Heimlich & Co.
newer German edition
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from 5 customer reviews
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This is an older German classic, and certainly a little gem of a game. Several reviewers have noted this game is fairly simple, and there can be no doubt about that, but that doesn't keep this from being a great addition to a games closet.
The object is to get your detective to x number of points (45?) the fastest. No players know which color marker belongs to which player, and since any player can move any color, you want to keep your information secret for as long as possible. (If they think you are green, you can bet they aren't going to move green very often!)
And that's where the fun comes in. On your turn you roll a single die and move any number of detectives a combined total of the die. So if you roll a 2, you could move 1 detective 2 spaces, or 2 detectives 1 space, etc. Pieces move from house to house beginning with a house worth zero all the way up to 10, then to -3, then back to zero. There is one wooden safe that sits in a house and once a player moves detectives in such a way as to have one of the pieces end its turn in the same house as the safe, every color scores whatever house value it sits on. nThe safe is then placed in a different house and play continues. That's it.
The challenge is in the bluffing and the deducing (especially in the advanced version.) Since there are two neutral colors in the game, and no one really knows who each other are or which colors are neutral, players must carefully manipulate colors in order to see their own color do well without too obviously favoring one. Sooner or later though, you must make a move to score big points at the end to ensure victory. When I play, I encourage table talk and recriminations! That becomes especially fun in the advanced version where, about 3/4 through the game, players write down which color they think belongs to each player and then get bonus points for correct guesses.
This game is simple enough for children, interesting enough for non-gamers, and nasty enough for gamers that it has a universal appeal to it. Not to say everyone will like it, but also considering it is a 20-30 minute game, it really is a great game to be able to pull out after for almost any group.
Although I enjoy Adel Verplichtet by Klaus Teuber more than Top Secret Spies for games of the bluffing style because of it's interesting auction phase as well as it's bluffing options, Top Secret Spies is a great game and well deserving a Speil des Jahres award. I would not recommend this to 'hard core' strategy war gamers though. Personally I wouldn't recommend many of the games to these types of players. It's just a shame that they limit their options to the great war games. There is more to gaming though than these 'advanced strategic' games and games like Top Secret Spies are one of them. Just watching people trying to keep their composure as you try to figure out who is who during the game is a blast!!! People start to get fidgety, they get antsy and if you watch for body language your opponents can say so much to reveal who their spy is, or if they're good, lead you to believe they're a spy they are not. I don't consider it to be a 5 star rated game because it lacks an auctioning element that in my opinion gives Adel Verplichtet a 5 rating, but a 4 is still great!! If anyone tells you this game is not worth buying for adults, don't you 'buy' that!!! Just like Kelloggs Frosted Flakes aren't just for kids, so too is Top Secret Spies. Psst... Keep it low....
Read the previous review for more details about the game's mechanics, etc. I was just so surprised with this game (which, for all intents and purposes LOOKS like a children's game) but there really is so much more to it than a simple roll-your-dice, move-your-pawn style game.
My gaming group really enjoys interactive aspects to games (deal-making in Chinatown, diplomacy in...well, Diplomacy, etc.) and 'Heimlich & Co.' provides plenty of opportunities for players to bluff, deceive and outright lie!
A great game that makes Wolfgang Kramer one of my favorite game designers. We'll definitely play this delightful little game again!
Each player is, as usual, represented by a colored pawn that moves around a track on the board. The twists are that no one knows which color anyone else is, and so everyone is allowed to move any combination of pieces on her turn. Scoring is triggered periodically, and each color gains points based on its current position on the track. It's not trivial to position your pawn optimally, because the track is circular, with point values climbing gradually up to ten only to plummet to negative three before climbing again. And everyone else will have an opportunity to tinker with your pawn (and perhaps trigger scoring) before you get to move again. The pawn that accumulates enough points first wins, and then all the owners' identities are revealed. All in all, a clever mechanism and a good way to learn the game, but with little replay value for adults. You always know which colors are ahead, so you can just hold them up even if you don't know whom they represent.
The fun really starts with the 'advanced' game, whose feel is quite different. The play's rules are identical, but at the end significant points are given for correctly identifying the color of each adversary, possibly letting a good observer vault ahead of a sprinter in the final standings. This puts a premium on watching what everyone else does, and conversely on not aiding your own pawn too obviously during your own turns. A surprising game, best played with near the maximum number of players.
From the reviews I had read, I really wanted this game. I finally went on ebay and purchased a copy. My first impression was: Is that all there is to it? I didn't hate the game - there just wasn't enough there for me to like. This game is definitely not for the hard core gamer.
However, if you like to play quicker games and have kids, this is not bad. I will admit my kids like the game and would give it 4 stars. Consider it a very light family game. Even with the advanced rule, (getting points for guessing who is who), does not save this game for me.
Pros - fast, very easy to learn, good for kids, good for groups of 2 to 7.
Cons - Not enough strategy or meat, definitely NOT for the wargamer or serious thinking gamer.
I have heard that Top Secret Spies - the latest issue of this game does add cards, but since I have not played that I can't comment.
Shuffle the spy cards and deal one facedown to each player. You see only your spy, whose color is represented by both a token on the scoring track and a figurine on the board. Roll the die each turn to determine the total number of spaces you must move one or more figurines. If movement ends with at least one figurine in the Scoring Marker's space, each spy scores the value of the space it occupies. Play continues after the current player moves the new Scoring Marker to a different space. After one or more spies cross the track's finish, identities are revealed, and the leading token wins. The advanced variant's Action Cards influence movement, thus adding more entertainment to the challenge of moving your spy discreetly forward.