The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Session Report

It’s a rare week when I play four new games, but Saboteur rounds out the quadfecta. It’s another ‘semi-cooperative’ game, and part of Z-Man’s line of cute filler card games. The players are dwarves digging for gold, but a few of them are Saboteurs. These roles are dealt out ala Shadows over Camelot. There’s a start card and three goal cards. One is sweet, sweet gold. Two are lumps.

It’s the standard “Play a card, draw a card.” Most cards fill in the dig, which is an empty grid. You need to walk at least seven cards to get to a goal, so it will take a while. Cards can also hinder your opponents (broken tools), repair breaks, discard a previously played card on the grid, or peek at one goal card.

If the dwarves exhaust the deck (and cards in hand), then the saboteurs win, and each get a flat amount (based on the number of saboteurs). If the dwarves find gold, the ‘good’ dwarves draft a number of gold cards … with the finder getting first pick, and usually an extra pick. You draw gold equal to players, but skip over any saboteurs, so a few players will get gold.

The last part is clever, in that it encourages you to aim for the gold, but in such a way as you don’t get last pick. This blurst the line between betrayal and simple greed. In fact, I don’t think anyone really caught onto it until after a round or two, so the dwarves always found gold. This made the game fall a bit flat, but I’d like to try again.

We also played Shadows over Camelot. Unlike last time, we did have a traitor, who managed to get lancelot’s armor without arousing much suspicion, but he outed himself in the endgame, when things looked desperate. Another loyalist win.

Now that I’ve played a half-dozen times, I have to say that Camelot works well in theory, but in practice it’s a bit off. The game just isn’t as tense as expected. I had suspicions about the traitor, but they were wrong. In any case, I think this game is “OK.” It’s a change of pace,
certainly better than Arkham Horror. I should pull out Lord of the Rings.

Also hitting the table:

Update: I’ve been informed that the gold is distributed counter-clockwise, which changes things.

Written by taogaming

March 11, 2006 at 1:24 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I think even with good play, Saboteur probably favors the “loyal” Dwarves a bit too much; Saboteur wins are fairly rare in my experience – many sessions have gone without one (you’d hope they might win one game in 3, given the distribution of roles). Some numbers of players are obviously better than others for the Saboteurs, though.

    Chris Farrell

    March 11, 2006 at 2:00 pm

  2. Well, the evil dwarves may have a tough time with it. Tough to judge after one game. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sabotuers have it a bit rough. Perhaps you should discard a number of cards off the top to shorten the game a bit….


    March 11, 2006 at 7:53 pm

  3. With 6+ players, we regularly (50% of the time) see the saboteurs win.

    Then again, we may be greedy. 😉


    March 12, 2006 at 7:16 pm

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