Publisher: Caper Games
Game Designer: Randy Thompson
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 20-40 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $23.00
We must get Adler!
MI-6 Agent Adler is up to no good, working as a double-agent he’s stolen some top secret documents and is trying to abscond with the goods back to his home country. A handful of MI-6 agents have gotten wind of the plot and must stop him, but first you must first discover who the traitor is and then stop at nothing to Get Adler!
Get Adler is a quick, lite social deduction card game for 4-6 players with a simple traitor mechanic added in for good measure. The first three rounds of this seven round game serve as the investigation phase which sets up a high-paced, Hollywood-style finale chase through pre-WWII London.
Players are randomly assigned a secret identity at the beginning of the game (with one of them being Adler) and a hand of seven cards. When playing at five or six players, a second turncoat is added to the mix in the guise of Adler’s accomplice Kate Collins.
Each turn, players take a card from the deck and then play one from their hand. The first three rounds are spent trying to ferret out who the turncoat is by interrogating your fellow players, looking at their cards or even swapping some blindly.
Interrogating someone requires a question card, with your inquiries limited to only that player’s character description. “Do you have blue eyes” or “is your hair blond” are the yes or no questions you can ask and are checked against your player reference sheet. After this phase, question cards are no longer used and simply become discards which allow you to draw another card during your turn.
Keep in mind that Adler does not have to answer with the truth while agents must. This narrow level of questioning keeps things simple and the pace of the game from bogging down but doesn’t make a great impact in helping you figure out who is Adler. I wasn’t too keen on the questioning since it’s too easy for Adler to stay hidden, but it does serve its purpose of letting you burn through cards you don’t need so you can build a stronger hand for the chase that follows.
You are not allowed to openly discuss who you think Adler is, nor make gestures; besides didn’t your mother tell you it’s impolite to point? Instead, expect the regular banter (which is allowed) with a lot of blind insinuations flying around the table.
Don’t dismiss that chatter because you may be able to pick up on some tells if Adler doesn’t have a good poker face. This actually helps much more than the actual questioning, while keeping the social interaction high.
Aside from this, you can blindly swap a card with another player using the binocular card, or look at a player’s full hand if you have the magnifying glass card. This is quite useful and can help you gauge who they may be by watching how they play those cards you just saw.
Once the first three investigative rounds are complete, players may attempt an arrest on whoever they believe Adler to be at the start of the 4th round.
Any players that have arrest cards played in front of them must reveal their character card and if they’re not Adler both they and their accuser are out for the round. This is where that earlier table chatter can make a difference for the Adler player, by manipulating attention away from themselves and towards others. Successfully doing this will leave two less pursuers to deal with for that round!
After all initial arrest attempts are resolved, all players flip over their character cards and the action begins in earnest. With Adler now in the open, any agent on their turn can play an arrest card. If Adler is correctly guessed in this phase, it is handled via a simple card matching ‘combat’ mechanic the same as in the following rounds.
To avoid arrest, Adler must play a response card; escape, disguise, pistol or bomb cards are all counters to arrest. If Adler has nothing to respond with, he’s captured and the game is over. It’s rare for that to happen as there are enough arrest and response cards in the deck to keep the action going for at least a couple of rounds.
The first type of response cards are escape cards. These are interesting as they provide five different routes of escape; boat, bus, underground, car and bicycle. Yea, I laughed at that one too but hey, whatever works when you’re running for your life right? To join in the chase, an agent must match whichever escape card Adler throws down and any agent can join in the chase.
If the escape card is matched by an agent, Adler must lead with another response card of their choosing, which does not always have to be another escape card. The easiest out for Adler is to drop a disguise card on the pile, this trumps everything and they are able to escape. For the moment!
Not every response has to be benign; Adler can always up the ante by responding with a weapon. Playing a pistol card starts a gunfight, with one agent and Adler trading pistol cards until one side cannot play anymore.
If there are equal shots fired then Adler gets away, but when Adler plays one more pistol card than the agent, that agent is eliminated from the game. Likewise, if the agent plays one more card, Adler is eliminated. After Adler takes out an agent, they can riffle through that agents hand and take what they want before replenishing back to a full hand using the draw deck.
The other nasty weapon to use is the bomb. Every agent that is involved in the current chase gets knocked out for the round, making it a great response card to use when all agents have joined in a pursuit!
These actions repeat until either Adler escapes with at least one secret document in their hand or they are arrested before time runs out at the end of the 7th round.
Evade or pursue?
As with any social deduction game, much of the experience rides on the group that you play with. The group must be engaged and interactive to enjoy a games full effect. Get Adler does a good job at creating a pretty fun, one vs many atmosphere by allowing everyone to join in the action even when it’s not their turn. It’s not only thematic but inclusive, an important factor for a successful social game experience.
Where needing the right group is very evident is in the first three investigation rounds. As I said earlier, I wasn’t really a big fan of this since Adler can lie and avoid detection so easy. It can feel almost pointless but it is a necessary step in the game because it allows everyone to craft their hand for the coming main event starting in round four. Along with that, the social element can be a more telling factor than the actual questioning mechanic.
After the investigation is where the heart of the game lies and Caper Games brings us a tense, four-round chase befitting the theme. With just four rounds to accomplish their task, everyone feels the pressure mount as the clock ticks down with each card play and it does start to feel like an old school spy film when everyone jumps in!
The card matching arrest mechanic is very easy to understand and explain for gamers of all ages. With several different evasion cards available, the Adler player has multiple ways to dodge arrest while drawing more players into the active pursuit, rather than being bored spectators. Again, it’s a thematic and smart way to get more players involved even when it’s not their turn.
Game play moves along fairly quickly with any size group, and most games last about 20 minutes on average. If you’re a fan of deduction games like Coup, Werewolf and the like, Get Adler is a game for you.
Company Website: http://capergames.ca
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/_capergames
Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.