|Designer: Brandon Beran
Artist: Josh Cappel
Publisher: Grand Gamers Guild
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2
Playing Time: 15-30 Minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
WARNING: This is a preview of Pocket Ops. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
Inside the secret facility lies the components needed to build the coveted Doomsday device. You send in your spies to do some recon when to your utter surprise and horror you find that your rival agency is doing the very same thing.
Now it has become a race to see who can recover the parts first so now it’s time to call out the specialists. Can you outwit your opponent and claim the Doomsday device first?
In Pocket Ops players will be placing their spies and specialist in such a way as to gain area control over the facility. Once a player does this they earn a piece of the Doomsday device. If a player wins twice they receive the second and final part and win the game!
Grand Gamers Guild is currently seeking $5,000 in funding for Pocket Ops on KICKSTARTER between now and June 26, 2017.
Game Play Overview:
To set up Pocket Ops players set the facility board in the center of play, then divide the Blueprint cards by color with each player getting one set along with the accompanying spy and specialist tokens of the matching color. The turn order marker and Doomsday device parts are placed near the board and players are ready to go.
|Set up. Yep it is that easy.|
Rounds are made up of several turns where players will take on one of two rolls:
1) The Predicting Player who chooses a Blueprint card (based on where they guess the Placing player will go) and places it face down on the table in front of them.
2) The Placing player who places a spy or specialist in one of the rooms of the facility.
Once the Placing player has placed one of his spies or specialist into a room the Predicting player turns over her card. If she has predicted correctly the Placing player must remove that token from the board. If it was a spy it is placed back in the supply, and if it was a specialist it is removed from the game (for that game). If the prediction was wrong the Placing player’s token stays where it was placed and if it was a specialist it’s ability is activated.
After a round players switch rolls, the Predicting player now becomes the Placing player and vice versa. This continues until either one player has got three of their tokens in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonally) thus winning the round and gaining a piece of the device or there is a draw (where no one can place a token that would result in a win).
The first player to win two rounds wins the game!
|The Red player has captured the victory here by assassinating the Blue player’s spy. This is her second win and she has collected all the parts to the Doomsday device.|
Okay let’s take note of the big pink elephant in the room, Pocket Ops is a glorified version of Tic-Tac-Toe. But before you stop reading and go back to eating your Cheetos, there is more. Much more!
Pocket Ops is just that, compact and pocket sized. And as you would expect from a small game it sets up quickly and is very easy to learn. In fact we were able to get playing our first game within five minutes or less. With very few components and a game mechanic that is recognizable to most game players Pocket Ops is a breeze to pick up and play.
As I mentioned before this is Tic-Tac-Toe only with a spy theme added to it. While you could have added any kind of theme on this game the spy theme seems to work very well. From the spies sneaking around the facility to the specialists special abilities, and predicting what your opponent will do everything gets tied to the theme nicely.
I keep saying that Pocket Ops is Tic-Tac-Toe, so what is so special about it? First is the predicting of where the Placing player will place her token. It becomes a lot like the Princess Bride death by poison scene:
In addition to the back and forth guessing there are specialist at your disposal. As you can imagine each specialist has it’s own unique ability. The Assassin can be placed in the same room as an opponent’s token to remove it. The Sniper can be placed in an empty room and remove one of any opponent’s tokens that are in adjacent rooms. The Pusher does just that, is placed in an empty room and pushes your opponent’s token in a straight line one space (which can end up being off the board completely). The Grappler is placed in an empty room and can then switch places with any adjacent tokens. Lastly if placed safely the Hacker will allow you to use two cards the next time you are the Predictor. These specialist really change up the feel of the game and add so much depth. I am not sure if additional specialist will be introduced during the Kickstarter campaign but I am hoping.
As I mentioned before this game plays fast. The publisher is saying 15-30 minutes and I would have to agree, though 30 is on the very high end. It is also very accessible to all ages and gaming backgrounds which makes it great for a two player filler and gateway game.
The artwork is fun despite the lack of components, with the facility card being very detailed and the box cover art really fitting the style and theme of the game. I am not sure what the campaign will add in terms of components, maybe meeples for the spies or possibly wooden tokens.
The fast set up and play along with the box size are the major upsides for me. It is great to have a game that is easy to take anywhere and can be played with just about anyone. Although it is a souped up version of Tic-Tac-Toe there is a lot of depth and strategy with all the back and forth of trying to predict what your opponent will do.
I am curious how this will hold up over time. I am slightly worried that game play might get a bit stale if played a ton. A variety of Specialist and boards (with different triggered abilities in different rooms) could help this a ton.
Overall Pocket Ops is a fantastic pocket sized game that packs a real punch! For the size and cost you really can’t go wrong here. My kids are already begging me to back the Kickstarter so they can have the final version. I guess they won’t have to twist my arm very hard.
Players Who Like:
Players who like fast games with easy learning curves, but also something a little bit meatier like Attila, Harbour, Pocket Imperium, and Oddball Aeronautics will love Pocket Ops.
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About the Author:
My name is Dane Trimble I am the Advertising Manager for a national magazine by day and a husband, father of four, and board gamer by night (and mornings). I have a passion for board games as I believe board games help bring families closer together while providing kids a unique way to learn many diverse skills. And they are down right fun!!!