2 to 4 players 60 - 90 minutes Age: 15 years Language dependence: very little
Written by Guilou
- Whoever you are, beware, this frequency is exclusively reserved for emergencies. - No kidding ! And you think I'm calling to order pizza?
I think it is useless to explain the film Die Hard to you. It has undeniably become cult and is one of those films whose influence and references have stood the test of time. And it is not the many sequels (more or less interesting) that have replaced it in the hearts of fans.
But strangely, so far, the phenomenon had not extended to the board game. Something that was not the case until 2019. Indeed, the publisherUSAopoly, through the authors Sean Fletcher andPatrick Marino, took "the big risk" to attack the license. Finally, the risk quickly became clear. It is true that it is easy to imagine fans of the license would jump on it without necessarily thinking about what they buy. To remake the film in a board game is something that inevitably has appeal. But can also be quite strenuous. Indeed, getting the players back into the special atmosphere of the film is a challenge in itself. And like any fan, it can ignite for good as well as for bad (and in this case be quite virulent).
Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game is a game with a special atmosphere. One player will play John McClane (because there is only one John McClane!), While the others will play thieves. They will then have to cooperate to put sticks in the wheels of the lonely cop.
The game offers an asymmetrical experience. The hero has their own deck of cards and the bad guys must share the same deck. Everyone has their own actions and how to trigger them. Moreover,Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game takes place a bit like in the film in three acts. Each act has its own board and corresponds to John's advancements in the tower. With each level, the objectives change especially for the hero. The bad guys have what you could call "false goals".
While the hero has to fulfill the conditions (often in order) to advance in the story, for the villains, they have another purpose. Finally, Hans Gruber's troops have only two real goals to win the game all along. The first is to kill John and the second to unlock the safe. If one of the two is completed, then the players on the "evil " side immediately win the game. The side missions they get during the acts only exist to help them unlock the safe.
ACT I: Visit to the 31st floor
“Now I have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho!”
Act I begins when John escapes from the party (thanks to a schoolboy diversion) without shoes but still with his service pistol. So he ends up on the 31st floor. But he is not alone. The thieves are present and begin their hunt. The mission for John is very simple: retrieve shoes from the body of a bandit, find a "machine gun" and find a radio. Each of the objectives fulfilled will allow him to collect bonuses for the rest of the adventure.
For example, the machine gun will allow him to carry out a “free” ranged attack by discarding an ammunition token.
As I said before, thieves have only two main objectives throughout the game: kill John or unlock the safe. However, during the three acts, they have additional missions which, once fulfilled, will allow them to benefit from a free unlocking attempt. In Act I, Hans' minions must capture three hostages, occupy two uncovered "red" areas. In addition, each time they wound John, they can put a token on their mission card. After five, they get free unlocks. This last mission is never reset between acts and is recurrent until the end of the game.
Once John has fulfilled his three objectives, he can escape by going to the specific square. We then proceed to act II.
ACT II: Detour to the 32nd floor.
Sergeant Powell just arrived, John just killed Tony and Hans which sends Marco and Heinrich to him. At the film level, we are there. John's goals are then simple in this act. First, find explosives and the detonator. Then bring it all to the elevator and swing a body over the window to show Sergeant Powell that it's not a bluff.
For Hans' minions, they stay on three secondary missions. The first is always the same, triggering when they wound John. The second corresponds to the destruction of all the windows. The third is the rocket launch on the police who have just arrived in numbers. (Besides, this action can be thematically strange. If the villain performs it when the body has not been thrown out of the window, technically there is not yet SWAT ...).
As in Act I, the objects to be recovered are represented by tokens. These tokens are shuffled face down and positioned in predefined locations. Among them is a trap.
John will have to, once again, manage an escape after having fulfilled his three objectives.
ACT III: 33rd floor, roof and end.
The hostages are on the roof. The explosives are in place. Hans is ready to do battle.
John this time will have to complete his goals in order. First you have to free the hostages, then lower them safely and finally shoot Hans Gruber.
These fake terrorists can still shoot John. Once the sixth lock has been hacked, they are close to victory. This time the interest changes a little. The bad guy will then have to activate the detonators in order to blow up the roof. Once this is done, the seventh lock will be cracked by the FBI's power outage and Hans will be able to escape with the money.
Act three offers a little more tension and a slightly different way of playing for the bad guy.
Now that the three acts have been explained in detail how does it play?Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game is ultimately a fairly easy game to access. You could even stick the “family game” label on it so the choice is quite limited.
All players share the same basic actions.
