Totally Renamed Spy Game
Your Price: $14.99
(Worth 1,499 Funagain Points!)
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Imagine, just once, luring the master spy into your lair and putting a bullet in his head. Imagine resisting the urge to gloat over your prize, to tell him your secret plans, to let him escape certain death and blow up your lair in the process. Imagine winning.
James Ernest’s Totally Renamed Spy Game is a long-awaited remake of Before I Kill You, Mister Bond. The new edition has glorious full-color artwork, high-quality production values, and the improved game mechanics you’ve come to expect from James Ernest’s color upgrades.
Players take the roles of super-villains, earning points by luring secret agents into their dastardly lairs, taunting them with deadly devices, and then killing them. Sure, you could kill a spy without taunting him, but he’s not worth nearly as many points. It hardly matters that he will destroy everything if he escapes. You’ll still have time to build another mysterious island.
Among all my games, Spy Game is one of the games that I can get most anyone to play and that people will ask to play later. Even though it says its for 3-5 players, we often play 2 player games. Theres just something fun about blowing up other peoples progress and the risk of trying to double your points.
This is really kind of a fun game. We are thinking of creating some new lair cards and revising some of the taunts. We have come up with some great lair ideas!
We had a problem with people just using a spy from someone else's hand _every_ turn, meaning you could not build up a lair. So we made one rule revision to the Better Edition. As your spy action, instead of putting a spy in a lair, you can lay down a spy face down (like a lair card) by your lair. That spy is still in your hand, but no one can steal it from you. This allows you to collect spies for large lair killing.
Admit it. You want the whole world to cower before your wrath. Heck, you'd probably be just as happy to have some wrath. But taking the world over isn't always easy, what with all the spying and all. And every time you turn your back on those pesky spies, they go and blow something up. Do you have any idea how expensive a Cavern of Woe is? You can't replace something like that.
Before I Kill You is fairly unique in the CAG line of games in that it requires nothing else to play. No money, no pawns, no dice. Just what's included in the package. As for that, it's standard James Ernest fare: A creative game with an ingenius mechanic, but only passing production quality.
Each player takes on the role of a supervillian in an Ian Fleming-styled universe, plotting the takeover of the world. The game isn't about taking over the world, though. It's about accessorizing your lair, and killing snooping spies. You build your lair bigger and bigger, making it more difficult for spies to blow it up. You will occasionally capture spies as well, and are then given an opportunity to kill them or taunt them. Killing them immediately gives you a few points, but taunting them doubles that value at the risk of another player blowing your lair up.
The one shortcoming here is the balance of the deck: There are far too few lair cards for the standard rules, making it easy for one player to pull out into the lead quickly and keep beating everyone else into submission. However, if you are fortunate enough to have the Better edition, you'll find that there are a few changes to make the game more playable. As with most of the Cheapass line of products, a good cost-to-fun ratio.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the game can be un-balanced. Either lots of hoarding, or immediate destruction of your lairs.
A slight alteration to the rules can make for a more stategic/bluffing game:
1) you can only play spy cards up to the number of lair cards you have. So, to play a group of three spies you would need three lair cards.
2) a group of spies does not need to be guaranteed to destroy a face down lair. Since lair cards range from 1 to 4 points, this effectively means you count face down lair cards as 1 not 4 as suggested in the rules.
Still feels a little unbalanced, hence the 3 rating. I'd be interested to hear of any other variations... hopefully Mr. Destiny will never deduce the one fatal flaw of my cavern of woe...
Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond... belongs in a similar category to Flying Buffalo's Nuclear War: on many levels by which ganes are usually judged it's a poor buy, but people still buy it and play it anyway. Why? well, it's fun, or it is if the players are willing to enter into the spirit of the thing.
When it's played primarily as entertainment, rather than as a mental puzzle to maximise your chance of winning, it's a terrific game, especially at the price.
If you want something to think about where clever play will generally be rewarded with victory, probably look elsewhere. But if you want to taunt a master spy you've just captured in a ridiculously appointed supervillain complex and never mind the consequences there's probably little else to touch it. A great short filler piece, and at this price a stocking filler rather than a main buy so you can still get something bigger and deeper and not really notice it in the wallet too much.
One of those games where the taking part is rather more important than how well you do.
Though certainly light, 'Before I kill you Mr. Bond...' is much more fun to play than the previous reviews would suggest. We were playing the 'Better Edition,' and it may be that the two rule changes make the difference.
The first rule change is that lair cards are played face down until a spy is played into the lair, at which time they are turned over. The fact that lairs are hidden at first means that your opponent's face-down two-card lair could be anywhere from a size two lair to a size eight lair--the former barely worth destroying, and the latter a little difficult to destroy.
The second rule change is that there are two 'bomb' cards which destroy any lair they are placed onto. This means that no lair is too big to be wiped out.
The game can sometimes be frustrating because no lair ever sticks around for very long. However, there is still a lot of potential for fun and nastiness. You are often forced to take risks when you are behind (for example using the doublers or playing spies from others' hands or from the top of the deck), with the results sometimes being wild successes and sometimes being disastrous failures.
Again, it's a very light game, but as such it is pretty good time. And it's cheap.
This is one of those games that you play once. The text on the cards is cute, and it's fun to announce your plans to torture your captured agent, but that's about it. The game itself just isn't that good. Thankfully, it's cheap.
The main fun in this game comes from reading the rules and the cards. After that, you get a not-very-well-balanced game. The concept is so fun, that I really wish they'd made this a workable game, and I'd be interested in hearing anybody's home-varaints on how to make it fun.
The main problem is that it's impossible to build a lair. Reading the rules, one gets the impression that the designers intended players to have cool complex lairs to lure other players into. However, as soon as one part of a lair is built, there's no reason at all for another player to refrain from taking it out instantly. Some games could be played differently, I suppose, but only if the players wilfully decided to ignore their best strategic interests to try and make the game more complex.
The people at my local game shop say they play this all the time; I really can't imagine how it's fun more than twice. Too bad, really...
(note: If anyone wants to email me with 'home rules' that fix some of these problems, I'd appreciate it)
If you don't read the cards aloud as you play them, you're missing half the fun of this game. The highly entertaining premise is that you're an evil villain, and you're trying to build a lair and trap spies in it. Like all evil villains (or at least, the ones we see in the movies), you aren't content to leave well enough alone, but rather feel compelled to taunt the spies before you kill them. Which gives them time to figure out how to escape, destroying your lair in the process...
Complex strategy game this isn't, but it's certainly an entertaining diversion for those times when you've got a few people together and are looking for a short game with straightforward, simple rules. It's been my experience that this game can get a bit dull, feeling almost as though it is stalemated as players instantly destroy each other's lairs the moment they are played (or build up indestructible lairs and play only 'safe' taunts).
There exist some interesting variants of this game, some of which I play with regularly. I particularly think this game is improved when you use two sets of cards. (With my favorite set of rule variants, I'd call this a 2.5 star game.)
Very cute the first time you play as you read the humorous cards but gets old by the second game. This is the only Cheapass game that I do not think is worth the minimal amount of money that you will pay for the game.