3000 Scoundrels is the newest game from Unexpected Games. Players play as leaders trying to steal precious technology left behind by a time traveler. The game highlights using clear cards that when placed with another card shows information from them both. The combinations of these cards cause you to have different cards each time you play. And you guessed it, there are 3000 different combinations. 3000 Scoundrels can be played with 2-4 players and takes about an hour to play. It uses bluffing, deduction, and drafting of cards. The game is designed by Corey Konieczka who is known for Twilight Imperium, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars: Rebellion, Eldritch Horror, and Star Wars: Imperial Assault. A well known designer mixed with a publisher who has come out with some very interesting and unexpected games like The Initiative and Voices In My Head makes a great match for a unique game like 3000 Scoundrels.
What’s in the Box?
- 50 Trait Cards (10 red II, 40 blue I)
- 60 Clear Job Cards (22 black, 22 purple, 16 green)
- 28 Poker Cards
- 8 Strategy Cards
- 1 Game Board
- 4 Leader Sheets
- 66 Card Sleeves (22 black, 22 purple, 16 green +2 spares per color)
- 28 Marks
- 18 Sage Cards
- 38 Dollar Tokens ($1 x 30, $5 x 8)
- 4 Reputation Tokens
- 12 Henchmen Tokens
- 4 Reference Cards
How’s It Play?
You play as a leader of a faction trying to find technology that was left behind by a mysterious visitor known as the Traveler. You have to grab whatever you can before the feds arrive. The player with the most tech at the end of the game wins and will determine the fate of the American Frontier.
The game is a bluffing, deduction, tableau building game that takes 3 rounds to play. Each round you have 4 of your poker cards to use to perform actions with. A turn goes through 3 phases; plan, use abilities, and hire a scoundrel or use the Sheriff’s Office.
You place a poker card in any open slot below your leader sheet. When doing this you can match the card with the slot, or you can bluff by placing any other card in a slot of a different number. The card is not the important part for what action you take, but the slot you place any card in, that slot determines your action which is listed above that slot. The 6 slot doesn’t have an action but with time will trigger scoundrel abilities once you get some.
At some point you will need to bluff because you have a 0 card, and there is no 0 slot. But once you place the 0 card on another slot, for example, the 4 slot, now the 4 card won’t be placed on the 4 slot and it will have to be place somewhere else if its in your hand.
Each player starts with henchmen tokens and have ways to gain them after they are used throughout the game. These are used by opponents to try to “call” a bluff. At any time during your turn any other player can place their henchmen token on your poker card if they don’t think the card matches the slot’s number. At the end of the round players who were right by “calling” a bluff are rewarded and players who “called” the bluff wrong are penalized. I’ll talk about how that works later on here, but catching bluffs can really help you in the game, help you find more tech to win.
Next, you perform the ability listed on the slot where you placed your poker card, even if you were bluffing. If you have any scoundrel cards that show the same slot number you can trigger their abilities as well. So essentially playing a card down can trigger multiple actions and you can choose which ones you perform first. There are lots and different abilities that scoundrels grant players, so always keep an eye out on new cards coming available.
The main abilities let you gain the money that you need throughout the game, let you scout a safe by looking at it and then placing a token on it, and steal a safe. There are 3 different locations of 5 cards each. Each card shows a number on the other side and represents how much tech that card is worth. Each section lists the possibilities of numbers for the cards in that section. So scouting the cards gives you some information and you can either tag it with a token of the correct value, and if someone comes and claims it and you tagged it correctly, you gain 1 tech. But you can also tag it incorrectly to throw other players off. Maybe it’s a high numbered card and you tag it as if it was low to then claim it later. This is another bluffing part of the game. You only have one slot per round to claim a safe card.
Hire a Scoundrel or Use Sheriff’s Office
When hiring a scoundrel, you can choose one of the three available cards in the Saloon and pay its cost to place it on one of your five spaces on your leader sheet. After a scoundrel is hired, a new one immediately refills by taking the top trait card and slides it into the sleeve with the job card. These two different cards form a scoundrel card. Due to this mechanic, there are 3000 possible combinations that gives lots of variation and abilities in different ways.
Each time you hire a scoundrel, you can re-organize the scoundrels on your sheet placing them in different slots if you’d like. If you hire a scoundrel and have no place on your board to place it, you can discard a scoundrel of your choice to make room.
If you decide you don’t want to hire a scoundrel, you must visit the sheriff’s office. Here, you can gain $2, spend $2 to free a henchmen, or spend $4 to free 2 henchmen, or if it’s the final day of the game, you can spend $12 to steal any safe from any site. Freeing henchmen lets you retrieve these from jail to use to place on other player’s poker cards when you think they are bluffing.
After the last round the feds arrive and seize the remaining possessions from the safes. Any safes you have stolen remain yours. All safes are revealed, for each mark on your safe card that matches the safe’s value adds 1 tech to that safe’s value. So your final score is from your safe cards and tokens placed on them that match the same number, where your marker is on the reputation track, and for each tech marker on any scoundrel card. The player with the highest tech wins the game.
So I really like what Unexpected Games do with their games. They do something different that you feel like no other board game has done. By doing this, they are helping the board game industry become stronger, bringing new ideas, and new ways to do fun and interesting things. 3000 Scoundrels is no exception to this. They bring the clear cards that can be added together to a new level. Now, using clear cards has been done before with other games. In fact, John D. Clair is known for using clear cards and adding cards together in Mystic Vale and more recently Dead Reckoning.
3000 Scoundrels uses the clear cards that add together an ongoing mechanic throughout the game. There are so many combinations so you never really can bank on your favorite card, because it might not be there next game. But the combinations can be crazy with some cards being very powerful while others might be less helpful, but might be inexpensive enough for you to acquire them when you don’t have a lot of money. But none of the cards are completely useless, you just need to add them into a strategy, if you can take advantage of its effects, then it will be a good card to gain, but if you gain a card and never use its ability, then it’s possibly worthless. Also, remember some of these cards have tech right on them. And the game tends to be a low scoring game, so those random couple points can really help.
Now, 3000 Scoundrels is a bluffing tableau builder game, and when you think of bluffing, the classic game that almost everyone knows is poker. So putting a wild west type theme to the game and adding a poker type mechanic is just brilliant. The game isn’t even close to poker, but it creates the feeling of bluffing like you do in poker. Then to make it not just a bluffing game, they use the scoundrel cards to make it a tableau building game, and incorporates the theme with those cards, and then adds the fact that those scoundrel cards give the effects of your “poker cards”.
3000 Scoundrels creates a great experience. Slotting the scoundrel cards and reading the random and sometimes amazing cards is part of that experience. But the bluffing also adds to it. The bluffing is done when placing your cards to take actions, but also is done with the safe cards. I think doing the bluffing in two different ways really brings that bluffing into the game and makes it a little more of a mind game. Should I tell the truth? Or should I bluff? Well, you’ll have to bluff at some point, but how much do you try to just bluff through and do the actions you want that does the best for you? And how much do you play it safe to try to not let other players progress forward by “calling” your bluff?
Since there are so many combinations of cards, sometimes it might take more time to figure out what the effect on a certain card means. This can be exhausting at times to continue to look in the rule book or try to figure out what certain icons of symbols mean.
Overall, 3000 Scoundrels is all about a fun experience. The game can be goofy, but strangely still productive as there is still some strategy and bluffing to be done to do well in the game. To really enjoy the game, the bluffing needs to be taken advantage of and players need to understand it is not designed to be a dry euro game. It’s designed to be a wild west themed game that provides a fun experience that not a lot of other games do well.
Images via Unexpected Games
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