Review – Stalag 17 from GenX Games
Designer – Oscar Arevalo
Art – Sergi Marcet
Are you a fan of the The Great Escape? Well I am. I tend to watch it every time its on and in fact, with Christmas coming, I would expect to see it on UK TV as per usual. I’ve always loved that film. The greatest WW2 epic story about a prisoner camp escape with Steve McQueen as the Yank Hot-shot pilot Hilts, James Garner as the Scrounger, Richard Attenborough, etc. Love it.
Yeah and I was a fan of Hogan’s Heroes too. Sgt. Schulz, Colonel Klink. Brilliant stuff.
Remember a game called, Escape from Colditz? Loved that game.
Well, GenX Games have essentially distilled Escape from Colditz down to its bare essentials in a new card game released at Essen 2011 called Stalag 17, card game for 2-5 players ages 10+.
The first thing I noticed is that the box if far too big for the components. After all you get a deck of 90 cards, 6 dice and 55 cardboard tokens. The art on the box is good but this all could, and should have been put into a box half the size.
The deck comes with 90 cards which depict – clothes, food, documents, tools, maps, double-object cards, Runaway (Escape) routes, barracks, and information. There are 45 Surveillance and 15 Prisoner tokens. Lastly there are 5 illustrated Object dice and 1 Runaway (Escape) die.
The card quality is a little thin but they are very easy to shuffle and the artwork is very good and thematic. The information and icons are very clear and easy to understand. The dice are are clear in terms of the object images but they look a little smudged although I’m not certain that they are just meant to look this way. Anyway, there is no effect upon game play.
The cards have a spotlight icon with a number. This is the Surveillance value. Some cards show a “played card” icon with the Surveillance value if the card is played down rather than kept in your hand.
Runaway (Escape) route cards show a broken wire fence image. Barracks cards have a star icon.
Stalag 17 is very easy to play and is very much a light filler. The rules come in English and Spanish although the English translation needed a bit of work for me to fully understand. Also, the rules aren’t as clear as they could have been but they weren’t too hard to figure out.
The object of the game is to be the first player to escape 3 prisoners.
Each player starts by choosing 3 prisoner tokens from one of the prisoner nationalities.Then you shuffle the cards and place the deck face down.
There are then 3 phases in every escape attempt turn:
Jailbreak Plan Phase – Easy as rolling dice – The numeric d6 is rolled along with the correct amount of object dice according to the number of players and how many total prisoners have escaped. A matrix is provided to decide this. The dice rolled shows what object are required for the particular escape as well as the minimum number of escape route value whuch must be played for the escape to be successful.
Preparation and Jailbreak Phase – The players take turns where they have to take one of a number of choices, with the ultimate aim of collecting enough cards to play at least the minimum requirements to meet the requirements of the current escape plan dice. Note – with more prisoners escaping, more dice will be added to the next escape plan roll meaning their are more requirements to escape.
The choices are –
Draw 2 cards – of course you need cards in your hand to play
Play a card face down towards the fulfillment of your escape attempt
Discard any 1 card face up into the discard pile
Discard 3 of a kind
Discard 5 different cards
Draw 1 card each from the top of the discard and draw piles
Attempt to escape – If you are the first to have played all of the requisite cards to escape face down in front of you, you can claim your escape.
Rollcall Phase – The player who claimed the escape reveals their cards to confirm that they have met the requirements. They place one of their prisoner tokens aside as a completed escape. They also add the Surveillance value of the cards in their hand and takes this amount in Surveillance tokens. These tokens are added to their next escape attempt route roll which means with each escape, the stakes are higher and more difficult to achieve.
Also, the players who didn’t manage to escape a prisoner add up the Surveillance points and subtract 3 points for each non-escaped prisoner and take the total Surveillance tokens for the next roll. So, there is a lesser difficulty of escaping your first prisoner at least but it gets tougher UNLESS you have been smart in your discards. The key tactics of the game is in the balance in placing down your escape plan cards and discarding high Surveillance value cards. Not easy as of course the luck of the draw has an influence here.
Did it work for me?
I think that Stalag 17 is a good, solid card game. It is a light filler, plays very quickly and moves along very well. There is no player interaction which would have been nice but that would have interrupted the flow. Your focus is on the balance between how quickly you can get the right cards down and also minimize Surveillance values in your hand through discards. A nice mix. The planning dice mechanism is slick and easy. Loads of replay value here as no 2 games will play the same. Ok, there is a significant luck factor and limited tactics but this is a light, fast-playing card game so it is perfectly acceptable. Anyone complaining about the luck factor just shouldn’t bother playing card games as they clearly don’t understand them. Overall, a good game which could have used more efficient packaging and a slightly better English rules translation.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7 out of 10
Yes, why not. The 10+ age level appears right.
For more information go to – http://www.genxgames.es/