Welcome to the jungle! Only it’s not a jungle, it’s a museum, and it’s filled with valuable artifacts. And as it turns out, you’re not the only one who hired someone to break into the museum and steal those priceless things – there are 7 master thieves on the prowl.
Can you bluff, manipulate, and outwit your opponents to make sure you’re the one who gets away with the hot cash?
How It Plays
The goal of Museum Heist is to claim 3 artifacts. Each round, a group of 7 thieves pursues 1 piece of artwork, but only one player will be able to claim it.
At the start of a round, each player secretly chooses one of the 7 thieves, placing a corresponding card facedown in front of them. No one knows who you chose, and you don’t know who others chose, and it’s entirely possible two or more players chose the same thief.
On your turn, you get to move any 1 thief of your choice. You move 1 space, or you can jump over another thief (and even string jumps together, a la checkers), as long as your final space is closer to the artwork than you started.
Alternately, instead of moving you can accuse someone of controlling a particular thief. If you are right, that player is out for the round. If you are wrong, they keep their card a secret, and you are eliminated for the round.
When you move your thief on to the space with the artwork, you reveal your thief card. If exactly one other player has the same thief card, they claim the artwork instead of yourself. If you’re the only one with that thief, or more than one other person has the same thief, you get to claim the artwork.
Once an artwork is claimed, the claiming player draws a new artwork and places it anywhere on the board. Players select new thieves, and a new round begins.
This continues until someone has claimed 3 treasures and claims victory!
This belongs in a museum!
Museum Heist is very nearly a microgame – you know, the sort that comes with a tiny stack of cards and promises lightning-quick but interesting gameplay. Although betrayed by a board and the 7 thief standees, this game still falls very much within that vein.
A single game last only a few minutes, thanks to a small one-room museum and the rule that everything must move toward the goal. Someone is going to collect that artwork eventually.
In between the start of each round and the moment the artwork is collected, you’ve got plenty to think about. There’s maneuvering your chosen character into place, of course, while trying to avoid being obvious which character is yours. This is feasible thanks to the jumping rule – are you setting up a pawn adjacent to the artwork in order to slide there on your next turn, or to set up a jump from further away? It’s very satisfying when you can set up a network of character pawns to jump your chosen character from the back of the pack to the front. ‘Course it isn’t easy, because everyone else keeps moving things around.
Figuring out which character someone holds in their hand isn’t easy. There are clues, obviously, thanks to the board and the characters that must be moved into place eventually. It’s pretty hard to be certain, though, which makes the point of challenging someone always a little tense. You can’t ignore the option, either, thanks to the fact that someone else could have the same character as you, and thusly grasp victory from your hands at the moment of your clever board-play. On the other hand, if you think that someone does have the same color as you, you can let them be the one to move the pawn to the artwork in order to snatch victory from them.
‘Course you’ve got the further risk that yet another person chose the same character.
So what I’m saying is, there’s a decent amount of risk in this little box which provides an ample amount of tension appropriate for the level of gameplay. The puzzle-y on board maneuvering jives well with the minuscule social deduction and bluffing, all packaged within a game that takes about twenty minutes to play.
That being said, it is a microgame sans the micro footprint. You can’t exactly stuff this in your pocket (although it does take up very little space in your bag of games). It’s not going to provide the same satisfying experience as a heavier deduction game. Not the same thrill of bluffing, not even compared to something like the Resistance or One Night Ultimate Werewolf. It’s a simple game, lite and quick, and don’t expect more than that.
Also, despite the simple rules there is one situation in particular that isn’t covered clearly. What happens if you move a thief you don’t control on to the artwork, especially if no one controls that thief? There is an official ruling in the BGG forum that you can only move your own thief on to the artwork, but this should have been explicitly stated in the rules. I definitely had players trying to move thieves that weren’t theirs onto the artwork in my first few games, and without a ruling in the book I couldn’t stop them. It’s not unreasonable to use that as a strategy, either – if I think I can’t get the artwork, I might move a thief I think no one controls onto it so that no one gets it and a new round begins.
It’s good that this is somewhat clarified on the internet, but that doesn’t help your average non-hobbyist who picks this game up at Barnes & Noble and can’t figure out how to resolve the issues.
Not everyone enjoys the microgame, and that’s fine. If you’re looking for something to play in a spare moment – between games, or a quick bite of after-lunch entertainment, Museum Heist has a little sparkle. The board sets it apart from other micro games, giving you a few more things to think about than just the bluffing. Don’t expect beautiful, engaging components – the board barely has any illustration on it at all, and the character pawns are simple and cartoonish, and that’s all there is – but it is what it is.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank FoxMind Games for providing a review copy of Museum Heist.