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Puzzle solving in the '90s

The Initiative is a 1-4 players narrative-driven game by Corey Konieczka. The story is presented through a comic book that talks about a mysterious game, The Key, which four teenagers in the 1990s are investigating. When you play the game, you are playing as them. The game board is the actual game featured in the comic book, and you will be playing through a series of scenarios. Your failure or success in these scenarios will affect the unfolding of the story. The Initiative will be released in retail sometime in April.

Image source: BGG

Each scenario revolves around the solving of a puzzle. At the beginning of a game session, you first set up the game board by placing clues into specific rooms according to a mission card that is then inserted into a device. When you collect clues from the board, you reveal the letter hidden behind the corresponding symbol. You may want to try to uncover all the clues, or take a guess at the solution once you think you got it.

You will be playing as one of the four characters in the game. On your turn, you have four resource cards in hand. You can play up to 2 of these on the four action cards on display. However, the resource card you play must be of a higher number than the top resource card played on that action card. The four actions you can pay for are: Move (to move your character in up to 4 rooms), Intel (to reveal 2 clue tokens in a chosen room), Gather (to collect up to 2 clue tokens in your room which will unveil the matching letters in the mission's puzzle; note that you don’t need to have them revealed first, but some clue tokens might be traps) and Regroup (to discard all resource cards on one of the other three action cards). Alternatively, you can use one of your two actions to activate your unique character ability by discarding two resource cards. When you’re done, draw cards to fill your hand again.

Image source: BGG

You can lose in two ways: if you guess the solution incorrectly, or if you run out of time. Indeed, when you draw resource cards, you may reveal a “time” card. Once three of these cards are revealed, you lose! To mitigate this, you have the option to draw fewer cards, and face the next round with a smaller hand.

Besides unraveling the main storyline, the campaign can also have you fulfill secondary quests tied to each of the characters. You can also unlock a “secret” card that will provide you with a puzzle that might rely on other game components: the comic book, the box itself, etc. Furthermore, the campaign progressively introduces new rules and adds new components into the game, in a manner reminiscent of legacy games (even though no destruction is involved).

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Mar 29, 2021

Rules have been made available on the publisher's website.

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