Full disclosure: A preview copy of Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers was provided by Fowers Games. 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. Also, while I don’t charge for Kickstarter previews, the publisher was charged a rush fee due to the tight timeline they needed the review completed in.
I mean, you can tell from the title I’m probably overwhelmingly excited about this. This is a straight sequel to one of my favorite games when I first entered the hobby, so let’s see how things shake out from here. Fowers has pushed out a lot of cool stuff in the last few years, as well, so I’m expecting to see some interesting upgrades to the gameplay. That said, it’s probably best if we just launch right into it and see what’s changed since the original.
In Burgle Bros. 2: The Casino Capers, you’ve … kind of spent all the money. You did an awesome heist, sure, but now you’re just kinda between heists, you know? Looking for the next big thing. And that’s fine and all, but eventually you have to get a real job. Or, you think, you can do another heist. A better one. One in Vegas. In broad daylight. It’s a risky proposition, but if you can get your old crew back together, you can get anything done, right?
So while this is a sequel to Burgle Bros, a lot’s changed. Casinos aren’t built as tall as an office building; you’ll only need two floors. You can follow one of the three layout cards to start, but don’t look at the other side of those. If you’d prefer to do it yourself, you can do that, as well. First, take the tiles:
Put the Control Room and Escalator in one stack, and put the Safe and the Staff Elevator in the other stack. Shuffle the remaining tiles and make two stacks of 16 tiles. Make two 4×4 patterns, and then add 7 walls to each floor:
They can’t block off areas, but Doors can:
Put 4 of them on each floor, with the “closed” side up (red, in my preview). Now, shuffle the chips and place eight on each floor randomly by shuffling the Patrol Deck and revealing eight cards:
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start setting things up. I’m using the alien tokens from the game Nine Tiles Panic, but I assume there will be newer Bouncers. Prepare the Patrol Decks by shuffling the Patrol cards for each floor and creating two piles. For lower player counts, you’ll need to remove some cards:
- 2 players: Discard two cards without looking at them.
- 3 players: Discard one card without looking at it.
Reveal the top card of each deck and place the Bouncer on that location. Set aside the Event Card decks for now, also:
Now, have every player choose a character (with Vegas-appropriate outfits, again, art assets aren’t finalized):
Yeah, the Peterman retired after the last job. Sad. But this time, you’ve got all-new gear to help you out! Give each player three and have them shuffle them and keep them face-down:
I’ll talk about those more later. Put the dice nearby, too:
Finally, set aside some action cubes, some buffet tokens, and the heat tokens:
Have the first player choose a corner of the building to enter from. Once that happens, reveal another Patrol card; that will be the Bouncer’s destination. Set a die with a 3 face-up, there; all Bouncers have a movement speed of 3. You should be all ready to start!
The game plays … like a standalone sequel to Burgle Bros. Some things have changed, others have been streamlined. If you’re just joining us, that was 400+ reviews ago, so it might be due for a recap, anyways.
Your goal is to crack the safe and get out. Nothing fancy. You’ll need to use all your wits and your crew’s specialties if you want to dodge the bouncers, the crowds, and the commotion at the tables to make your big break, though. It certainly won’t be easy, especially once you find out what’s in the safe.
On your turn, you have four actions that you can spend. You may perform any action, usually multiple times unless otherwise stated:
- Move: Enter a tile from another tile. If that tile is not revealed, flip it over (and flip the chip on top of it over, if it has a chip). If that tile has an effect, resolve it. You may move between Monorails and between the Escalator and the room above it for only one action.
- Peek: Look at an adjacent face-down tile not blocked by a wall or closed door. The tile is revealed after the Peek action along with any chip on it, but its effect doesn’t resolve (except for a Blind Corner chip).
- Open Door: You may attempt to open a closed door by rolling a die. If it shows a 4 / 5 / 6, the door opens. If not, you may continue to spend actions to attempt to open the door; every time you attempt to open the same door, you roll an additional die (1 -> 2 -> 3 -> 4).
- Add Die: If you’re currently on an Intel chip, you may spend two actions to add a die to that chip and then remove the chip.
- Move Die: If you’re currently on the Control Room, you may spend one action to move a die from anywhere on the board to the safe.
- Roll Dice: If you’re currently on the Safe, you may roll all dice on the safe. Once you do, they return to the Control Room at the end of your turn.
