Okay...no, this game has nothing to do with the Muppets. (Please don't sue us for saying Muppets, Disney. Okay?) Caper is the latest game from Keymaster Games--about cat burglary, crazy contraptions, and criminal masterminds. Caper is a 2-player, card-drafting game of criminal intent, as players attempt to deploy the best crew of Thieves across three Locations in order to steal the most loot and score points! So does Caper crack the safe? Or should you call the police on it? Let's find out!
Caper is a card game, so there are all kinds of cards: Location cards, Gear cards, and Thief cards. Also, 10 money tokens, 3 location boards, a round tracker, and a golden "caper" meeple for tracking rounds. There are also 2 Reference cards; each has a different color, which determines the starting player for each round
First you'll decide which city you want to play in: London, Rome, or Paris. Each city has unique Location and Thief cards that are shuffled in with the non-unique cards. Then three Locations are dealt out. These often have special ways to score points if you win the location.
Next you'll place the Round Tracker meeple on the Round Tracker board, and deal out 4 Thief cards. The player with the cream-colored reference sheet is the first player, and you're ready to break in and steal some stuff!
The game play mechanically is VERY easy. The first player selects a card and plays it to a Location. Then the second player does the same. Players exchange hands (of cards, not like their actual hands, that's gross and most likely painful), and then they repeat those steps until they're holding one card, which is then discarded and a new round is started by dealing out more cards.
Each round alternates the starting player and the type of card you're playing: Thief, Gear, Thief, Gear, Thief, Gear. After the sixth round the game is over, and whoever scores the most points wins.
The trick of the game is the rules for card placement and, more importantly, the WHY of you placing cards.
You win the Location cards by having the most Capers at a location (the icon looks like the golden Round Tracker meeple). How you get those is the trick. Some Thieves will outright give you a Caper, some Thieves will let you score extra points at the end of the game, but most Thieves score Capers for different types (colors) of Gear cards at the same Location. Also, no Thief can have more than 3 Gear cards played on them, and no Location can have more than three Thieves on each side. Some cards do crazy things, such as flip other cards, which still count against the number of cards played, but no longer give their bonus. Other cards have "stolen goods" on them, and collecting sets of them are also a great way to score a lot of points.
Like I said, you go back and forth, trying to equip your best Thieves to win the Locations and score the most points. After the sixth round is finished, you determine who won the Locations and then tally the scores. Most points wins!
I'm sure by now, that most people are tired of me saying this, but since I'm the one writing, I'll say it again: Keymaster has some of the best LOOKING games I've ever played. Campy Creatures was amazing, and Caper delivers a quite different experience, but nonetheless amazing. There's a high production value for the artwork, graphic, and component design--not to mention that the game itself is pretty darn fun!
Caper is a very easy game to learn. At its core it's a drafting game--a two-player drafting game at that--but the design has a few twists that make it stand out to me:
1. Non-simultaneous card selection: Usually that bothers me. I'm a big fan of games that don't have any down time. Not selecting your cards at the same time is conducive to down time. But since it's a 2-player game, you can't just wander off when it's not your turn, because it will be in like 10-9-8... BUT my main point here is that taking turns, knowing that your opponent can flip that awesome card you want to play if they're feeling mean, or knowing that if you don't play it now you're giving it back to them to potentially play, adds a wonderful density to a seemingly simple mechanic.
2. Combos! Maybe this isn't such a twist on the drafting mechanic, but there are scads of combos in this game: Gear cards that have synergy with Thieves that have synergy with Locations. It's ALMOST enough to give someone AP, but it's definitely enough to make the game fun and interesting.
The only thing you're going to battle with in the first game or two is the iconography. It can be a bit hieroglyphical at times and I definitely found myself grabbing "The Caper Catalogue" which is a brilliantly thematic quick-reference guide that has every card categorized and explained. It's almost like they knew it was going to be a bit tough to learn all of those cards right away...
The Final Verdict
All in all, Caper is a filler with some meat on its bones. Each game takes around 30 minutes, maybe a touch quicker with more plays. That said, the layers of strategy, paths to victory, clever twists, and incredibly thematic artwork make Caper a great addition to my collection and further fuels my growing love for 2-player games!
Thanks so much for reading! Have you played Caper? We'd love to hear your thoughts on it! Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!