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Subject: Small Box, Big Game in under 30 minutes rss

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Mad Hatter Gaming
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New York
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People who are quick to judge a game might never pick up Thugs!, instead looking past it for a big box heavy hitter. From first impressions, Thugs! Is a simple game designed to be more fun than strategic. In truth it is both fun and strategic and a real gem in the world of fun, short, portable games. It may come in a small box and play in under 30 minutes, but it provides so much more.

The most outstanding feature of Thugs! is the game’s ability to provide a very deep experience with a simple fun play environment. By deep we mean there is substantially more than meets the eye going on. So much in fact that after the first play of the game we were a bit taken back by the game. Honestly, we didn’t quite “get it”. The problem was that we expected and thus played the game not expecting much strategic depth, when in fact there is quite a bit. When we played the game through a few more times taking a deeper insight into the mechanics, we were very pleasantly surprised.

I have no intention of detailing the rules when they are not only clearly spelled out at www.tinymantis.com , but you can play an electronic version of the game there as well. Instead I’d like to point out some of the unique mechanics that Thugs! features.

First the game plays radically different with different numbers of players (2-4). Not just because the different amount of people causes different strategies to be better or worse, but because the game setup is radically different for each number of players. In effect the two player game is much different than the 4 player and 3 player. So much so, that it seems like another game (fortunately they all offer more than meets the eye).

Thugs! has a large amount of randomness, but the outcome is still largely based on the skill of the player, which is not often the case with a game that doesn’t appear to take itself very seriously. For example many of us at one point or another were convinced that one of the action cards were clearly better than the others, but we later discovered that it was only better in that particular situation. A good player will simply adopt a different strategy depending on his starting hand of action cards. We found that the randomness of the fights were almost entirely inconsequential. The game is so heavily dependent on the end game scenarios that the fights just give the game a little character. Of course you have to understand that…

In Thugs! there is no early game, mid game and end game, there is only end game. From the very first turn each player is trying to get out. Timid players will often not realize this until after a few games. The unique thing about Thugs! is that even though the first player can play his key card and attempt to escape almost immediately they are doomed to failure. Since Thugs! provides a limited amount of resources to keep people from escaping, the character who successfully gauges when those resources are about to deplete, and is in the correct position when they do, is most likely to win. So the first player to attempt to escape is most commonly a feint to draw out resources and fool people about what color exit card they have.

Lastly, but most importantly and surprisingly, Thugs! is an incredibly social game. Not because the players are privy to small talk during the game but because no one person can guaranteed stop another player from escaping, instead it takes all the players to do so. Of course the brilliance of the mechanics shows when two or more people are trying to escape at the same time and there aren’t enough resources to block every possible route. The player who can convince or trick his opponents into leaving the routes more favorable for himself will ultimately win.

In conclusion Thugs! provides a deep inviting play experience for a marginal cost ($22) in a small box. In fact if you switch out the health boards for d20s it all fits in a snack size ziplock bag that can be put just about anywhere. No other game I have come across provides such a strategic social experience as Thugs! that can be played almost anywhere in less than 30 minutes. Thugs is a great game to play while people wait for everyone to show up for a night of role-playing or big box games, but it packs enough punch to make a night instead of start it.
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Clement Tey
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Bad review. I have no idea what the game is about after reading it.
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