Museum Rush – a family weight, push your luck game. Designed and art by Rhys ap Gwyn and publish by Room 17 Games.
It was late on Friday at the UKGE. The first day was ending when I sat down with Graham Davey of Room 17 Games to talk about a forthcoming game of theirs, Miremarsh. I saw Museum Rush on one of the display tables and I asked if I could review it because I looked the look if it. He was kind enough to give me a copy for review.
My favourite game is Clank!/Clank! In space! This game has a similar theme behind it. You are thieves on a raid. You need to grab as much loot as possible whilst avoiding hazards and time your departure just right. This one is set in a modern museum with questionable security arrangements either that you are really good at what you do.
Each player selects a thief to play. They all have different powers that come in handy during the game. The board is made up of tiles that are arranged in different patterns representing the layout of museums across the world.
There is a starting lay out (a four by seven grid). Each tile is different representing locations within the museum. One of them enables you to disable cameras and toilets provide you hiding places where you cannot be caught by the guards.
Yes, there are guards that move around the board if you attract their attention by making too much noise from your nefarious activities. You can also be caught on camera, this also draws them towards you. Loot and rare treasures are scattered across the museum.
Loot can be swiped if you are on the same tile and rare treasures require you to try to break a combination lock by rolling three dice. If one of the numbers matches those on the tile, you have cracked one of the numbers. Crack all of them and you can grab the rare treasure! Each attempt (once per round) and the theft itself, attracts the attention of the guards.
If you are caught by them you are thrown out and all but one of your ill gotten gains are confiscated (The guards are pretty incompetent when it comes to frisking you) and placed in the security vault (this can be hacked too, but you will need keys to do so). You can sneak back in once you are thrown out.
You can also steal from other thieves or thwart their plans. For example, one thief hacks all but one of the numbers of the combination lock. A second comes along and breaks the code and grabs the treasure. This new thief cannot runaway with it during the same turn. During the next round they will most likely squabble over the rare treasure attracting a guard with all the noise. One of my rare treasures was swiped off me by my friend, Richard, and it was one that I was contracted to pilfer. Wretched theif!
The players can draw a card each turn. Some of these can help them plant traps, disable cameras, distract guards or even incapacitate them so their keys can be swiped. Keys will help you open combination locks or even the vault where dropped or confiscated loot is stored.
There are other cards you could draw. One is a ‘way out’ card that has to be placed on a tile on the outside of the building. This means you have options when it comes to escaping the museum. Another cards is a ‘clock’ card. Both of these cards are played the moment they are drawn by the players. Reveal a certain number of clock cards (dependent on the number of player) and the thieves have to leg it to the nearest exit. Each tile they move they have to roll to see if they drop anything. They still have to deal with the guards and cameras. The thief with the highest value haul wins the game.
The tiles are made from thick card and the cards are from a decent stock. The dice are custom and are fine (they range from zero to five), but a little small for Jared’s and my liking. The artwork is has a cartoon style and the humour will appeal to some if a little contrived. It is fine and is consistent throughout the game. The tokens that are placed over unlocked locks are frosted translucent disks. The rule book is well laid-out and the instructions are clear. Finding the relevant rule is simple. There are also turn order cards that are useful when resolving how guards react to the various disturbances within the museum.
The most of the guard plastic minis in the game are fine, but a few of them and all but one of the thieves are flimsy. I was a little afraid that they would snap off at any time. Room 17 Games is aware of this and they will remedy this in future publications. The Graham Davey, (the creative director) said they next game would have resin minis and not plastic ones. At least they have learnt from this experience.
The thieves could have done with coloured bases so players could distinguish them apart. Their corresponding cards have different coloured panels. Painting them would help, but not everyone will do this. I was glad the guards were cast from different moulds and did not all look the same.
The box insert is fine except it is a little hard to remove the last few tiles from the bottom. Tipping the contents out is the most effective way of removing them all. There is a misprint on one of the tiles. The ‘skeleton’ requires an eight to be rolled for the combination to be hacked. This should read zero.
I cannot say there is anything new about the mechanism employed in this game, but the games works. I like the turn sequence of the thieves. You have to move first then do something. You cannot move again. This means you cannot steal a treasure and move away in the same round thus making it impossible for a guard to intercept if they are close by.
Sneaking past the guards works well. You have to roll higher than the number of ‘swag’ cards that you have in your hand. Remember, there is a zero face, therefore you can be thrown out even if you not acquired anything yet. Being able to steal from your fellow thieves is simple but fun. You just roll a die each the one with the higher roll can take a card at random from their victims hand. Ties are won by the player initiating the swipe.
Apart from how incompetent the guard seem to be, this is where the game shines. You do feel like a thief sneaking around trying to avoid detection or capture. There is a comic element to it , hence why the dopey guards. You know where the treasures are because you have cased the joint prior to breaking in. Sneaking past the guards is not always easy, but you have to risk it to reach a treasure you are after.
There are also ‘stash’ and ‘buyer’ cards. The latter gives you a place to hide one of your cards at a location on the board and collect it the next day or whenever it is safe to do so. ‘Buyer’ cards give you a two million dollar bonus if you can obtain a specific loot and/or rare treasure card. The ‘buyer’ cards certainly adds to the theme.
You grab what you can and escape with your ill gotten gains.
There are numerous suggested layouts you can use to play the game and you could even create a few of your own. Plus the tiles will never be in the same place twice. On top of that you can play different thieves each time. This is a game you could play over and over again and face different challenges. There is no set sequence at the start of the game that you could follow that will give you a decent chance of winning the game.
Value for money 8/10
This game as a lot of replayabilty and is engaging just enough to want to be played again. It is a game you can play with a family or your friends and they should enjoy the experience. The only let down are the miniatures, so a point is deducted for that.
We did enjoy playing this game and it scales well with larger play counts. We would suggest to use one of the suggested lay out as soon as you are comfortable with rules. Our first play was with two players with the four by seven board. We pretty much stayed on our respective sides of the museum. Our conclusion was that the game was okay, but once we tried the British museum layout, the game shifted up two gears. It then became engaging and interesting. I will always use a suggested or a custom layout from now on.
The cards were also little too large for the tiles. They slipped around too. There were occasions when a thief landed on a card to grab the rare treasure card and there was a camera beneath it. Okay, the guard would move as soon as the treasure was stolen, but still there must be a better way? We tried rotating the camera card through ninety degrees to it popped out, that worked fine unless it covered the lock sequence or the name of the tile next to it. Perhaps remove the card and replace it with a camera shaped mini or even just a token with a surveillance camera printed on it would have made it easier? Or even replace all of the cards with tokens once they have been revealed? Then you could have smaller tiles and the game would still work well.
There can be a decent amount of player interaction especially when you are trying to pilfer an item off another thief especially if they have the most valuable treasure. That paints a target on your back! The player to your right also moves the closest guard towards you when you attract their attention. The ventriloquist can move a guard onto your tile if a guard is up to three tiles away moving orthogonally.
This is a fun and highly thematic family weight game with a strong element of ‘push your luck’. There is a strategy element to it too. Where you enter and which treasures you choose to swipe are important as you can only carry seven in total. Not that you can always obtain seven of them. However, it is let down by the flimsy minis and the cards do not work well on the tiles. But the overall game is solid.
If you have played Museum rush, please leave your thoughts on it in the comments below. If you have any questions then please make one below and we will attempt to answer it.