A Review of Burgle Bros 2: Part I. Unboxing, Solo Play, and First Impressions

We will avoid the major controversy of this game and just call it Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers rather than Burgle Brothers 2 (with “brothers” spelled out). I am sure the designer had a good reason to call it that!

Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers was a game that was up on Kickstarter and promised delivery in May 2020. It delivered about a week ago as March 28th, 2021, so it’s about a year late. We have been looking forward to this game, as it made our Top 10 Anticipated Cooperative Games last month! The original Burgle Bros was quite a hit at RichieCon’s 2018 and we have been playing tjhe original online via TableTop Simulator (see our Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games You Can Play Online). You can see below that the new Burgle Bros 2 is substantially bigger than its predecesssor!

Honestly, Burgle Bros (the original) probably should have made our Top 10 “Small” Cooperative Board and Card Games from a few weeks ago.  As you can see above, Burgle Bros 2 does not really fit into the “small” category anymore.


Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers comes in a very different box.  It is supposed to look like a Las Vegas Hotel!  See below:

The box is also weird in that it’s “held together” by the cardboard insert at the bottom.

When you open it up, you see a lot of stuff!


Above, you can see 4 plastic tubes: these tubes will be used to make a 3-D hotel!  There are also two mats in the game (rolled and held by rubber bands).  A few cardboard punchouts also adorn the top (see above).  Below all that mess is a Gamez-Tray with the majority of tokens and cards:


You can see above that the pieces kind wandered around during shipping.


You see a lot of plastic cubes (red used for markers, orange used for “heat”), some wood sticks (used for walls in the casino), and a bunch of wood tokens (mostly for user tokens).  All the cards are also intruded in the tray (above right) and a bunch of space for the cardboard tokens.

There’s still more stuff below the red Game-Trayz!


Although this isn’t a legacy game, it includes some stickers and special envelopes for a campaign mode.  There’s also a Heist Log (for the campaign game) and a discussion of differences between the two games.

Last and not least are the tiles. These form the two floors of the hotel and will be flipped as the players explore.


Altogether, the components look super good and thematic. They have the same ‘feel’ as the original Burgle Bros!


Mini-Game 1: The Legacy, Dexterity Game


So, Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers comes with not just one, but two mini-games! The first mini-game is a legacy, dexterity game where you try to put the stickers on the on the wooden markers! I am being silly here because it was very daunting to put the stickers on!! I call it a legacy game because if you screw-up putting the stickers on, they are like that forever! And putting the stickers on is very precise and “handsy”, so that’s why it’s a dexterity game!


It was actually kind of hard to match the stickers to some of the wooden blocks! For example (below), the two “purplish” characters below both “kinda” fit!


Also, make sure you DO NOT put the stickers on some of the wooden tokens. They look like they should, but the treasure stickers are for the heist log!

Here’s before:


And here’s after:

I didn’t do that great at some of the stickers. Once they go on, they are on that way for life! (If you try to take them off, there’s a chance you may rip them). I think a second sticker sheet with “replicas” of some of the stickers would have helped this legacy, dexterity game!!

Setting Up The Table


So, this game has a bit of cool gimmick. The box becomes the “second floor” of the hotel!

The yellow plastic is a little weak, so you have to be careful not to “shove” the little plastic tubes in too hard, but you still have to apply some force: see above.

Once you flip over the table, you put a mat on the first floor and a mat on the second floor. It’s a little bit shaky, but (after playing through a full game), it seemed to worked pretty well. It just doesn’t necessarily “look” particularly stable (see above).

But it does look cool! The table has a lot of table presence!


The rulebook … is ok. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. There were a lot of questions I had during game play that the rulebook did not answer. There were rules questions about some of the gear, some of the rules on the tiles, some of the final game rules. I was able to make educated guesses on most of them. It didn’t interfere too much with the enjoyment of the game, but I strongly suspect an online FAQ would go a long ways.


The first page (see above) is a components page: that’s good! They just LIST the components without having a corresponding picture: that’s bad. Most of the components are labelled or “obvious”, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out what was what: that’s good.

The set-up page (above) is very good. I didn’t have too many problems getting set-up.


The font is nice, the game is fairly well described, and it’s pretty easy to read (see above).

Overall, I learned the game from the rulebook and it was okay.  My real problem was there just seemed to be a lot of edge conditions that weren’t described too well.  I strongly suspect you will want to look at a FAQ online once you get going. 

Solo Play


So, the box says the game plays 1-4 players. (Ya for following Saunders’ Law) Unfortunately, the rulebook has NO DESCRIPTION OF A SOLO MODE! Many cooperative games just have you assume two positions, so that’s what I did: I chose two characters and just played them both.

