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Subject: Bluffing and Deduction in WWII: a review of Operation F.A.U.S.T. rss

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Marc Specter
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Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary prototype to do this review. This review is based on 3 plays of the game, one with 4 players, two with 5 players. I know Robert and have favorably reviewed other of his games in the past.

When Robert told me that he was going to be Kickstarting Operation F.A.U.S.T and asked me if I would be willing to review it, I said, “Well, sure!”

When he told me it was his new bluffing and deduction game, I said, “Uh oh!” (to myself). These types of games and I do not have a good history. My plays of The Resistance do not hold fond memory for me. I was afraid I’d have to, for the first time, come back to Robert and say, “Man, I just don’t like this.”

BOY WAS I WRONG! I am more than happy to give a solid endorsement for Operation F.A.U.S.T. as both an amazing game, and a fine addition to the bluffing & deduction genre.

In Operation F.A.U.S.T. the goal is to amass $1,000,000 in art won back from Nazis. You accomplish this by amassing influence, and using that influence to trade for works of art. But in the underground art trade, nothing is as simple as it seems. Each player will have to be as subtle and sneaky as possible to achieve his goal.

Each turn you get to take 1 of 4 actions: Recruit, Recover Art, Forge, and Plot.

Recruit allows you to pick up another role, increasing the possible number of roles you can play and the difficulty for your opponents to challenge your claimed role. Each of these roles will function to allow you to amass influence or art, sometimes from the pot, and sometimes from your fellow players.

The second action you can take on your turn is to Recover Art, which is an exchange of influence, typically 10, for a piece of art. There are three types of art, each of which will affect gameplay going forward. Forgeries are worthless to your endgame without the necessary documents, and degenerate art is particularly vulnerable to being stolen by other players. Regular original art does not cause the problems of forgeries or degenerates, but is nonetheless vulnerable to being taken away.

Forge is the third and simplest possible action, where you trade 3 influence for documents that allow you to win the game with a forgery or can be substituted for lost influence when you lose a challenge.

The last and final action in the game is Plot. This is the beating heart of the game. On your turn you choose a role, whether or not you have the actual card in hand, and take actions to gain influence or acquire art. Each player begins with 2 Plot cards which give a role that you may play on your turn. Each role has 2 associated actions and there are a different number of each role in the deck, from 2 Allies to 11 French Resistance. Here’s the key: you need not play a role you have in hand. You can play any role. And it is up the other players to challenge your role if they think you are bluffing, sometimes at great risk to their own endgame.

Through all 3 plays, we unpacked multiple layers of strategy and logic as to what a player would do at any given turn and why. Moreover, your motivation for doing those things will always be changing, from one turn to the next, as the position of other players changes relative to your own. It was an interactive experience that had me wholly engaged and ready to play again.

Not only is the theme strikingly original, but it works with the gameplay and gives a memorable experience. (Whether or not you win, there is immense satisfaction in that one time you correctly call someone’s bluff.) The tension in the decision-making round to round is palpable as you talk through your options and assess your best move, all while trying to maintain your poker face. The bluffing and deduction mechanics really give life to the theme of the subterfuge involved in recovering stolen works of art.

I’ve enjoyed Robert’s other games, but none so much as Operation F.A.U.S.T. I’m impressed by what he has here. Operation F.A.U.S.T. is greater than the sum of its parts, and an understanding of the mechanics (and this review) simply don’t do it justice. I’m eager to see the success of the Kickstarter, going on now (www.kickstarter.com/projects/478379924/operation-faust).

Marc Specter is co-founder of GrandCon (www.facebook.com/GrandConGCA), as well as founder and Team Leader of the Grand Gaming Academy (facebook.com/GrandGamingAcademy).
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Silver Bowen
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I appreciate the honesty of the disclaimer. However, this is a preview (advertisement) for a game that is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, not a critical review.
 
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Robert Burke
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silverbowen wrote:
I appreciate the honesty of the disclaimer. However, this is a preview (advertisement) for a game that is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, not a critical review.


Nope. Sorry. I have not paid Marc anything for this review.
An advertisement requires a payment.
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sunday silence
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there are plenty of free advertisements all the time, like some kid catches a ball in the game and he's wearing a Nike shirt or something. Free advertising is certainly a real thing, I am not sure your definition is correct.
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Tiggo Morrison
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Quote:
However, this is a preview (advertisement) for a game that is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, not a critical review.


Game exists, therefore it can be reviewed.
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Marc Specter
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If you have any specific questions that you feel I have not addressed, please let me know. I admit that I am favorably inclined toward Robert, Robert Burke Games, and Operation F.A.U.S.T. (as a result of my experience). I did my best to disclose that.

If you see my other reviews of his games (Battle for Souls, Draco Magi), you will see that I have leveled actual criticism at those games where I found it appropriate.

In my plays of the game here, there was nothing that I felt the need to be critical about.

Thanks for reading my review, and again, I look forward to any questions you may have.
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Jon Purkis
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Does the game play as well with 3/4 as it does larger numbers?
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Marc Specter
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Since posting my review I've played a game with 3 and it was fun. I think we lost a bit of the social interaction you get with greater numbers of players. Also the risk of a calling a challenge had to be borne by only 2 people. I loved my plays with 4 & 5 players.
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Chris Reynolds
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Tinyelvis wrote:
silverbowen wrote:
I appreciate the honesty of the disclaimer. However, this is a preview (advertisement) for a game that is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, not a critical review.


Nope. Sorry. I have not paid Marc anything for this review.
An advertisement requires a payment.


Payment/consideration would include the complimentary prototype. Money isn't the only form of payment. Eric Summerer at the end of every Dice Tower podcast: "Promotional consideration provided by publishers in the form of review copies"

This game looks really cool, and I see it's an available add-on to my Deception pledge! That brought me to this review, and this thread.
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