Ah Reichbusters. I wanted to like you so much.
Reichbusters: Projekt Vril is the latest game from Mythic games to start hitting people's shelves and was among my most anticipated Kickstarter games arriving in 2020. Sadly, after a few games, I'll be trading it away.
It isn't a bad game mind you, it feels completely playable and "fine", but fine isn't enough when there are much stronger contenders in the genre. Fine hasn't been good enough for perhaps a good 7-8 years now, ever since we got to a point where we already don't have enough time to play all the great games.
Now don't get me wrong...before I jump into why I feel the way I do, it's worth calling out the fact that there are many people who are enjoying their copies. Many people who are replying to the negative reviews with how much they love it. So take my opinion with a healthy grain of salt. At the same time, know that I'm not a reviewer trying to check off a box...I only review games I wanted, games I hoped I would like, and I was very much someone who didn't want to believe the negative reviews out there....until I played my own copy.
So...all that aside, why didn't I like? Or more specifically, why did I think it was just ok? 3 main reasons.
1) Lack of streamlining.
2) Lack of meaningful choices.
3) A stealth mechanic that didn't feel stealthy.
So let's dive into those a bit more.
1) Lack of streamlining - While you can watch our video on it for more examples, the basic premise of any good set of rules, is you should add rules that add depth, and remove any and all rules that add complexity without depth or meaninglessness. You want your games to be intuitive and easily remembered, and while you want your games to be strategic and will thus need a degree of complexity...do everything you can to remove unnecessary rules. Reichbusters doesn't do that. There are any number of rules that add to what you as a player have to remember, but that don't add value. This feels like a game in which they kept adding more...and never asked whether they should remove anything.
2) Lack of meaningful choices - I won't argue there were no choices to be made, there certainly where. But given how punishing it can be to lose a turn in this game, and given the way the noise mechanics are set up, I felt you were very rarely given a real choice. Ultimately every time you saw Nazis, it's worth doing everything in your power to kill them before they trigger an alert, including burning through however many cards you can. Losing a turn in this game means losing as many as 16 card draws, since each hero has 2 actions and with an action can draw 2 cards...that's 4x2x2=16. So yes, do whatever you can to avoid losing that turn. And then again, because of the way the mechanics are set up, you can't ever choose to separate. Separating means highly increasing your chances of being unable to deal with a threat, and then losing that turn. The game isn't too "hard", but it's only really viable to win if you follow the preprogrammed script. There's very minimal room for variation unless you're specifically doing so in order to make the game harder as a challenge. But that's not the kind of meaningful choice I'm looking for.
3) A stealth mechanic that didn't feel stealthy - One of the things I loved about the promise of Reichbusters was the promise of the hybrid stealth/action game. Unfortunately the stealth in this basically means everything you do, involves rolling dice. I don't mind dice, first you taken an action, then you roll dice, then you draw a card that may or may not modify those dice or strike you with a completely unthematic effect such as losing a card, followed finally by a possible higher level penalty such as a patrol spawning. Rinse and repeat for nearly everything you do.
The sequencing here doesn't feel like you're being stealthy, it just feels grindy and unrewarding. And the penalty you risk is often vastly out of proportion to the benefit you might get, which effectively means you only want to trigger either stealth checks you're certain you'll pass, or stealth checks you have to take to advance the mission.
I wanted to like Reichbusters, I really did. I still want to like it and have even started my own draft of rules to potentially make it a game I like. The game is incredibly thematic, the miniatures and art are gorgeous, and despite all my complaints, it's not terrible...playing it was "ok", but it wasn't something I want to play again either.
Like I said above, there will be people who disagree and that's great! I'm glad there are those who like this game the way I wanted to like it! At the same time I think Mythic could have done so much better with this one.