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40 Thieves Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: 40 Thieves

Designer: Jean-Thomas rioux, Étienne Rioux and Eric Poulin
Artist: Étienne Rioux
Publisher: JackBro Playful Creation
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 30 min.

From the publisher:

In a medina on the borders of the kingdom thrives a dishonest merchant with excessive wealth. Gold coins, fabrics and carpets pile up in its hidden and well-guarded den. In the middle of his treasure are nine bluish sapphires of great purity. Nine precious stones that make you dream. In the city, looters, thieves, and other rogues start a challenge: Whoever steals the most of these stones this night will be crowned king of thieves. Will you answer the call? Will you brave the forty thieves who keep the loot?

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of 40 Thieves. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. 40 Thieves is expected to hit Kickstarter in late March 2018.

Review: 40 Thieves

Overview and Theme:
40 Thieves has a rich, ancient-Middle-Eastern flavor (in the spirit of the tales of Ali Baba) that draws in your sharpest wit and most careful memory skills as you glimpse and replace cards, hoping to steal more of the gleaming blue sapphires than any of the other thieves.

My family enjoyed the theme and talked about playing it to fit in with our Aladdin movie night!

Components and Setup:
40 Thieves is mainly composed of a deck of well-illustrated, round cards.  These cards will be slightly different (giving more information by having color on the back as well as the front) in the final version than in the prototype that we played, but the illustrations of both male and female thieves, lanterns, gems, evil eyes, and more will most likely remain the same.  The prototype copy included 9 plastic gems that were a big hit around my gaming tables, and the final version will include evil eye tokens as well.

Setup is quick and easy - deal out a grid cards in a 4x4 pattern, and add a sapphire gem in each of the 9 "holes" created inside the grid.

Game Play and Mechanics:
The goal of 40 Thieves is to get the most sapphires (represented both by the plastic gems and by special cards with gems on them) by the time all 9 plastic gems have been removed from the board.

All the cards have a symbol (sun, moon, star, club, or hand) on the back, and the front reveals either a colored thief (green, blue, red, or yellow) or a grey special symbol (lantern, sapphire, jar, dagger, or evil eye). Your goal is to learn which cards are in the grid and rearrange them in specific groupings so that you can steal the sapphires.

On your turn, you may complete four phases:

1. Make Your Hand - draw your hand back up to 3 cards (discarding any you don't want to keep before you draw).

2. Glimpse - peek at one card on the grid and take its special action: dagger (discard your hand), sapphire (add it to your pile), or lantern (reveal for all to see 3 cards touching the lantern).

3. Action - you may choose to replace one card in the grid with a card from your hand, switch the position of two adjacent cards on the grid, or play a special card from your hand. A sapphire goes into your pile, an evil eye allows you to give your opponent an evil eye (negative point), and a jar allows you to discard on of your evil eyes.

4. Steal - if you think you know where there is a group of cards, you can reveal them to steal a sapphire.

In order to steal the sapphires, you need to reveal a row, column, diagonal, or cluster (2x2 block) of 4 cards in which all the cards have the same color, the same symbol, all different colors, or all different symbols. If your memory and deduction skills were good, and you reveal an appropriate group of cards, you get to steal one of the sapphires from the board that is touching your group.  Then that group of cards is discarded and replaced with new cards.  If you reveal four cards that did not match appropriately, the cards stay where they are and you must take an evil eye token!

Players continue alternating turns, catching glimpses of the hidden cards and rearranging the grid, choosing when to press their luck to attempt a steal, until all 9 sapphire gems have been stolen from the grid.  The thief with the most sapphires wins, counting both physical sapphires and those on the grey cards, while remembering that each evil eye cancels out one sapphire.

The Good:
40 Thieves is a nice family game of deduction, set collection, and press-your-luck.  The type of deduction needed here is different from other games we've played.  You can use the information on the backs of the cards to help you figure out what is in the grid, but it only gives you part of what you need to know, so you are relying on taking your time to peek at the cards or pressing your luck to hope that you have enough information and the other cards are what you need them to be.

My family & friends enjoyed the theme, the artwork, and having the physical gems to collect.  We also appreciated the round cards, which visually set 40 Thieves apart from other games.

The Bad:
It's always hard to truly review a game that is still undergoing some change! The backs of the cards will now offer information about color as well as symbol, and I'm not sure whether that will make the game easier or more difficult, slightly more strategic or slightly more luck-based.  I look forward to the changes that JackBro has made and may continue to make as they tweak this game towards its best version.

I do think the game has a learning curve (especially for kids) that may be steeper than other family card games.  My 11 year old had a hard time keeping in mind that you could steal with a group of all different symbols or colors and mainly focused on trying to create groups that were all the same.  It meant that our learning games were somewhat longer than the projected time of 20-30 minutes, but once we had all played enough to be familiar with it, our play time came back into that spread.

Players Who Like:
Unlike many games that I have learned, 40 Thieves did not make me immediately think of another game (or combination of games)!  That makes it harder to link to another game that you may already like.  If you like hidden information, like Stop Thief or Rat a Tat Cat, if you like set collection card games, like Jaipur or Coloretto, you may like 40 Thieves.

Final Thoughts:
40 Thieves is a unique take on a family card game that blends several familiar mechanics into a new and interesting puzzle.  Your skills of hand management, grid manipulation, deduction, and memory will be tested as you plan the best way to steal those slippery sapphires!

Check out 40 Thieves on:


40 Thieves is on KICKSTARTER between now and April 26, 2018.

About the Author:

My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
40 Thieves Kickstarter Preview 40 Thieves Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on March 29, 2018 Rating: 5

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