Open Seat Gaming: Ramble Review: Stop Thief!
Game: Stop Thief!
Publisher: Restoration Games
Designer: Rob Daviau, Robert Doyle, Justin D. Jacobson
Main Game Mechanisms: Hidden Movement, Deduction
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Game Time: 15 to 60 minutes (based on player count and mode)
Game Play Overview: You're an investigator that has heard about a local crime, and you want to make sure that you're the one to nab the thief and get the reward. How do you do that? By following your ears! You use an app in order to get auditory and visual hints that will help you to figure out where the thief is going and you race with other investigators in order to get there and call for their arrest. The first investigator to use their movement cards (complete with special abilities) wisely and chase down the thief correctly gets the reward - but be careful! If you guess wrong, you have to pay $1000 to the cops for wasting their time.
Each of the different thieves has special abilities that either affect what is going on during the chase or what happens when you capture them, which adds a lot of tension and variability to the game. Be the first investigator to retire ($25,000 for four players, $35,000 for three players, $45,000 for two players) and you win the game (and get some cool hula music with it, thanks to the app).
Want a more detailed look? Kerensa and Brandon talk about it some in What Did You Play This Week (WYDPTW) Week 144 and give a pretty good overview of it that you can utilize. You can also check out Dan King's Allegro review of it as well! Also, be sure to check out A Fluffy Unboxing - Stop Thief! to get a better look at the components.
- Variable and customizable. I love having the app to play this game. The main reason why is because you can switch up the game to do whatever you want it to do. Want a quick 2 player version? We set it so that you win as soon as you capture two thieves, which can be as quick as a 15 minute jaunt. Want to make things a little harder? Set it so that the thief can escape capture, even if you've found the spot he or she is on. You can get rid of certain cues on the app, make it so that the tips are not as definite (two quadrants or two potential spots instead of saying right where they are), and more. That sort of variability and customizability make Stop Thief a game that is likely going to be an evergreen game for us.
- Scales well. As of right now, we have messed with the game at 1, 2, and 4. I have not done 3 yet, but I hear that 3 is the sweet spot. Solo play just has you hitting a certain goal and you're not really racing against anyone, but it's a fun little puzzle. 2 player is where we've played it most, and Sarah and I are pretty back and forth on who wins the game. Two player is great for us because we like games where we aren't necessarily mean to each other, but we're engaged in a battle of wits to see who outsmarts the other. 4 was a ton of fun and really hectic - I need to try it at a more difficult level with 4, because there were a couple times that one of us said "forget it" because we were too far away to get a thief and the other three people were ganging up on them. I feel like a harder app difficulty would solve that problem a little bit.
- Diversity! I know that Rob and Justin from Restoration Games are focused on diversity in their games, and this shone through in Stop Thief. Not only were the thieves diverse, so were the investigators - they had several racial backgrounds, both men and women. It also helped that a lot of the investigators and thieves were spoofs on different pop culture investigators and thieves. They integrated all of that really well in the game - great job guys!
- "Fury of Dracula Light." We haven't reviewed Fury of Dracula on here yet, mainly because we haven't played it quite enough to do a review. But, we enjoy the game a lot. Stop Thief has a lot of the same feel as Fury of Dracula. The movement cards feel like the train tickets, the special abilities help to thwart you a bit, and the tension of chasing the bad guy around all give it a feel of Fury of Dracula - but it doesn't strip away the fun at all. I imagine that, when they add the "One versus All" option on the app, it will feel even more like Fury of Dracula, too.
- Two of the investigators are just plain mean. I'm a bit of a Care Bear when it comes to gaming, especially when I'm playing 2 player games with Sarah. Because of that, we have actually banned Drake Benedict (purple) and Pepper Gonzales (green) from our two player games, at least until the co-op version releases on the app. Drake can move someone else four spaces before he starts his movement. Pepper actually steals money from other investigators! These felt a little better in the 4 player game, but in 2 players, it's a little too much "take that" and it just doesn't feel very good.
- Small print on the board. Obviously, they had to put a lot on the board in order to make sure that people could understand the paths to be taken and whatnot. But, I will admit, this causes us issues sometimes. We sometimes miss where the paths are going, but I believe that will be fixed as time goes on and we get more used to the board.
- The app is a bit of a battery hog. This is such a minor quibble, but I figured I would warn others about it - the app is a little bit of a battery hog. It eats my battery up, and I have a phone that's just over a year old. It does a little better on Sarah's tablet, which is also fairly new.
Value: Stop Thief retails for $29.99 and the app is free. For how much game that you're getting in this box, it is definitely worth the $30, and you can get it at places like Cool Stuff Inc for $21 and change. We backed this on Kickstarter for $29 (including shipping and the two designer Kickstarter promos) and we are very happy with that value. The board is high quality, the app is always getting updates (and there are more in the hopper) and the card stock is thick and sturdy.
Try, Buy, Deny: We, obviously, love Stop Thief. We have played the daylights out of it in the mere month or so that it's been in our possession. With the standard settings, it is a very light game - but, as mentioned above, you can crank up the difficulty a bit by messing with the settings. If you are someone that likes hidden movement and deduction games, I feel like this is a no-brainer buy. If you have the nostalgia, this actually takes that 1979 game and turns it up to 11, so go for it. It's a try (maybe buy) for those who want to try a light deduction game before trying something heavier in this genre.