Jessie Lea Scott
United States
Dunwoody
Georgia
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Last night I had the distinct pleasure of playing the not yet available Agents of SMERSH with Creator Jason Maxwell



and my 'rules savant' husband, Aaron Scott.


Aaron Scott



The art and components of the game are high quality and pleasing.












The Game Play

You take on the roll of a jet-setting, high-rolling, action-packed Spy!

Characters are represented with a card with wooden cubes marking your level of base Secret Agent skills and resolve.



There is a star marking your spy's starting level in the base skills.
Spycraft
Persuasion
Deception
Athletics
Hand to Hand

As you adventure the globe fighting SMERSH you will uses these skills to gather intel, make daring escapes, sneak past the henchmen, or take on Dr.Lobo's most powerful Agents!

Depending on which agent you pick your levels in these skills are ranked differently. Over the course of the game you can improve these skills to help with your rolls.

You also get to select bonus skills like: seduction, lock picking, disguise, speed, and gambling/luck to name a few. Having these skills can help you auto-pass skill test in certain cases. Like having Disguise gets you pass the bouncers at a club, or having Lock Picking can help you escape your chains as you are slowly lowered into a fire!

Some characters also start with nifty spy gadgets to help you on your travels.

Basically you and your fellow Special Agents are traveling the world gather intel to take down the AGENTS OF SMERSH - headed by Dr. Lobo.



The paragraph to read for your adventure is very random. The encounter book is huge. With the character customization and the different reaction groups... this game has high replay value as well.



You get to pick how your spy will react. Will you snoop around, use force, or charm your way into getting what you want?

Would your sultry seductress really go in guns a blazing?

Why NOT!

The meat and potatoes of this game are the passages. This is a storytelling game and you have to be truly committed to making the tale come alive.

When you are reading -- BE DRAMATIC -- and really lay it on thick! This will not only entertain everyone playing the game, but the tables near by. I strongly encourage doing funny accents/voices when reading the passages. Break our your "Strong Bad" or "Dr. Evil", use falsetto, do SOMETHING more than just read. Maybe even designate a Narrator, a person who doesn't even have to be playing a character, but can make reading the passages an exciting re-telling of adventure rather than, paragraph: 48.1.3 in the "Charlie Brown Adult" Wah..wah wah wah.... Zzzzz Boring! If you are doing this... why are you playing a storytelling game?!



Once the paragraph is read, you will either auto-pass because you have a matching skill or you will have to roll one of your base skills to see if you Pass (Yea!) or Fail (Boo.)

You will always get to roll 'the grey die.' You then get to pick a die from the red velvet bag for each level you have in the skill.

Let's say the paragraph ends with your spy suddenly being jumped by ninjas! You need to test 'Hand to Hand minus 1' to defeat the ninjas.ninja Your 'Hand to Hand' skill is a 1 so -1... you only have the grey die to roll against ninjas! ninja

This is where you can use Resolve. Resolve is that little extra spark that makes Secret Agents such bad mama jammas!
You can spend resolve to get an extra die in cases like this.

All the dice are different, some are super successful, others... not so much. It is the luck of the drawn and then the luck of the roll.
If randomness scares you, this is not your game.

If you pass the narrator then dramatically recounts your awesome moves taking out the ninjas! Plus you 'Hand to Hand' skill increases! WINNING!

If you fail the narrator tells of the amazing ninjitsu that results in your character taking an injury token.

"Intel" is put randomly on the map and your spy goes there to collect it. You can chose to put it in your intel pool to take down Dr. Lobo, or you can find a Location where a "big bad" is hanging out.



Going to a Location triggers a "fight" with a Villain! If you are successful against "Darling" or "Mr. Big" you are a step closer to victory. But you could end up getting your little spy behind handed to you instead, thus make SMERSH even harder to defeat.



This game is SUPER FUN and there isn't any down-time because you can stay engaged in the story.

This is the game being played by the table where everyone is laughing and cheering. Not the silent table where everyone looks like they are taking a math final.

This game is a satisfying length. It doesn't drag on or leave you with that... "It's over?!" feeling. There is a palpable build-up to the end. Will you have the right Intel to take down Dr. Lobo or will the world fall into his despotic reign?

