By Lex "Gaz the Dungeonmaster" Ansems on April 16, 2014
There I was: recovering for my latest adventure of building worlds , killing heroes, taking care of minions and basically just the standard dungeon master stuff, when suddenly my loyal servant imp brought me a disturbing message. Dumeegamer and Sadhonker were doing a board game review without me... OUTRAGEOUS, BLASPHEMY! I mean who do they think they are... I will show them! So I took out my bag of most fowl minions. I will send them to eat their cats, steal their Tupperware and dust up their computers.
My servant imp kept bugging me. WHAT DO YOU WANT IMP, can't you see I'm planning their demise here?! What do you mean I read the message wrong?! They are just doing a preview and will leave the review to me? Well that changes things; Imp, fetch me my game!. The imp ran off and came back with rogue agent from White Goblin Games. Hmm, this looks interesting: cops, criminals and bombs. Well, let's see what we've got here and play Rogue Agent.
In Rogue Agent, you are an agent tasked with arresting and bringing in criminals that roam Rain City by investigating clues, having gun fights and (if you play the Android variant, fight against insider androids who are set to destroy the city.
Each round consists of 3 distinct phases: the Time phase, the Action phase and the City phase. During the Timed phase, the criminals, assassins and bombs invade the city. You role a six sided dice to determine how many of them come into play and where to place them in the city. After this initial roll, you draw villain cards for the evil guys, and then go straight into the action phase.
During the Action phase you and your fellow agents move through the city, collecting upgrades for your car, guns and undercover skills, as well as gas and munitions, finding clues and fighting criminals. You do this by moving to a city tile and investigating this tile by rolling dice. Rogue agent has a collection of custom dice and every location requires you to roll a certain combination of these dice. For instance, the gas station tile requires you to roll a bunch of gas dice, while the hospital tile requires you to roll a bunch of health dice... you get the idea.
You can also attack criminals that are on the same tile as you. When you want to know who this criminal is, you turn in investigation tokens to check out their card, after which you can decide if it's a good idea to go into a shoot out or whether it would be smarter to just turn and run... This, once again, is done by rolling by rolling dice. Instead of attacking criminals, you might want to have a stab at defusing a bomb. This is done by, yes you've guessed it, rolling dice... Everything in this game is done by rolling dice.
In the City phase, the criminal element gets its turn. Criminals move through the city on a predetermined path. They attack every agent they encounter, or kill off the informants a player has placed on a certain tile. So basically, they rampage through the city, trying to completely destroy your plans. The game itself isn't that difficult to master. However, it has a lot of rules and a lot of stuff you can do, so think before you act. Your options are limited by the number of actions, the number of credits you have in your possession, your health and well... the rules.
But now, the time has come to talk about the things that get on my nerves. You may think this feels like your typical Dungeon Master rant, and (admittedly) it is... So here it is, my boggle.
Boggle Numero Uno:, Rogue Agent doesn't quite know what it wants to be; it has all the makings of a strategy game, but it is too random, what with all the rolling of the dice. It gives you all these amazing options but then constricts you with tokens and limited actions.
Boggle Numero Dos: (This is a big NO NO for me in any game) There are translation errors in the rule books. Now, as you may or may not know, I am a rule lawyer, so if there's one thing I need when playing a game, it is a clear explanation of the rules. So, as you can imagine, translation errors are really a big no no.
Rogue Agent combines fantastic art with a great concept in one very complete package. Killing criminals, disabling bombs, saving the city; it is great! But when taking into account its identity crisis and overwhelming amount of rules it sometimes feels like it shot itself in its own foot (somewhat crippling the game and slowing down its pace), it loses some of its shine. That's why it is with a heavy heart that I must admit that Rogue Agent is just not the game for me. But don't let that stop you from playing it. It is a really beautiful and intricately designed game that deserves to be played. That's why I'm thoroughly convinced of the fact that a lot of you guys and girls out there will absolutely love it! So if you're into beautifully designed games with a cool cyberpunk-themed story and lots of options, dice and rules, then Rogue Agent is THE game for you!
White Goblin Games
Designer: David Ausloos
Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 12 & up
Playtime: approx. 90 minutes