Graverobbers: Huh?

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My small band of gamers and myself are on a bit of a new board game kick right now.  We’ve had several nights over the past two weeks that has simply involved us playing a number of small board and card games until we are two tired and delirious to do anything but sleep.  Last night was one of those nights.

Among the pile of games to try was a title called “Graverobbers”.  I’m a bit of a Halloween and Horror Movie fanatic, so anything along this general theme usually looks like a good time to me.  I was excited to pull out the rules and give it a go, setting up the morbid playing surface with glee. What I ended up with though caused a resounding “Huh?” from all of us.

I would like to think that, by now, I am a seasoned rule reading veteran.  I have tackled games of all shapes and sizes and come out victorious on the other side. However, when we started reading through these rules I was left with this unfamiliar taste of utter confusion in my mouth.

The rules, though awkward, made sense on the surface.  What you were suppose to do wasn’t that hard.  Why you were suppose to do it was a whole different story.  The strategy of this game made absolutely no sense.  We thought we must have missed something in the instructions, so we reread portions of them, trying to figure out what we were missing.

This is a game of graverobbers in progress. Each of the green cards is a grave that could be ransacked or saved. The cards to the right of each green cards are the graverobbers, bobbies, and dectives that have been played on that grave.

The primary mechanic of this game is playing a card on a grave.  There are three types of cards: Bobbies (police), Detectives, and Grave Robbers.  If by the time the seventh card is played on a grave the numbers present on the grave robber cards is higher then the accumulation of police and detective cards, then the grave is ransacked, otherwise the grave is saved from desicration.  Each person has  secret goals as to which graves they want to have ransacked by the end of the game, and which they want spared.

These are some of the goal cards used in the game. The cards with shovels indicate that you want those graves to be ransacked. Magnifying glasses indicate that you want other graves to be saved. The tombstomes mean you want the graveyard to primarily be saved or ransacked, depending on the magnifying glasses or shovels pictured above the tombstome. Each goal has a unique point value listed.

Well, that sounds straight forward enough, right?

Here’s where some of the ‘Huh?’ comes in.  The game is over at the end of eight rounds.  A round is once each player has had one turn.  There are seven graves to play cards on.  This left us with confusion. Unless we all started putting cards on the same grave, none of them would get to seven cards before the end of the game.  And only once a grave was ransacked could you “Accuse” someone of having the goal of having a ransacked grave, which made a lot more sense to do in the middle of the game, not at the very end.

Lastly, you received points based upon the cards left in your hand at the end of the game, but those points were counter intuitive based upon the state of the graveyard.  If the graveyard was predominantly ransacked, you received points for grave robber cards.  If the graveyard was predominantly saved, you received points for detectives and police.  In either case, you received points for having the very cards left over the were needed to influence the game in that direction.  This led us to have none of these points left at the end, which seemed to make this mechanic useless.

Overall this left us with a sense of: “Well, that kinda sucked.  What’s next?”  I highly doubt we will ever bother pulling this game back out again.  It just wasn’t good.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Friday, February 4th, 2011 at 9:08 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Theme Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

37 Comments

  1. parkrrrr says:

    I haven’t played, but I just read the rules and it looks like a player’s turn consists of playing one OR TWO cards. (If two, they must be played on different graves.) That might make a difference in your round timing – seven rounds with three players could be up to 42 cards, making it more likely that at least one grave will have gathered the required seven cards before the end of the game. With four players, you’re looking at up to 56 cards played in seven rounds, which is more than enough to determine the state of every grave even if you used a number of bobbies as spies.

    And why wouldn’t at least two players be playing to the same grave, unless by some freak happenstance you all managed to get non-overlapping goals?

  2. Two players trying to influence the same grave didn’t seem that far off base, but each player has two goal cards, which means they are trying to influence four different graves. Even more if they are trying to thwart an opponent.

    The rules also stated that it was in a players best interest to only play one card on a grave unless it would cause a grave to be resolved (ie, it would be the seventh card on a grave). Now maybe this simply wasn’t good advice, at least in a three person game, but given it was our first game, we tried to stick to the advice we were given. Thus are game only saw 21 cards played out onto the table, with none of the graves having more then 4 cards.

    We also questioned what we were doing based upon the play time listed on the instructions. It took us about 15 minutes to play the game, that might even be an over estimate. But the instructions say it takes 30-45 minutes. This really left us scratching our heads trying to figure out what in the world we had done so differently.

    Perhaps I just didn’t “get” this game.

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