designed by Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski, & Sean Sweigert, published by Gale Force Nine
Players: 3-6; Playing Time: 90 min.; Good for: fans of the “Battlestar Galactica” game who don’t have three hours, ex-CIA; people who like semi-coop games.
Defend the United States against terrorist threats, or try to topple the country from the inside! Based on the Showtime TV show, this semi-cooperative game has players taking on one of three hidden roles: an agent, a political opportunist, or a terrorist mole. Each round begins with terrorist threats advancing, activating, resolving (if necessary) and appearing. Then the players take their turns: you have actions that you must take, and actions that are optional. First, you must you must take the “lead” on an existing threat, and then play two intel card secretly under two of the active threats on the board. These cards can either aid or hinder the resolution of that particular threat. In addition, you have optional actions where you can send in agents or soldiers to eliminate a threat or to peek at the cards underneath a threat to determine what’s going on there. Or even gain assets to help you. The terrorist mole wins if ten terrorist plots succeed, while the other players will win if they thwart ten plots.
Clever card-driven crisis resolution steps feel reminiscent of “Battlestar Galactica,” and since you are forced to play cards, you may play bad cards into a threat and seem like a mole when you’re not. And since the opportunist gains points for actually sabotaging events, it makes the game even trickier. Since the game is based on contemporary events and the cards feature CIA “dirty tricks,” be ready for awkward questions if you play with kids: “Dad, what’s extraordinary rendition?”
One Line Verdict: Tense game-play, long odds, and clever hidden roles asks you to bring this game into the light.
Review by Paul