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Subject: Thoughts after the first play ... rss

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Gregg Lewis
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Let me get the obigitory soapbox moment over here at the beginning - I am going through a bit of a change here recently. I would avoid the monolithic wall of board games at the local Wal-Mart or Target, because I was more than certain that they offered nothing I wanted(!) Repackaging Risk, Monopoly and other tired titles to feature Star Wars, Transformers and Lord of the Rings visuals (and a few gameplay tweaks) wasn't enough to lure me away from the $50+ items that I could only get online or at the local comic shop.

However, the recent wave of 'reinvented' titles from Hasbro have caught my eye. Titles like Sorry, Yahtzee, Battleship, Risk, Monopoly and Clue looked fresh for the first time in .... ever(?)

And it turned out that Sorry Sliders and Yahtzee Free for were great games in their own right; enough to get me curious about the others.

So I decided to branch out into the other remakes, starting with Clue: Secrets & Spies.

I had been kind of longing for a Clue game for a while, because it holds the foundest memories for me - it was the first game that I recall having an 'A-ha!' moment while playing, realizing that there was a little more going on than what was in the rules.

On to the Review:

Upon opening and setting up CS&S, it became apparent that it wasn't simply a remake of Clue, Substituting world destinations for manor house rooms. the board was like a Risk map, with global locations being linked by multiple paths, including a few that were shortcuts, that could take you from Japan to L.A. in one big step. All the agents (represented by the same transparent '?' markers from the current 'Discover the Secrets' game) are placed in their repsective starting locations, determined by - you guessed it - their trademark colors.

here's a brief rundown of the character facelifts:

Scarlet: the Femme Fatale - did you expect anything else?
Mustard: and ex-marine turned special ops agent
Green: The 'Bond' of the group - a dashing jet-setter type
White: A ruthless Hitwoman
Peacock: A Surveillance/undercover expert
Plum: an infamous Hacker

all of this is just fluff and doesn't effect game play at all.

The new character is Agent Black - the mystery agent who essentially functions as the game clock. Black starts at the high end of the score track (more on this in a second) and all of the other agents at the bottom - the first agent to 'intercept' black on the score track ends the game (this makes me think of the Lord of the Rings corruption track).

The Game:

Each player receives cards from multiple decks. Action cards for moving and acting (i.e. Memoir/Battlelore), Mission cards that display two items you must retrieve to complete a mission (ala Fluxx) and your secret identity - this is who you are (don't tell anybody!)

About the secret identity - this was the first aspect of the new game that threw us for a loop. On your turn, you can take control of ANY agent during and earn points with that agent. Any points you earn for other agents during the game you also earn for your secret ID at endgame. I guess this represents agent 'orchestrating' the things from behind the scenes. it makes for a unique gameplay style that is not replicated in any former Clue game that I know of. More tactful players may be able to ferret out who is who and make a point to avoid that character (if possible) as well as use other agents to help their agent passively complete missions. The foil in all this is that the game compels you to use all agents (including black, who brings the end closer with each activation) before any one agent can be used again.

Example: I lay down my action card on Agent Scarlet, in order to move her to London to steal One item from antoher agent. Scarlet's space is then covered and is unavailable for activation until all other agents have been used. So you may have to complete missions and meetings with other, available agents, becuase there is simply no other choice.

The draw mechanics are simple:

1) The player draws a new action card at the end of his/her turn
2) The player draws a new Mission card as the previous is completed
3) A player turns over the next Meeting destination as the previous one is arranged.

the game uses a scoring mechanic to advance the game and the agents earn points in two ways:

1) complete a mission. Any agent who owns two specific items on a mission card completes that mission. The player lays the card down in front of them, to be scored at end game. the active agent who completed the mission moves to the next available space on the scoretrack (you can leap frog someone for points)
2) arrange a secret meeting. There is a common deck that when play starts, the first location is turned over for all to see - in our game it was New York. Any player who moves an active agent to that locale can pick up the card, scan it with the UV flashlight and read WHO must be met in New York. The first player to arrange this meeting can collect the card for a end game point and the involved agents each move up the scoring track. Note many people can read the card if they land on the space, but the first player to bring the required agent to the space earns the card, so it's a two-step process, unless you happen to land their with the required agent and there is already another agent present (whew!)

