We put Thieves! on the game table and wound up playing it over and over. This game from Calliope Games has the three to six of you taking on the role of criminals fleeing from a heist. The cops are right on your trail and now it’s every bad guy and girl for themselves. Each turn, you play a card to divvy up the loot: either place a loot card on yourself, face down, or give some loot away to another thief. Why give away that precious money? Because eventually the police hunting you down will recover the largest stash. You’ve got 6 bags of loot showing? Throw three bags to your fellow crew member so she gets nicked instead of you.
The first part of the game has a lot of Take That! action where your crew loads up the others with loot and starts playing police cards to trigger raids (and plays cards to steal from other players’ stashes). The game starts to shift as the end game approaches. As we’ve been throwing our fellow criminals to the cops, getaway cards are revealed from the draw deck. Once seven of the eight getaway cards are revealed, the crew has gotten away and whomever has the most loot wins. It’s a game of pushing your luck, bluffing, and timing.
Thieves! hit our table and didn’t stop being fun. The only downside to the game was the unpredictability of when those last getaway cards would show up — some games it seemed like the last few were grouped together, some games it felt like we were never going to get away from the police. (This could be solved by seeding portions of the deck with getaway cards beforehand, similar to placing epidemic cards in Pandemic, but that’s a bit too much prep for a fast, quick game like Thieves!)
Thieves!: ten bucks, light and fast, easy to learn, easy to play. A really good deal. Buy it at your local game store or direct from Calliope Games.
Also in the package was 12 Days, a Christmas-themed game where you’re trying to give the best gifts of the season. Starting with your hand of twelve cards, you pass one to your neighbor, simultaneously play one card, and whomever has the lowest number showing wins that day. Day cards and Gift cards range from 1 to 12, with each gift card appearing a number of times as it’s rank — there’s one 1, seven 7s, and twelve 12s. (Well, there’s two zero-rank gift cards, but…) At the end of the game, you’ll have eleven gift cards in your hand. Whomever has the most gift cards of that rank gets points equal to that rank.
And that’s pretty much it.
We played 12 Days. Despite it being beautifully-illustrated (with Echo Chernik‘s faux-stained glass artwork), we all wanted to go back to playing Thieves!. When we played that game, we were laughing and joking and loud. When we played 12 Days: silence. We were more concentrated on our cards, trying to determine how best to shuffle our numbers around to gain points.
If you get 12 Days for just $12, you can also use it as a Christmas-themed Pairs deck and a Christmas-themed The Great Dalmuti deck (two games we liked better than the game in the rulebook). Suddenly, you’ve got three games, plus the twenty or so other games that can be played with a Pairs/12 Days/The Great Dalmuti deck (rules are over at Hip Pocket Games), for the price of one.
Calliope Games has 12 Days for sale, as should your local game store.
One copy of Thieves! and one of 12 Days were provided free for review by Calliope Games.