Move. The cost is one point on all boxes except the gray boxes (obstacles) which cost two. Namely, only John can use these as shortcuts.
Shoot. You must be at least one space away from a target in a straight line. The only constraint is that if the shot crosses an obstacle zone the difficulty of hitting is increased according to the number of obstacles crossed.
Punch. You must be adjacent to a target and succeed in your die roll.
Most actions require a test. Very simple thing, it is a question of rolling a six side die and having a result equal or superior to the difficulty indicated on the target.
John has specific actions:
Sneaking. He can then move everywhere on the value of one point per square (even on gray) and pass enemy occupied spaces. He cannot be the object of attack.
Repel an opponent. Once the test is successful, John can push an opponent (we have added a small house rule, if he pushes an opponent near a window, they are thrown outside).
Ask for reinforcements. John can speak to Sergeant Powell to update him on the situation. The more he performs this action, the more his attack capacity is improved.
Finally, John can rest. He thus retrieves the top card from the discard pile to his hand.
The fake terrorists also have two specific actions:
Attempting to unlock the safe.
Call for reinforcement. If one of the men has been killed, the player can sacrifice their actions to put a new gun toting villain back into play (within the limits of the act).
Well it may seem like a lot of information. But in fact everything is written on the cards. I mean that the actions that are going to be possible depend on the cards played. The key words indicate what actions will be taken and what is the level of difficulty of the tests. Each action can be performed in the desired order and there is no obligation to do them all.
The chosen cards are played face down, then they are revealed and, starting with John, they are applied.
The bad guys have a special way of playing. No matter the number of players (from 1 to 3) in this team, there will always be three cards available. Once the cards are turned over, they are positioned according to their values. Each value is a decryption number used to unlock the safe. A free attempt is offered at the start of each bad guy's turn. There are two numbers, so technically Hans' minions can advance quickly (as long as these numbers are adjacent in the combination to be performed). The middle of the card corresponds to the actions available for the turn.
This way of playing is quite interesting because it forces the villain to pay attention to the cards played. However, we must admit that very quickly, luck is fairly present, you’ll try more to play a number for the code than actually looking at the possible actions.
Let me explain. With two players, there is only one player on the dark side. Thus, the first card is drawn directly face down from the deck. The second is the same, except that the player has a right to read it. The third is chosen by them from their hand. So of the three, one is completely random. On the one hand it creates suspense, on the other it brings a dose of chance that can significantly change the order you play cards, making almost a kind of forecast. Some have told me that the bad guys deck only has 24 cards ... but hey if you have to count them ...
I have described among the actions the possibility of attacking others. Nothing too complicated on the side of the bad guys. Aside from Hans, who works in a particular way, the thieves have only one life point. One wound and they are dead. However, John works differently. His card deck corresponds to his life points. When there are none left, he is dead and the player loses.
Here it becomes deceitful, it is in the management of this deck. Each act has its own deck. When the players change acts, the cards are replaced. All of them? Not really. Each time John plays a card, he puts it on the "card played" side and not "discarded card". With each new act, the cards played previously are added to the deck of the new act. Thus, the more John lingers in an act, the more life he will have for the rest, but the more there is a risk that he will die. Another deceitful point, when he has only two cards left in his hand (because he doesn't draw cards once he has played one), he must discard them (so he loses them). Life goes down even faster this way. The game is a race against time in disguise. It also prevents the player from lingering too long. Smart.
Now place the verdict. What did I think of this game? Not pretending to speak for all, here is my modest opinion. The game has good ideas but also has a lot of flaws. It is with these that I will begin.
Where the rub is, it is at the level of replayability. Of course, there is the luck of the draw pile, the chance of the arrangement of the tokens to seek. Yes ... but it is ultimately very little. The game is ultra-scripted. For once, it is really very thematic (I would come back to this) but it also makes it a fairly significant flaw. At each game, you will always have to do the same things, in more or less the same order with the same result. The surprises are few and depending on the case, luck makes it happen very quickly. After a few games, unless you are an unconditional fan, you feel a certain weariness and significant repetition.
Especially since the choices available are low and the majority of them are imposed by the cards. Don't expect to be able to do what you want. The general thinking is quite basic. Which makes it a family game but far from the expectations of those who saw in it a potential game for gamers.
What initially seemed a good idea, is ultimately something quite anecdotal or even restrictive. I'm talking about the bad guys here. Making it a game with more than two players could have been interesting but as it tends to weigh down the whole without necessarily adding fun or interest. The players cannot speak to each other and even there the strategic choice being limited that would amount to being guided by the one who knows the game best. The result is a false game for several players but a real game for two (one in each team) . No more. And even at two, the importance of chance for the choice of actions can make more than one jump and bring a lot of frustration. Not the right playful frustration ... At three or four, the game loses its interest. The bad guys side becomes strongly limited (hence the presence of the “leader token”). And boredom is as clear as the nose on your face.