Note - I think I mentioned this earlier, but Black always scores backwards - so when Agent black is activated or earns a point, he moves one space down, bringing the end one step closer.

It took us about an hour to reach this point.

At the end of the game, the secret identities are revealed and then you add any points for completed missions/meetings in front of you to the amount your agent earned by being activated by you (and others) in the course of the game. The winner is who ever makes it closest to the 'Ultimate Spy' rank (16 pts)

But you're Saying: "Yeah, that's all great ... but what about the Cell Phone?"

We didn't play our first game with the phone, as it was a learning game for my family - and the rules were offbeat enough to slow us down, so we didn't need the distraction. But I did fiddle around with it to see how it would interact in a future game.

It essentially works like this: You text a message to Hasbro at the game's start. Over the next hour, you will receive 6 incoming texts that effect the game at random intervals. The phone is passed to the active player. If the cell phone receives a message, you complete what you are currently doing and then read the text - the effects occur immediately.

I don't know the scope of incidents that Hasbro's computer can send to you, but the six I received when I tested it ranged from forced discards, automatic points for certain inactive (or active) agent(s) , compulsary moves, as well as certain locations becoming 'closed' to travel. It reminds me of the DVD games were the interaction consists of the actors meddling with 'the player who is moving now!' The funny thing is it includes a piece of paper in addition to the rules that hepls you interpret the TXT MSG abbreviations, as the messages are overflowing with texting grammar shortcuts.

okay, so that was more of a summary/overview than a true review, but I figured that there may be some who are on the brink on this one, who would like a more complete view of what the game IS before purchasing - especially if they are unsure about exactly HOW the cell phone interacts and if it is necessary for the full experience.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I have given it 6.5/10

Pros:

1) The new mechanics are refreshing and make me want to play more, to get a better handle on the feel of the game - it makes me want to rediscover that 'A-ha' moment that the original gave me so many years ago. A few have a slight Euro flavor, even if the execution is not as elegant.

2) The theme/game is fun but familiar enough to bring in casual gamers that won't come within ten feet of something deeper - it's just one tiny baby step closer to a true gateway.

Cons:

1) The leap-frog scoring bugs me. Some one can go from 0 to 5 points, just becuase 1-4 are occupied by other agents.

2) There are some holes that need to be addressed. There were more than a few times when we encountered situations that weren't explained in the rules. When in doubt, we just used common sense and referred to the original Clue for guidance (like compulsary moves, etc.)

Where we got it wrong:

After the session, I realized that we imposed restrictions that weren't actually there, per the rules. We assumed (like in original Clue) that all elements had to be assembled in one location to occur. This isn't the case. I could move Scarlet to New York and then steal an item from Mustard in London. We played with the assumption that to steal/swap/give an item, the agents had to be in the same location. This would have changed things signifigantly - but I'm not sure I agree with it. Perhaps we'll play by the letter next time, and see how it compares, perhaps keeping it the way we played would make a good house rule.

Thanks for your time, I hope this helps you make an informed decision regarding Clue S&S
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Bruce Voge III
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Based on no real experience with either game, it sounds a little like Conspiracy. At least as far as the big locations with connections, and the need to move spies to do your bidding. I know Conspiracy also had a money mechanic, but this at least seems similar.
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Robert Potter
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This sounds like a great game. I love the idea of hidden agendas and identities. Any player can move any piece at any time, but it only benifits one player. And if that player is always yourself, your opponents will realize this, and try to stop you. So it becomes a question of "Do I play it cool and subtle, and keep my agenda hidden from the others, or do I hang secrecy and go full throttle to win?"
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david karasick
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In our 2 player game, we each ended with lots of scoring cards, especially Activity ones, which seems too much. Did you notice that on the crosshair of the Activity card there is a hidden item when scanned with the UV light. There is no mention of this in the rules. I think maybe that you can only use the "hidden " item to steal, swap, etc. What do you think?........Another thing, Black agent moves down when activated but if he is the only other agent in a secret meeting site he is scored one point whether he is the active agent or if he is just the only other one there.......is this up one or down one point? The rules do not address this. I wish the rules writers had explained both these dilemmas!
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Darrin Williams
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Gregg,

Thanks for the review. I just noticed this game in Target yesterday and I'm very intrigued. I'm glad to hear they've got some interesting mechanics in it.