To unlock the safe, you must reveal all the tiles in the Safe’s row and column. The six numbers revealed comprise the passcode to the safe. You’ll need to roll those numbers on the dice if you want to crack it open. Note that if multiple of the same numbers appear, they only need to be rolled once unless those tiles were revealed after the initial number was rolled.
If you’re not careful, you might cause a Commotion! If you do, the Bouncer’s destination is moved to the tile where the Commotion happened and they immediately take one step towards that destination.
One additional free action you may take is closing any currently open door adjacent to your tile. May come in handy, and it’s good etiquette. Once you’re done, just end your turn by revealing one of the Gear Cards that you haven’t revealed or used. Those can usually be used on any player’s turn, so pay attention when you’re not up!
Now that you’ve taken your turn, the Bouncer on your floor moves. Generally, they move toward their destination. If there are two or more paths, they will take the shortest one; if both are the same length, then they will take the one that leads them clockwise. It’s what they learned in Bouncer School. If they land on your space or pass through it, you gain 2 Heat. Rough!
Once the Patrol Deck runs out, Bouncers switch to Hunt Mode. In this mode, they always take three steps toward the closest player at the end of their turn. Be careful!
Play continues as normal until you open the Safe. When you do, flip over your layout (or draw a Finale Card, if that’s how it gets implemented in the final version); you’ll have a new task! Generally there’s a bit of story and then an Easy or Hard Mode requirement. See what you can get done! You win if you complete the story and escape. You lose if any one player gains 6 Heat!
Player Count Differences
I think the only real one is just discarding a card per player below four during setup. The reason there’s such a small penalty is that you’re missing out on additional gear cards and you have a lower Total Heat threshold, so you’re really mildly penalizing yourself if you try to run a two-person crew. That said, as with many games, it’s going to likely go a bit faster at two players, or it will at least seem that way since there’s less downtime between your turns. The nice thing is, though, with the new Gear there are still plenty of things you can do even when it’s not your turn, so even additional downtime isn’t much of a problem. I generally play all of these games with four players, but I have enjoyed it with fewer as well.
- Have a plan for the bouncers. You need to understand their movement if you wanna get around them. For instance, if you know one is going through a door, you may want to leave it open or close it depending on where you want them to end up. Don’t just let them wander haphazardly; they’re much more likely to run into you, that way.
- Don’t leave anyone behind. This is a team game; if any one person loses you all lose. Remember that.
- Watch out for surprise rooms. Some of the rooms can be quite nasty if you just run straight into them, like the Dance Floor, Roulette, or Poker rooms. There are (essentially) two of every room in the game, so keep an eye on which ones you haven’t seen so you know whether or not it’s worth barging into them. You really don’t want to set off some of the nastier rooms.
- Be cautious with some of those chips. Similarly to the rooms, the chips can really mess you up. Blind Corner, for instance, moves the bouncer to that room if you Peek it, and Salesman stops you from exiting the room if you Move into it. Keep an eye on the chips so that you don’t get trapped, otherwise you might be an easy target for the bouncer.
- Don’t save your gear for a rainy day. This happens a lot in games like this. Your gear is very useful; don’t necessarily wait to use it. I usually use it immediately if I’m worried that a character will get hit by a bouncer if I don’t use it, and I’ve found that to be a pretty good heuristic.
- Get a few of your characters up to the next floor pretty quickly. This allows you to split the guard movement rather than powering through one deck, which is a bit safer, in my opinion. Plus, it means at four, the guard is only moving on your floor during one of your not-turns, rather than three.
- The events aren’t all that bad. I mean, I generally like events, so I might be the wrong person to ask, but you shouldn’t be too afraid of the pool and the lounge, if you ask me.
- Use the tiles and chips to your advantage. This is key to winning the game, so, make sure you understand how the various tiles work and interact. When do you cause commotions? When should you draw events? Can you get the monorail to work in your favor?
- Getting some early heat isn’t that big of a deal. Even if you have two heat, you lose two heat when you open the safe, so, that’s a pretty solid reset across the board, which is nice. This makes it possible for you to take some pretty big risks early on without the fear that you’re going to lose the game for your aggressive hubris, and I appreciate that.
