Sniper Elite: The Board Game

Sniper Elite: The Board Game

RRP: £49.99
Now £39.70(SAVE 20%)
RRP £49.99
Expected Restock Date 30/06/2024
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Sniper Elite: The Board Game is a hidden movement game based on the iconic video game series. Set in 1943, something is moving in the darkness… Sniper Elite: The Board Game is a 1-4 player stealth action board game of pushing your luck and predicting your enemy. One player takes the role of the allied sniper – Karl Fairburne, with this, up to three others control squads…
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Dice Tower

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • sniping adds spice to hidden move core
  • evocative theme supported by strong artistic design
  • pacey fun for up to 4

Might Not Like

  • sniper is probably the most fun to play
  • no killcam.. naturally
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Description

Sniper Elite: The Board Game is a hidden movement game based on the iconic video game series.

Set in 1943, something is moving in the darkness... Sniper Elite: The Board Game is a 1-4 player stealth action board game of pushing your luck and predicting your enemy.

One player takes the role of the allied sniper - Karl Fairburne, with this, up to three others control squads of German soldiers try to strike a balance between defending their base and hunting Karl down.

As the sniper, you MUST keep Karl’s location secret from the other players through tracking your movement on a hidden board as you pace through the shadows nearing your objectives. You must carefully manage your timing, as every shot you take and objective you complete gives the enemy more of the information they need to narrow down your position.

The defenders will have to use a mix of tactical planning and careful insight to track the sniper’s movements and outwit their bluffs; using their miniatures to block paths, guard vulnerable areas, and move in for the kill.

The game also includes solo rules which put you in charge of the sniper while your enemies are controlled by an AI deck. Test yourself against this daunting opponent, and see if you can can claim a priceless victory for the Allies.

Sniper Elite features a bag-manipulation element. The sniper draws chits from a bag to target the defenders, though canny defence can decrease the sniper's likelihood of making their shot...

Players: 1-4 players

Time: 40-70 mins

Age: 16+

Sniper Elite is a one vs many, hidden movement game which shares common DNA with Scotland Yard, Letters from Whitechapel/Whitehall Mystery and Fury of Dracula. It’s also based on the video game IP of the same name which has a WWII Allied Sniper sneaking around open levels, completing objectives and crucially, sniping myriad Germans – the results of which are captured via a glorious/gratuitous bullet cam.

Sniping From Behind The Screen

Mechanically the core off Sniper Elite is very familiar to anyone that has played one of the other cat and mouse games. The sniper has two objectives to complete and starts the game in one of the two other board zones that doesn’t contain their goals. They will take their movement on a separate, personal board using a dry wipe marker and choose whether to move quietly or noisily.

The former allows them 0-1 spaces while the latter up to 3. But if they move noisily and pass adjacent to a German in any part of that move, they need to tell the hunter they have heard something, but no more. Once the sniper has moved the Germans have a choice of actions to take which include moving, re-deploying, spawning and a range of different search actions.

The sniper is looking to reach their two objectives in either order and then take an action on the objective. This completes it, reveals them to their opponent and takes them a step closer to victory. The Germans are looking to find the sniper and then attack them twice to wound and then kill them.

However, the spice in all of this, as one might expect, is the sniping. A sniper can take an action before or after movement and the most common one you might take is shooting (at) Germans. You have a sniping bag containing aim, recoil and noise tokens.

To hit your target you need to draw a number of aim tokens equal to or greater than the distance to them in spaces. So you tell your opponent how many you are choosing to draw but not how many hits you need. The gamble is that if you draw two noise tokens you reveal your location and if you draw a total of five recoil/noise tokens the gun misfires and a miss is assured. This makes for a glorious push your luck game and, then when you hit, a furious debate among the German players about where you might have been shooting from, if your location has remained secret.

Then there are a bunch of other wrinkles that add to the mechanical depth: equipment cards for the sniper; suppression tokens for killing officers; special abilities for each of the German players, and two different maps to choose from in the base box. Then there is a solo mode too, which obviously abandons the hidden movement and provides a different sort of satisfying puzzle with serviceable AI mechanics.

Don’t Judge A Book…

I will say that I came across Sniper Elite at UKGE and immediately dismissed it as I began to walk past the stand – it smacked of another pointless port of video game IP, of which there are far too many and which seem to be universally awful. And then I was accosted by a mate who appeared and was demoing for Rebellion. He roped me into a game and I spent a glorious 45 minutes as the sniper, killing a bunch of Germans piloted by some very affable Brummies who had also been roped in to play.