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Gregg Lewis
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The hidden emblems on the action cards are one of the few aspects that are used as part of the text messaging aspect. You will receive instructions to discard any action cards that feature a (ITEM) on them. My son noticed these before we played and it was a little disappointing that there is no way to use these secret items in the base game.

It's been a few weeks, but I thought the rules mentioned that anytime Black is activated OR would earn a point for a meeting or accomplishing a mission, he scores downward ... It's possible that I have ammended the rules in my head though ... it's been known to happen LOL
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James Williams
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aquilaprime wrote:


After the session, I realized that we imposed restrictions that weren't actually there, per the rules. We assumed (like in original Clue) that all elements had to be assembled in one location to occur. This isn't the case. I could move Scarlet to New York and then steal an item from Mustard in London. We played with the assumption that to steal/swap/give an item, the agents had to be in the same location. This would have changed things signifigantly - but I'm not sure I agree with it. Perhaps we'll play by the letter next time, and see how it compares, perhaps keeping it the way we played would make a good house rule.
We made the same mistake in our first game. It makes the missions more difficult to complete and thereby keeps the scores lower than they might otherwise be. This also make the leapfrog scoring issue more likely as everyone's scores tend to be low and adjacent.

I'm still a bit unclear as to whether every agent in the meeting city scores or just the active agent.
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Bruce Voge III
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aquilaprime wrote:
The hidden emblems on the action cards are one of the few aspects that are used as part of the text messaging aspect. You will receive instructions to discard any action cards that feature a (ITEM) on them. My son noticed these before we played and it was a little disappointing that there is no way to use these secret items in the base game.

It's been a few weeks, but I thought the rules mentioned that anytime Black is activated OR would earn a point for a meeting or accomplishing a mission, he scores downward ... It's possible that I have ammended the rules in my head though ... it's been known to happen LOL


No, you got it right, when Black takes a turn, his marker moves down the track. When Black scores, his marker ALSO moves down the track. Think of him scoring all points down the tracker, and give him a one point bonus every time he takes a turn.

BrucecO
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Bruce Voge III
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St Louis Bear wrote:
aquilaprime wrote:


After the session, I realized that we imposed restrictions that weren't actually there, per the rules. We assumed (like in original Clue) that all elements had to be assembled in one location to occur. This isn't the case. I could move Scarlet to New York and then steal an item from Mustard in London. We played with the assumption that to steal/swap/give an item, the agents had to be in the same location. This would have changed things signifigantly - but I'm not sure I agree with it. Perhaps we'll play by the letter next time, and see how it compares, perhaps keeping it the way we played would make a good house rule.
We made the same mistake in our first game. It makes the missions more difficult to complete and thereby keeps the scores lower than they might otherwise be. This also make the leapfrog scoring issue more likely as everyone's scores tend to be low and adjacent.

I'm still a bit unclear as to whether every agent in the meeting city scores or just the active agent.


It takes 2 agents for a meeting, they both score for the meeting, and you get the card for scoring. If the agent you control for the turn is NOT on the card, the agent you are controling gets a point, and the agent on the card they needed to meet gets a point. IF your agent IS on the card, your agent gets the point, and you choose what agent they met that will also get a point. But only 2 agents score for a meeting.

Hope this helps,


BrucecO
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Trevor Lipply
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i am still confused... at the end of the game, how do know to give the other player(s?) a point if you have the card!!
 
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Bruce Voge III
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Trevster418 wrote:
i am still confused... at the end of the game, how do know to give the other player(s?) a point if you have the card!!



