Late 2015 saw Calliope Games release 2 titles in small boxes. One of the game released was Thieves! designed by Richard de Rijk and licensed from 999 Games b.v. The game is for 3-6 players ages 8+ and plays in about 20 minutes, longer if you choose to play using extended rules.
Thieves! is a casual card game that comes with a deck of 58 cards, including reference cards for each player and also 7 gem tokens for use in extended play. The 58 cards have a breakdown of 26 Loot Cards, 12 Police Cards, 14 Thief Cards and 6 Reference Cards.
The object of the game is to have the most loot at the end of the game.
Gameplay is very simple in Thieves! To play the game, give each player a reference card. The reference card explains all of the symbols that show up on the cards. Next shuffle the deck and deal 3 cards face down to each player, which forms their starting hands. If any Getaway cards are dealt shuffle them back into the deck and deal replacement cards that are not Getaway cards. The remaining cards are placed face down to form a draw deck in the center of the table. The player wearing the most black is the first player.
On a player’s turn, there will be 2 phases. The first phase, the active player will draw cards into their hand until he or she has 4 cards. If you draw a Getaway card, place it face up in the center of the table and draw a replacement card. The Getaway cards act as a timer for the game. The second phase, the active player will play a card. There are three card types to play, Loot cards, Police cards, and Thief cards. Loot cards have values on them from 0-3 and represent the points players are trying to earn in the game. If a loot card is played, the card can be placed face down in front of the active player, becoming part of the Stash that player is accumulating. OR a loot card can be played face up in front of another player adding value to that player’s stash. Why would a player want to do that?? Well the higher the value of a player’s stash, the more likely they are to be busted when a police raid happens.
A police raid happens as a result of playing Police cards. If a player plays a Police card, it is played face up in the center of the table to the right of the draw deck. There are helmets on the cards and when the total value of police helmets reaches 4, a police raid is triggered. If a player plays a siren card, all other players immediately play any Police cards with helmets on them that are in their hand. This usually ends in triggering a police raid. When a police raid occurs, each player reveals all the cards in their stash and totals the value of their loot. There are 2 special loot cards that have different values in a police raid so take those into account. The player with the highest value stash is busted and all of his or her Loot cards, along with any Police or Thief cards played before the raid are shuffled back into the deck. Getaway cards stay on the table. If there is a tie for highest value, all tied players lose their stash.
The third type of card to play is a Thief card.Thief cards are placed face up in the center of the table, to the left of the draw deck.
Thief cards do a few different things. A Thieves card allows players to swap loot cards from one player’s stash to another. A Fortune card played forces the player to draw 2 new cards from the draw deck and play them. This is risky because of the possibility of helmet Police cards coming up and triggering a raid. On the other hand, a Getaway card would be good in bringing the game closer to the end. Roadblock cards remove and played helmet cards from the table and shuffles them back into the draw deck.
Play continues until the 7th Getaway card is drawn. The game immediately ends and the player with the most loot in their stash wins.
To play an extended game, each game becomes a round and the winner of each round takes a gem token. The first player to collect 2 gem tokens win the game overall.
Thieves! is a casual card game meant to be a family game. The game will appeal to those who like games like family-style card games like UNO! , Fluxx and the like. It is a very light-style card game. The rules are simple and well-written. The card art is humorous. The setting of the game is at night, so the card art is on the dark side, so there are no bright vibrant colors in this one. The over use of brown colors and tones makes the game look a bit drab. The quality of the card stock is excellent. I am a bit cautious with the black borders on the cards. With the amount of excessive shuffling of cards in this game, the edges can take on a worn appearance rather quickly and may lead to marking on cards that may identify them, so I recommend sleeving the cards in the game. Fortunately, there are only 52 cards to sleeve. Thieves is carried by two main mechanics: bluffing and press your luck and also has quite a bit of take that to it. Players can have some fun as well as some challenge in choosing how to play cards from their hands, especially the Loot cards and trying to find themselves in a good spot when police raids occur, but the game is basically ruled by chaos and luck. The Police cards add tension to the game, because players see a police raid coming and they don’t want to get busted. The Police raids are entertaining in the fact that the player(s) with the most loot lose their stash. But, the element of reshuffling cards back into the deck as a result of a police raid also annoys me. The deck is has some Loot cards going back into the deck yes, but the concentration of Police cards goes up making raids happen more often. And with the reshuffling of the cards, the Getaway cards are constantly moving around, never giving a clear idea as when the game will exactly end. If you play a game where as a result of the reshuffling the Getaway cards all collect at the bottom of the deck, it makes for a game that overstays its welcome. Other times, the Getaway cards come quickly and the game is over before it really starts.
Thieves! is a card game that can be played as a family activity, using the game as a reason to spend time together and that is most important. However, in our family, most of the people who played it did not care for it. As the game went on boredom set in and after a couple of games, I had 4 family members not wanting to play the game at all. In with a player count of 3-6 players, it plays better at higher player counts. Personally, this is a game I thought would be a fun casual game, but turned out to be a miss for me with the game overstaying its welcome.