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Subject: The Code Crackers - who'll crack first? rss

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Paul Newsham
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'A tricky chase after criminals' says the rules booklet.

This HABA game is aimed at children, but will also play well as an after dinner bit of fun for adults. In fact it can be played with 2 to 4 code crackers, from age six.

The theme of the game is that 'Burt burglar' is in your neighbourhood stealing all the loot. The players are each detectives attempting to catch up with the pesky thief.

Typically for HABA, the game components are of very high quality. You set the game up by connecting the 'frame' of the board jigsaw-style, from four interlocking pieces. Then comes this games' own take on variable board construction. There are 27 code tiles that need to be shuffled and then placed inside the frame - they will also interlock neatly. The outside will now serve as the street along which Burt will be chased by the detectives. The inner section is a muddle of 'codes' that need to be deciphered by the detectives. More of which later...

All detectives are placed on a starting square and a short distance away stands a nervy Burt.

The game is started with the role of a special die. It's a D6, but has numbers 1, 2, 3, and then three magnifying glasses. On a roll of 1, 2, or 3 you simply move your detective so many spaces closer to catching Burt. On a magnifying glass the detective work begins.

First Burt burglar is advanced along the track. Then a sand timer is overturned and the top of a card deck containing codes of five symbols each is also placed face up. Then all players begin scanning the aforementioned muddle of codes in the center of the board in an attempt to be the first to find the same sequence of symbols as is on the card.

At least three symbols in sequence must be spotted before a detective can place his magnifying glass on the first of the symbols found to claim it, and then snatch up a corresponding safe card to show they have cracked a 3, 4 or 5 symbol code.

When the timer runs out, the player with the longest sequence and therefore highest numbered safe card, will move their detective the same number of squares closer to Burt.

And so the game continues until one of the players catches the swine!

The game comes with two variations. One the symbols as described above, the other is exactly the same rules, but instead of symbols, actual numbers are used. This looks even more muddled, but rather than immediately inducing migraine, we found that the mind quickly adjusts and the game is not so much more complex than before.

This is a good fun game for adults and children alike. We found the frantic searching to be a very 'interactive' experience.

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