Players: 3 to 10
Game Length: 30 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 5-10 players who want a light social game with a lot of arguing!
Saboteur is a light hidden role game where the players are dwarves mining for a rich vein of gold. However, not all of the dwarves want to find the gold – some of their number are actually saboteurs, who want to prevent the other dwarves from finding the gold, so they can keep it all for themselves later!
Each player will get a hand of cards and a secret Role card, either a gold-digger or a saboteur. The gold could be in any one of three locations, and it’s up to the dwarves to work out which one it is. Each turn, a player will have a chance to play one card from their hand, and draw one card from the deck. If the dwarves reach the gold, the miners win, but if the deck is empty and all cards have been played, the saboteurs win instead.
You’ll get a handful of cards that will let you either add to the warren of tunnels, or perhaps let you break (or repair) another dwarf’s tools, affecting their ability to play cards. There’s also a Map card, that lets you see whether one of the location cards contains gold or a worthless lump of coal – what you do with that information is entirely up to you! The powerful Rock Fall card allows you to remove a previously-played card, which can clear a path that a saboteur has blocked off, or create a difficult-to-fill gap in the existing tunnel.
Saboteur works best as a light social game, where people can hurl accusations at each other and claim to be working in the best interests of the team while actively sabotaging their efforts. It flows more quickly than other traitor games that are purely social, as choosing what to play is a relatively easy decision to make and you won’t get bogged down in debate. However, it’s not particularly deep (insert mining joke here), and victory is likely to come mostly at random, with only the occasional game really feeling like it was the cleverness of the saboteurs or the miners that triggered victory.
Despite this, Saboteur is very successful at incorporating a large number of players with little downtime. It’s also available in a small and cheap package, and is easy for players of any level of skill to understand; for all these reasons, Saboteur is well worth a spot in any boardgamer’s collection.