About this project
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"The Perfect Heist" is a cooperative/competitive board game based on the heist movie genre. I designed it to capture the excitement and challenge of pulling together a handpicked crew of professionals to pull off epic heists. To win, you must convince your friends—those gunmen, con men, getaway drivers, and grizzled vets who are "getting too old for this"—to join your crew and take on increasingly more difficult jobs ranging from boosting cars to nicking top secret documents and biological weapons.
But even as you need their expertise to chase the big scores and make a name for yourself, don't think for a second they're doing you any favors. They are trying to win, too! And they may double-cross you any chance they get to steal the loot for themselves. Only the most notorious mastermind can win.
My driving goal has been to make a polished game that people love to play. I've worked hard to make "The Perfect Heist" fun from the theme down to the mechanics, to the artwork, to the rules, and to the myriad of movie references within the game. But I still need one last push to complete the game…
It's my hope that, through this Kickstarter campaign, you can help me make "The Perfect Heist" even better, get it printed, and get it in your friends' and family's hands by year's end. I really cannot do this without you.
Nearly every reward at every funding level is about improving the design or the content of the game. There may come a time when I'm prepared to produce t-shirts emblazoned with "Stay Calm and Get in the Van!" or some such thing, but not today. I would rather focus on improving game and that is where all the money will go.
To that end, I have several key characters that still need to be designed. Josh Alves and Kendrick Tu are the fantastic illustrators behind the game's character art and they are slated to produce more. At the MASTERMIND funding level, you can send us your photo to be the basis for one of the new characters. And I'll send you a large print of your personalized character that you can enjoy.
The design of the board and all 240 cards needs to be finalized, as well, which is a fairly large task. I've agonized over the optimal layout to these things and to make them as streamlined and as accessible as possible. They've gone through more iterations than I care to enumerate.
Finally, your money will go towards getting the game printed. Now, I'm not starting a game publishing company on the back of this Kickstarter, though, so my intent is for a small run—enough to cover those of you who want a box. Depending on the success of this campaign, my intent is to focus the funds on higher quality materials and packaging.
But one of my highest priorities is to have it manufactured here in the United States. [Update: GOAL MET!] That will take going beyond my funding goal, but I'd sure like to make that happen. Most of these kinds of games are made in China to keep margins high. But I'm just trying to make a great game that I can feel good about.
For the complete rulebook, click here.
The object is to finish the game with the most notoriety points. Players gain notoriety by successfully completing heists or hidden agendas. When players successfully complete a heist, they advance one space on the board. The game finishes when any player reaches the board's end.
In order to pull off heists, players must acquire cards to use as part of their "Ability Deck." These cards describe your character in the following terms:
- Specialty — Mastermind, gunman, technician, driver, or fence
- Traits – e.g. brawny, cool under pressure, situational awareness
- Weapon – e.g. hunting knife, garrote wire, flame thrower
- Kit – e.g. bulletproof vest, duffel bag, an unmarked van
A player will succeed at a heist if the combined value of all their ability cards is greater than the difficulty of the heist. Complicating that, however, are the players who choose to foil your heist attempt by playing "sabotage" cards. These cards, like "You've Been Spotted!" or "The Usual Suspects", can either completely destroy your heist attempt or require you to ask other players for help.
Players may join together temporarily in order to pull off heists that would be too difficult to take on their own or that may require certain player types to win (e.g. you'll need a driver to steal a car). You'll need to negotiate an equitable payout for them, however. You can offer them a cut of the loot or even share in the notoriety of the job.
But just because someone has joined your crew, it doesn't mean you can trust them. They may be just be waiting for the right moment to take you down.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know my game. I hope you'll choose to sign on and help me pull this thing off.
For a group of 4 people, a typical game lasts around an hour to 90 minutes.
The Perfect Heist is often compared to Munchkin because it uses similar mechanics: building your deck of cards gives you a bonus toward completely some goal, that you may pool points with another player to complete the goal, and that you may attack other players at any time.