I was really impressed. It was pacey, evoking all of the pleasure of my favourite in the genre, Whitehall Mystery, but adding the excitement of sniping. This offered constant cost-benefit decisions of whether to kill or sneak past guards, and the push your luck decision of how many tokens to draw. I won, but narrowly and following a couple of close scrapes. So I bought a copy.

And then I heard a podcast that gave it a roasting, accusing it of being nothing but a power fantasy for the sniper player, which worried me. So next game back with my regular group I made sure I played the Germans, and I had a really good time playing them too. Sure, I preferred playing the sniper, but then I prefer playing Jack. And the Germans were at least as much fun to play as the police in Whitehall Mystery, albeit with a slightly different feel. While this might seem paradoxical, I feel like the Germans have a more enduring sense of being closer to catching the sniper than the police in Whitehall, but less of a sense of where precisely the sniper might be.

One thing I would say is that while Sniper Elite stays close to its source material in presentation and overall theme, in the multiplayer at least there is very little long range sniping in my experience. Often I was snapping off shots at 2 or three spaces distant; sometimes even from an adjacent space. And while sniping feels like the whole point of the video games, for me, in the board game I have seen the sniper win with ne’er firing a shot. Not that I find any of this a problem.

The art design and production values in all of this are top notch and I have enjoyed playing this at all counts. I don’t think it is quite as good as Whitehall Mystery, but the additional spice of sniping and the interesting powers for the Germans than can be mix and matched across the three German squads, means it will be staying in my collection. I think if you like these sort of games you should definitely give it a go.

I don’t get to play anywhere near enough hidden movement games! It’s one of those mechanics that always feels superb but underused. Sniper Elite executes it excellently and couples it in well with some tasty asymmetrical and one vs many play. It’s for one to four players and has one (the shooter) pitted against three (the defenders) in a race to complete their objectives before they run out of time or are shot twice. It plays in around an hour and can take some understanding to grasp, particularly on the shooter side. I’ll give some tips as we go for ease of life and tactical options as we go, too!

Setting It Up

To kick off a game of Sniper Elite, you first need to decide which map you’ll play on. There are two in the core game and I highly recommend you choose the basic for your first few games. The more complicated map has elevated surfaces and tunnelled doorways – beautifully thematic but not the easiest to manoeuvre. Once you’ve done this, each side needs to collect their character pieces and components.

For The Shooter…

Grab the sniper figure but leave him off the board.

Grab the equipment deck and choose three cards to take on your mission. Shuffle the remaining cards to form a loot deck.

Shuffle the objective cards appropriate to the game played and deal yourself two. These are your targets.

Collect all the hit, noise and recoil tokens and create a pool you can access.

Grab the shoot bag and place five hit tokens, two noise and one recoil in it.

Take the dry-erase marker and the smaller map of the board – this is how you will track your actions throughout the game.

For The Defenders…

Take all nine models and place coloured bases on them all, ensuring the commander models have unique colours.

Place these models on the board based on their type and colour.

Choose (or shuffle and deal) a commander card for each of coloured factions – in games with more than one defending player, you’ll need to either have one allocated and share the other or have one each.

Place your action cubes on the timer track at ten. This enables you to both track who has acted and how many rounds the Shooter has left to complete their objectives.

For set up, that’s about it. The Shooter will only place their figure on the board when the Defenders know the location of the Shooter, however, this is removed on the Shooter’s next turn. Furthermore, Defenders will be frequently on and off the board based on both players’ decisions. These are limitless but will cost actions.

Being The Shooter

In Sniper Elite: The Board Game, the Shooter is undoubtedly the player with the most control to start. They choose their starting position and can make hen spend the whole game with without ever alerting the enemy to their location. This isn’t wise though – it’ll result in a Shooter loss! The Shooter has to complete both their objectives by going to their respective locations and using one of their actions to win. That’s not all they can do, however, they can choose how quickly they move, whether to shoot an enemy and can even use their equipment to aid them in their situation. Their whole turn is done in secret unless they’re shooting or completing an objective.

Every action the Defenders take is tracked using the countdown track. There are two red, yellow and black – corresponding to each set’s colours – and this enables each colour to take two action. The same unit in a colour could take those actions, or two of the three could take an action each. This ensures the players can track which colours still have actions and these don’t need to be taken all at once. Also, individual units cannot take the same action twice – this prevents a single-round Shooter kill from the same unit.

