Designer: Galen McCown
Artist: H.S. Law
Publisher: Galen's Games
Year Published: 2022
No. of Players: 1-2
Playing Time: 20-30 min
Main mechanic / Theme: PvP, Simultaneous Action Selection, Secret Unit Deployment, Polyominos, Solo / Dystopian Covert Ops Snipers
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From the Publisher: "In Super Snipers, players assume the roles of genetically and cybernetically enhanced soldiers, each racing to locate and kill the other Super Sniper first. They do this by placing polyominoes (called“Focus”) onto grids to fulfill the following objectives: locate their opponent; isolate innocent bystanders; and make their kill. The first player to make 3 kills wins."
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
There are two modes that can be selected in a normal Super Snipers 2-player game: Duel Mode and Quickdraw Mode (there are also two solo modes,Contract Mode and Hostage Rescue Mode, which I will describe later.) Duel Mode and Quickdraw Mode play mostly the same except for sand timers that are added to the Quickdraw Mode which ramp up the tension and actually let your opponent act before you finish your actions if you are too slow. Players each have a character that has it's own assymetric abilities.
The game takes place over a series of rounds separated into 3 phases. In Phase I: Hide, players place one hiding card at each of three Location Grids in front of their opponent. One of these cards is the player's actual location while the other two are decoys (or misses). Once these cards are placed by both players, the round moves to Phase II: Locate.
In the Locate phase, players simultaneously play the leftmost focus polyomino in their row of three Line of Sight (LOS) pieces onto one of the Locate Grids in front of them. The goal is to isolate the target in the middle of the Locate Grid from all four edges of the grid using the polyominoes. There are bonus spaces on the grid that when covered by the correct type of focus tile will give a bonus tile from the draw bag that may be substituted for the leftmost tile in the LOS row during placement. Each of the three different types of focus tiles must be chained together orthagonally from an edge of the grid and you can only have one chain of each type of focus. When the target has been isolated, the player flips the card above the Location Grid to see if this is the opponent's hiding place or a miss. If it's a miss, the player must isolate the target on one of the other Location Grids and see if that is the spot or not. If it is the location where their opponent is hiding, the player moves on to Phase III: Target .
When a player is in the Target Phase, they put the detailed Target Grid into their Scope Board and add the indicated Innocents and opponent target token to the Target Grid. The process here is very similar to Phase II except you need to isolate the Innocents from the primary target and isolate the primary target in the Kill Box with enough room to place your Bullet polyomino. There are icons on the grid that gain bonuses that you can use to assist in targeting your opponent and when a bullet polyomino is placed, that round is over. The player that was killed gains a Damage Tracker to indicate that they lost but they also gain an Adrenaline polyomino that can be used to assist them at any time in the next round and activate their character's adrenaline ability. The winner also has revealed themselves by firing on their opponent and loses the Target and Location Grids that they were hiding in for the remainder of the game. The game continues until one player receives 3 Damage Trackers.
As I mentioned previously, there is also a solo variant for this game that contains two solo modes. Each character also has an A.I. card that represents them for use in the solo variant. The first mode is Contract Mode in which the player takes on an A.I. opponent one-on-one similar to the Duel Mode. In the second solo mode, Hostage Rescue, the player takes on two A.I. opponents and the goal is to kill both snipers before they give you three Damage Trackers. There is a hard, regular and easy challenge setting for this mode.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout:
This is a difficult area to talk about in too much detail as this is a prototype (a very nice prototype though) and things can always change between now and publication. That being said, I really like the artwork in this one and the look and feel really tie into the dystopian setting. The theme takes a little of the gravity away from this game and makes it possible to enjoy it despite the dark reality of being a sniper shooting people. I love the Scope Board and how all of the tokens fit into it. It's a pretty cool layout and gives the game a very unique feel.
Inclusivity and Accessibility:
Tabletop United believes that diversity is a source of fun and happiness. Nurturing and celebrating our personal differences can lead to amazing gaming (and life) experiences.Therefore, TTU is putting renewed emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility to each of our reviews. This inclusivity and accessibility section will critique those issues and strengths of the subject in the review based upon the unique background of the reviewer. Each reviewer views the world through their own particular lens and has a wide and varied experience from which they will write and review from.
For a small game in a small box, this game actually felt like it was intentional in including inclusivity with the characters and art work. Two of the four characters present as female while the other two characters present as male although one of the two is a salvaged bot with a gun for a head but uses he/his pronouns. At least two of the characters are BIPOC racially and there is no mention of any of the character's sexual identities.
From an accessibilty stand point, the polyominos are in several colors that I think are fairly easily to distiguish from one another, but even if some form of color blindness did make the colors indistinguishable, all of the pieces of a given color also have a common pattern on them that makes them easy to distinguish from the other types of pieces. Iconography is distict to each character and token used, so things are fairly easy to tell apart. There are a lot of small pieces and some fiddliness that comes with placing polyominos on a grid so those with motor function issues will likely struggle as well as folks who have more advanced vision impairments.
One area in which I think that this game fails in inclusivity and accessibility is with the theme and gameplay in regards to those with PTSD or emotional instabilities. It's fairly obvious that a game about snipers is not going to involve touchy-feely characters who like to hug it out, but with the current state of world events, it's important to note that a game about snipers hiding out in locations and taking killshots at one another could be particularly traumatizing to some. I'm glad that the game is recommended at 14+ as that does imply that a certain level of maturity is necessary to understand the scope and seriousness of the theme overall and this game is not unique in being a game to have a potentially traumatizing theme, it's just something to be very aware of in our current environment of regularly occuring mass shootings and the like.
As I mention in the design section, I really like the Scope Boards. The game is cool in that you first have to find your target then buckle down in the detailed Target Grid to get your sights on them and take the shot. Having assymetric abilities for the characters is cool although there might be some call to review the balance of the powers a bit before publication. I love how everything on the Scope Board has its own slot and just looks organized and ready. It really helps to lend to the feel that once you've found your opponents location, you are settling in and preparing to take that fatal shot. This game seems like it would have some pretty good replayability. Adding a couple of additional characters would really ramp that up as well as making the Locate Grids and Target Grids with different locations on each side.
Overall, I found Super Snipers to be a fun, fast-paced two player game. There is a lot of luck involved, but by using the bonus spaces during your searching, you can give yourself some options to mitigate some of that luck. If you like two player dueling games and the theme does not bother you I would highly recommend giving Super Snipers a "shot"!
Stefan Yates is a professional in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Kansas State University. Finding ways to work gaming into work, he serves on the university’s Alternate Reality Game Committee and is a co-Faculty Advisor for the Board Game Club. He is also a PhD student whose field of research is Gamification in Student Programming. He enjoys playing (and mostly losing) almost any type of game and likes to work in multiple game sessions per week whenever possible. An avid solo gamer with an additional interest in tabletop miniatures games, the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic were not particularly concerning as there was always painting to do and terrain to build. Stefan is also a book and movie collector and a huge football fan (go CHIEFS!)