I Should've Cut the Red Wire: A Double-Take Review of Bomb Squad Academy

Today we're reviewing Bomb Squad Academy, a small-box game from Tasty Minstrel Games. 

Bomb Squad Academy is a prequel to Bomb Squad, in which you're playing as cadets learning how to disarm bombs. A game consists of three bombs, with the highest-scoring player winning after the three bombs explode being declared the winner, or tops in the class! Is this game the bomb, or a dud? Let's find out!

The Components

The bomb is made up of four fuses/wires, each consisting of a deck of 12 wire cards, a Trigger track, 3 Trigger tiles, and a Trigger (which is a small cube that moves along the Trigger track). Each is a different color, and different length. There are also Tool cards, and pressure plates that get added in on the 2nd and 3rd bombs (rounds), Lastly there are 5 sets of Action cards, that have 6 cards each. Each player gets one set. Also a pile of point tokens (They're double-sided so be careful!!).

The Setup

The setup is fairly easy although maybe just a bit fiddly. 

You'll setup the four wires with the track next to the deck of cards for each one. The trigger (cube) is placed at the top, and each player grabs a set of action cards. You'll have the tools and pressure plates handy but they won't come in until later.

The Gameplay

Each player selects an Action card, holds it face down on the table, and then everyone reveals his or her card.

The possible actions are:

Cutters: You'll have 4 different-colored cutters available. Cutting a wire creates a series of events. You'll flip the top card of that color's deck, move the Trigger the number spaces shown on the main (large number) movement value on the card. And then scores points. You score the number of the main value along with all of the chain value icons indicated on previously played cards. If you play the same color as another player you'll reveal two cards from the deck and move the trigger for each one. But you'll split the points with the other players who played the same color.

WAIT!: The Wait card allows you to stop other players from cutting one of the wires this turn. You choose a color, and that wire isn't cut. 

Chicken Out: You don't cut any wire, and if someone causes the bomb to explode on that turn, you score 5 points!

As you play cards down you stack them on top of each other, leaving a bit of the previously played card revealed. Once you play a third one down you take the first of the three back into your hand. You'll have a couple of cards unavailable for most rounds this way. This also lets you guess what cards other players may be playing...

Once the Trigger moves down to the end of the Trigger track it moves down onto the Trigger tiles. Two of the three tiles say "OK" on the bottom, and the third has an explosion. As the trigger moves onto or past a tile it is flipped over. If it reveals an explosion, then the bomb explodes! Anyone who cut that wire loses 5 points. You then reset the bomb just like it was at the beginning of the game. BUT! Now you'll add tools and pressure plates. The pressure plates are randomly placed at the top of two of the Fuse decks. If you cut a wire that has a pressure plate on top of it, you'll earn the bonus points as part of the chain points from the pressure plates. These will move after every turn in opposite directions. 

You'll deal out Tool cards to the number of players plus one. Starting with the lowest score, players take turns selecting a Tool, and the leftover one is discarded. Tools can be used once, and you can keep it into the third round if you don't find a time to use it when you first get it.

You'll play for three bombs, and the highest score wins! 

The Verdict

Jeremiah--I wasn't sure what to expect going in to this. Sometimes games that spin off of other games are a bit of a cash in with not much substance. That's totally not the case with Bomb Squad Academy. Similar feel/theme, but vastly different game play, and a great unique theme!

Firestone--Yeah, when I heard it was an add-on for Bomb Squad Kickstarter backers, I dismissed it out of hand. That was a mistake because this is a solid game!

Jeremiah--This games shines with more players. It plays 2-5, but it's more fun when it's crowded and folks are trying to guess which color to go for, and the trigger is racing down the line super fast!

Firestone--I don't think it plays well with only 2. Three players is good, but it's definitely better with 4+. 

Jeremiah--There's something really fun about the theme that hits a fun sweet spot with me. Tediously cutting wires, people shouting WAIT!!! It's just a cool premise for a game, and I've really enjoyed this one so far!!

Firestone--I like the small twists that the pressure plates and Tool cards add. The first, vanilla bomb gets you in the mind-set, and then you add small things that affect your decisions even more. This an excellent game for nongamers and family. The decisions aren't too difficult because you'll usually just have a subset of your cards available. There's some chaos as you're trying to guess what your opponents will play--but some knowledge of what they can play, so that helps. And some luck, as a bomb that DEFINITELY SHOULD GO OFF, inexplicably doesn't... (On someone else's turn, of course. When you look cross-eyed at a bomb, it goes off in your face!)

Firestone's Final Verdict--I foolishly thought Bomb Squad Academy wasn't worth my time. But I was wrong. It's a solid push-your-luck filler with fun and interesting decisions, some luck, and tense anticipation as you flip those cards. It's definitely worth my time. And yours. 

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--Bomb Squad Academy is a great supplemental piece to the Bomb Squad franchise. A unique press-your-luck game that plays cleanly and is just flat-out fun! Grab this one up and use it as a fun, accessible filler!

Thanks for reading!