Moving And Sneaking

Movement is orthogonal to spaces with adjacent edges and can be done sneakily. They can choose to move 0 or 1 space without making a noise – though they can never voluntarily share a space with an enemy. The board is large, however, and moving in such a way will make them run out of time quickly and give the enemy to time to mobilise. Instead, they can choose to run and move 2 or 3 spaces. The risk in this is that this is noisy and any enemies in spaces adjacent to the path taken are alerted to “hearing a noise”. This lets the opposition know the approximate vicinity of the Shooter to any models it passed.

Shooting And Killing

Despite the name of the game, the Shooter is never required to use their sniper rifle. They can pacifistically complete their objective without bloodshed. However, enemies present obstacles and impassible walls. Sometimes, it’s better to take the shot.

To initiate a shot, the Shooter chooses a target (in secret) and then publicly declares the distance of their shot. This is at least the distance between the Shooter and target. If their target’s spot can be traced in a straight line to the Shooter’s, the minimum number must be that distance. Declaring a shorter distance guarantees a failed shot as you cannot achieve the successes needed.

Once the shot number has been said, the shooter draws tokens from the shot bag one at a time to establish how successful they were. The shot can fail in two ways. Drawing less aim tokens than the distance between shooter and target, or drawing five or more recoil and noise tokens. Also, drawing two or more sound tokens forces the shooter to reveal their current position regardless to whether they succeed or not. (Suppression tokens counteract these, but are only earned by taking out Officers.) If they draw aim tokens equal to (or greater than) the distance necessary, they succeed and the target is removed form the board. They then add another aim token to their bag if successful – panicked soldiers are easier to hit – and then “reload” the bag.

Objectives And Items

The objectives drawn by the Shooter in Sniper Elite: The Board Game are their targets. They’re varied in location and spread across the map. The Shooter must stand on the same location as one of their necessary targets and take an action to complete the objective, revealing the card as they do. This lets the Defenders know the Shooter’s current location (adding the figure to the appropriate location). They also add a noice token to the shot bag – guards are now on high alert! Finally, they reset the Defenders’ action cubes back to 10, giving the Shooter more time to complete their last objective.

Items are the arsenal chosen by the Shooter to take with them and the equipment they ‘liberate’ from the unused objectives on the map. All equipment is one time use and has specific criteria for use: some is revealed when used, some when activated, some on enemy actions. However, when used they are placed face down in front of the Shooter until activated. (They’re very prescriptive but must be explained to the Defenders as necessary.) More items can be claimed by looting at unused objective locations – to do this they draw three equipment cards and keep one. Again, the use of this action will then be public knowledge and will let the enemy know where you could be.

Being The Defenders

The Defenders in Sniper Elite: The Board Game are the seekers in this game of life and death come hide and seek. They need to divide and conquer to pin down and kill the Shooter! They hunt in packs and are not without a few tricks of their own. Whether you’re playing a 1v1/2/3, they work on the same basis. The difference being the number of heads working to find their prey!

Moving, Sweeping, Spotting And Shooting

During a Defender turn, they are able to move a unit up to two spaces. They are not alerted as to whether they are on the same space as the Shooter and can move through other units, but may not stop in their space.

Sweeping and Spotting are the primary ways Defenders identify whether they are adjacent to the Shooter. A Sweep allows a unit to identify whether the Shooter is in their spot and two adjacent spaces. The Shooter must inform them if they are present there, but don’t reveal their exact location. Spotting however allows the Defender to ascertain whether the Shooter is in a specific adjacent spot. A successful spot adds a noise token to the shot bag and also adds the Shooter’s model to that location as their current spot.

Defenders have a far more simplified system of shooting. They choose to shoot at their location and the Shooter says whether they hit or not, adding the Shooter’s model as necessary.

Gathering Intel And Reployment

The strongest ability shared across all Defenders in Sniper Elite: The Board Game is undoubtedly the ability to gather intel. For the cost of both action cubes, a colour of Defenders can ask if the Shooter is in their coloured zone. The caveat here is that the respective officer must be in that zone, also. This helps whittle down the search area and pin down the elusive Shooter.

Alongside this, all Defending faction players can Deploy their soldiers and officers to their respective starting locations when removed from the board. Also, they may dismiss any unit for an action – handy if they’re no where near the Shooter’s last known location. This removes them from the board and allows them to be redeployed next round.

