A lot of tactics in the test for Sniper Elite: The Board Game. There is now also a board game for the video game series Sniper Elite. The strategic title was published by the British publisher Rebellion Unplugged, and its Mr. X stealth concept closely follows the idea of ​​the gaming template. Playing in a team against an almost invisible opponent – ​​can that even work? Yes, and how!

Sniper Elite is not a new invention for board games. The third-person shooter series by Rebellion Developments has existed since 2005 and has had its fingers in and on the game since the V2 edition of the genre mix - previously the publishers MC2 and Namco Hometek celebrated the debut of the video game, back then for Playstation 2, Xbox, PC and Wii. In the meantime, the fifth part of the main series has come onto the market, in the meantime there have also been zombie shooter offshoots.

One against all, all against one

The games in the Sniper Elite series have been sold over the counter more than ten million times. The board game Sniper Elite: The Board Game, which is now available, is far removed from such figures. Rebellion Unplugged was only the second title ever to finance this from the publishing portfolio via crowdfunding via Kickstarter - the campaign, in which around 100.000 supporters took part, was able to generate just over 1.600 euros. Much or less? It's hard to say: Although Sniper Elite is a well-known series in the games industry, some of the titles received rather moderate reviews. After all: The latest entry in the series, Sniper Elite 5, is quite successful.

Board game review Sniper Elite
The start succeeds quickly, at least as far as the structure of the board game is concerned. You have to work your way through the rule details first. Photo: Volkman

The board game is based on the video game, which is basically a third-person shooter, but also works with pronounced stealth elements. This is exactly what the authors Roger Tankersley and David Thompson as well as David Túrczi did for the solo mode of the board game: Two games, the sniper and three evil soldier squads (defenders) each consisting of three figures, pursue their own goals. Sniper Elite: The Board Game is highly asymmetrical. The sniper has to succeed in fulfilling two randomly defined goals under certain rules. The German soldier, on the other hand, has to buy time or wound the elite fighter twice to win.

Exciting cat and mouse hunt

This works extremely well and feels fresh, although stealth mechanics have long been used in board games. Recently there were only too few representatives of the classic concept of a Scotland Yard - The hunt for Mr. X. So at first one is happy that one can get a genuine cat and mouse board game on the table again. Getting started is pleasingly easy: the assembly is completed within five minutes, because it does not require much preparation. Choose a side of the game board, place troops of soldiers on the starting fields, briefly choose the specializations for the officers and give the sniper some time to prepare for his mission with the equipment cards. Then there will be war.

Board game Test Sniper Elite
Not only the sniper has special actions: the soldiers can use various useful skills to make life more difficult for the agent. Photo: Volkman

Visually, the title doesn't seem to impress that much at first. The style is comparatively minimalist. Those who know the video games should still feel at home. Ultimately, the focus is on the stealth concept. For this purpose, the sniper marks his movements on his own board, he is exposed either actively by the enemy troops or by his own manoeuvres. Shooting at the troops can, but does not have to, lead to detection.

A token mechanism decides this: As a sniper, you “tell” the opponents that you will shoot at them and specify a distance that is reflected in the number of tokens drawn. And somehow you don't tell it, because you can determine the scope of the draw yourself. Even for shots from the shortest distance, you can get a little “too many” tokens out of the bag. This is how you can lay false tracks. Only too much recoil and/or noise leads to exposure. Then it sometimes gets hectic, because if the soldiers can guess or even determine the position of the sniper, the only option is usually to flee ahead. Then you run and not sneak - this in turn results in noises that you have to communicate to the opposing troops if you pass on nearby squares of the game board.

This is exciting and fun, because neither of the two games can be too sure at any point. The sniper is mobile, can evade troops with clever movements, set traps or false tracks, or simply rivet a group of opponents with the shotgun. The sniper is under pressure: the rounds tick down for him on a ten-bar. The imaginary zero is the end - that's it for the special agent. If he fulfills one of his two mission goals in the meantime, the lap tracker will be restarted and the game will start again, but then under more difficult conditions. After all, by combining, the soldiers can guess which targets could remain for the sniper in round two.

Sniper Elite Board Game Review
The action takes place on the central game board and a hidden movement board. Photo: Volkman

It's easy to guess: the board game for Sniper Elite is a typical one against all concept. Where "all" can be one to three players. However, if you don't have any human opponents available, you can also play in a solo mode, for which a separate rule book is commendably included. In any case, the war duel on the board game table works, which is obviously not least due to the fact that the author David Thompson is also behind the games in the Undaunted series. The board game gets to the point, especially thematically: everything looks like a world war, the focus on the mechanics doesn't detract from that.