You give each agent involved in the meeting a point. For instance, lets say YOU are Mustard, you have a card that says you need to meet Green in LA. You realize Green is IN LA, and Scarlet is close. You use a card to get Scarlet to LA. You show the table you had a meeting with Green in LA, and Green and Scarlet are in LA. Green and Scarlet each get a point, and YOU get the card. No one knows it yet, but Mustard will be scoring that card at the end of the game. What they do know, is you just moved Scarlet and Green up the score tracker, because they each got a point for the meeting. You score the meeting AS SOON AS IT HAPPENS. Nothing to remember, except to get a new meeting card.

Hope this helps,


BrucecO
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Trevor Lipply
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ok sorry but im really want to play this game right!!

ok so, the secret meeting is in new york; green, plum, and black are already there. the person that needs to be there is scarlet. so i play scarlet and bring her to new york. so i keep the meeting card and everyone there moves up 1 and black goes down 1

"NO 2 AGENTS CAN BE ON THE SAME SPACE!"

how do i know who goes where?!?!?!

help!!
 
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Bruce Voge III
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Trevster418 wrote:
ok sorry but im really want to play this game right!!

ok so, the secret meeting is in new york; green, plum, and black are already there. the person that needs to be there is scarlet. so i play scarlet and bring her to new york. so i keep the meeting card and everyone there moves up 1 and black goes down 1

"NO 2 AGENTS CAN BE ON THE SAME SPACE!"

how do i know who goes where?!?!?!

help!!


I now see your problem, 2 agents CAN be in the the same place, but only 2 can meet. So using your example. You move Scarlet to NYC, you score Scarlet and one other agent, either Green, Plum or Black, you decide who met with her, and you choose what order they score in.

Where two agents can't be on the same space is on the scoring track. So if letting Green score first, would allow Scarlet to jump over a ton of agents on the scoring track, you need to take that into account. The only place agents can't be on the same space, if of the scoring track. As many agents as possible can be in the same locations (they are big cities).

I hope this helps,


BrucecO
 
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Paul Nowak
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This game is a lot closer to 13 Dead End Drive than Clue.
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Nega Quark
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What I can't figure out is the Action card. What is the invisible item circle for? I can't find any rules that cover it.

On a side note: What makes the game even more confusing to understand, is the French. Hasbro put the same French & English instructions in the same paragraph. I'm reading the instructions for the turn, then all of a sudden , I'm reading French. I'm fluent in both, and can read text from either language as if they were the same language. I'm gifted I guess. But my gift is also my curse. The double paragraph becomes very confusing. Why couldn't they print it on the flip side, or better yet, a separate book that I could throw out. If the US version has English only instructions, could someone please post them?
 
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Bruce Voge III
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NegaQuark wrote:
What I can't figure out is the Action card. What is the invisible item circle for? I can't find any rules that cover it.

On a side note: What makes the game even more confusing to understand, is the French. Hasbro put the same French & English instructions in the same paragraph. I'm reading the instructions for the turn, then all of a sudden , I'm reading French. I'm fluent in both, and can read text from either language as if they were the same language. I'm gifted I guess. But my gift is also my curse. The double paragraph becomes very confusing. Why couldn't they print it on the flip side, or better yet, a separate book that I could throw out. If the US version has English only instructions, could someone please post them?



Sorry about your rules issues. The French thing is a Canadian copy issue, the US copy is all English, all the time.

Now on to the hidden icons. There is no rule for them. Far as I understand it, if you play the game using the cell phone text addition, it will reference those icons occasionally. I have yet to play the game with the texting, but at some point I read that is when those icons are used.

Hope this helps,


Bruce
 
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Thomasoas Vanvault
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What i still don't get is at the end of the game when you count your points for secret meetings is how do you know who the second person was ex:Green is at Cape Town and that's where the meeting is and you have to meet Mustard and someone else activates him and brings him there?
Also what if the Secret Meeting is at Miami, but you don't know who with, and Peacock is already there, so you activate her and look at the card right away after you activate, so that you can move the right person to the secret meeting? By the way this looks more like you:yuk
 
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Bruce Voge III
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Remember in the rules, at the time of the meeting both characters score (on the scoring track), and YOU get the card for points. If Green has to meet someone, BOTH characters score for that, and YOU get the card. Though the game people are not supposed to know each others characters. So at the end you get the points YOU have scored with the various cards AND you get the points your character scored though the game no matter who used them to score their cards.

