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A game of cat and Nazi mouse

Today was a good day to assassinate Hitler. The two Wehrmacht conspirators had gathered weapons, signatures and top secret files, and cornered Hitler outside the Chancellery. The kidnap plot was a (narrow) success.

I'm talking about Black Orchestra, of course. I'm glad to have it in my collection but it sometimes tests my patience. You can have several dead rounds just waiting for the right circumstances. Or decide you're ready for the final move and have an Event card ruin your chances. If the stars don't align, if your plots fail and you have to start over, the game can drag and drain you of the will to kill.

Pick-up-and-deliver is the main mechanism. Each character will try to collect the items needed to commit an assassination attempt but, because their suspicion level has to be low, they will also deliver items to various places on the map, pretending to perform their normal duties so that they go about their business unnoticed.

On each round, you first check if a deputy of the Reich happens to be on the same spot as you. It's bad news if he is, as you fear he might sniff something fishy. Then, action time. You will be moving from city to city or around Berlin picking up folders, drawing cards that might help you execute your plans, and conspiring: if you roll 3 target symbols on the dice, you can either lower Hitler's military support or raise your motivation. These rolls may also give you the opportunity to perform more actions or, if you roll black eagles, you become more suspicious in the eyes of the regime.

When you finish your actions, it's time to draw an Event card. These cards tie what happens in the game with actual events from that historical period and usually make your plans more difficult to carry out. Hitler and his deputies move to other cities, military support increases, the Gestapo raids houses and you may be forced to throw away your illegal files or even be arrested.

If you have gathered what you need to perform the ultimate deed, Hitler is in the right place at the right time, his military support is lax and your suspicion low, you will form your dice pool, get up from your chair (you should always do that, to honour the critical moment), and roll. Some plots allow you to collect more dice than others, and conspiracy cards will boost your chances. If Hitler's military entourage is weak, you just need to roll 3 targets. Otherwise, the plot fails, and you have to muster the courage to give it another shot later.

As you can tell, there's quite a bit of tension in the game, and this is its main strength. It's probably not a game you will be playing all the time, but it's a good one to get to the table once in a while. Rules are simple, components are nice (especially the custom dice), and if you are patient, persistent and lucky, the cat will catch its prey sooner or later.

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A great game when the less bad guys win. It evokes loud cheers and fist pumps when it happens. At around 5% success rate, it is a rare re-playable coop.


Nov 22, 2020

Exactly, yes. I convince myself it's true to the theme when this happens. It really is a game to enjoy occasionally. :)


It's a game I enjoy… occasionally. The basic mechanism of "load up all the bonuses you can, then potentially lose it all thanks to a bad die roll" is one I don't generally enjoy, but in this case the thematic link makes it work.

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