Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"FBI" by Phalanx Games

(originally published in the Missoulian of Missoula, MT on 02/20/05)

The other day, my partner Annie and I strolled into World Games of Montana looking for a new game.

This is not as easy as it seems. If you’ve ever been to World Games, you know that they have hundreds to choose from with virtually any theme you can think of. I immediately ran over to the mini-hockey rink to let loose my primitive instincts to wield a stick and hit something. Annie, the more sophisticated between us, reviewed various games around the store.

At the end of our time, however, we both had nothing to show for it.

Then I spied a small black box with the letters FBI written in red. I instantly evolved from caveman to cop. The urge to hit was replaced with the urge to arrest. We were on to something, and we got it.

FBI is a strategy card game by Wolfgang Kramer and Horst-Rainer Rösner. True to its name, it’s all about catching crooks and putting them behind bars. Each player is the leader of a team of FBI agents (represented by six agent cards). Criminal cards and innocent bystander cards are placed face up between all of the players (a set number is laid out each turn). The goal is to apprehend as many criminals as you can (each represented by a card with a positive value) and to avoid arresting innocent people (represented by cards with a negative value). Each player adds his/her card values together at the end of the game, and the player with the most points wins.

You can play with as many as five players, but it’s also extremely fun for two. Strategy emerges from two game aspects: 1) a player may only choose two agents with which to arrest people per round, and 2) each round, players make arrests in a predetermined order (the order is determined by a bidding phase). Both depend on what you think your opponent is going to do. If there’s a high-valued criminal, the hard truth is that only one player’s going to get him. There have been many upsets between Annie and me in the past few games of FBI with lots of victory dances and gloating from both sides. In short, it’s been a blast.

A word of warning: the instructions are less than wonderful. Have a patient member of the family read through them AND play out the practice game in the instruction booklet long before anyone sits down to play. The instructions are dense, even though the game play is quite simple. But instructions aside, this game is a real crowd pleaser.

Cost: $12.95
Players: 2 to 5
Age: 10 and up
Time to play: 20 to 30 minutes
Rating (1 to 10, 10 being the best): 7
Additional Comments: Great card game for older players.


Post a Comment

<< Home