- If the bouncer is going to a tile that’s close to them, you may want to set off a faraway commotion instead. The reason I suggest this is because bouncers hitting tiles close to them causes them to power through the deck at a super rapid clip. That pushes you closer and closer to Hunt Mode, if you’re not careful. By forcing them to take the scenic route to another end of the building, you make it much easier for it to take a turn or two for them to reach their destination. That’s another turn or two you can operate relatively undetected.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- It’s a sequel to one of my favorite games. Burgle Bros. is one of the games that got me into modern board gaming, and I always will appreciate it for that. Naturally, that means I’m overjoyed that they’re announcing more content in the same universe, and even moreso that they’re making a sequel to (what I feel is) a classic game.
- It feels streamlined. A lot of stuff has been cut — the many different room variations are condensed, the guard movement speed isn’t a thing, the whole rule system around alarms is cleaned up,
- The story components for the Finale Cards are just so much fun. It’s like they took the best part of Betrayal at House on the Hill (the Haunt, though you could make a strong argument for the exploration), condensed it, and then made it sit within their theme.
- I appreciate that the variability of the chips makes it so even the same layout can be vastly different from game to game. Like, you’re varying the game two levels deep. You’re not only changing the individual tile configurations, but you’re varying the chips on top of them. What might have been a terrible choke point in one game due to Storage or a bad Monorail might now be a well-covered Control Room that makes the game a little easier to win. I appreciate that and look forward to additional layouts.
- Gear working on any player’s turn really incentivizes players to stay in the game and pay attention. I always appreciate cooperative games that incentivize players to stay focused on the game between turns. Since you can play Gear even when it’s not your turn, there’s less of a reason to slink back into your phone or something.
- I also really appreciate that the dice go back to the Control Room. One thing that would happen decently often in Burgle Bros. is that once you all left a floor you’d rarely go back. This forces you to go back if you mess up your roll and send the dice back up, which can be potentially dire for you. That’s very interesting! I like it a lot.
- I’m hoping more Finale Cards get added, long-term. Right now there are three, and I’m assuming more are on the way. Otherwise, you miss out on some of the excitement that comes with revealing a Finale for the first time. Still, better than no finale at all.
- A few cards can pull you through walls, which breaks my immersion a bit. It’s just odd, I think. I can mostly get it for some things, but the Dance Floor pulling you clean through a wall is kind of odd. Maybe it’ll get renamed in the final version or something; who knows.
- The current Raven can basically get nerfed for a few rounds unless she draws the card that lets her place crow tokens first. It’s, ironically, happened in both of the games I’ve played with the Raven; she’s drawn the card that lets her place Crows normally last. That means that for three rounds, she basically can’t place them at all? It’s a bit odd. It would also help if the cards said that crows slow movement, but that’s only in the rules, currently.
- My favorite item got removed, sadly. It got re-implemented as a piece of Gear, but I do miss the ability to just solve all my problems by exploding the ceiling and then escaping. Goodbye, Thermal Bomb; I’ll never forget the explodey times that we shared.
- Some players (especially ones who own the Burgle Tower) may not like that there is no longer an option for a three-floor game. I can see this happening, but, you should still be able to use a two-floor version of the tower, right? I’m hoping that’s the case. Plus, I think with the finale this game takes a bit longer than the standard two-floor variant, so I appreciate that it’s a bit more consistent; I rarely played the three-floor variant as-is.
Overall: 8.75 / 10
So this is a funny number, because, I think I actually like Burgle Bros. 2 better than the original? If you ask me, almost everything in Burgle 1 has been iterated on and improved for Burgle 2, and this game enjoys the benefit of that iteration. That said, if you go read my original Burgle Bros. review, you’ll notice that it has a much higher rating than this one! What gives? Well, for one, it’s been almost a year since I’ve last played it, and I think that that score was reflective of where I was at in gaming when I tried it. I think it’s a wonderful introductory cooperative game, but I think my tastes have evolved a bit (and I got much busier with reviews), so it’s been a hot minute since I’ve actually gotten to play it. Burgle 2, however, I can compare to the other games I’ve played and this is about the right place for it. I think it’s pretty great, especially for a not-quite-finished version of the game, and I’m really excited to see where it ends up. The question most people will ask (correctly) is whether or not there’s space for both in a collection. I think so, personally; the first one’s a bit more introductory, with the strategic part being the three-floor variant. I think this one starts out about as difficult as the three-floor variant, so for someone like me who only plays the two-floor version, it’s a perfect mix. More finales will definitely help keep this fresh (especially if they continue to support the game after it’s published), but I have had a lot of fun with the game in its current state. If you’re looking for a solid successor to the classic Burgle Bros., I’d recommend checking out The Casino Capers! Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.