Sabotage – Fowers Games – Review





Black-Clad and fitted with the latest espionage gadgets, you and your partner scale the dark fortress walls. You’ve been entrusted with a high profile mission.

Jeremiah & Kara



Publisher: Fowers Games

Designer: Tim Fowers

Designer: Jeff Krause

Artist: Ryan Goldsberry

Game Type: Hidden Movement

Game Type: Team vs. Team

Initial Year of Release: 2019

Age Range: 10+

Expected Playtime: 60 – 90 mins

Number of Players: 2 or 4

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Theme and What is it?





Black-Clad and fitted with the latest espionage gadgets, you and your partner scale the dark fortress walls. You’ve been entrusted with a high profile mission: some villains have created a series of terrible doomsday devices which are primed and ready to destroy the world. You must shut them down quickly before it’s too late. 

You sneak through a window someone foolishly left ajar, and tiptoe into the dark hallway. The walls are lined with deadly looking implements and glowing specimens in variously sized jars. As you round the corner, you see a massive machine — a kind of ray gun, taller than a man and glowing red. That has to be it! 

You creep forward silently and retrieve your “doomsday disabler” from your utility belt. You’ve just reached the machine when a terrible electric shock zaps through your body. You’ve been found! Your muscles go limp and the world turns sideways as your body slumps to the cold floor. Just before your eyes close, you see the outline of a tall, dark man, with a massive snake coiled about his shoulders standing over you. He throws his head back and cackles maniacally as the darkness creeps in and your eyes flutter closed. 

Sabotage is a game of secrecy and espionage. Players compete against each other in teams of spies and villains. The spies want to stop the villains’ doomsday devices, and the villains… just don’t want to be stopped! By planning carefully, acting sneakily, and outwitting their opponents, one team will sidle their way to victory!

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Gameplay Mechanics





Sabotage is a team vs team game. One team plays as the spies who have infiltrated the villain’s lair and are trying desperately to disable the dastardly doomsday devices. The other team plays as the villains who know there are meddling spies lurking about. The villains must find and stop the spies before they manage to disable too many devices.

After players have decided who will play on which team, the box is opened up into a screen and placed between the teams, shielding their board and characters from their opponent’s prying eyes. Throughout the rest of the game, players will move their spies and villains around their identical lair boards, but they won’t be able to see where their opponents are! 

In each round of Sabotage, players take actions using dice. At the beginning of the round, one villain player rolls their 4 dice and calls out the numbers. The other players set their dice to match so everyone is using the same numbers. Then the players plan their actions simultaneously. Each player has a stack of action tiles that they can choose their actions from – they can move, search for enemies, and attack. Each action tile indicates a dice value that must be used in order to activate the action. 

Once all players have planned their actions, the villains take their turns, followed by the spies. Play continues until the spies have managed to disable the doomsday devices 8 times, or the villains have successfully attacked the spies 5 times.

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Initial Impressions





From the moment I opened the tri-folding box I was excited. The theme seemed fun, the mechanics were interesting, and the components were top notch! Once I started reading the rulebook though, my excitement started to wane. The rulebook is short but surprisingly difficult to get through. A lot of things seemed partially, but not fully explained. We kept the rules close by for our first play and spent a lot of time referring back to them. After our first play through the game made a lot more sense and we were able to teach it pretty easily to others afterwards.

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Game Build Quality





The component quality of Sabotage is incredible! Detailed miniatures, dual layer player boards, a tri-fold box, and a great custom insert. One thing I really appreciate is that the designers did their best to utilize every part of the game. 

The insert comes in 2 halves – one for the villain components and one for the spies. All their corresponding components fit neatly into the insert, and then one of the game boards clicks into place on top, holding everything securely in place. The inserts are stacked on top of each other and placed into the fold-top game box. I haven’t seen this method of storage before, and it works great. 

Also, I love that the game box itself plays a critical role in gameplay – it acts as a barrier between the two teams to hide their boards from their opponents. It also has each team’s score track built into the top. Literally everything in this game is used for something – there is no wasted space.

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Artistic Direction





The artwork in Sabotage is colorful, cartoon-esque, and fun to look at. and it’s everywhere! The entire box — inside and out is covered in fun illustrations. The villain side of the box shows pictures of spies trying to sneak up on villains. The spies side of the box shows a computer screen with thermal detection of the villain lair and information about the villains lurking there. 

There are a lot of character-specific actions in Sabotage, but most of them are clearly explained on their action tiles. Some of them aren’t super well explained though, and we weren’t able to find clarifications in the rulebook. For those abilities, we were able to construct what we thought it meant based on other rules in the book. 

One of my favorite artistic decisions made in Sabotage is that the dual layer player boards have spaces for the planned action tiles to click into. This adds a tactile element to the game that is surprisingly satisfying.

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Fun Factor





Sabotage is also a game that becomes more fun the more you play it. During our first play we didn’t really enjoy it; the villains had no idea what the spy abilities were and couldn’t find them in the lair at all. The second play was better, but it wasn’t until our third play that we knew the game well enough to actually devise a strategy. 

One thing we noticed during our plays, is that the spies seem to have significantly more fun than the villains. Part of this is because the spies’ objective is to disable the doomsday devices, and they know where these are from the very beginning of the game. The villains’ objective is to attack the spies, which can be really hard to do since they’re basically invisible. When spies move, they have to give a clue about their location, but experienced spies are able to move around stealthily enough that it’s really difficult for the villains to pin down their exact location. This can lead to the villain players having a more frustrated than fun experience. 

Sabotage is a 2 or 4 player game. We have played it as a 2, 3, and 4 player game, and I can tell you — it’s definitely more fun with more players.

In a 2 player game there is 1 spy player playing against 1 villain player. Mechanically nothing is different, but the feel of the game is changed. In a 2 player game, all of your thoughts and deliberations happen silently in your head. In a 4 player game, players have to quietly converse with each other as they try to plan the best strategy for the round. The planning rounds are filled with hushed whispers, furtive glances, and sneaky smirks as teammates scheme against their opponents.

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Age Range & Weight





The manufacturer recommended age for Sabotage is 10+ which I think is perfect, as long as those 10-year-olds have an adult who can decipher and teach the rules initially. 

Sabotage is a medium-light game. Players work in teams, which helps eliminate over analysis, and the actions they can do each turn are limited by which dice values they have available. Turns are planned simultaneously which cuts out down time and keeps the game moving forward at a steady pace.

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Overall this is a fun medium-light game. I think Sabotage would be most enjoyable for people new to the hobby who want to start transitioning to heavier games, and for people who really like playing hidden movement games.

For anyone looking for a medium-light hidden movement game with great components and unique mechanics, give Sabotage a try!

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