ToysBulletin.com takes a look at the Junior Version of the hit game Spy Alley.
Spy Alley Partners has released several successful and award winning games over the years, including their flagship game, “Spy Alley.” Today, we are going to take a look at that same game, except with simpler rules, faster play, and a shorter game path. It is appropriately called “Spy Alley Jr,” and is intended for ages 6 years old and up, although we believe there is appeal to even younger kids, if one or more adults are willing to play along with the children.
It should be understood that this game is suggested for very young players, and does not involve the level of strategy that is found with “Spy Alley.” The object of the game is for players to guess the spy identity (one of 6 countries) of the opposing players and eliminate them. The winner is the last player remaining.
The contents of “Spy Alley Jr” include a small 18 space game board measuring 9 ½” x 15”, 6 colored game tokens, 6 identification cards, each representing a different spy and his country, 1 die, and 24 move cards, sometimes used in place of die rolls.
The game can be played by 2-6 players, but is clearly much better with the maximum number of players, if possible. Each player assumes the identity of a spy by selecting one of the identification cards at random and choosing a game token. Players do not show their identification cards to the other players.
Beginning at the starting arrow at the left top of the game board, players alternate turns rolling the single die and moving that number in a clockwise manner around the board. Excluding the starting space, there are only 3 types of board spaces available to land on.
First, there are 4 Move Card spaces, where players can draw from the Move Card stack. Move Cards are very simple to use. They are all numbered from 1-6, and when a player draws a Move Card, they can save it to play instead of a die roll on any subsequent turn. This allows a player to land on a specific space without rolling the die.
The second type of board space is a colored Guess Spy space. There are 12 of those, 4 are blue, 4 are green and 4 are red. If a player lands on a Guess Spy space, he may guess the identity of any players who are currently occupying any space of that same color. If the guess is correct, the player that is guessed is out of the game, and must surrender his identification card and any Move Cards in his possession to the player making the correct guess, who also has the option of secretly changing identities before discarding the identification card. If the guess is incorrect, play continues and no one leaves the game.
The third type of board space is the Safe Embassy space and there is only one of those. Any player on a Safe Embassy space is safe from being guessed.
We actually had several members of our staff play “Spy Alley Jr” with members of their family over the Christmas holiday. The little kids loved it, and although a 2- player game might last only a few minutes (one lucky guess and the game would be over), the younger crowd seemed to understand the basic concepts of the game and they simply had fun.
As mentioned earlier, the more players, the more the excitement. A typical game with 5-6 players might last 15 minutes and would include some wrong guesses, maybe a changed identity and even a tiny bit of strategy. Youngsters seemed to recognize that this was not one of those typically boring matching games, you know the type that seems to be the only kind available for first time game players. Instead, younger players got to move around an actual board game just like their older siblings. What could be better?
“Spy Alley Jr” retails for $19.99, and can be purchased at Amazon.com.
— RJ Cullen