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Subject: Fugitive - Runaway Hit or One That Got Away? rss

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Amerikai Guy
Hungary
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I was excited when I came across 'Fugitive' on KS. Not only was it thematically interesting, it had the potential to be thematically immersive. So when I got an update from designer Tim Fowers that he was going to be at PAX South with the first copies of the game I'd order freshly smuggled out of China...I had to be there. One fascinating panel discussion about getting your game published and I was walking back to Tim's booth with him, where I met his wife and was handed my copy of 'Fugitive' out of an open briefcase littered with gold bars, er, gold-wrapped chocolates. Mr. Fowler, leather bowler atop his head, had only one request: write a review.

And this is it. Half a dozen plays between various members of my family and we are enjoying it. The retro art on the 42 numbered cards reference everything from 'Charade' and 'North by Northwest' to 'White Collar' and 'Thomas Crown' as a dashing male thief leads a female marshal (in heels) on a chase off tall buildings, through night clubs, and eventually to a private plane where he leaves her wistfully gazing after the one who got away. Even the small box is cool, printed like a 60s briefcase with a magnet latch.

Mechanically speaking, this two-player has the hunter trail the hunted along an series of cards ("hideouts" numbered 1-42) that the fugitive lays face down a turn at a time. Each turn he adds to his initial hand of mostly low cards by drawing a card from one of three stacks: 4-14, 15-28, 29-41. Each hideout must be within 3 higher that the one laid last turn unless an additional card or few are laid down also as "sprints" that extend his range that turn by 1 or 2 digits. Meanwhile, each turn the marshal is drawing from those same 3 stacks, marking them off on her dry-erase notebook and throwing out a number where she thinks the fugitive is or has been. If she's right, he turns the hideout card over and she can guess again. Guess them all, and she wins. Lay down card 42 and survive her final sweep, and he wins.

From the start, you feel like either a fugitive on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of the law or like an agent chasing down the bad guy by trying to get inside his head. As in real life, either side can catch a lucky break with one good or bad guess. The art on the cards form a series that tell a story from 1-42 as the fugitive manages to stay one step ahead of the marshal. Clever stuff, like the progressively closer cards in 'Lost Cities.'

But sequential serial artwork is also the game's biggest flaw. Because as much as I enjoy this game and the artwork separately, combined they make for a replay experience that feels more like 'Groundhog Day' or 'Edge of Tomorrow' - doomed to keep reliving the same storyline and see how much further we get. If only each card were an actual hideout instead of a scene from a movie. They could have a natural progression(moving from downtown to the airport or even from coast to coast). That would let each game's story be it's own, as the fugitives hides in an alley then behind a trash can and then in a corn field one time and then in the next game hides under a car, in an attic, and on a crowded subway. And it would give the marshal that feeling of searching "every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse."

Reskinned, this is the perfect filler or couple game that would be a runaway hit. With sequential art, this is still fun but maybe one that got away. I enjoy it enough to keep playing it with new people, but I'm not sure how many repeat games I'll get with each opponent.
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Alex Norris
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Blacksburg
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I understand how you can say it feels like a "repetitive loop" story, however it does follow a logical path of escape. It's not like you are forced to take the same path every time, playing the same cards, seeing the same art, etc. So, the variation is done by a shuffle, and your "route to freedom" will always be different, because all of the cards won't be played as hide outs. If they were just random locations, that could be interesting, but it could also seem SUPER random. In fugitive, you see how he gets from the rooftop to the train to the sewer, etc. Most of the thrill isn't about where he stops to rest, but it is about how he got from place to place as that is how they will likely get caught. (its about the dashes across a street and through an alley, not about hiding in a dumpster or car)

I guess it's a matter of perspective, and I really enjoyed your opinion and your review
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Jez Overton
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AMorgan wrote:
If she's right, he turns the hideout card over and she can guess again.


That's incorrect. The Marshall can either guess one card only or guess multiple cards at the same time and they must all be correct. They don't get another turn if they guess correctly, else the Marshall would have a huge advantage.

TBH I found your comments about the artwork baffling. As the Marshall is removing random cards from the deck, the cards that are used by the Fugitive will be different in every game, as will the decision of when to sprint. We've had a game where the Fugitive made a mad dash for the plane at the end, and another where they bluffed using the sprint cards and trailed behind the Marshall stealthily up until the last point. In most games, only 12 cards of the 42 are used as hideouts.

I think it's a great game and distils a long hidden movement game like Letters from Whitechapel into a concise filler. Great stuff.
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Sushmeit M
India
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I understand the OPs point of view. I too expected the cards to be 'locations' (with or without him or her) rather than snapshots of his escape, because then your not letting imagination fill the escape in-between two locations, which is what the game is trying to do.

However, that being said, I don't mind these at all. Infact the art is just stunning, and perfectly plays out like a Hollywood narrative being experienced, even if it possible that on repeat plays it could feel like multiple sittings of the same lovable getaway/action film on the tele: a bit like watching Ocean's Eleven or The Italian Job or The Next Three Days or Inside Man.
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