21 September 2020
By order of the Peaky Blinders, watch rather than play
Peaky Blinders is an easy show to fall down the rabbit hole with. You watch a few episodes and become quickly invested in the Shelby family. It’s unsurprising given its popularity, that the TV show has spilled into other mediums. Enter – Peaky Blinders the Board Game.
Games like this are perfect for drawing in fans of the show, and so has an opportunity to be a gateway game. There are some great TV-and-Film-to-game creations out there, which grab the attention of the otherwise disinclined – but this isn’t one of them. It’s over-complicated, unexciting, and gives us nothing to write home about.
The game takes place over two boards, the main, larger game board split into four sections – two of Birmingham, and two of London, and you’ll need to gain control of at one of the quadrants, and collect certain items, determined by mission cards. Completing these three cards means you win the game.
There are four rows and pictures for what you may collect on each of the four sections, so straight away you’re consulting the rulebook regularly to work out which circle means what. You’ll add your tokens in turn to collect items. These tokens are your henchmen – strength, charisma, and intelligence. It’s a surprising choice these weren’t made to be personalities from the show. The henchmen have differing likelihood per dice roll of achieving the item and number of them (upgrades, resources, money, etc) for each of the three. You’ll roll in turn, but it results in a lot of downtime.
Juggling then the icons on the board (which are easily forgettable) with the henchmen and their three different types and collection abilities, plus constant dice rolling and downtime all for a few cards…well, it gets old fast. There’s one exception, which is the Strength Henchman, which comes with a consequence. The more you gain from it, the more suspicion grows, and at too much, you’ll go to prison, until you pay to get out, though there are ways to decrease suspicion. However, when imprisoned, it highlights the lack of any interest in the other henchmen. They come with no risk, no mischief, and nothing particularly engaging. You proceed with a solid ‘meh’.
The second board is the Epsom Derby and Camden Market, which feels like a mini game. You’ll roll dice in competition to progress a horse to the finish line, with the victor winning the cash put on the line. It’s probably the most interesting part of the game, which is saying something when its mildly reminiscent of a seaside arcade game.
All the while, you’re trying to complete your ‘secret’ missions. The game seems to try to build tension, in repeated games it was clear that it’s a better strategy to race to collect everything you need. You can attack other players to steal their hold on a city, but it’s all a bit limp. Attacks on other players happen, but frankly the snake in Snakes and Ladders was more of an enemy than your other players, and at least they were a bit of a surprise.
Play it? No
There are enough rules to take the fun out of things, and abiding by strict rules seems the opposite of a Peaky Blinders ethos. Outside of location and a printed picture, there’s actually very little Peaky Blinders in it, and if you take the name away from it, there’s very little left.
Try this if you liked:
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a game where translation from screen to tabletop works like magic
Designer: Rene Groen, John van Es, Andre Visser
Publisher: Just Games
Time: 90 minutes
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
- 1 Game board
- 4 Player boards
- 1 Side board
- 170 Tokens
- 195 Cards
- 4 Suspicion bars
- 16 Control markers
- 16 Miniatures
- 1 D8
- 2 Race D6
This review originally appeared in Issue 45 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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