foiredefete wrote:
What i still don't get is at the end of the game when you count your points for secret meetings is how do you know who the second person was ex:Green is at Cape Town and that's where the meeting is and you have to meet Mustard and someone else activates him and brings him there?
Also what if the Secret Meeting is at Miami, but you don't know who with, and Peacock is already there, so you activate her and look at the card right away after you activate, so that you can move the right person to the secret meeting? By the way this looks more like you:yuk
 
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Aries Schatzi
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This game was really difficult to understand at first and it took quite a while to wade through the instructions but I enjoyed it. I am more intrigued with it than anyone else in my family and I was even more intrigued to find out about the texting option. We tried it out once but I'd like to try it more.

Has anyone learned about using the "X" item cards yet? I can't find any instructions on how and when to use them. One post seemed to suggest that those are used when playing with the cell phone version... Did I understand that correctly? And what about the icons on the activity cards? Has anyone learned how those are used?

(It's too bad we didn't see this post before we played the game, we may have understood how sooner... ) =)
 
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arienschatzi wrote:
This game was really difficult to understand at first and it took quite a while to wade through the instructions but I enjoyed it. I am more intrigued with it than anyone else in my family and I was even more intrigued to find out about the texting option. We tried it out once but I'd like to try it more.

Has anyone learned about using the "X" item cards yet? I can't find any instructions on how and when to use them. One post seemed to suggest that those are used when playing with the cell phone version... Did I understand that correctly? And what about the icons on the activity cards? Has anyone learned how those are used?

(It's too bad we didn't see this post before we played the game, we may have understood how sooner... ) =)


As said before, the icons are for the cell phone game. In addition, so are the Xs, the cell phone messages will sometimes refer to card icons, or ask you to shut down a city for the remainder of the game. I only got the "shut down" message once, but it was for Paris. Since Paris is one of the starting spaces, it's never a secret meeting location, so it won't get your game "stuck." Also if anyone is in Paris at the time, they can leave, just never enter.
 
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Alex Colby
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Also, since this is a review, I have a comment to make. The game seems nice enough, especially bold for mechanics that are rarely found in a walmart or target game. HOWEVER the box sucks and is likely from a different game. There's what seems to be slots for the cards to store in, but using it as such makes the top not fit right. The board doesn't really sit in the insert either, and as far as the game's pieces there's no specific spot. There's a massive cavity under where the board sits, so that's where they go. In kind of a mess.

My solution: put the cards in the slotted area, but like a deck face-down. Or get rubber bands. And for the bits get some small snack or pawn sized plastic bags.
 
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Dimitris Athanasiou
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hello to all from Greece.
This is my first message here.
me and my girlfriend are very big fans of the original clue game and yesterday we saw the secrets and spies and bought that too.
The instructions in Greek are very bad written and we understood almost nothing, so I decided to search for the instructions on line and found that forum.
Some of the answers we had are already answered here.
We still dont know though very basic stuff.
We get 3 action card, we can play only one on each round or all 3?
when our move ends? can we turn down our mission or we have to accomplish it?
as we tried to play it to learn the rules we have scored way far from 16, so we must be doing something wrong.
Hopefully someone can help us with these questions and if you found somewhere the English instructions on pdf would be a great help.
thanks in advance.
 
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Alex Colby
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Too bad about the translation!

On your turn you use ONE action card to "activate" ONE agent on your turn. So if you're playing with two then by the end of the third turn 6 agents have been used up, and the next player is forced to use the 7th, and then the cards are cleared and all agents are free for activation again.

At the end of your turn if -any- agent has the two items in your mission card, then that agent gets a point on the track and you place the card face-up in front of you to score at the end of the game. You also get a new mission. The game is unclear on if you can score your new mission immediately if it so happens it is also complete, but my house rule is no, you can only claim one mission card per turn. We also had the house rule for meetings, so if you completed a meeting in Tokyo and the next meeting revealed is also Tokyo, you don't get a free peek or the point for the meeting.

I don't have a scanner otherwise I would contribute an image of the rules. (Honestly the rules have a few gaps even in its native English :))
 
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