The Enburgling: A Look at Burgle Bros 2
I enjoyed Burgle Bros despite some caveats, even though my fondness dimmed somewhat with time and repetition. Still, there weren’t many moments as memorable as when Brock brought back Burgle Bros after keeping hold of it for a few months. Say that five times fast: Brock brought back Burgle Bros.
Well, this time he won’t need to. Last week, I sat down with Tim Fowers for a look at his and Jeff Krause’s sequel, Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers, on Kickstarter now. And while anything and everything is subject to change — the perils of a preview, unfortunately — here are the three things that rekindled my affection for this heist simulator.
#1. Everything Is Simpler
I’ll do my best to prevent this from becoming a bash on the original Burgle Bros. Okay, never mind. It was cluttered. Cluttered like a teenager’s room, with enforced action limits, event cards that triggered at odds times, and security guards with variable patrol speeds.
Burgle Bros 2 has been slimmed down in all the right places, and the result is far easier to evaluate without making mid-game errors. Take casino bouncers as an example. Unlike the guards of the original, their movement is easy to evaluate. Each turn sees them moving three spaces toward a destination, with ties breaking clockwise. In terms of exceptions, there are only a couple, and they both make total sense. If you leave a secure door flapping open, a bouncer will move a little faster when he passes through. Same goes for raising an alert somewhere. In both cases, the bouncer picks up his step, and maybe veers toward the sound of the disturbance, but his burst of speed is momentary. In other words, the bouncers resemble rent-a-cops instead of the homicidal terminators of the original game.
Everything else has been given similar refinements. Event cards still exist, but they don’t trigger when you fail to use an action. You’re free to sit still and wait, an essential hallmark of any heist. Instead, certain tiles prompt you to draw themed event cards, like the promise of a complimentary beverage in the lounge drawing a bouncer’s attention. Doors are new, but they’re mostly present to hamper your movement and offer a tricky decision between leaving them open for your fellow thieves or closing them so bouncers won’t take notice. Simple but impactful.
#2. The Heist Is Faster, But Also Better
Here’s another bash for you: the challenge of the original Burgle Bros banked too much on attrition. Its three floors each presented an identical challenge, except with fewer resources and faster guards. It was a little bit like playing three sessions at the same time, one where your burglars could bounce between parallel dimensions. Except that’s overselling it. There were no parallel dimensions. Only guards with increasing motivation.
That’s gone. Or at least the third floor is gone. And smartly, Fowers and Krause have put the remaining two floors to better use. Rather than cracking a safe on every floor, your goal is now twofold: bust the security on the ground level to push dice up to the upper floor, where you’ll use them to crack the vault. This injects some much-needed variety and — even better — makes collaboration between multiple stations essential. Within a single narrow window, you’ll need to have people working in multiple places on both floors. Failure doesn’t mean game over since you can try again next round, but every turn spent lingering in those high-security areas is one more chance that a passing bouncer will apprehend you.
In other words, it feels more like a heist, complete with synchronized watches and near misses, than the attritional slog of the original.
#3. Crazy Stuff Happens
Just because it’s shorter doesn’t mean Burgle Bros 2 doesn’t have a third act. It’s still there, but may be totally unlike what happened the last time you played. In our demo, we opened the vault to discover the souped-up car from Getaway Driver, which prompted a madcap escape as our burglars buckled in, blasted through walls, and ultimately drove through the second-story window to freedom. There were still obstacles to consider, like making sure we picked up all our friends before the bouncers caught us, but it was a riotous conclusion to all of that sneaking and dodging.
And apparently, there will be a solid handful of these crescendos, each providing a different conclusion to your heist. I’d tell you more, but I don’t actually know what will happen. For once, I like not knowing. It means there will be more to tinker with when Burgle Bros 2 releases.
Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers is on Kickstarter for the next 70 hours.