|Interaction||Components & Design|
The night is moonless and cloudy, entirely dark except for a faint, multi-hued glow from the wizards tower. The night is also silent, except for the almost inaudible, metallic noise of thieves screwing pitons into ancient masonry. Wait! Thieves? Why, yes. That would be you.
The two to five players in 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower are thieves breaking into the tower of wizard Alazar, collector and protector of rare and dangerous magical items. But that old sorcerer has vanished and for once has gone away. A perfect opportunity.
Get in quietly, get out quickly – The Rules
Alazar’s tower has eight floors. Each floor has five valuable and dangerous artifacts. There’s a very mystical reason for this, having more artifacts per floor would cause seriously destructive interference. You, my dear thieves, enter the tower through the balcony on the top floor. Of course you could have used the door on the ground floor, but instead of a lock it has one of those three-guardian-arrangements. You know, the one guardian that always lies, the one guardian that always tells the truth, and the one guardian that always laments the proletariat’s inability to unite behind a common cause. So you enter through the balcony instead.
Once inside, robbing the Wizard’s Tower is very simple indeed. You move to one of the artifact tiles on your floor, or on any lower floor, and take that tile. That’s it. Nothing complicated about it. No security systems, nothing. Alazar relies way to much on his scary reputation. The only thing you can never do inside the tower is go upwards. The reason for this is kept quiet in the rulebook. I suspect the old wizard favorite of casting Grease plus Permanency on the stairs.
Winning is not as easy as collecting the most loot, however. You have to collect the right loot. Each loot tile belongs to one or more of five categories (Potion, Fossil, Artifact, Jewel, and Book) and has a numeric value. To win the game you want majorities. The player with the highest total value in a category gains points for that category. When a tile belongs to more than one category it counts for all of them. More points are awarded to the players with the most tiles of value three, four, and five. Additional points go the first and second player to leave the tower by simply deciding on their turn that they are done looting. Some tiles also have Curse icons, the majority in which will cost you a few points.
Some especially interesting tiles come with a special ability you get to use when you collect it. Some of those will plainly give you more points, others let you manipulate other tiles in the tower. Especially interesting is the Scarab. When you take it no other player may take anything from your floor until your next turn. With good timing you can force all other players to move past and loot that floor in peace. A common downside of tiles with special effects is that they tend to have curse icons.
Fencing the Loot – The Verdict
So, 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower is a pretty simple game. Go in, move left, right, down, out, count. There are tactical decisions to be made, especially between collecting many tiles or moving down quickly and picking the really good ones, but they are not super deep.
What gives 10 Minute Heist a kick that makes it fun to play is that it’s an almost perfect information game. You know all the tiles your opponents took from the tower. They even stay open, so you can always count their scores and know the majorities as they stand. Or you could, if it wasn’t for one, small detail. Every player gets one face down tile before the game even starts. This one tile opens the way for bluff and subterfuge. Does someone not collect more book tiles because he has a big book hidden away? Or is he trying to manipulate me into taking books so he can get what he really wants.
10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower fulfills all promises it makes on the box. You will commit a heist on a wizard’s tower, and it will take about ten minutes. It doesn’t make any promises about deep, strategic play. If you expected that in a game that advertises its ten-minuteness, then I don’t know what to tell you. This game is a quick, entertaining filler. It has everything you want while you’re waiting for another game to end. It’s not a game you’ll ever meet up to play. You will pull it out whenever you have ten minutes to kill and enough space on the table to lay out the tower.
Photos in this review are from the German edition by Schwerkraft Verlag.