By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Game review and interview: Burgle Bros. is a cooperative safecracking adventure
Burgle Bros requires stealth, planning and a little bit of luck. In the tradition of classic heist movies like "Ocean's 11" and "The Italian Job," you assemble your crew, make a plan and pull off the impossible. - photo by Ryan Morgenegg
Imagine that players are part of a team of burglars hired to pull off a heist. The goal is to enter a building, locate a safe, crack it, remove its contents and get out before getting caught. That's the theme of the new game Burgle Bros. by Tim Fowers. Ready? Grab some thief tools and uncover this treasure.

In this cooperative game for one to four players, gamers begin by selecting a random burglar that has a unique power. The board is set up to represent three levels of a building. Each level is constructed at random by placing tiles facedown in a four-by-four grid. Cool wooden logs are placed on each floor to represent walls and can only be passed by special abilities. Each tile on the three floors represents a room that can be explored during the game. Rooms can contain dreaded alarms, obstacles to overcome, computers to be hacked, needed tools, a stairway to the next level or safes to crack. The goal is to find the safes on each of the three levels, crack them and find the stairway to the roof and escape in a helicopter.

On a turn, each player can perform four actions. A player can peek at an adjacent tile, move to a tile and reveal it, hack a computer, add a die to a safe or crack a safe. Safes are cracked by rolling dice, and the more dice available, the easier it is. This is a cool part of the game as players decide to spend time to make safecracking easier or to just go for it and try to crack the safe. Because if players wait too long, the guard will find them. Hands up!

Each of the three levels contains a guard who roams around that floor. If the guard and a player ever end up in the same room, the player will need to spend a stealth token. Each player starts with three stealth tokens, and more can be found in the game, but if a player and a guard meet and a player has no stealth token, the player is arrested as well as the accomplices. Game over.

At the heart of this wonderful game is the feeling of adventure and tension as players explore the room tiles on each floor of the building. What is waiting around each corner? Will it be an alarm? Will it be the safe or some needed tools? Add to that tension the tension of the wandering guard who gets closer and closer to the players and things can get crazy.

The game includes nine different characters, each with two different selectable powers. There are tools and loot that can be found in the building that can help and hinder the players. There are event cards that are both good and bad. The game also includes advanced rules, different building setups and a mini expansion all in a unique oblong box. Components are top quality and fun to play with.

Burgel Bros. is fun to play. It's another great game by Tim Fowers. It is recommended for families and gamers. It is easy enough to understand and play but complex enough to keep gamers' attention. Fowers also offers a three-level tower that can be purchased separately to make the board look like a real building. Check out more here.

Question and answer with Tim Fowers

How long have you been playing board and card games?

I have always been playing games. The first game I made was a 3D chess game in middle school. It turned out not to be fun, but I enjoyed the process of designing and making the board in shop class.

What were some catalysts that put you in the position to start designing games?

I was a programmer, and I got together with a co-worker and entered a game contest in 2005. We caught the bug and started making videogames full time. Along the way, I started designing board games as well. I try to make board games influenced by video games and vice-versa.

Tell me about the development of Burgle Brothers?

I've always liked stealth games, and had been messing around with some heist ideas. While talking to people I found a huge demand for a heist game from pop culture (Ocean's 11, Leverage, Italian Job). People wanted to live that fantasy using teamwork, timing and generally being clever.

Once I figured out how to move the guard intelligently, the rest came together really fast. Because it's such a random game, I had to lock in a lot of the ideas quickly so I could test the game as much as possible to make sure the randomness evens out.

Do you find Kickstarter to be a viable vehicle for project fundraising?

It's really a magic bullet for board games. It gives you advertising, market testing, a community, funds to print and beta testing. The downside is that you're instantly famous for something you haven't done yet!

You mentioned that you are selling your games directly from your website. Can you explain some of the reasons why you made this decision?

I've seen people selling many thousands of copies a year and still not able to live off of it. So I've been selling direct and spreading the word by mouth and now my audience is large enough that I'm able to live off it.

Can you share anything about future game ideas you have?

I have a follow-up to Burgle Bros where you are trying to get out of town with the loot. A fugitive versus marshal kind of game. It is really tense and only takes five minutes to play.
Sign up for our E-Newsletters