Designer: Frederic Moyersoen
Number of Players: 3-10
Playtime: 30 minutes
Price (approx.): 10 Euro
Dwarves dig deep. They want gold. And fast. At least most of them. A minority just wants to run through the mines, dig in wrong directions, destroy tunnels and wreck tools. Who are they? No one knows.
What you get for your money:
A small box: 110 playing cards and the rules.
How do you play the game:
You are either a dwarf gold digger, your goal is to get to the gold, or you are a saboteur and your goal is to prevent the gold diggers from getting to the gold. The saboteurs are always the minority.
The starting card and the 3 Goal cards (one tunnel with gold, 2 others with coal in it) are placed face down on the table, 7 card spaces apart. Every player takes a certain number of cards, depending on the number of players.
There are five card types: pathways, broken tools (pickaxe, trolley, lamp), repair tools (pickaxe, trolley, lamp), a rock fall and a treasure map.
In your turn, you must play a card and then take the top card from the draw deck. You can place a pathway card next to another pathway to dig your way to the gold. You can give a broken tool to another player, that player cannot play any pathway cards until he or someone else repairs this tool with a repair card of the same type.
With a rock fall card, you can remove a pathway card from play and with a treasure map card, you can look at one face down treasure card to see if it’s gold or coal.
If someone reaches the gold (the gold diggers win) or the deck is empty and no one can play another card, the round is over.
When the gold diggers win, as much gold cards (with one, two or three nuggets on it) are drawn as there are players. The player who got to the treasure first chooses one and passes the rest to the other gold diggers. Everyone takes one gold card, until all cards have been taken.
At the end, when the gold hasn’t been found, the saboteurs win and they get the gold cards.
The game is played over three rounds, the player with the most nuggets after the last round wins Saboteur.
The theme, a dwarf mining company, is not really important. I don’t feel it. Why would there be saboteurs among the dwarfs? Employee of a competitor? I don’t know. The theme could be anything: some frightened teenagers in a haunted house looking for the exit, children looking for Easter eggs in the high grass, everything.
I don’t feel I’m mining. I’m just playing cards. So I still don’t know what being dwarf miner feels like.. Pity.
This is a children’s game or a very, very light family game. Every decision you make is an obvious one. You need to make the most of the cards you draw. The gold diggers go as fast as they can to the gold and the saboteur, sabotages them. Not right away off course, but after a couple of turns he has no choice.
Once a saboteur start sabotaging, the battle begins. Broken tools, repairs and rock falls are thrown across the table. This is not a very subtle ‘traitor game’.
The illustrations are OK. Not bad, but not very beautiful either. A nice aspect of this game is that you can see the network of tunnels grow in front of you. It’s just a simple network though, not a beautiful cathedral or the French countryside.
Quality of the components
The cards are linen and the quality is good.
If you want to play a game with a traitor in it, there are better, more subtle ones out there. Yes, this game is very easy, but maybe too easy. There’s not a single really meaningful decision to be made. You know; there is one other small game, cheap game, easy ‘traitor’ game out there that is much, much better. The Resistance. This game is more challenging, more social, more engaging for adults.
As a kids game, Saboteur is a perfect one. Easy rules. The dwarf theme is nice for them, I think. Visually appealing, your network is growing right in front of you. The location of the 3 treasure cards are known, so they know where to go to. They only need to find out which one is gold.
So if you’re not a child, don’t buy Saboteur. You can get better games, for about the same amount of money.
If you want to buy this to play with your kids, then, yes, this is a good one. It will not be as fun for you, but that’s probably not the reason why you bought this game anyway.
It is a decent game, but not fun for me.