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Awards

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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Sniper Elite: The Board Game Review

Sniper Elite

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.

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

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