those are just some educated guesses, though, and I'm still eager to get some of those games under my belt.


Conclusion

Being a Steampunk enthusiast I was interested in this game since I first saw its artwork a few weeks before the Kickstarter campaign began. I was among the first backers and I didn't even have to think about if I should pledge for the standard or the deluxe version (deluxe of course). The more I read about the game (rules etc.) the more eager I became to play it and finally decided to build the print and play version, which took me two days, lots of glue and made my wrist hurt. But no regrets. Even made from paper and cardboard it looks great.

But looks are not everything, of course. I don't know if anyone made a game of putting together a crew to pull major heists Ocean's-11 style before, but it's a great hook and makes the game stand out from the masses. Theme is a big thing in Skyway Robbery. There is the Marksman who becomes much stronger when you hand him his Clockwork Rifle or the Clockwork Robot who is more powerful when you own the Clockmaker. With the location-specific cards you'll always have gang members and equipment available that can help you with the next job at hand.

If you're into creating stories while playing, this game offers some great ones. Two of your Gang Members break someone out of jail (or brig), while your Boxer intimidates a crew member of the airship to help you with your next big heist. And those are just two actions.

The game is pretty easy to grasp as well. I especially like the fact, that there are less cards on the board during the first turn. It helps to ease new players in but also fits theme-wise, as the airship hasn't arrived at its first destination, yet.

All in all I like this game a lot. Gamplay, theme and artwork all complement each other. This, combined with the idea of assembling a crew of professionals to take what isn't rightfully yours makes this game unique in its own way.

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Garry Rice
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Thanks for the review! I'm still working on my copy (but I'm doing a mounted board and real cards etc...so it's taking longer!). The theme certainly caught my eye and I'm looking forward to when I can give it a try with my game group! It just looks like fun
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Michael Fox
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A great first review, Mathias!
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Mathias Heilmann
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idlemichael wrote:
A great first review, Mathias!

Thank you! I'm looking forward to read yours.
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Thomas
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Does this game have enough meat on the bone for fans of heavier games or is it merely a gateway/light game?
 
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Mathias Heilmann
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LunarSoundDesign wrote:
Does this game have enough meat on the bone for fans of heavier games or is it merely a gateway/light game?

Some people have been intimidated by the huge board with the many spaces, but I wouldn't call the game heavy because of that. It really comes down to programming your three actions every turn, but there are a few things to take into account. Turn order is very important. Being first in a round allows you to accomplish a raid or buy a Gang Member/Item before anybody else can do it before you or throw some spokes in your wheel (anonymous tips).

There is some complexity in the combos and synergies you can create with certain cards, but one the other hand you have to acquire these cards first, which is harder with a higher player count.
 
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Thomas
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Heilz wrote:
LunarSoundDesign wrote:
Does this game have enough meat on the bone for fans of heavier games or is it merely a gateway/light game?

Some people have been intimidated by the huge board with the many spaces, but I wouldn't call the game heavy because of that. It really comes down to programming your three actions every turn, but there are a few things to take into account. Turn order is very important. Being first in a round allows you to accomplish a raid or buy a Gang Member/Item before anybody else can do it before you or throw some spokes in your wheel (anonymous tips).

There is some complexity in the combos and synergies you can create with certain cards, but one the other hand you have to acquire these cards first, which is harder with a higher player count.


We play mainly with two and usually prefer heavier games or ones with tough decisions.
 
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