Merlin Games launched its first board game, Thieves - the most exciting game of strategy and chance, at the UK Games Expo in 2018. It lived up to the hyperbole, as it won both the Judges’ and People’s Choice awards for ‘Best Abstract Game’, and shortly afterwards Imagination Gaming’s ‘Family Gold Award’. Thieves was inspired by both the Norse myth of the dragon Fafnir’s hoard of gold and the mechanics and styling of ancient abstract games.
In Thieves, two players compete to steal a hoard of gold from the heart of the dragon’s lair. They direct the moves and actions of their gangs of thieves through a labyrinth of coloured doors that open and close with every roll of a pair of dice. Players have three goals: to take the treasure, to keep it, and finally to escape with it. The rules are simple enough to learn within five minutes, but complexity emerges in play.
Throughout a game of Thieves, the players' strategic skills are challenged by the dice. These compel players to keep adapting their plans so that every game played will be different. At no point in any game does the outcome become inevitable: until the winning roll of the dice, it’s possible for players to snatch victories from near defeats.
Thieves appeals equally to children and adults, men and women, casual as well as keen board gamers. Played at home or in pubs and cafes, its reversals of fortune typically provoke excitement, laughter and conversation.
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