Finally, the John side may be the most interesting to play. Less chance (and yet I like chance), more choice and more freedom of action.
As for combat and most actions, they are resolved simply by rolling a die. Not very elaborate but it works ...
To continue in the negative points, the material. We are very far from the quality of current standards. The cards are very thin, not really protected. The illustrations without being too ugly are very generic and do not really bring immersion. The tokens are ultra-generic. The figurines are a vast joke. Tokens with the faces of the actors would have been a thousand times better! (Damned, I'm the one who says that). Immersion can take a big hit for those who stop and look at the material. Note also, that on the objective tiles, nothing is noted on how to accomplish them. Only a small reference to the film and the bonus you gain ... (evil laugh) ... Ah yes, I also forgot the board of the McClaine player. A modest very thin cardboard sheet (which for my part was folded because of a bad positioning in the box during its assembly), fragile and not very inspired in illustration. It leaves you to wonder how the publisher succeeded in obtaining the rights of the game.
I reassure you, there are not only negative points (even if it is already obvious). The idea of life points for John is well thought out. This adds tension with the choice to linger to be stronger for the future rounds or to accelerate so as not to risk anything.
Even if in the end it is quite wobbly, the gameplay for the bad guys (two players only!) is interesting and could have been worked on even more.
Thematically, the game is a success. Even if it can work against it, we relive the film perfectly in the most impactful actions. Here we are. We also have fun throwing out the punchlines at the right time. Even rewriting some dialogue. On that, it's fun. I admit that the order of resolution for some objectives feels strange, but we slid over that while having fun on the rest. But for the fans, this is really great.
The board changing with each act is a good idea. This adds immersion and diversity. The change of goal for John too. It is unfortunate that this was not stretched out further (but I imagine respecting the license does not help).
Finally, despite these many faults, I have good memories of this game. I had a good time (except for two games). It works. Far from renewing the gaming world, it allows you to have a good time, for a limited playing time and for a modest price. When the title was announced, I was very skeptical. After several plays, I have come out with a positive feeling. Not everything is perfect (far from it) but it remains a sweet surprise.
A simple game (some would say simplistic) that works. The kind of game where, after not playing it for a long time, you are able to open the box and restart a game directly. An “ok game ” is a very fashionable term, which has the advantage of making you relive the adventure of an incredible film. An easily playable family game with a very limited amount of text (ideal for those who do not speak English).
It could of course have become something else, something more advanced, maybe for the more experienced gamer, but as it stands, it offers pleasant playability. I can guarantee that you will not chain dozens of games back to back. But coming back to it from time to time is not unpleasant, especially if you love the film of which it is a reference.
Certainly without the license,Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game would lose a lot of interest and the negatives would prevail. For me, after reflection, it is clearly this thematic omnipresence that makes it endearing. This love of the original work (which could at least have been more in the material I agree, but it is not the authors who make the stuff) is felt during the game. A special aura and atmosphere, warm, emanates from this game. This feeling, purely personal and subjective, makes me come back and play it without complaining and with pleasure (I told you that you had to play it only with 2?). But like any abstract notion, the feeling may be totally different for you.
Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game is a game that will not impose itself as the essential game. If you just want it for fun, it may not be the one for you. In the face of the choice available, others will do the trick better. If you are a fan of the license, you will have a good time and you will enjoy going back there. USAopoly had the opportunity to create a very good game supported by a strong license, but seems to have somewhat missed the mark. There remains a pleasant game, which I advise you to try before buying it to see if it will meet your expectations. So...
Yippee-ki-yay, poor idiot!
Technical note 6,5 / 10 In terms of materiam, there could have been greater efforts inserted. Shapeless figurines, fine cards with generic illustrations, "normal" tokend, but ... once in play everything works. The idea of different boards depending on the acts is a good thing. The rules are clear (although their layout may surprise you).
My BGG score 6.5 / 10 Ok - will play if in the mood. The game has its share of faults: limited replayability, importance of chance for the nasty side, limited choices, ... And yet so little that we are a fan of the license, the game works. It's fun, not necessarily long and we relive the film. It has good ideas and you can't help but think that better implementations could have made a better game. Die Hard is not unpleasant to play, on the contrary, but quickly finds its limits. A game that does not reach the ankles of film legend.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10 And now it's your turn to play ...