Speaking of mechanics: the board game for Sniper Elite is a much more complex hunt than you might think at first glance, but Rebellion Unplugged's work doesn't come close to genre heavyweights like the Whitechapel titles. Instead, Sniper Elite is a compromise between the use of the video game template as a visual story-technical teaser and a streamlined Hidden Moves game principle. It's a race against time for the sniper, because the enemies are infinite. So you shouldn't get too carried away as a “lone wolf”, because nothing works without a poker face. The fact that the screen of all things is not included with the board game is a flaw. Well-equipped game fans can help themselves, others tinker themselves or use the game box - the latter is suboptimal due to the size. At most you should let your eyes wander over the game board as a sniper. If necessary, the active train says: Just get up.

The allure of the unknown

Sniper Elite: The Board Game draws its appeal from the unknown - on both sides. The soldier teams do not see the sniper, have to anticipate where he is or, at best, use deductive logic to accurately predict where he is. The same applies the other way round: The sniper cannot always predict the behavior of the opponents, but should at best try to plan moves - if there are gaps, he must use them.

Trial Sniper Elite board game
From a purely visual point of view, Sniper Elite-The Board Game is rather simple. If the material is about the topic, it is in any case coherent. Photo: Volkman

It's not always easy, even in the standard game mode. With a few adjustments, the gaming experience can be made much crisper, especially with regard to the use of weapons. The sniper always has his sniper rifle at hand and he will use it. How often and from what distance? That has to be weighed up. Sniper Elite: The Board Game always presents both parties with decisions. They are then relevant, because with only two actions per turn you have to be careful with your options. Guessing in the dark? It can work, but in most cases it is actually a coincidence.

Failures cost soldiers like Sniper dearly: time was ticking for the agent – ​​and the soldiers often don’t know until the very end whether the round tracker will be reset due to a mission success or not. This creates excitement and an intense gaming experience. It's always about risk and bluffs, but also about obvious and thus unmasking actions. In the case of the latter, as a sniper you should already have prepared the rescue route.

Infobox

Number of players: 1 to 4
Age: from 16 years
Playing time: 45 to 80 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: good
Genre: Kennerspiel
Core Mechanics: Asymmetric Targets, Hidden Movement, Missions, Deduction

Author: Roger Tankersley, David Thompson
Illustrations: Jose David Lanza Cebrian, Edouard Grould, Ed Savage
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Language: English
Cost: 60 Euro

Summary

Karl Fairburne, the deadliest sniper in video game history, is back, but this time on the board. What the authors Roger Tankersley and David Thompson, but also David Túrczi, have worked out for the adaptation is hidden movement at its finest. Nevertheless: Despite the well-functioning solo mode, Sniper Elite: The Board Game shows its strengths especially with two or four players. Regardless of the number of players, it is always a duel, and an exciting one at that. Overall, Sniper Elite: The Board Game manages to bring the idea of ​​video game template hitting to the gaming table. The course of the game is exciting and remains so over the entire length of the game, which is moderate at a maximum of 80 minutes.

The board game about the German-American elite sniper does not require any frills. The gameplay is spot on, but sometimes you get lost in the details. Nevertheless: There is rarely so much tension that can actually be felt in a board game. Sniper Elite: The Board Game hardly makes any mistakes here – at best the material without a deluxe upgrade can be guessed at that sooner or later the tokens for the “blind bag” will be torn apart. Rebellion Unplugged's in-house luxury upgrade for the board game or some creativity can help. Own poker chips or even colored dice (the tokens have symbols, but are color-coded) ensure significantly more longevity. It's annoying that this trick is needed at all, but speaks for the board game. It will often end up on the table for fans as one of the best exponents of the genre right now.

There is no need to worry about balancing problems. The authors have done an excellent job in this regard. It is up to the players to find their personal style and adapt it to the conditions on the board. It sometimes happens that the use of the sniper rifle comes into focus too often. Depending on the tactics of the sniper, a bit of a skirmish feeling can be felt. That doesn't detract from the fun - often the opposite is the case, because every kill gives soldiers at least a hint. One thing is clear: the average game will not take place without contact with the enemy, so that the soldiers always have a realistic chance of coming up with a common strategy. Whether by uncovering or vaguely by making noises, the sniper leaves his mark that has to be read.

When the base game is exhausted, the expansion “Eagle's Nest” provides new motivation and new material. Miniatures, two new maps and 40 cards then basically offers a kind of restart of the gameplay, but then with some new gameplay tricks like climbing equipment. Then, by the way, there are also points of contact with the zombie spin-offs of the games series.

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Last updated on 3.08.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API