Last year, I got a prototype of a game called Good Cop Bad Cop, the first game from a then-unknown game publisher, Overworld Games. I had tweeted something about hidden role games, and Brian Henk had responded that I should check out his game. Normally I don’t always go for people tweeting at me to review their games, but I was intrigued and agreed to check it out–and I’m so glad I did.
Now, Good Cop Bad Cop gets its first expansion: Bombers and Traitors, now on Kickstarter.
At a glance: Bombers and Traitors is an expansion for Good Cop Bad Cop, and is for 3 to 8 players, ages 12 and up, and takes 15-30 minutes to play. (The base game is required to play.) Bombers and Traitors is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and the pledge level for a copy of the game varies: $13 if you backed the original, $15 otherwise; other pledge levels include a copy of the base game or Otherworld’s other title, New Salem. I think the recommended age range is about right; because of the type of strategy and thematic content, I probably wouldn’t go any younger.
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- 24 Integrity cards
- 5 Equipment cards (up to 16, depending on stretch goals reached)
The new integrity cards have either bomb or knife icons (or in some cases, both), but are otherwise the same as the originals. Stretch goals will add new artwork for the integrity cards, which will also give backers an opportunity to get themselves in the game as artwork.
Also, the second-edition version of Good Cop Bad Cop (which you could include in some reward levels) will upgrade the guns, Lead Investigator card, and Wounded cards to chipboard with plastic stands, but these aren’t included in the expansion only. The Equipment cards have also been upgraded to full-color artwork instead of the black silhouettes from the first edition. (The photo below shows extra-large gun cards, but this was just the prototype.)
How to Play
The rules for the base game are here, or you can read the overview from my review of the base game. I’ll explain the differences that the expansion adds, but here’s a very short summary: Each player will have three Integrity cards (most say “Honest” or “Crooked”) that determines their loyalty. There’s also one Agent and one Kingpin–these are the leaders of the honest and crooked cops. The goal is to find and eliminate the leader of the opposing faction through investigating, using equipment cards, and shooting them with guns.
Bombers and Traitors still uses the same base rules, but you’ll replace a number of the base game’s integrity cards with the new ones, which have bomb or knife icons on them. The Agent and Kingpin don’t have any of these icons, and there are two that have both icons.
If you get three of the same icon, you are no longer on the Honest or Crooked team, but are instead either a suicide bomber (3 bombs) or a traitor (3 knives), and have your own winning conditions. A Bomber wins by getting shot before the Agent or Kingpin is eliminated; a Traitor wins if either the Agent or the Kingpin is eliminated before the Traitor is killed.
There are a few new equipment cards thrown in–they introduce new options but don’t change the rules of the game itself. For instance, there’s the grenade, which is like a hot potato: you give it to one player, who then passes it on to to another player, who then gets shot. There are also some equipment cards that let you manipulate things when somebody is about to shoot, or even the Holster that lets you keep a gun after you’ve fired it. (Usually you drop a gun after you shoot once.)
First off, let me reiterate how much I like the original Good Cop Bad Cop. Last year when I reviewed it, I didn’t manage to get it to the table until the last minute, and nearly missed the Kickstarter campaign entirely. That’s a shame, because every time I’ve played it I’ve had a blast. It made my 10×10 Tabletop Challenge list, and was one of the top contenders for my 2014 Game of the Year. I made sure to get this one to the table earlier this time so I wouldn’t make the same mistake.
My only critique was something that I didn’t know about when I wrote my initial review–the artwork for the integrity cards was replaced from what I’d seen. The prototype used simple icons, and the final game included full-color illustrations of four archetypal cops on the Agent, Kingpin, Honest, and Crooked cards. I was a bit disappointed that they looked stereotypically “good” and “bad,” because the whole point of the game is that you can’t tell who’s good or bad just by their appearance. Still, it doesn’t really detract from the game, and the artwork is well-done–I just didn’t think it served the theme of the game, and I imagine many gamers will probably prefer the artwork to the icons anyway.
I’ve played the prototype of Bombers and Traitors a few times now, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s very easy to throw in the expansion after even one play of the base game, because it doesn’t add too many rules. In fact, much of the time the game will play out nearly the same way, if nobody gets three of the same icon–and that’s quite possible.
The main thing the expansion changes is that it encourages players to do a little more investigating and deduction before pulling out the guns. First, you want to be sure that you don’t shoot somebody who’s a Bomber, or you’ll lose (unless you’re also a Bomber, but that’s pretty rare). Secondly, you want to ensure that you’ve eliminated any Traitors that might be lurking about before you go after your primary target.
The new integrity cards also allow for some new strategy. Whenever you pick up a gun or equipment, you have to flip over one of your integrity cards and reveal it to everyone. If you have at least one bomb, it’s often a good idea to flip that over–people will think twice about shooting you until they see the rest of your cards. Or, if the leader of your faction is getting threatened, you might be able to buy some time by revealing some knife cards–if people think you’re a Traitor, they can’t shoot your leader until they’ve taken care of you first.
Since the integrity cards are randomly assigned, there’s no guarantee that there will be any Bombers or Traitors in any given situation, and even less likely for there to be at least one of each. Fortunately, I’ve experienced both a Bomber and a Traitor to see how those played out, and there are some fun twists.
In one situation, I had two bomb icons on my cards when somebody tossed the grenade my way. I had until the end of my turn to figure out how to survive, and my only equipment was a Fake ID, which lets you swap two face-up integrity cards. Before my turn was up, another player revealed an integrity card with a bomb on it, and I managed to reveal my bomb-less card. My Fake ID swapped the two, giving me three bomb icons and making me a Bomber–and then the grenade went off, so I won.
In another game, the Agent and Kingpin had both been revealed–and both had been shot once already, so one more shot to either would end the game. But the only other player had two knife icons showing… We were able to determine that the third player was indeed a Traitor, and then things got tough. Neither the Agent nor the Kingpin could shoot the other without giving the victory to the Traitor, but whoever shot the Traitor would then get shot and lose the game. It was a tense moment and a memorable way for the game to end. (The Agent ended up shooting the Traitor, and then got shot by the Kingpin.)
I haven’t yet experienced a game in which there was both a Traitor and a Bomber, but I suppose it may happen yet, particularly when there are a lot of players.
The equipment cards are a really great part of the game, too: sometimes your best move is to grab for new equipment, because if you’re lucky you’ll find a game-changing item in there. Or you may have just wasted your last turn. The new equipment cards are pretty fun and can be used in interesting ways–in some cases, it really depends on whether you’ve figured out who your allies are.
One comment: with terrorist attacks and controversy over police behavior in the news in recent months, the theme of the game may be quite uncomfortable to some people. The game is definitely meant as entertainment more than political commentary, but because of the theme I wouldn’t recommend it for younger players, and you should probably use your discretion when playing with people you don’t know well.
If you like the original game, you’ll definitely want to get this expansion. Bombers and Traitors doesn’t change the game tremendously but does add some really fun twists, and you’ll get a kick out of the new equipment cards. If you haven’t played the original, now’s your chance to pick up the new-and-improved edition. It’s great for players who like hidden role games and is a good mix of deduction, reading other players, and a bit of luck.
For more information or to pledge for a copy, visit the Kickstarter page.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a prototype of this game for review.