Full disclosure: A preview copy of Getaway Driver was provided by Jeff Beck. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
Honestly, you know what I love? Shared game universes. If it’s Ice Cool and Pyramid of Pengqueen or The Resistance, Grifters, and Coup or Near and Far and Above and Below, I’m here for literally all of them. Perhaps none really is as extensive as the one covered (at least thematically) by Burgle Bros., Fugitive, Now Boarding, Paperback, and now Getaway Driver (sure, some of those are probably just Easter eggs, but, whatever). Naturally, when the opportunity came to check it out for a preview, I jumped at the chance. Even better, it’s a two-player asymmetric game, similar to The Neverland Rescue, which I also enjoyed. Asymmetry seems to be pretty “in”, right now. Not bad at all; I enjoy it. Just means you have to learn two games, though. Anyways.
In Getaway Driver, you play as the former Juicer of the Burgle crew, now trying to outrun the cops and make it out of town. Ah, but she’s probably gonna get a lot further if she can pick up most of her stash before she goes off the grid. Unfortunately for her, these are not the cops from Word Domination; they are serious business. Will you get behind the wheel for a great escape? Or will you prove that you are the law and the law is not mocked?
Alright, so, this is another asymmetrical two-player game. One player will be the Driver, the other controls the Police. This means the setups are wildly different. Probably the most helpful thing you can do is give the Driver her cards:
The Driver chooses 7 and discards the remaining 3. Also give the Driver the Pursuit meter:
It should start on the black space (essentially 0). Now, give the Police their upgrades:
They don’t have any active yet, but they likely will in the future. Now, give the police their equipment — they should have a helicopter, an armored car, a motorcycle, and three police cars. I didn’t show them here because this is a preview so they’re all random prototype components from The Game Crafter and that seemed like it would be confusing. The driver also gets a car, but a red one. The Driver also gets these Hazard Tokens, and the Police gets the Barricades:
Now, there are two types of cubes:
The Driver gets the gold ones — they’re called Stash Cubes. These represent bits of cash the driver has stored around town in case of an emergency, just like this one. They’ll also set the difficulty:
- Easy game: Give the Driver 8 Stash Cubes.
- Normal game: Give the Driver 6 Stash Cubes.
- Hard game: Give the Driver 4 Stash Cubes.
Now for the fun bit. Have the Driver kinda just … chuck them on to the table. The Police can do some adjusting, but each cube should be roughly 3 – 6 inches apart.
The Police get the blue ones cubes. They’re Enforcement Cubes, and they can be spent on upgrades. They start with 0, though, so you’ll need to earn some more. The Police can now place the Start Tile, which has a big white circle in the center of it. It’s not super clear whether they must place it inside the rectangle bounded by the Stash Cubes, but I’d say you should place it 3 – 6 inches away from a Stash Cube of your choice. That seems fair. The Driver then places her car on the start space, choosing the orientation of it (which direction it’s facing). Once that’s done, the Police may place one of their Police Cars up to two “spaces” away from the Driver, again choosing the orientation. Spaces are measured orthogonally, so two “spaces” away is totally fine being one vertical and one horizontal space.
Add the remaining tiles to a tile bag:
Should be all ready to start!
So, a game of Getaway Driver is simple. The Police want to catch the Driver, who does not want to be caught. One player is going to get what they want.
A round is played over several turns, each progressing as follows:
During this phase, the Police check the spaces in front of, to the right of, and to the left of the Driver, generally speaking. If any of those spaces are empty, the Police draw that number of tiles and places one face-down in each spot. However, if the tile would hang over the edge of the table or would interact with a real-world obstacle, that tile is not placed. This allows you to add your own additional bits to make the “City” more interesting. You can add buildings, if you want! The game has to be placed around them and accommodate them. Anyways, if there are not enough tiles to fill each empty space, the Driver immediately wins! Otherwise, if the Police have purchased a Police Barricade, they may place it now (or later).
On the Driver’s turn, they must perform these steps:
- Reclaim a Driver Card (anytime): You may remove a Stash Cube you’ve collected from the game in order to reclaim one of your spent Driver Cards from the discard pile. Your discard pile is public information, as far as I can tell, so you might as well just tell the police what card you claimed.
- Adjust Pursuit Meter: If you do not currently share a tile with a Police vehicle, reduce your Pursuit meter by 1 space. If you do share a tile with a Police vehicle, do not change the Pursuit meter. That’s handled elsewhere.
- Do Nothing (optional): If you’d like, you may skip your turn and remove a Hazard token from an adjacent space.
- Play a Driver Card (optional): Before moving, the Driver may play a Driver card to affect the game. Some cards let you do a U-turn to throw off the cops, some let you move further, others help you crash Police vehicles. All good options.
