SNITCH!, from Karl Fenner and Common Man Games, is a game about gathering information to make a case against the King Pin. The pressure is high, the public wants her head, it’s been going on too long. The terror has to end. Now!
This is a PnP preview of the game. I do not know how readily available the PnP version of this game will be, but I hope this preview will help you decide if you want to support this project and get the ‘real’ game.
Deprived of sleep, stressed and with sweat on your forehead, you, a detective, have to find your way through the urban jungle to get the information you need. You start the game with on the HQ tile, in the middle of the table. Here you will find the DA’s office and the jail. In your turn you have 5 action points to spend and you can use these points to draw neighbourhood tiles or place tiles you already have. On a tile you will find green and red zones. Green zones are safe zones, streets you can walk through without risk. Red zones are Zones of Influence, zones where information can be found about the shady deals of the King Pin. The green areas are like the fields and the Red areas are like the city parts on Carcassonne tiles. You can finish red zone by place two or more tiles together (just like the cities in Carcassonne). When a red zone is completed you can get information there. When you are next to it, you may draw a random information tile (there are six different types of information in the game) and this area then gives you a one-time offer of information cubes of a specific colour. You can choose to take in that information or leave it there.
With the information obtained you can build a relationship with a (personal) Snitch and make him work for you. You have to use certain types of information cubes to activate a Snitch. He then gives you a regular supply of information of a specific type/ colour. You only have to visit this snitch and gather this information. When you are desperate, really desperate, you can always go to the prison and get some info from criminals there, but it will affect your status negatively.
A detective starts with very little street cred, the ability to store information, but you can increase your credibility during the game.
Maybe the most important action you can do in you turn, is bring information to the DA and get status points in return. When you bring different kinds of information (different colours) you will get more status points per information cube. Status points are your victory points, but can also be used to get information or acquire the services of snitches. The game ends when a detective has gathered sixty status points and has built a relationship with at least two snitches (or got more street cred during the game).
Snitch is a basic Pick-up and Deliver game, you gather information and bring this to the DA and gain victory points in return, but it does add some nice elements to this idea. One nice element is that you start with only a HQ tile and then you have to build/ discover the city around you, so basically you choose the location of the Zones of Influence (ZOI) yourself. You also choose in which zone you want to put your own Snitches. You just walk to a Zone of Influence and place your Snitch there, in this way you can create your own routes and your network can be as vast or as compact as you want.
Information is limited, so you are forced to spend your information or otherwise new information cannot be produced by Snitches or ZOI. That keeps the game pace high. Turns are going pretty fast anyway. Five points to spend, you do this, that and that, next player. Action points you do not want to use can be transferred to your next turn (this has a limit though).
I like that Snitches cannot keep information forever (on their tile), they flow over. They just cannot keep their mouths shut! You need to continually transfer information from them to you, otherwise the information from your Snitch flows over into the ZOI and other player can profit from their knowledge too. This keeps players from procrastinating.
How the game evolves is dependent on how the city tiles are distributed between the players. Not all potential ZOI will be built, because suitable tiles are in different player’s supplies. In the games I’ve played, the game evolves from a city building game (and getting information from completed ZOI) to a Snitch network building game (and getting the info from the Snitches). A downside is that towards the end of the game the actions you do in your turn feel repetitive. Wait for you Snitches to produce, go to them, get the info and go to the DA and get points. Yes, I know that’s what a Pick-up and Deliver game is or should be (?), but I just want to emphasise the game is more exciting and interesting in the beginning and in the middle of the game than at the end. At that time it’s just back to the bassics and you just reap the fruits of your labour.
It’s a bit unfair to state here (I know!), because it may be due to my printer and it’s a PnP version of a Kickstarter game, so the art may not be final, but one aspect of the game that’s less to my liking is that it is sometimes very hard to see where the red zones end. Grey streets are running straight across the tiles and this ensures that the edges of the different zones aren’t always clearly distinguishable. The colours feel thematic, but the shades of green, red and grey on the tiles are not contrasting enough in my opinion. It makes puzzling a bit more (visually) challenging. The digital images on the KS page look a bit better.
If you like a nice Pick-up and Deliver game with a high pace, a police theme and some interesting mechanisms, check out SNITCH! on Kickstarter and catch the King Pin!