Kompromat

Kompromat

RRP: £16.99
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RRP £16.99
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In this one-on-one game, take on the mantle of rival spies competing by undertaking daring missions and trying to remain undercover. The two players compete using blackjack hands to win missions and collect special abilities. To complete a mission successfully, overtake your opponent but be careful not to go over 21 or you will collect notoriety tokens! Being famous is great, but be…
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Category Tags , SKU TCS-KOMPROMAT Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • A game specifically for two players
  • A bluffing game like blackjack
  • Notoriety tokens being good and bad

Might Not Like

  • Bad luck plays a huge part, and can feel relentless
  • Ways to mitigate bad luck don’t go far enough
  • Bluffing when you know you’re not doing well isn’t easy!
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Description

In this one-on-one game, take on the mantle of rival spies competing by undertaking daring missions and trying to remain undercover. The two players compete using blackjack hands to win missions and collect special abilities. To complete a mission successfully, overtake your opponent but be careful not to go over 21 or you will collect notoriety tokens! Being famous is great, but being too well-known might bring you down... The game is played in 6 rounds unless one spy loses their cover.

Ready to push your luck to be the most successful and elusive spy in the world?

My partner and I have started collecting little games that we can take to the pub with us when we go on holiday. The smaller the better, because it means we can take more away with us. We recently bought a copy of Kompromat, a spy themed game published by small box specialists Helvetiq. The rulebook asks if you are willing to “push your luck to be the most successful agent and leave your mark on history.”

So, is Kompromat a hidden gem or a game you’ll de-spy-se? You’ll need to read on to find out!

Spies Up Your Life

Kompromat is largely based around the card game blackjack, where you’re trying to beat your opponent by scoring as close to 21 as possible without going over. Each player has an equipment deck of 14 cards, each ranged from 0.5 to 11 (but just like the Ace card in blackjack, the 11 can also be used as a 1) This equipment deck is shuffled and placed down in front of you. Then, there are four missions drawn. These missions are split into three categories:

  • Targets, which just score you end of game points
  • Codes & Documents, which score you points depending how many of them you win
  • Items, which are all worth one point, but give you a one-time ability to tip the scales in your favour.

The first player then starts drawing cards from their equipment deck and placing them next to a mission of their choice. The first card is always played face up, any after that are played face down. The player draws until they wish to stop, or if they’ve gone over 21 and must stop. Then, the second player does the same for any of the four missions. This goes back and forth until each player has played cards next to all four missions. Then the cards played next to each mission are revealed, with the person scoring highest claiming the reward. In the event of a tie, the person playing fewest cards gets the reward. This is played over six rounds, and the person with the highest overall score wins.

Now some of you are probably struggling to see how this is different to blackjack, other than a couple of extra abilities. Well, there’s one thing that I’ve forgotten to mention: notoriety.

I Repeat, We Have No Intelligence

In the deck of mission cards are counter-intelligence cards. If drawn, a maximum of one counter-intelligence card is added to a mission per round. If you win the mission they’re attached to, you also earn notoriety tokens. Notoriety is good, it’s extra points at the end of the game. However, the glorious wrinkle to this game is that having too much notoriety is bad. If at any point you gain 9 or more notoriety tokens, you immediately lose the game! As well as gaining notoriety this way, you also gain notoriety every time you score over 21 on any mission.

If at any point you score exactly 21, you can lose one of your notoriety tokens. In the early rounds it’s a relief to get rid of them… but what about in the later rounds? Do you keep them, but then must play more conservatively, or do you get rid of them to try and push your luck a little more? These are the types of decisions that make Kompromat a more heightened version of blackjack. Yes, there is a large amount of luck involved, but there are also ways of mitigating this. Do those ways of mitigating luck go far enough though? Well… I don’t think they do.

Some games are very good at balancing issues of luck, such as The Quacks of Quedlinburg. Quacks throws so many opportunities to catch up at you that sometimes you’re even better off not leading. Notoriety tokens are a good way of compensating bad luck, but I’ve never played a game that’s finished close enough for the notoriety score to have any impact. I feel that it needs to have a higher risk or reward at the end of the game to make it feel like a more difficult decision.

Also, and I do appreciate this is the nature of bluffing games, but hiding your frustration at the bad luck you encounter is hard! This is especially difficult in games where it feels like you’re relentlessly unlucky, losing mission after mission. There were times where this relentlessness stopped the game feeling fun. My opponent even started to feel bad for me, stopping their enjoyment too. I guess that’s more my personal issue with games in this genre rather than Kompromat itself.

Does Kompromat Fall Kompro-flat?

Please don’t take this as a negative review. If you are a fan of the push-your-luck mechanism, then there’s a great little game here for you. The artwork is fun, and the fact it’s so portable is a huge plus. Good card games explicitly for two people aren’t common, so Kompromat would be a welcome addition if game nights are mostly you plus one. However, if you’d like your spies to have a little more agency, this might not be the one for you.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A game specifically for two players
  • A bluffing game like blackjack
  • Notoriety tokens being good and bad

Might not like

  • Bad luck plays a huge part, and can feel relentless
  • Ways to mitigate bad luck dont go far enough
  • Bluffing when you know youre not doing well isnt easy!