Games of all types give us a chance to do things we wouldn’t usually do. Like rob banks!
First sold in 2015 after raising $228,000 on Kickstarter, Burgle Bros is a heist board game for 1-4 players. It sees you (or you and some friends) robbing three safes from a three-tier bank/office, while adeptly (or most of the time rather clumsily) avoiding the guards, hacking alarms and blowing walls up with dynamite.
The Box and Pieces
The box is cute, being so small. It becomes a puzzle game in itself when you come to putting everything away! One that I quickly had to learn the knack for. The design is pretty simple but it does the job.
Inside, the designs for counters and playing pieces are kept quite simple. You have to put the stickers on the playing pieces yourself. Though, unlike with the Jumanji Board Game, this does serve a purpose. The ‘meeple’ stickers are divided into two types: standard and advanced. I’ve read advice online as to buying an additional set of ‘meeples’ so you always have the choice of both, but I think the general consensus here is to start off with the standard and later replace the stickers when you’re used to playing advanced. If this put-the-sticker-on-yourself is a trend with board games, I’m not liking it.
The game is 1-4 players. We had a go once with two people, again with four people, realised we’d been playing a key game element wrong with the two-player game and so played again with two people.
The game consists of 48 tiles that are placed together in 4×4 squares (usually), alongside some safe-cracking die, tokens for various things, cards, a wide selection of character pieces (the ‘meeples’ I mentioned)…all the works! Each 4×4 square is a ‘floor’ of the three-tier bank and each tile is flipped over to reveal a good number of tile types, each of which has different effects when a player stumbles onto them.
One good thing about this game is the variety. The alarms are split into fingerprint, lasers and motion detectors, which all have different effects and different hacking rooms. Then, there are walkways, camera rooms, laboratories, lavatories and atriums added in there, which each have their own rules. Luckily, these are all described in the rulebook, but you’ll be advised to quickly remember them in order to strategise.
You start on a randomly selected starting position and must work your way around each floor, finding and cracking the safe. You also place a guard, who has an ever-changing ‘guard route’ you have to avoid. Once you’re done sneaking around and revealing tiles, the guard moves in a randomised route. With the pure number of rules to remember, we misread this rule on our first playthrough (2 players) and thought he moved after all players had moved. We went about thinking how joyfully easy this whole bank-robbing malarkey was. Uh-uh! As soon as he starts moving after every player’s individual turn, things become much more perilous. Suddenly that safe corner is right in the guard’s path and no amount of Sneak Tokens is going to save you. Oh yeah, and if one player fails, you all fail!
Each time you hack a safe, you get a ‘Loot’ that makes the going more difficult in various ways. As I said, kudos to the variety and replayability. You win by hacking all safes and getting all players up to the roof to escape without being caught.
Thoughts on the Gameplay
Two players – Playing with one to two players is probably best for easier gameplay. The guard moves less and you can devise strategies better. I think I’ll stick to the ‘two players per floor’ rule for when I play again. I’d also recommend playing the beginner rules (with only two floors) for your first run-through, rather than jumping straight into the three-floor version. Just to learn all the rules and have a feel for how it all works.
Four players – Definitely important to split the team. It’s very difficult to avoid the guard if all players are on one floor! Saying that, if you want a challenge this is one way of doing it. Either way, you need to have your wits about you and be with a team that can easily decide on a good strategy.
Other points – The instructions were beautifully written and often explained everything fully enough that no ‘house rules’ were needed. Cracking a safe is good fun and I enjoy sneaking around to uncover tiles. I haven’t had a chance to discover the advanced rules yet, though I don’t ever think I’ll get there!
Box – 7/10
Board and pieces – 8/10
Gameplay – 2 players (10/10), 4 players (10/10).
Reviewed by Rebecca Panks