It's finally here. If you've been following the saga that is Two Rooms and a Boom, you know that it's been no easy task to fulfill this campaign, but it's FINALLY here. I (Jeremiah) got my hands on an early review copy. We'll include Firestone's thoughts on it when his copy arrives, but we wanted to get this review done ASAP. So here goes!
DISCLAIMER: It should be noted that over the past two years, Alan Gerding, Sean McCoy, and I have become good friends. Alan and I game together a LOT, and whenever Sean is in town we hang out, and discuss the deeper things of faith and gaming. Nevertheless, I'm going to tell you what's great about the game, and what isn't (although it's not much), but please know that my opinion of the game is based on the game's merit, not my friendship with the folks publishing it. Believe me, I've playtested a lot of what Tuesday Knight Games is working on, and have spoken up when I don't like something!
Okay, now that that is out of the way, let's jump in and check out the long-awaited Two Rooms and a Boom.
Plastic cards: 17 base game cards and 93 advanced character cards. Yes, there are over 93 special role cards included in the base game.
Leader cards: These are hard, player-board cards that include instructions on changing leaders, end of round exchanges, and a list of rounds and the duration of each round.
There are two rule books, one that explains gameplay and another that's a character guide for all of the unique characters.
You'll need a timer, but we usually have each leader pull up a timer on their phone/electronic device of choice.
One of the biggest delays for Tuesday Knight Games involved improving the graphic design, which was completely overhauled (for the better!), and printing on plastic card stock. The plastic cards are really great. If you've played the print-and-play version, you know that it was best to put the cards sleeved so you can keep the card in your pocket, cover it, show it to other people, and so forth. The plastic cards allow you to do all of that without the need for clunky sleeves.
Before the game begins you'll pick (and hopefully thoroughly explain) the player roles you're including in the game. Then have everyone split randomly into two different rooms. (It's best if you have two separate rooms, but it will work with two different areas of a large room--as long as you can't hear each other.) Shuffle the cards and deal one out randomly to each player. Each room chooses a leader, this is done by whoever first names someone (not themselves) as the leader. The timers are set, and started, and the game is afoot!
Gameplay is broken into timed rounds: the first is 3 minutes, the second is 2 minutes, and the last round is a lightning-fast 1 minute. As you add more players, you add more rounds - although with new players it's often preferred to stick with 3 rounds.
While playing the game, the goal is simple: If you are a character aligned with the Blue Team (i.e. you have a blue card, that says you're on the Blue Team) you're trying to keep the President (also a Blue Team member) alive! If you're on the Red Team, you're trying to kill the President, by getting the Bomber (A Red Team member) into the same room as the President at the end of the last round. When the last round ends, the bomb detonates, killing everyone in the room with the Bomber. If the President is in there, Red Team wins! If the President made his (or her) way into the opposite room, the President lives and the Blue Team wins!
You just have to figure out where the President and the Bomber are, and try to get them in the correct room for your own purposes. You can do this by showing one person, everyone, or no one your card. You can also do Color Shares where you show another player only the color of your card, not revealing your role (this is recommended for more than 10 players, although I've done it with 10 or fewer and it works just fine...). You can use the knowledge you gain to influence others, call for leadership changes within your room, etc.
Once the round ends, the leaders of each room designate a number of players (hostages) to go to the other room. The leaders parlay, and exchange hostages. Then the timers are set for the correct time, and a new round begins.
There are also a number of Grey character roles that have their own separate win conditions. The base Role is the Gambler (it's recommended you start with the Gambler and add it in when you have an uneven number of players), and at the end of the game the Gambler makes a guess as to which team they think won the game, and then wins if they guessed correctly.
I could go on for hours explaining the different roles and strategies, but I'll leave you with a set of my three favorite that I've played with (so far). The Sniper, the Target, and the Decoy are grey cards that each have their own win condition. At the end of the game the Sniper chooses a player to assassinate. If the Sniper picks the Target, the Sniper wins. and the Decoy and Target lose. If the Sniper picks the Decoy, the Decoy and the Target win and the Sniper loses. If the Sniper picks someone else entirely, the Target wins, but the Sniper and Decoy lose. It is great, and tense, and leads to a TON of deception between all of the grey card holders!
I've been playing Two Rooms for nearly two years now, and I loved it from the get-go! We played at a big game marathon I was hosting, and a bunch of kids in my youth group kids came, and immediately fell in love with it! It was active, and it got you thinking, moving, being sneaky, and forming alliances! It was a hit!
I played other times with the youth group, wondering if that first time was a fluke. But it was still a hit. We can't get enough!
The new components, while they took their sweet time getting finished up, and are done right: durable plastic with great, vivid artwork. One thing that I really appreciated was the removal of the flavor text that accompanied the print-and-play cards. Some of them had coarse language, and since I often play with teenagers, I would pull them from the game. But the new ones don't have that, so I can leave them in--although I'm not sure about handing a kid a card that tells them they're a demon this round...
The unique roles all work really well, and add a TON of replayability. I've hosted entire evenings where not one single player got a base Blue Team or Red Team card--everyone had a special role! It was a lot of fun! Sometimes you'll have to fiddle with Roles--for instance, I once had to take out the Coy Boys because we had an entire room claiming they were Coy and couldn't share with anyone. But that's what's great about the game: You can easily bluff other abilities to gain trust, and turn it around for your own means at the end!
Jeremiah's Final Verdict
Two Rooms and a Boom is simply one of the best party/social deduction games I've ever played. It spans from complete non-gamers to the most wiliest of gaming veterans. Massive replay value and quick play assures that no one will be stuck in a game or role they don't like. Two Rooms and a Boom is an instant classic!