Unique Abilities

Every Officer has a unique ability – dictated by the card dealt to them. These can be activated twice per game and give the Defenders an edge… however! These cannot be used if the respective officer is not on the board, be that because of death or because of dismissal. These all centre on the manipulation of elements to aid the Defenders, be that by releasing dogs to sound the alarm as the Shooter scoots by, or the ability to redeploy any unit to any location. They’re no joke. But because they’re so powerful, they are capped at once per round, twice per game. Effective use of these is essential to really pin the Sniper down.

Winning And Losing

Depending on who you are, you’ll want the game to end differently. The Sniper ends the game when they have completed both objectives they have. They’re timed for this remember, but completing one will reset the timer and give them another ten turns. The Defenders however want to take the Sniper out by shooting them twice OR by timing them out. Prevention is their aim as a primary, with protection being the secondary. As soon as any win or loss condition is met, the game ends.

Top Tips For Your Night Of Espionage

It’s no lie that Shooter sounds more fun. More exciting. More intense… heck, you’re infiltrating an occupied base and committing acts of violence. You’re the culprit. The violator. The renegade… but you’re also the mouse. And the role of cat goes to nine individuals with more than enough tools to track you down and choke you on your own cheese. There’s little chance of escape once found, and every encounter is exciting and tense.

The Good Shooter

As good shooter in Sniper Elite: The Board Game is quiet in the most literal sense of the word. No noise, no mess, no fuss. You cannot take unnecessary, unbalanced risks. If the potential gains don’t outweigh the chance of being shot, don’t take them. Bide your time and lay in wait, or strike first and take ahold of the created chaos! The Defenders have no end of tricks up their sleeves up o take you on and they’ll cash in quickly to take you out. As far as risk goes, the game is incredibly unbalanced towards the Defenders: their risks are minimal and only count against them in the greater scheme of things. Yours are immediately impacting and a poorly weighed risk may spell the end of your sneakiness!

On the flip side of this, you can’t go without some risks taken. Seeing a lapse on patrol, an unguarded objective or a prime solitary target is not only too good an opportunity, it’s too beneficial of one! You’ve got to make every action count and make use of the rounds you’ve got. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. If you can complete an objective with four rounds to go, make use of them. Loot, kill and disrupt. Anything that can give you an edge should be held tightly and utilised as appropriate.

My personal favourite goes against all this advice. Naturally. It’s the “Swiss Army Sniper”. (Associated to neither the Swiss Army nor being a sniper.) For this, it’s imperative to loot as much as possible and make use of every item you can. Confusion will be writhe and you’ll have ample time to cause no end of chaos. Between switching out to a Tommy Gun in tight situations and dropping proximity mines, it’ll be more akin to a Tarantino film that an infiltrate and espionage flick!

The Efficient Defenders

Effective and efficient defenders don’t dilly-dally when hearing dings and dents in the dark. They’re prompt. Decisive. Collaborative in efforts and spread thin. Sniper Elite: The Board Game is the prime place to demonstrate your prowess in taking out those pesky Snipers. But what’s the golden rule for this? Teamwork. Cold, hard teamwork. Clear organisation and order is what will draw the line between you being an angry mob and an elite search and destroy strike team.

One go to method, known in our house as the Scooby Doo method, is to “spread out and look for clues”. Whether you’re a talking Great Dane or a dashing heartthrob in a cravat, this requires all Defenders to act accordingly. Making use of your commanders to gather intel is imperative early game to hone in on your prey. This will enable you to begin stationing soldiers to prime locations as look outs. They’ll get shot at and even killed, that’s a sure fact… but how the Sniper engages with the scenario will let you know loads: minimal distance, potential direction, desperation. Remembering the Sniper can’t just teleport will let you know where the holes in your net are, and tightening your search net will pin them in ready for the kill!

Alternatively, there’s another clear method. One that should be threaded throughout any other method! Cashing in on unique abilities. The Defenders have access to three skills that will let them gain the advantage in any scenario. Guard dogs, free deployment of units and many other “game breaking” skills are essential in finding this sneaky sniper. In reality, these skills don’t break the game as they’re limited use and must be effectively utilised to really cash in on. The sniper only needs shooting twice… but one shot is enough to have them on high alert and running for the hills.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • sniping adds spice to hidden move core
  • evocative theme supported by strong artistic design
  • pacey fun for up to 4

Might not like

  • sniper is probably the most fun to play
  • no killcam.. naturally