- Reveal Tiles (optional): Before moving, you may reveal any tiles adjacent to you by increasing your Pursuit meter by 1. Note that if you reveal a Police Enforcement symbol this way, the Police gain Enforcement Cubes equal to the value on the tile’s badge.
- Turn and/or Move (required): Now, you must forge ahead. You may turn without moving, turn and move, or just move straight ahead. If you move into a tile that’s face-down, reveal it. If it has a Police Enforcement symbol, the Police gain Enforcement Cubes equal to the value on the tile’s badge. Rough. To make matters worse, depending on the tile, you may have to place a Hazard token! If you reveal a tile with a Police vehicle or a Stash Cube on it, you do not place a Hazard tile, no matter what the tile’s type is. Otherwise, do the following:
- Green light: Green means go! There are no Hazards on this space, so you’re free to enter or exit it without consequence. Unfortunately, so are the cops.
- Yellow light: Be careful! You do not have to place a Hazard token on this space if you do not want to. Every time you enter a space with a yellow light, you have the choice. If you do place a Hazard token, you must also discard a card from your hand whose symbol matches the symbol on the tile.
- Red light: Caution recommended! This tile is a rough one. You must place a Hazard token here and then discard a card from your hand to stay on this tile.
- If you do not want to discard a card (or can’t), you move backwards into the tile you just left and your turn ends. If there was a Hazard token on the space you moved backwards into, it gets removed. It may be added on subsequent turns if you enter this spot.
Once you’ve completed your turn, the Police act. Again, note that you can only play Driver cards at the start of your turn, but you may reclaim them any time.
The police function a bit differently. Generally speaking, their turns work like this:
- Move Tailing Vehicles (required): If any of your vehicles share a space with the Driver, you are considered “tailing”. This means that vehicle must follow the Driver into their space, if possible (this won’t work if the Driver is moving in the opposite direction your car is facing). If you’re not able to follow the Driver for that reason, you just move normally. If, by tailing the Driver, your vehicle enters a space with a Hazard Token, well, you’re not as good at driving, so your car is wrecked. Remove it from the board.
- Call for Reinforcements (optional): If you didn’t move any tailing vehicles and you’d like to just skip your turn, you may. If you do, gain one Enforcement Cube.
- Move Other Vehicles (optional): You may turn, move, or turn and move your vehicles that haven’t moved yet. The important thing is that you can move in ways that the Driver doesn’t expect — you can move off the board! If you do, you must always be one space away from a tile when you move.
- Buy Upgrades (optional): If you have Enforcement Cubes to spend, you may spend them on upgrades, like Police Barricades that require the Driver to discard a card to enter (but you can go through for free!), an Armored Car that can ignore one hazard, or a Helicopter that never crashes. Isn’t technology fun? Spend the cubes by returning them to the Supply. If you place or move a Vehicle during this phase, place it like you placed the first Police car — it must be two spaces away from the Driver.
- Increase Pursuit Meter (required): If and only if one of your Vehicles shares a space with the Driver, move her Pursuit tracker up one space on the meter. If you hit the red space (rightmost), you win!
Play continues until one player wins!
Player Count Differences
Uh, none; it’s two-player. I suppose you could make it a team of cops, if you wanted, but that seems like it’d just end up being frustrating.
- Driver: Use the Switch Cars Ability often. I mean, it’s very useful to be able to completely divert the cops’ attention away from you. That said, if they’re all in a cluster, it might not help you all that much. I mean, the right play is to be mindful about where suddenly taking over one of the police cars would give you an edge against the cops.
- Driver: Don’t be afraid to U-turn. I don’t see a lot of players using the U-turn in games I’ve played, which is odd. If the cops are tailing you and you U-turn, then you have the opportunity to completely escape them for a hot minute. Well, unless they summon new cars and such. You know how the cops can be.
- Driver: Get the Stash Cubes. If you don’t, you will most certainly lose. At some point, you’ll have hit enough hazards and used enough tricks to have exhausted your hand. You need to be able to replenish the useful ones, otherwise, well, the Police can trap you pretty easily. If you’re trapped, you’re stuck, and if you’re stuck, you’re caught.
- Driver: Make long corridors. It lets you generally force the Police to play three tiles per turn, which exhausts the deck, well, … faster than if they play fewer tiles per turn. For similar reasons, doubling back on spaces you’ve already hit is unwise, since that doesn’t let you add more spots on the board.
- Driver: The card that lets you reveal tiles face-up is a double-edged sword. Sure, it lets you choose the configuration and placement of tiles, but if you draw any tiles with Police Enforcement symbols, well, the cops reap the benefits of that as though you had revealed them normally. Use if you’re really in a bind, I suppose.
