Review: Spy Master

Do you remember when James Bond was all about suave, sophisticated people with gadgets and one-liners? Do you dream of megalomaniac villains with secret bases and plans to take over the world? Then Spy Master is the game for you.

By first-time author Symatt, Spy Master is a fast, simple game that aims to capture the spirit of classic James Bond adventures. It uses of the card game 21 (also known as pontoon) as it basic mechanics which fits well with the games theme. There are no dice, just a deck of cards and a combination of player luck and skill. The character sheet is basic, little more than four numbers to represent the character’s basic expertise in very loosely defined areas of expertise. All player actions come down to a playing a game of 21 combining randomly drawn cards and one of the four basic character stats. The game also provides a lot of ideas for using cards to generate character background, locations, names and so on.

The game uses various movie related terms like director, scenes and acts to enhance the theme and tone of the game. The book also includes a bit of background on spy organisations and fictional enemies along with examples of play to help players get into the genre.

There is nothing bad about this game but there are areas where it could be better. A lack of experience in the writing and the layout is evident and the game would have benefited from a good editor and or graphic artist. The weaknesses are not enough to spoil the game and even on a quick read through the rules were quickly understandable.

For it’s length (70 pages) and quality, the PDF is relatively expensive at about $10 but if spy-adventures are your bag, then Spy Master is worth a shot.

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