The biggest difference, perhaps, is that the victory conditions are totally different. In a game like Munchkin, you win by successfully killing 10 monsters. The Perfect Heist asks the question, "Yes, but how hard did you work for it?"
In The Perfect Heist, the player with the most Notoriety points wins. This is the measure of how hard you worked. And it's accrued by successfully pulling off your own heists, by joining another player and negotiating for Notoriety, or through more covert means.
And the covert aspect makes all the difference. It means that you can't know exactly what the intentions are for the person joining your crew. Are they really joining to help? Or are they just using you to fulfill a Hidden Agenda card? They may be simply be joining to sabotage the heist to failure.
It also means that the person who *appears* to be winning may not be– because of all the potential covert points floating about in people's hands. One person may have an "Inheritance" wildcard that gives them extra points. Another, a Hidden Agenda that gives them points simply for not pulling another job again.
The net result is greater emphasis on player cooperation, while simultaneously increasing the tension around it. There's less need to bash and troll the other players into oblivion, because you can employ more covert subterfuge in order to win.
My goal from the start has been to make "Perfect Heist" as sophisticated, true to the theme, and yet accessible to as many gamers as possible. To that end, I've been testing it with hardcore gamers as well as casual gamers alike. Play-testing is ongoing.
I released prototype builds starting last year – to be played unaided by me – to hardcore care gamers, euro gamers, and casual/mainstream players. Afterwards, they either returned notes to me, completed my Google Docs survey, or I debriefed them about the experience, their friends' reactions, the challenges they had, and how they chose to resolve gameplay uncertainties. Two of the play-test groups chose to keep the prototypes and continued to play with their friends and family.
Additionally, I've run several play-tests with various groups of friends, family, coworkers, with ages ranging from 14-60 (biased toward 25-30 and slightly more male), comprised mostly of casual gamers, card players, but with a few definite gamers.
In most cases, the response has been extremely favorable after new players get over the initial hump of understanding how the cards interrelate. This has been especially true of the casual or card players. I've found that playing until the first person reaches Professional status is enough time for most players to have it "click."
Play-testing unearthed challenges for people who were not familiar with basic RPG concepts: characters may carry one type of a thing, but not others… and inventory limits. The trading mechanism was a constant source of confusion (e.g. "which cards can I trade?"). Card management was a serious challenge… (e.g. "How many weapons can I carry?" "Can't I just swap this card for a better one?")
For some hardcore players, there has been considerable conversation around the "Chance Roll" mechanism and whether it should exist at all.
Most of the players' challenges and feedback has led to an increasing clarity in card design and layout rather than significant alterations to the gameplay rules themselves. For example, the card management and RPG concepts have been boiled down clear visual cues on the cards themselves. Where once there were Persona AND Trait cards, now they have been merged into a single type. Probably the single biggest change (and win) has been to simplify trading and when people can replace cards in their deck. The gameplay lost nothing, but gained a lot more fluidity.
I am currently dedicating up to 25 Trait cards to my backers. The Trait cards have titles such as "Demolitions Expertise", "Lightning Reflexes", "Cool Under Pressure", and "Getting too old for this." When a Backer plays their dedicated card, they and only they may receive the special bonus effect.
So, in the rulebook there will be a section for special player dedications. The final layout is yet to be determined, but it might look something like this:
Special Player Dedications:
Pablo Escobar (Bogota, Columbia) — Loose Cannon, +2 Bonus
Verbal Kint (Los Angeles, CA) — Smooth Talker, +2 Notoriety Bonus
Sam Ronin (New York, NY) — Meticulous, +2 Bonus
At the moment, my intent is to improve the build quality as much as possible. So initial stretch goals may improve the card stock, get a custom molded inset to hold the pieces, wooden player pawns. Things like that.
One of my greatest concerns is to deliver this game by the end of the year, which is already tight. I hesitate to add any stretch goal which may expand the scope and possibly delay delivery.
However… that does not preclude shipping additional components or (better yet) the expansions afterwards. Stay tuned. I will post more as this campaign continues…
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