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Subject: Mostly Board Games Saboteur Review rss

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Scott D
Australia
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For review with pictures
http://mostlyboardgames.blogspot.com.au/p/saboteur.html

3-10 Players
30 Minutes



Brief Overview:

As dwarven goldminers, Saboteur sends you and up to nine other people on a tunnel digging quest to find precious gold nuggets. You and your friends will dig many different paths while on your search to hopefully return with a handful of gold rather than a fistful of coal. Be warned however, some of your friends aren't quite who them seem and if they aren't breaking your tools, they will most certainly be leading you to a dead end.

To start Saboteur, each player is given a Dwarf card which will reveal one of two possible roles - a goldminer or a saboteur. The start card and three goal cards are laid out with seven card spaces between the start and the goals and the goal cards are placed randomly face down one card length away from each other. While there are three goal cards, only one of them is actually gold with the others being a lump of coal. The object of the game is to get to these points by building more of the underground tunnel, and when you have built a pathway from the start to a goal card you are able to flip it over and reveal its treasure.

Each turn you are allowed to play one card and pick up a new card, or discard a card and redraw a new one. Playing a path card is the most common action which can be connected anywhere to your existing path as long as its the right way up and visually matches with the pathway already in play. Some of the cards you can play are action cards, which can destroy equipment, fix equipment or allow you to secretly look at one goal card if you have a map. Where the game gets interesting is that there may be one or more saboteurs who's only goal is to make sure the goldminers don't find gold. This can be achieved by playing dead ends, rockfalls (to destroy a path already laid), or by playing cards to break your pickaxe, latern and minecart to prevent a dwarf from digging any further until he gets some repairs done. The round ends when either gold is found or all the cards have run out in which case the saboteurs win the round.


My Thoughts:
Saboteur has a lot of the right ingredients to make it a good filler game - fun to play, quick to learn and easy to teach. The length of the game can be long for a filler as rules suggests you play three rounds for one full game (normally gives most players the opportunity to try both roles), but it can be played with more or less rounds as desired or as time permits. The game moves quick so downtime is often minimal, and even then players will be engaged as they watch and analyse each players move to detect the scent of the saboteur. While it's fun being a goldminer, I personally prefer the challenge of being a sneaky saboteur and foiling everyone's plans. Tricking fellow goldminers into turning on each other is very satisfying to watch unfold as they disrupt each other, wasting turns without realising until its too late. It's brilliantly amusing to observe.

Being on the saboteur team isn't all that easy to pull off though. Dead ends are key giveaways and it's very hard to convince a group that the dead end you just played was a mistake or somehow beneficial, and smashing someone's equipment equally can be hard to disguise as the act of a goldminer. To make things even more complicated is the fact that you don't actually know who - if any, of the other players are on your team and you can occasionally be on the wrong end of an attack from a fellow saboteur. Or was that just a ploy to have everyone believing a saboteur is on their team? You play a map card and find gold - do you risk being found out for the chance to have the goldminers digging in the wrong direction and tell everyone its just coal? Mind games galore abound and as much as you are playing the game, you are equally playing the players waiting for the best opportunity to strike with a crippling blow.

In a game with deception, lies and trickery being bandied around, there is always the potential to upset someone, but with Saboteur I've found it's too light-hearted for anyone to take things personally. As the saboteur you'll let out your evil laugh once your plans are revealed and the goldminers will be kicking themselves for not seeing the obvious signs, or knowing you were against them all along. Everyone laughs and a brand new round begins with no carry over from the previous rounds, as for either side to be successful a lot of team work is required. Which brings me to one rule I don't actually like - dividing the gold between the winning miners. While everyone is on the same team and will all sacrifice turns for the greater good of the team, the player who finds the gold first will select from random cards of 1-3 nuggets (ending up with the most), which follows in turn order leaving the last few miners to often receive one gold instead of three. It just doesn't seem right as the player who played just before the gold is found can be equally as important as the player who built the winning path - yet that player picks gold last and is often shafted. It's a small gripe, and as long as I'm on the winning team I don't care too much for the gold totals but who doesn't like being the overall winner. In some ways it gives the saboteurs a small help if goldminers get greedy, but I enjoy the team aspect of Saboteur and feel this hurts it somewhat.

All in all, Saboteur is a lot of fun for groups of 5+ players. The goal is right in front of everyone the whole time and while you slowly work towards it with obvious moves, more often then not you are playing an entirely different game to what everyone else can see. Similar to any game where you draw cards, luck of the draw can occasionally make or break a team, but with single rounds being quick you don't feel invested enough to care about some bad luck. Being a saboteur is more personally rewarding as you will need to use strategy to win, but you'll still have a good time as a goldminer identifying the saboteur team and finding the gold. With a bit of modern artwork and a few variations to the rules (as mentioned with the dividing of gold, and also the amount of possible saboteurs compared to number of players), Saboteur would be an excellent game. As it stands now, its still a good game of deception that will have you questioning, plotting and laughing while throwing deceit at every other player as you play the game within the game.


My Verdict: BUY
Fun, simpler game of deduction
A few house rules can easily improve the game
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Jeff Cramer
United States
Littleton
Colorado
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buffoolo wrote:
Which brings me to one rule I don't actually like - dividing the gold between the winning miners. While everyone is on the same team and will all sacrifice turns for the greater good of the team, the player who finds the gold first will select from random cards of 1-3 nuggets (ending up with the most), which follows in turn order leaving the last few miners to often receive one gold instead of three. It just doesn't seem right as the player who played just before the gold is found can be equally as important as the player who built the winning path - yet that player picks gold last and is often shafted.


Great review! My gaming group enjoys this as a somewhat quick filler as well.

I was wondering if you were playing the gold card distribution correctly though. I don't have the rules in front of me, and my edition may be different but I think you distribute the gold opposite of the turn order. So the person who placed the connecting card gets first pick. Then the person who played right before the winning placement gets the second pick. So opposite of the turn order. Anyway, thanks for posting the review! It's a fun game!
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Chris Montgomery
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Teriyaki Donuts wrote:

I was wondering if you were playing the gold card distribution correctly though. I don't have the rules in front of me, and my edition may be different but I think you distribute the gold opposite of the turn order. So the person who placed the connecting card gets first pick. Then the person who played right before the winning placement gets the second pick. So opposite of the turn order.


This was my understanding of the rules also, which I liked for precisely the reason given above - it often rewards the miner who 'sets up' the completion of a track.

An excellent review also!
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Scott D
Australia
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MontyCrisco wrote:
Teriyaki Donuts wrote:

I was wondering if you were playing the gold card distribution correctly though. I don't have the rules in front of me, and my edition may be different but I think you distribute the gold opposite of the turn order. So the person who placed the connecting card gets first pick. Then the person who played right before the winning placement gets the second pick. So opposite of the turn order.


This was my understanding of the rules also, which I liked for precisely the reason given above - it often rewards the miner who 'sets up' the completion of a track.

An excellent review also!


Thanks for the feedback on the review guys!
Much appreciated

As for the gold distribution - you guys could be right! I better check into it before we play next time as that does make sense! I still feel its a team effort to win so I like the idea of a team reward similar to how all the saboteurs get the same amount of gold. But it sure does make sense to pass the gold the other way so I'll definitely have to try that and will double check the rules as I may have been playing it wrong the whole time!!

Thanks for pointing that out
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