Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Fowers Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Publisher: Fowers Games
Designer: Tim Fowers
Artist: Ryan Goldsberry
Main Game Mechanisms: Hand Management, Memory, Secret Unit Deployment
Number of Players: 2
Game Time: 5 – 20 minutes
Description: You’re a Marshal on the trail of that criminal that you’ve been trailing for months – or you’re a fugitive that’s about to get caught by the law! Either way, Fugitive is a two player game where you’re using deduction (as the marshal) and trickery (as the fugitive) in order to outsmart your opponent and win the game.
The Fugitive is trying to evade capture by the authorities (The Marshal). As the Fugitive, you start with hideout cards numbered 0, 1, 2, 3, and 42 in your hand. Your goal is to get from card 0 to card 42 without being caught. You try to accomplish this by preventing the Marshal from revealing your current hideout card.
Throughout the game, you draw cards that are numbered from 4 to 41. These are spread out between through three separate decks that are shuffled at the beginning of the game. As you lay down new hideouts, you are only able to move up to three number places “away” from the previous hideout. For example, if you’re currently at hideout number 3, you can go to 4, 5, or 6 without adding any sprint cards.
Each card also has either one or two footprints on their top left corner. These represent how many steps you can add to your selected hideout card past the original 3. So, using the previous example, you can add cards with 3 more footsteps, so now you can also put down 7, 8, or 9 as a hideout as well. You put these facedown, along with the new hideout card, to let the Marshal know that you’ve used sprint cards.
This is a good way to try to throw off your opponent because they don’t know exactly how many sprint steps you have played in addition to your available one to three steps. You are also allowed to bluff with your sprint cards and play them without utilizing the available steps, which can be a very daring move because then those steps aren’t usable in later turns. The elements of trickery, dodging, and deception are what the Fugitive must employ to be able to have a chance to reach hideout 42 undetected.
The Marshal, on the other hand, is hunting down the Fugitive via guessing hideout location(s). You have a dry erase board with the numbers 1 to 42 on it. During your turn, you draw a card and are able to guess one or more hideout locations. If you guess more than one, and they are not all correct, you do not get to reveal any of the hideouts that you had correct. They will just tell you that you are incorrect.
The Fugitive can be somewhat tricky with the use of sprint cards, but you know that each of those cards either has one or two steps on it, so they can only go so far depending on the amount of sprint cards played. If they don’t play a sprint card, the Fugitive has only moved one to three steps away from their previous hideout location. You can deduce the Fugitives location by paying close attention to both the amount of sprint cards played and which of the three decks of cards the Fugitive has drawn the bulk of their cards from.
Wrong guesses of hideout locations can also help you narrow down their current hideout spot. But, it is also important to note that, if you have a wrong guess, it doesn’t mean that that particular card number will not become available later because of the randomness of the deck of cards. If you guess the Fugitive’s most recent hideout, you win.
Once the Fugitive gets to hideout 42, the Marshal gets one more chance to guess the hideouts that are still flipped over. They guess the hideout numbers one at a time (and not necessarily in any order), but the minute they get one wrong, the Fugitive has won. If they guess every hideout that hasn’t been revealed, then the Marshal has caught up just in time for the victory!
Marti: I’m quite fond of this quick, head to head game from Tim Fowers. We already enjoyed Paperback and Hardback quite a bit, and this is a totally different style of game that I also found quite enjoyable.
It’s definitely got the same sort of feel that Tim’s other games have – that unique 50’s spy flair with a bit of comic book mixed in – and while that isn’t always my motif, I like the way it works in his line of games. They’re colorful and fun, and there are always a bunch of little details associated with each of the cards – it’s pretty awesome.
Sarah and I definitely like outwitting each other, and that was in this game in spades. It’s a lot of back and forth, trying to bluff one another. In some aspects, this felt like some of my favorite abstract games – you’re constantly trying to stay ahead of your opponent’s next move or decision so that you can find that right moment to break through and get a solid lead, or win.
Like every other Fowers Game that we’ve played, there’s always a bunch of extra content thrown in for no extra cost. In this case, it’s the events, which add a lot of variability, a little bit of randomness, and the ability to help a player catch up if they are behind.
I felt like there may be a little bit of imbalance between the Fugitive and the Marshal, as in all of our plays, there was only one time that the Fugitive won. That being said, I think that it may also be a case of learning the role – it takes a lot more effort for the Fugitive to stay ahead of the Marshal, and so it may take subsequent plays in order for a fugitive player to really get the swing of things.
Sarah: Fugitive delivers the feel of a classic cat and mouse chase in a small compact card game. The art and graphic design by Ryan Goldsberry are stellar , as I’ve come to expect from Tim Fowers games. The theme comes shining through and the game mechanisms are solid. The Fugitive role itself can be hard to master, but it is an engaging challenge to try to outsmart the other player in the Marshal role.
This tightly packed card game, all fitting in a small box that looks like a suitcase, featuring a magnetic clasp, is another elegant stroke of overall design and adds to the production value of the game. Having a picture of all the components on the box lid is also very sharp and resourceful, utilizing the amount of space that the box allows.
The fact that it is a completely different game set in the Burgle Bros. universe is really awesome. You definitely don’t have to have played Burgle Bros. to play Fugitive. The Easter Eggs in the card art, showing other members of the crew in Burgle Bros. helping the Fugitive (the Rook) to escape is ingeneous, slick, and gives Fugitive more of a background story then it might seem if you haven’t played Burgle Bros. either the as the board game or app. Below you can see (from left to right) the Hacker, Juicer, Hawk, and Rigger from Burgle Bros.
The Event cards, particularly the catch up mode, are an awesome way to help keep the game even and feeling like either side could pull out a victory. The Event cards add variability and replayability to this masterfully simple deduction game. I greatly enjoy the asymmetry of the roles available in the game. Learning either role may prove more difficult than what it may seem because of the sneakiness that the game requires.
Try, Buy, Deny: If you play a lot of 2 player games and you enjoy the theme, then you definitely want to give this a buy. It’s a great, unique addition to anyone’s 2 player collection and it’s something that I think the two of us will bring out again and again. The price point is pretty solid – $25 – and the game is engaging.
The asymmetric nature of the game may frustrate some people, and the game is just as much about playing the other person as it is playing the game itself. So, if you’re not too big on that concept, then it may be a try for you instead.
Marti and Sarah