Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: Good Cop Bad Cop

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Good Cop Bad Cop
Which of these guys is the Agent, and which is the Kingpin? Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Here’s another last-minute Kickstarter alert (it closes today!)—it’s another one that, unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to get out and play earlier because of missed game nights or not enough players, but it’s worth checking out. Good Cop Bad Cop is a hidden-role card game about a corrupt police district. There’s a Kingpin in charge of the corrupt cops and an Agent heading up the honest cops—and somebody’s going down.

At a glance: Good Cop Bad Cop is for 4-8 players, ages 12 and up, and takes about 10-20 minutes to play. For a $14 pledge, you’ll get a copy of the game, plus there’s a free print and play available (but it’s only in black and white). The game involves corrupt cops and killing each other with guns, so I think the age rating is probably appropriate.

Good Cop Bad Cop integrity cards
Integrity cards will show your allegiance.

Components:

  • 24 Integrity cards
  • 16 Equipment cards
  • 4 Gun cards
  • 2 Wounded cards
  • 1 Lead Investigator card

The graphics on the cards are nice: simple and clean, mostly silhouettes or simple outlines. I particularly like the “Crooked” and “Honest” icons.

How to Play:

The rules are available here, or you can watch the How to Play video on the Kickstarter page, so I’m just going to summarize here. Basically, each player is going to end up with three integrity cards. One person will have the Kingpin and one will have the Agent, and the rest of the cards will be either Crooked or Honest. The Kingpin is always crooked, of course, and the Agent is always honest, regardless of their other cards. For the rest of the players, whichever type you have more of determines your integrity. You put your Integrity cards face down in front of you, and each player gets an Equipment card. Guns go in the center of the table.

On your turn, you get to take one action:

  • Investigate: peek at any face down Integrity card secretly and put it back
  • Equip: draw an Equipment card, and turn an Integrity card face-up
  • Arm: pick up a Gun card from the center, and turn an Integrity card face-up
  • Shoot: shoot your Gun (if you have one) and then return it to the center

After you’ve taken your action, you then aim your gun at any player you choose if you have one.

Good Cop Bad Cop equipment cards
A few of the Equipment cards available.

Equipment cards can be used at any time, even on another player’s turn, and can affect turn order, Integrity cards, Gun cards, and even bring a dead player back to life. You may only have one Equipment card at a time.

Good Cop Bad Cop guns

If you get shot, you must turn up all your Integrity cards face-up. If you’re the Agent or Kingpin, the first time you get shot you take a “Wounded” card and also get another Equipment card, and the second time you get shot, you’re dead. If you’re a regular cop (crooked or honest), you die the first time you get shot.

Good Cop Bad Cop wounded cards
Wounded cards for the Agent and Kingpin, and a Lead Investigator card with turn summary.

The game ends when either the Kingpin or Agent dies—in which case the other team wins (even the dead cops). Or, if any player manages to get the Kingpin and Agent card at the same time, that player and the crooked cops win.

Verdict:

I’ve only gotten to play Good Cop Bad Cop twice so far (with 4 players) but we all really enjoyed it and I’m definitely interested in playing again with more players.

Here’s what I like about it: first, the multiple Integrity cards means that there are more possibilities for the roles. You never know for sure how many people are on your team: it could be that there are three good cops versus the Kingpin, or it might be the lone good guy surrounded by corrupt cops. Also, because there are three cards per person, it usually will take a few rounds of investigation before the bullets start flying.

I also like that taking equipment or a gun means that you have to reveal a little more about yourself. It’s a trade-off, but eventually you have to do it. Sometimes if you know that just about everyone has seen one of your cards anyway, then you’re not really giving out new information, and you can use that to your advantage. But there are also Equipment cards that may let you mix up your Integrity cards or even swap with another player, thus changing or obscuring your identity.

The fact that it takes a couple turns to get a gun and then shoot somebody means that other players can try to intervene if they suspect that you’re working against them. The K-9 card makes another player drop their gun; the Tazer lets you steal a gun from somebody. But even when you do manage to shoot somebody, it takes two shots to kill the Agent or the Kingpin, so they may be able to survive even after you’ve figured them out.

Another interesting thing is that you don’t have to lie to win this game—some of that is because of the way everyone has three cards, so there’s imperfect information anyway. But also because of the way that information gets revealed as the game goes on and people get more equipment or guns—sooner or later, everyone is out in the open.

I’d been told that Good Cop Bad Cop was different from other hidden-role games, and it’s true. Perhaps it’s because you can peek at other people’s cards, though it can take a while before you can be totally sure who somebody is unless you get lucky and spot the Agent or Kingpin right away. If you happen to see one Crooked and one Honest card from a player, you still have no idea who they are.

The player elimination isn’t actually so bad because the game plays so quickly, although I could see if you had somebody who just started trying to kill off other players early without investigating it could mess up the experience. It’s always hard to know if there are imbalances or some overpowered strategies based on just two plays, but it definitely seems promising, and I’m interested in trying it again with more players. It seems like it could be a lot of fun, and since it’s just a deck of cards I’m hoping the final packaging will be pretty portable. It’s definitely a decent price.

Today’s the last day to get in on the Kickstarter, so if you’re curious, go check out Good Cop Bad Cop and note that you’ve only got until this evening to get your pledge in!

Disclosure: GeekDad received a demo prototype for review purposes.

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