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Burglar's Bluff Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: Burglar's Bluff

Designer: David P. Miller
Publisher: Wrinkle-Free Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 15-30 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Burglar's Bluff. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.


tl;dr: Entry-level bluffing gameplay with some nice player interaction. 

Getting to the Game: Remove the "Final Steal" card from the deck, and shuffle everything else together. Deal each player eight cards to form their hand, then toss eight cards face up in the center. The rest of the deck is the draw pile. Quick setup already has my interest piqued.

Not only are you trying to get nine cards safely socked away in a secure location, you're also simultaneously trying to bait other players into trying to steal from your locked safes while keeping them away from your unlocked ones. If you can get them to try and rob your safe and it's locked, then the value of that safe goes up (because... reasons). Successfully bluff treasure in an unlocked safe through to the end of the game? Double points.

Playing the Game: Your turn begins by drawing one card from the community pool, then taking one action. You can stash three matching or successively-numbered cards together, then place another locked or unlocked card on top of them, representing a safe. If you've managed to safely secure a stash through a lap around the table, then you can extend it by dropping up to three more cards in with the ones already there, up to a maximum of nine. These actions will take up the bulk of the game. Obviously, the goal is to protect your treasure with a Lock card, but you won't always have one. Also, keep in mind that treasure secured but unlocked at game's end is worth double. 

That brings us to the stealing portion of today's festivities. As your action, you can attempt a steal of your opponent's treasure. Pick a safe, and try to open it. If it's unlocked, you can move the whole mess into your play area and secure it with a card from your hand. If it's locked, you get nothing. You lose! Good day, sir! If you don't want to (or can't) do either of these, you can take three cards either from the draw pile or from the face-up pile in the center. 

I do have some issues with the theme. Burglars who can't pick locks seems like a strange choice, and the reward for successfully sneaking unlocked treasure through the game makes structural sense, but it doesn't really translate to robbers and loot. Perhaps a better theme would have been smuggling, or piracy. The endgame is similarly convoluted. Once someone has nine cards in their bank, they can pick up the Final Steal card, signaling the end of the game. From that point, there are two more rounds of the game. And then, you can opt to play the final steal on your last action, attempting one last big score.

Overall, this game makes sense and feels fine, but it's not outstanding in any one element. The theme, as mentioned before, doesn't really sync up with the gameplay. The endgame doesn't feel immediate enough, as if it's some sort of built-in extra gameplay to help out players too far behind. If you like bluffing games and need something you can carry around easily, it's definitely worth a look. The player interaction is fun - knocking on a player's safe to see if it's open holds a lot of tension, and bluffing a locked chest when you have no locks in your hands will make you sweat.

Artwork and Components: My copy is a preview, so I won't focus on artwork that could entirely change by the game's release. The game's components consist of a large deck of cards, and the instructions are printed on the same card stock. Overall, nothing special, but it makes the game portable and accessible.


The Good: Highly interactive, good bluffing mechanics.

The Bad: Theme doesn't make much sense.

Score: Burglar's Bluff feels like a good-enough filler game that might really sing with a group that's super into bluffing games. There's not enough else here to bring players from other genres around, which is both good and bad. It's purely what it is, and doesn't try to be anything else. I'm giving Burglar's Bluff a score of Unsecured.


Coming to KICKSTARTER soon...

About the Author:

Nicholas Leeman has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.
Burglar's Bluff Kickstarter Preview Burglar's Bluff Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on October 22, 2018 Rating: 5

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