The only thing missing are Scooby Snacks
Remember when as kids we would wander around town solving mysteries? No? Welcome to the digital age I guess. Well, remember shows like Scooby Doo and the Famous Five? Or even Stranger Things?
In Spy Club, you and a group of friends get to wander around town and find out what ‘mysterious thing’ is happening and get to the bottom of it. All without the Upside Down!
There are five aspects of each mystery to solve, and if you can solve all five you win!
Spy Club is a 2-4 player cooperative game where you are essentially trying to match five sets of five different colours – hence the Pandemic comparisons.
Also like Pandemic, there are various conditions that you can ‘lose’ the scenario. This by itself makes any game challenging. However, in Spy Club each time you solve an aspect of the crime you unlock a new information. This new information changes how you continue to play. It can be new ways of gathering clues, or changing the solution conditions of play – it’s fairly random, so adaptability is key. This kind of on the fly narrative change has me thinking of TIME Stories as a comparison.
And I think this is where Spy Club is starting to win me over mechanically. It’s familiar enough that teaching it is fairly simple, yet surprisingly deep for a light to middleweight game.
Only outlining the basics of the game, if you have played either Pandemic or TIME Stories you already have a fair idea of how it all plays out.
Playing the game is very simple. On your turn, you have 3 actions to perform that will help the team solve part of the mystery.
The possible actions are Flipping Cards in your ‘hand’ (play area in front of you), Changing Focus, Trading Cards and Confirming Cards.
Each of the cards in Spy Club is double-sided, so on your turn Flipping Cards may allow you to manipulate the cards into a position that allows you to commit the right clues to the investigation at the right time. This does bring in a memory aspect to the game though – flipping the wrong card is never good!
To actually solve the crime, you need to match five of the same coloured cards to the center play area. Playing one of your cards to the center group is called Confirming Cards – it’s just a way of saying playing to the common investigation. Do this five times and win!
All players have a magnifying glass token that allows them to focus on a certain aspect or colour of the investigation. This is the part of the Mystery they are working on currently (the color). If you are confirming cards of your Focus, you don’t have to spend extra tokens to Confirm your cards, so it becomes a hand management game.
Trading cards comes into effect if you and another player are both focused on the same aspect of a mystery. This will allow you can trade cards with each other for free, usually allowing a player to commit 2 cards and finish up a colour on their turn. This brings in aspects of cooperative hand management.
As mentioned, when you solve an aspect of a case you get new rules that can change these basic actions, but this really is the core of the game – very set actions, clearly marked.
There are of course also the ‘lose’ mechanics. These can include running out of idea tokens or clue cards, fairly Pandemic type conditions.
The main fly in the ointment will be the Suspect. After every player turn, the Suspect gets a chance to cover their tracks. This is done by moving around the table, each space being the players’ clue cards. Whatever colour the Suspect lands on decides what happens. These options include helping the Suspect escape outright, giving up player idea tokens, flipping your cards, or losing clues outright.
So no matter how much you plan, you will always need to try and plan a safety net.
Spy Club looks like a light-hearted yet engaging style of game, aimed probably at younger players but still pulling at my Nostalgia strings.
I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it comes out and give it a proper spin.
Until next time,