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Sniper Elite - The Boardgame

[Sniper Elite]

Roger Tankersley
David Thompson

Rebellion Unplugged

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Dorian Feuerbaum writes about the game:

Board games based on video games generally have a hard time. There are countless examples of why video game mechanics are not easy to implement as a board game or why they are so strongly aimed at the original target group that even expert players cannot appreciate the respective incentive of the game. However, an upward trend in quality can definitely be seen in recent years, especially when established board game designers join in. In the case of "Sniper Elite - The Boardgame", this is David Thompson, who had greater success with the “Undaunted series” and “Switch And Signal”.

"Sniper Elite - The Boardgame", in the following only called "Sniper Elite", is a medium light game for 1 to 4 players and can run a, definitely realistic, playing time of 40 to 70 minutes.

Mechanically, we are in Hidden Movement territory. A player takes on the role of a sniper in WWII and tries to complete two objectives on one of two maps included in the base game. He is given a smaller dry-erase map to mark his movements and certain actions. The opponents, of course, want to prevent this from happening and can use three defenders in each of three squads to secure the areas and potential objectives. More about this in the following round sequence:

The sniper player starts and has 10 turns per objective to fulfill it. He can move 0 to 3 steps, take an action, and play a hand card face down. Each of these options is optional, can be performed in any order and, as far as possible, secretly. There are three actions to choose from. First, he can reveal his position on target spaces that do not correspond to his personal objectives in order to pick up a new equipment card. Likewise, he can reveal himself on one of his targets to fulfill it. The decisive factor, however, is his shooting action. For this, the player draws an announced number of markers from the shooting bag and tries to draw as many hit markers as there are distant spaces to his target. For two noise markers drawn he has to name his position and for five noise and recoil markers drawn his shot definitely misses. When a hit is made, the previously secretly selected enemy is removed.

When moving, the distance is relevant. Starting at two spaces, the player must name all adjacent enemies along the entire path because they heard a noise. Last but not least, the sniper can discard a hand card face down, making it ready to play. The six effects included in the game are quite powerful and can, for example, move enemy pieces away or result in a double shot.

[Sniper Elite]

Click on image to enlarge!

The defenders' options are more extensive, but weaker in total. Each of the three squads has two standard actions or alternatively one Intel action. As an action, the defenders can move up to two spaces, shoot at their own space (without the shot bag), check an adjacent space closely for the sniper, check two surrounding spaces and their own space roughly for the sniper, deploy a shot defender miniature back onto the map, or remove a defender miniature. If a player of a squad decides to take the Intel action, he can ask the Sniper if he is in the respective area of the map.

However, a distinction in the defenders' miniatures needs to be explained. In addition to the normal soldiers, each squad also has an officer, who can additionally use a special ability twice in the game. Attentive dogs can be placed or soldiers can be moved faster across the map.

But how do the respective factions win? The sniper must complete both objectives within the turn limit. The defenders, on the other hand, win the game as soon as the sniper suffers two damage or the respective turn limit is reached.

All actions are easy to grasp and interesting due to the little Push Your Luck mechanic when the Sniper shoots. This dependency within the actions provides a permanent tension on both sides, despite the rather simple possibilities. Here you always have to weigh up exactly when to take a risk and how to place the sniper tactically clever. However, a too cautious approach is quickly punished by the time limit, so a good balance is mandatory.

The theme comes through well and doesn't seem artificially imposed. This doesn't seem like a cheap video game implementation in its overall look and feel, with the exception of the cover. Here, unfortunately, the cover image was taken almost 1:1 from one of the more current releases of the video game series. With that exception, there are nice miniatures and good quality components. Nothing to really complain about here.

About the number of players, a recommendation is a bit more difficult, although the solo mode was not tested, but co-designed by Dávid Turczi. For two and four players the calculation works out well for the defenders, with three players a squad has to be split for both defender players. Not optimal, but doesn't ruin the game experience. Depending on the need for advice, a higher number of players here can drive the actually short game duration rather to the upper end. On the other hand, if there is only one defender player, for example, there is much more to manage and think about, without any possibility to consult about the potential location of the sniper.

That's why our recommended number of players is four, then two, and finally three. The game can end quickly with very lucky moves by the defenders. Some frustration tolerance should be present, as is typical for the genre.

[Sniper Elite]

Click on image to enlarge!

All in all, "Sniper Elite" is one of the best hidden movement games I’ve ever played. It plays comparably fast, exciting and not complex in terms of actions. With the two maps and possible target combinations, there is enough variance included. In case of doubt, an expansion with two more maps and more individual abilities is already available. The game has not been released in Germany yet, but is language-independent for the most part.

We're curious to see how "Sniper Elite" stacks up against the soon-to-be-released "Mind Management" in Germany, which takes a much more complex approach. Until then, "Sniper Elite" is highly recommended for…:

  • Hidden Movement lovers and newcomers
  • players who care about streamlined rules
  • literally exciting game evenings

Rather you should take distance, if you do not like the genre in general of course or...:

  • war settings, especially at the current times, scare you off
  • have a very low frustration tolerance
  • need very complex, extensive games

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