- Police: Avoid running out of cubes. If you run out of cubes, your ability to react to wacky moves from the Driver will be relatively impaired. Also, I mean, if you end up crashing your only car, then you have to spend a few turns just getting enough Enforcement Cubes to buy a new one, which is … kind of embarrassing.
- Police: Use Dispatch a lot. I find that it’s nice to be able to jump around and try to steer the Driver back towards tiles that they already revealed. It also helps if the Driver swaps cars with you; suddenly, you’re right back on their trail. It’s a useful counter, since turning is around completely is so difficult.
- Police: Don’t necessarily go for all your police cars early. The major issue with doing so is yes, you can corner the Driver from multiple angles, but if the Driver switches with any of them, you now have to redirect three vehicles rather than two or one. It gives the Driver options, in that department. While restricting your vehicle count might seem counterintuitive, it might not be a bad idea to avoid giving the driver useful targets.
- Police: Try to anticipate where the Driver wants to go. If you can do that, you can lay tiles that will make it harder for her to move or give you bonuses. If you’re already tailing the Driver, give her a clear path so that you don’t necessarily crash into something.
- Police: Try directing the driver into Hazards that you can easily get around so that they waste cards. The fewer cards they have, the less you have to worry about and the more likely that you’ll ultimately be able to trap them in something.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I love the real space considerations. I think the specific language about not building past the edge of the table and placing hazards on the board are all kind of interesting things that I haven’t seen a lot of in games. Usually it’s just me fumbling with the Carcassonne board while trying to push it back on to the table so I can place a tile. It’s a very smart approach for an organically-generated tile city, and I like it.
- The theme is super fun! I mean, it’s set in the Burgle universe. It’s a high-speed car chase game with tricks and stunts and the cops on your tail. It’s … what’s not to like? It’s a great theme.
- I’m really digging asymmetry. I’ve been seeing more of it and getting to play it more and I’m super here for it.
- Pretty easy to learn. Relatively speaking, it’s got a lot of functional similarities to like, a Carcassonne-style tile-laying game with a chase game layered on it, which makes it easy to map it to some gaming structures that people already know. I find that helps when I teach.
- Plays pretty quickly. For what it is, that’s pretty great. Love a quick two-player game.
- The end result looks pretty cool. It’s nice to see like a car breaking away from the cops and running out of a city or the cops surrounding a car; it’s got very thematic endings either way and I appreciate that.
- Very tense. Given that it only takes three consecutive turns of the Police tailing the Driver for them to win, the game can rapidly change polarity as far as who’s winning is concerned. This creates a really palpable tension that I think makes the game exciting.
- Would love for the Hazard / Stunt icons on the tiles to be bigger. It would obscure the city art a bit, but it’s currently a bit hard to see them. Just means I usually have to get close to the tile to recognize the symbol. Maybe I’m getting old. Sad.
- As with most asymmetrical games, a player with a solid understanding of the game mechanics will have a pretty clear advantage over a new player. I find the Police are a bit more nuanced, strategically, than the Driver (though there are still plenty of nuances to when to use your cards as the Driver that I would suggest not to ignore), so it means they’re both a bit challenging to play and also a bit challenging for newer players to predict. It might be worth starting new players as the Police and playing as the Driver with fewer Stash cubes, if you’re an experienced player.
- Some aspects of the real-space parts of the game may feel a bit imprecise to players, which may be frustrating for some. The game explicitly encourages you to be inexact with your measurements, which means you’ll often be fudging things. This doesn’t particularly bother me, but it means that the game doesn’t have a well-defined “space” either, so it can often bleed outside of its area. I’d recommend limiting the area you play the game in, physically, especially if this isn’t the only game you’re going to have on the table.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, Getaway Driver is solid! Like I said, I’m a huge fan of asymmetry, and since I’m pretty much always down for a wacky tile-laying game, being the Police is a role I’ve enjoyed a lot. That’s not to say the Driver isn’t fun — you’ve gotta play tactically, and you’ve gotta be focused if you want to make it out of town. There’s a solid tension, there — when do you pull off a rad stunt? When do you play it safe, even if that means the cops will keep on your back? When do you try to pull off a daring escape? I appreciate the two different roles and the different games they create on their own, but the variety inherent in the game’s construction is another interesting element that I’ve really enjoyed digging into. It gives the game a nice avenue for expansions, as well, should the situation arise. Either way, I’ve really enjoyed getting to spend some time playing Getaway Driver, and if you’re looking for a tile-laying game, a racing escape game, a two-player asymmetrical game, or another game set in the Burgle Bros. universe, hopefully you’ll like it, too!