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Subject: Episode 116 - Black Orchestra! rss

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Zach M
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Black Orchestra is a 2016 game from designer Philip DuBarry, with art from Cody Jones, and is published by Game Salute.



Who is ready to kill Hilter? Here is the description of the game from its' BGG page, and it does a great job of telling you what it is all about.

Quote:
As Hitler's grasp on Germany tightens and his maniacal fervor is unmasked, men from the highest levels of the Reich begin to plot his assassination. As the clock ticks and Hitler's ambitions grow, these daring few must build their strength and prepare for the perfect moment to strike. The Gestapo hound their trail, calling these conspirators "Schwarze Kapelle", the Black Orchestra. Will this band of daring patriots save their country from utter ruin before it is too late?

Black Orchestra begins with each player choosing a historic figure involved in the conspiracy against Hitler. In this dark and dangerous pursuit, motivation is perhaps your greatest weapon. If you can stay true to your convictions in the face of overwhelming threat and inspire your comrades, then you will be able to use your special ability, attempt plots, and even become zealous (necessary for some extremely daring plots).

But every move you make may also increase the suspicion of the authorities. The Gestapo will make routine sweeps, and any players with high suspicion will be arrested and interrogated (possibly resulting in other players being arrested). If you are all arrested or if the Gestapo finds your secret papers, you lose. And the suspicion placed on each conspirator will increase the chances their plots are detected.

On a turn, players may take three actions, such as moving, searching for an item, or drawing a card; or, at the cost of one action per die, roll the dice in an attempt to gain even more actions — at the risk of attracting the suspicion of the gestapo. This dice rolling "Conspire" action allows players to make bold moves when most needed.

After the actions have been taken, an event card is drawn. The game is played over seven stages of World War 2, represented by seven stacks of event cards. These cards walk you through the events of WWII in a roughly (but not strictly) chronological order. New stages open up new areas of the board, cause Hitler and his deputies to interact with the Conspirators, and present various opportunities or threats. During the final stage, many board spaces become off-limits, as the Allies move closer to Germany.

To win, players must collect a plot card and fulfill all necessary requirements listed (such as having Hitler be in a certain space and possessing certain items--detonator & fuse, etc.). The active player may then attempt the plot by rolling the indicated dice, including all additional modifiers and helpful Action cards. The total of number of "Target" symbols needed to kill Hitler is based on Hitler's military support, but a Conspirator's security level decides if any "Eagles" rolled will see them detected, and foil the plot regardless. Players must consider their ability to successfully complete a plot and the relative suspicion levels of the different Conspirators involved.

Players will need to work together and agree on the wisest course of action, as well as have a little luck, to succeed. The phenomenon of one player dominating the game because of its cooperative nature is mitigated by the fact that there are no certainties, and often a player will need to make a bold or reckless move to keep the conspiracy alive. Cool heads often prevail, but play it too cool and you may miss your chance. The co-operative dynamic gets really interesting if a player is ever arrested, and fails to resist interrogation, then they will need to make a big decision all by themselves, without revealing their options to the group. No one player can guarantee success. It is hoped that players will have tense conversations similar to those had by the real conspirators and enjoy a truly unique historical experience.
If you have any thoughts about the game, put them here and we will talk about them on the review. Also, if you have any reactions to the review itself, put them here and we will mention them on a future episode.

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Chad McCallum
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Great game, one of my favorite "a few actions then event" co-op games. I know a few people are turned off by the dice, but I think this is one of the best implementations of dice in a game; adds tension and uncertainty to the plot resolution that fits perfectly with the theme, and the game doesn't end if you fail (looking at you London Dread).

It's also interesting in that it feels like a game that should be easy to quarterback, but every time I've played it it's a more "collaborative" experience - players verify with one another what the best plan is, rather than one player just telling everyone else what to do. Often one player has the "most viable" plot at the time and the other players fall into a support role, doing what they can to set up the assassin with the best odds.

Also really enjoy how you have to "unlock" your player powers with their motivation track, and the 2nd edition changes to the interrogation rules (you used to have to roll to see if you get interrogated, now you just always draw a card).
 
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Rafael Rosario
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This post says episode 116, but the title doesn’t match what I see on my podcast app. This post is related to ep 116, and more specifically about the Elk game you all spoke about. I designed a game about moose and elk and came across this information while researching, https://naturetravels.wordpress.com/2007/10/29/what’s-the-difference-between-a-moose-and-an-elk/

It should clear up your comments on the game.
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