Perhaps with this review you can tell I have a flare for the dramatic... and a potty mouth I kept in check because the children are listening!

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JASON MAXWELL
United States
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Thanks Jess! I was just about to ask if I could upload your pictures when I saw your review. And thanks for writing the review. That's a nice surprise.

One thing however. Can you substitute a picture of a good looking, famous actor for the picture of me hunkered down in the chair with my hair sticking up and my jaw swollen? Rob Lowe will do. My undercover persona is not as attractive as the real me.
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Jack Dillon
United States
North Carolina
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I am a big fan of everything having to do with spies so naturally this game is very high on my radar. A few more glowing reviews along with a video play though, which I understand is coming out of Gen Con, might just push me over the edge toward a purchase of the game.
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Randolph Bookman
United States
Los Angeles
California
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How long was the game with and without rule explanation?
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JASON MAXWELL
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Hi Randolph, Jess and Aaron were two of my main playtesters so there was little explanation needed. I had to only remind them of a couple of rules. And their opinion should not be considered unbiased. InD20 is doing an unbiased review at Gencon.

It takes 10 minutes to explain. And I think the game lasted about 90 minutes. We rolled extremely well, which may have made the game a little quicker. But Jess may write her answers here as well.
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Franco
Canada
Ottawa
ON
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Thanks for the review. Some of those photos should have been uploaded to the game's page. Except for the one of Jason with something akin to bed-head.
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Jessie Lea Scott
United States
Dunwoody
Georgia
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The rules are very straight forward. If one person has read the rules, he can do all the location placement and paragraph determination.

All the new players have to do is learn how characters move, and making skill rolls.

I think gamers will get this in 1 round of play, kids in about 2-3.

Our game took about 90 minutes, and we had to break when food was delivered, and paused when the baby needed feeding/changing too.
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JASON MAXWELL
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loquitur wrote:
Thanks for the review. Some of those photos should have been uploaded to the game's page. Except for the one of Jason with something akin to bed-head.


I uploaded some of them. They just got approved. And my hair has been sticking up all week. Had my wisdom teeth taken out this week and lucky me, the dentist has to stitch up one side. I look probably like I feel in that picture.

Oh, Jess I see you removed the photo. You know I was only teasing you about it.
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Franco
Canada
Ottawa
ON
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enditen wrote:

Oh, Jess I see you removed the photo. You know I was only teasing you about it.


As was I. In fact, I demand that it be put back up, but in enditen's profile.
 
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C. Rexford
United States
Bremerton
Washington
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Thanks for this review. I supported this on kickstarter, and now I am soooo glad I did. From your descriptions and pics, this game surpasses my expectations for it. I am looking forward to this.
All that being said however, I want to say that I gave your review the thumbs up mainly for this:


JessieLeaScott wrote:

...


This is pure adorable.
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Jessie Lea Scott
United States
Dunwoody
Georgia
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I put Jason's picture back in the post. The baby is my daughter, Alexandria.
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Tim Bueschel
United States
Huntley
Illinois
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I also played a round with Jason. I kickstarted this game and as always a little concerned as I had not played. I am so glad I kickstarted as this game is awesome. A little Tales of the Arabian Nights along with a little Pandemic and a bit of Indiana Jones and James bond mixed in. The encounter book is HUGE. There is definitely ton of replay!
This is a great review for a great game. I was going to write one but this sums it up great! Hope more people get to enjoy this wonderful game!
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Larry Thorne

Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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The Bumbo the baby is in has a recall right now for seat belts. If that is a Bumbo. Sooo cute.
 
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Kevin Lanzing
United States
Buford
Georgia
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I also played a round at GenCon. Fun game, even if we flubbed it badly. The writing is up there with Tales of the Arabian Nights. There's enough dice and card management that players felt they had some control over their own destiny, but it is still very much an experience game. And fans of spy fiction will get a kick out of all the veiled references. At one point the shoe phone made a surprise appearance. YES.
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William Cunningham
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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I'm a kickstarter (70 smackers level) and I signed up for a Friday morning game...then promptly screwed up my schedule in a sleepless haze of stupidity.

Glad to hear it's as fun as I hoped it would be! Can't wait for my copy to arrive. Hopefully it's not going to be too much longer.
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