We received another game by Steve Finn called “Gunrunners”. You read that we thoroughly enjoyed playing his other game Biblios. Let’s see if his game “Gunrunners” lives up to his reputation.
Something that was initially surprising is, even though Steve Finn designed both games they are in every way very different. Everything from mechanics and art style to the flow and pace of the game. If you didn’t know the designer you would have no idea it was from the same person.
Gunrunners is a fun game that is complex but not complicated. The gameplay has depth without drowning in mechanics. The theme was a little hard to grasp upon first glance from the cover art, or if you were just explained the rules, that you were the ones ‘running’ the guns. In actuality, players were government agencies trying to stop a specific gunrunner ‘The Merchant of Death’ (a la Nicholas Cage in “Lord of War”
After setting up the game, where you lay all the location cards, each player places a probationary agent (face down card) beside the location. After that another player will push your agent into the field and place their agents in the location as probationary. This would seem like an easy way to count the competitors cards, and while that’s true there’s a ‘wild card’ in the mix. Any player can place an undercover agent in a location. The player has no idea the value of that agent which really throws a wrench in planning.
Each player is trying to get the largest value of agents when the ‘bust’ occurs. The bust occur when there are 4 face up agents in the field. The number of weapon crates is growing in the warehouse and locations until that bust happens, which then splits the weapons amongst the agencies in that location, to dispose of (Sure they will).
Gunrunners is a bit of a step down in component quality from Biblios. That being said, it really makes no difference to the gameplay and the components are more than passable. It’s almost an unfair comparison to make though, since Biblios components were top notch.
What we liked:
- We really enjoyed the Special Operation agents and the diversity of their ability which can drastically alter the game.
- The game is a good mix of strategy and chaos, which makes the game really fun.
- It’s fun to see anticipation of the bust while watching the weapons pile up in that location as all players are throwing down undercover agents trying desperately to get the largest piece of the pie.
- The Russian number 4
What we didn’t like:
- It would be nice if it were easier to differentiate the 5 unit and 1 unit weapons crate.
- This game is preferable with three to four players. It’s fun with 2 players but just doesn’t hold the same excitement as larger games.
So is the game as good as or better than Biblios? These games are different enough that you can’t compare them directly but Biblios is the bar to measure against. Gunrunners in my opinion is preferable to play because of the excitement that builds during each of the turn. It gets to the point of nail biting as each undercover agent is uncovered during a large bust. So pick this game up and help fend off the Merchant of Death