“Saboteur” is an easy to play and easy to learn card game for ages 8 years old and up. Most of the players (3-10 can play) in “Saboteur” are dwarf miners attempting to build tunnels. But in some cases, there is one or more saboteurs among the players, who are trying to slow the progress and stop the tunnels from being built. The dwarf players (miners) are working together to build an uninterrupted path to treasure and share in the gold nuggets. If no tunnels are completed before the end of the round, the saboteurs earn the gold nuggets.
The game includes 41 path cards for building the tunnels, 27 action cards, which can help or hinder a player along the way, 28 gold nugget cards, 7 goldminer cards, 4 saboteur cards and 3 goal cards. To set things up, each player assumes the role of either a goldminer or saboteur, based on a secret random draw. The table is set up with a “starting path card” on the far left and the three goal cards (after shuffling) in a column face down to the far right of that card. There should be room for 8 cards to the left of each goal card and a one card space vertically between each goal card. This forms the game maze where the path cards are placed. Take a look at the photo accompanying the review.
To begin play, the remaining path cards and all of the action cards are shuffled together. Each player is dealt a certain number of cards depending on the number of players in the game, and this is their starting hand. The remaining cards form a face down draw pile. Players then alternate turns by either adding one path card to the maze, playing one action card on themselves or another player or simply passing their turn. At the end of the turn, a player draws one card from the face down draw pile of path/action cards.
The path cards are played such that all cards are building a path from the “starting path card” towards the goal cards. The path cards must fit perfectly with any previously played cards. The cards can be placed vertically or horizontally, as long as the cards remain inside the designated maze size. The action cards include “Broken Tools” cards which can stop a player from playing a path card, and “Repair Tools” cards, which can allow the player to begin placing path cards once again. These types of cards can be strategically used by both miners and saboteurs to better their game. There is also a “Rockfall” card which allows a path card to be removed from the game, and a “Map” card, which allows a player to peek at one of the goal cards (nice to have since only one goal card shows treasure).
The round continues until there is an uninterrupted path to treasure, or the deck of path cards is exhausted. The player (miner) who places the last path card leading to the treasure earns the most gold nuggets, while all other non-saboteur players receive less. If no tunnel is completed the saboteurs share the gold nuggets. The player who has the most gold nuggets after three rounds of play is declared the winner.
This is a great bluffing game, as the saboteurs are trying to keep their identities a secret, while at the same time trying to slow down the placement of the path cards. We had lots of fun with “Saboteur,” and a typical game lasts only about 30 minutes or so. Mayfair games has also released “Saboteur 2,” which includes some rules changes that allows 2-12 players to compete. It includes some ingenious new action cards and lots more path cards too. You do need the original “Saboteur” game to play “Saboteur 2,” but it is well worth the price.
Both “Saboteur” and “Saboteur 2” retail for $14.99, and you can find them at your local game store. Also visit the Mayfair Games website for lots of information about their extensive lineup of games.