Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 14 August 2018

I Spy Something Beginning With Crime:- Spy Club

Game: Spy Club

Publisher: Foxtrot Games & Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Randy Hoyt, Jason D. Kingsley

Year: 2018

Spy club is a 2-4 player cooperative card game in which you control a band of enthusiastic kids looking to solve crimes as an extracurricular activity. Together with the rest of your team you will cooperate to find the location, motive, method, crime, and perpetrator in order to close the case. This all has to be done before the perp can destroy the evidence trail and escape your clutches. Spy club can be played both as a single game, and as an ongoing campaign with each game adding new skills and challenges to the game.

In a game of spy club your objective is to get 5 of a single colour of card played to the central board, when that is done you have successfully deduced that 5th of the crime, should you manage to get all 5 colours collected then the game ends and you win. However there are multiple ways to lose, as time passes the perp will move along the escape track, should he reach the end then he is out of your reach. He will also seek to destroy evidence, if you run out of clue tokens in the supply or run out of cards in the deck then the game also ends with failure.

4 locations have been found, once we find 1 more we can narrow down to exactly which place the crime was commited and then move onto another aspect.
Each player has a pool of 3-4 double-sided cards to play with, on your turn you can spend 3 actions to manipulate these cards. You can flip cards to show the other side which is often (though not always) a different colour. You can move your focus token, when you do this you gain some clues based on the number of cards you have in the colour that you moved to. You can place a card into the central board, this is free if you are focusing on the card, but costs more clues the further away from your focus marker it is. Finally you can buy new cards in order to replace ones you have but don't need. You can also perform a few free bonus actions to trade with your allies, but only if you are both focusing on the same colour card.

After each player goes you draw a card for the perpertrator's escape, these cards move the perp meeple along players hands, and then a bad effect occurs based on the colour he landed on. Some let him escape faster, others chew through your deck and further more remove ideas from your pool. The cards also feature a prediction of where he will move next, with careful planning you can get him to land on grey cards and waste his time playing video games rather than covering his tracks!

This time the per moves 1 card along, next time he's going to move either 1 or 2, if you can trade cards cleverly then you can ensure he does the least damage possible to you.

This is all the basic game, but Spy club is anything but repetitive. If you play a single game then after finishing your first set of cards the game will pick an event based on the card you picked. With over half a dozen cards different in each of this 5 sets this already provides a good deal of variable content, but this only increases when you play a campaign. Spy club is not a legacy game, instead it has campaigns of 5 crimes, during each of which you deduce one of the 5 parts of the final, master crime. For crimes 2-5 you again get special rules based on the part of the crime you deduced last game. Figure out the master crime involves cake? Here's a special mission unique to if the crime involved any of the other items! These games add major new mechanics to the game that you are unlikely to ever see again, all by using a few multi-use components and cards from the campaign deck.

When I first played Spy club I was intrigued, when we drew the first card that changed the gameplay I was impressed, but when we played the second game of the campaign, that was when I knew Spy club was something special. Spy club is a great coop game which rewards clever gameplay, but still has enough randomness to be unpredictable. While the game is somewhat lacking with story, with a little creativity you soon begin writing your own story for the cake-based bullying or the game-piece related vandalism. The true charm of Spy club is it's extreme replayability, unless you are actively trying to repeat yourself then you are likely to not get the same unique twist for dozens of consecutive games. It's like having a box full of mini expansions to an already great game!

Spy Club was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £41.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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