Sunday, April 14, 2013

Product Review: Assassin

Hot on the heals of my review of Trigger Men, I thought I'd continue with the "hit man theme." 
Last spring, I got together with two of my friends, Tom and Terry, for an impromptu gaming session.  With little time to prepare, nor to re-familiarize myself with some complex rules, I decided to give Assassin a try, especially since Terry's a James Bond aficionado. 
I won this used game for $5 at an auction during Consimworld's Expo four years ago.  I was the only bidder and that should have been the first clear indicator that something was amiss. 
The second indicator was the lame, Parcheesi-style playing pieces.  Fortunately, I have a plethora of role playing game (RPG) counters from Fiery Dragon, that I cut and mounted on mat boards.  So instead of looking like this... 
...our game looked like this: 
But upgraded counters don't necessarily make for a great game.  Oh, we had a pleasant time alright and I think Tom won (and wound up being the assassin to boot).  But we ended up struggling with the game mechanics more than we did with each other.
Assassin is Mille Bornes--with guns.
Each player is dealt several cards, which he use to travel to various Euro capitals to collect points.  Nothing exotic like top secret files, just "points."  At least there are a couple of twists.  First, there is an assassin card, which one player may use to "make a hit" against another player.  The targeted player may utilize a card to thwart, or avoid the assassin. 
Second, there are four "machine gun cards."  Once the fourth machine gun is played, the game ends.  So no one knows how much time they have in order to win, a "ticking clock" in a sense.
The most frustrating aspect of the game is the inability to go anywhere, for extended stretches of time, before you get the right cards. 
If you end up at end-points with limited Travel Card options, you could be languishing in places like London, Madrid, Athens and Kiev for a  long, long time. 
I'm being somewhat generous in my review, because I don't regret acquiring this game.  I usually buy boardgames with other uses in mind.  I can incorporate Assassin's map, along with the Fiery Dragon counters, into one of the modern-ish role playing games I own.  Plus, I've spent $5 on worse things and this game doesn't take up too much space on my shelf.
While regular wargamers hold this game in contempt, Assassin can be played as a "compromise" game for a mixed group of wargamers and non-wargamers.  At least until whatever novelty there is, wears off...
(Image of the Carrom Family)

If you want to read a real scathing review, check out Richard Berg's post on Boardgamegeek (BGG).
Copies of Assassin can still be found on sites like BGG's Marketplace and Noble Knight Games.

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