Spies & Lies review: the enemy is upon us

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Steven L. Ken
@stevenlken
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In the Spies & Lies review you will find out how to lead your army in the invasion of the enemy camp, using very fine espionage techniques

In recent months, GateOnGames has localized some games from the Jumbo publishing house in Spain. In this article we are going to talk specifically about Spies & Lies, a game of cunning and strategy. In Spies & Lies we must be able to gather as much information as possible on the strategy implemented by the opposing army in order to achieve our purpose, which is to infiltrate our spies into enemy territory to reach the flag or at least get as close as possible to it. by the end of the third round and block the opposing invasion.



What's in the box | Spies & Lies Review

Inside the box we find:

  1. 1 scoreboard
  2. 20 Soldier cards (10 red and 10 blue)
  3. 8 Mission cards (4 red and 4 blue)
  4. 6 Information cards
  5. 1 Starting Player card. On the one hand it is blue if the blue player starts the round and on the other hand it is red if the red player starts the round.
  6. 8 reference cards in various languages, including Spanish, which briefly summarize the actions of each member of our army.
  7. 8 Information tokens
  8. 3 Stratego Towers (1 red Infiltration token, 1 blue Infiltrating token and 1 black Secret Agent token)
  9. 1 day token
  10. 4 Deception tokens

Game Setup | Spies & Lies Review

First of all, the two players choose which color to play with.

Each player must have:

  • Soldier cards of the chosen color (red or blue)
  • 4 Mission cards
  • 1 Reference card
  • 4 Information tokens
  • 1 Deception token

The board is positioned in the center of the table, each player must have the side of the board in their color facing towards them. Also on the board, the players must place their Infiltration pawn on space number 0 of the “Infiltration points” path and the Secret Agent pawn on the central space. The day marker must be placed on day 1 of the game board. Next to the board are then placed:



  1. 8 Mission cards (4 red and 4 blue)
  2. 8 Soldier cards (4 red and 4 blue) that each player must choose during the Deploy Phase
  3. 2 Exhausted Soldier cards (1 red and 1 blue)
  4. 5 face-down Information cards
  5. 1 Information card face up
  6. the starting Player card facing in the direction of the color of the player who starts that round
  7. each player must have his own pile of tokens consisting of: 1 Deception token and 4 Information tokens
  8. 2 Reference cards, one for each player

How to play | Spies & Lies Review

Before entering the heart of the game, each player must randomly choose a card from the opponent's deck, this card will be placed face down next to the deck of Information cards and will be the Exhausted card, that is the card that cannot be used during the current round and which can be used as a clue. Each game takes place in 3 rounds and each round consists of 3 phases:

  • Deployment: each player chooses 4 cards from his Soldier card deck and places one under each Mission card. The cards must be placed in ascending order from left to right based on the number they have written in the upper left corner. The only exception is the Sergeant card (# 4) which can be placed anywhere in case you want to bluff during the game and throw your opponent off. During the round it is always possible to look at the cards we have placed face down.
  • Information: an Information card must be turned over (a different Information card will be turned over each round). The players will place an Information token on top of the Mission cards that correspond to a Soldier card that has a number equal to that of the Information card. 
  • Mission: he who has the starting player's card begins. Using the numbers shown on the Information card, using the number of the enemy's Exhausted card as information, the player must try to figure out which Soldier card is hiding under the opponent's Mission number 1 card. Then it's up to the opponent to do the same thing and the game goes on like this, with the two players taking turns, until all 8 Soldier cards (both 4 red and 4 blue) are turned face up. and the round ends.

NB At the end of the regulation there is a page entirely dedicated to the detailed explanation of the skills of the Soldier cards. It should be read well before starting the game, because it can help in deciding some strategy to put in place. Each round changes the starting player, consequently the starting player card must also be turned in the correct direction. At the end of each round, the Day marker is advanced one round. 



Score

Whenever a Soldier card is revealed during the Mission phase, the Infiltration tokens must be moved in the following ways:

  • if the player guesses the opponent's Soldier card, his Infiltration chit moves two spaces on the numbered track. The Soldier card that is right is placed face up and turns 90 degrees, its special ability is not activated
  • on the other hand, if the player does not guess the opponent's Soldier card, his Infiltration chit is not moved and the special ability from the card is activated. In this case, the opponent will have to advance his Infiltration chit by as many squares as indicated by the Soldier card.

When a player reaches number 10 on the track numbered with his Infiltration marker, then he can advance the Secret Agent chit into the enemy field by the number of spaces equal to the round being played (for example, if the Day marker is placed on round 2, the pawn must be moved two squares). Once this action is performed, the player returns his Infiltration marker to number 0 and any excess points are lost, except for the Colonel card (# 8) which allows for the accumulation of excess Infiltration points.

Deception tokens

The Deception token can be used by a player on his Mission card in correspondence with the Soldier card that is about to be declared. In case the opponent guesses the card, the Deception token is discarded without any effect. If, on the other hand, the opponent does not guess correctly, the player discards the Deception token and moves his Infiltration token by as many spaces as indicated by the Soldier card, plus 4 bonus spaces given by the Deception token which must then be discarded.



End of round and end of game | Spies & Lies Review

The round ends when all and 8 Soldier cards (both his own and those of the opponent) they are all turned face up. All the cards used during the round are collected, shuffled and restarted with the setup for the next round. Remember to advance the Day marker one space. The only things that shouldn't be moved are the towers on the game board. Instead the game can end in two ways:

  1.  one of the two players manages to get the Secret Agent token up to the flag from the opposing fortress within 3 rounds
  2. In the third round you see which of the two players has managed to advance the Secret Agent token more into the enemy camp, who has succeeded will be the winner.

Variant: team game | Spies & Lies Review

In this variant it is played in two teams of two players. The two players of the same team divide the Mission cards, one will play with 1 and 2 and the other with 3 and 4, each will be responsible for the choices concerning his cards. Teammates have to confront each other out loud, they can't whisper. After the first player has chosen and placed the Soldier cards corresponding to the Mission 1 and 2 cards, the teammate can look at those cards only once so that he can place his cards in the correct order.

Conclusion

Spies & Lies immediately attracted me for the simple rules, the quick setup and the longevity of the game that can hardly always be the same over time. A small negative side, however, this game has it, although the games last half an hour it is not one of those games in which we can say that "one game leads to another". Maximum two games and then it is better to switch to a lighter and less strategic game. 

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Technical details

  • Name: Spies & Lies
  • Creator: Don Eskridge
  • Publishing house: jumbo
  • Spanish distribution: GateOnGames
  • Players: 1-4
  • Recommended age: 12+
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Price: 19,99€
8 Recommended

Points in favor

  • Team mode: the number of players increases to 4
  • Quick and easy to learn rules
  • quick setup

Points against

  • Not suitable for playing this game alone all evening
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