Die Hard: Nakatomi Heist, one of the big summer releases from The op, is a…complex game. Fans of the movie will likely quite enjoy it, particularly those who wanted to be John McClane or Hans Gruber. And fans of complex board games that require lots of balancing and moving of the physical board will also enjoy it. But for casual fans of both…well, it’ll be an adjustment, in many ways.
So, this is a game for two to four players. One player will be playing as John McClane, and will be working to defeat the other players, who will be playing as Hans Gruber and the thieves. The objectives will make it quite immediately clear to anyone that, while the game does its best to balance things, whoever is playing John will be on hard mode, especially if there’s three or four players. The game itself comes with the double sided game board, a player board for John McClane, and a variety of cards, tokens, figures, cubes, tiles, and a die. For a better look at the game and “what’s in the box,” check out Dan’s unboxing here.
What are those objectives? Well, for the one playing as John McClane, the goal is to make it through all three ‘Acts’ (essentially rounds, with each act set on a new, larger segment of the board) by completing the key objectives for each ‘Act’, not get killed by the thieves, and push Hans Gruber out a window in ‘Act Three’. For those playing as thieves, the goal is to steal the money in the safe. They must work their way through the six level lock, and then set charges on the roof, before ‘John’ can complete all of the key objectives. If they succeed in this, or if they manage to just kill ‘John’, they win.
This does have the unfortunate result of stacking the odds against whoever is playing John. Which is, admittedly, in the spirit of the film, but that doesn’t necessarily make for the best gaming experience. It does depend on the players though, and it certainly doesn’t seem to stack the odds against him to the degree that it makes the game broken or unwinnable. Just…difficult. The game does give you a chance to adjust however, with the First Act’s map taking up a quarter of the board, the Second Act half, and the Third Act the entirety of the back. Though that in and of itself, the need to reset everything after some time, can be difficult to adjust to.
The meat of the game comes from the action cards, which determine how well the players perform in working towards completing their objectives. For John, these cards go into a hand, and he can select which ones to use at will. The cards he uses in each Act carry over to the next one, and in fact get a little bit better each time. In a method of counterbalancing the comparative ease of the thieves’ gameplay though, there is an element of randomness to their actions. Their cards contain not just actions, but also the code sequences for the safe. They need the right sequences, but cannot communicate with each other when picking the three action cards they use per turn (if there’s only one thief then one of the cards must be picked without said thief looking at it first). This element of randomness helps keep things somewhat more balanced than they would otherwise.
Presentation-wise, the game is very true to the aesthetic of the film. Lots of black and grey, with a small amount of red, green, and white as accents. And while that is not necessarily my favored aesthetic on a personal level, it’s certainly not a bad one by any stretch. It’s quite striking. The cards and small figures are distinct and well made as well, which helps a good deal.
Ultimately Die Hard: Nakatomi Heist is a very well made game that will please fans of the movie and fans of more complex board games, but may be difficult to grasp to newcomers more used to more casual fare. And with an estimated run time of at least an hour, it’s not a game to pick up quickly. But, as I said, it’s well made and worth your time if you like the more complex games!
You can get Die Hard: Nakatomi Heist on Amazon or your FLGS, where it retails for $39.95. Thanks to The op for the chance to check this game out, and be sure to check out our other reviews of games by The op, as well as Dan’s preview of all their games from GenCon.
All images via The op