At the end of the first campaign, there’s some “rules” to follow to win the endgame (see above). You’ll notice they have descriptions for what to change in a 2 and 3 player game. If we assume the 4-player game is the default rule set, then the lack of “In a one-player game” implies that the solo player either takes control of 2, 3, or 4 characters. For ease, I just chose two characters (see below: The Acrobat and Peterman) and alternated between them.



When setting up the game, you put the Manager’s office on the first floor and the safe on the second floor. There’s also a monorail and escalator on both floors to allow you to move between floors.

There are nine characters (see above) you could play (Ocean’s 9?). Each player chooses one character (except the solo player has to operate two) to play. Each character has a very specific set of gear (see below) that gives that character “extra abilities”. At the moment, you can’t pass gear around (but I suspect a later campaign rule game will allow passing gear to other characters).



Once the game is set-up, it looks very cool on the table! The 3-D second story is a gimmick, but it looks cool.



Each character gets 4 action points. Using those action points, each character explores the casino, looking for the way up to the second floor (via Escalator or Monorail) or the Manager’s Office (on the first floor) or the Safe (on the second floor). As you explore, you flip over tiles and try to avoid the bouncer. If you are on the same tile as a bouncer (see above), you get 2 points of “heat” (see below).

If you get 6 heat (like Peterman above), you lose the game. Avoiding the bouncers is a big part of the game: they move around using little destination tokens that move as the game progresses. By the end of the game, they are hunting the players directly, so you want to get as much done ASAP!


As you explore the floors, you encounter chip tokens (see the Mole and the Crowd above). Some of the chips do bad things, and some do good things. In the case of the mole, he gives you a die! Why do you need a die? Because to crack the safe, you have to get dice to the Manager’s Office so that the safe cracker can roll them!


Above, the Acrobat has 4 dice on the safe space! To crack the safe, he has to roll ALL the numbers on the tiles of the columns and rows of the safe! You can see some “cracked safe” tokens above from a previous attempt!

(The Acrobat is wearing a fake mustache so the bouncer doesn’t bust him!)

Once the players crack the safe, it’s a race to get out! Draw the appropriate Heist Finale card (get that card from the envelope below), and it will tell you what you need to do to get out!


As you play, you will roll dice (when directed by locations or cards), move, avoid bouncers, explore, peek into locations (so you don’t activate it: some locations are bad to activate).

First Impressions


The game reminds me a lot of Burgle Bros. But I think it fixes two major problems I had with Burgle Bros:

  1. Outstays its welcome.  By having three floors in the original Burgle Bros, the original game always seemed a little too long.  By the end of the second floor, it always felt like the game should be over.   Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers seems to fix that problem by only having two floors!
  2. A little more variety.  By having the chips on the Locations, there is a little more variety as the chips cause a fgew more interesting things to happen.  Even with the exact same set-up of the Casino, the chips would make the game different.

The game is good.  There’s a lot of “discussion” (in a solo game, you plan with yourself) about how to avoid the bouncers and how to explore.  And the game is very tense in the end game as it seems the bouncers will get you!

One problem I had with the original game is still in Burgle Bros 2: a bit too much randomness. Between cracking the safe (rolling the dice, what if I don’t get what I need?), the bouncer’s track (if the bouncer goes there, we lose, but the card we draw determines that), the location of the moles in the chips.  There are ways to mitigate the randomness (get a lot of dice, try to stay away from the bouncer, use “peeking” to explore locations to avoid bad places), but there is still a lot of randomness in the game.  BUT, IT SEEMS MORE THEMATIC IN A CASINO?  

An example of how thematic this seems:I was getting frustrated when I almost lost: the bouncer was about to find Peterman, and his heat was too high: If the bouncer got in the same Location, game over!  Ah! I’m screwed!

It was the Acrobat’s turn, and I thought we had lost. So, in a panic, the Acrobat went to the Lounge and caused some trouble to “divert” the bouncer!

By having the Acrobat “share a drink”, he was able to get the Peterman out of the way! At this point, I was sold! This felt like a movie moment! I was scared! I did the only thing I could and was able to save the Peterman! That was sooooo cooooool and thematic! I can totally see that moment happening in Heist movie!

One more thing to note: the game has a series of 9 campaigns. It’s kind of cool, but you can completely ignore the campaign and just “randomly” choose one of the 9 chapters to play. I suspect my friends and I will try to play the first few chapters of the campaign. From what I saw, though, the campaign wasn’t “compelling” enough to encourage 9 plays! We’ll see in Part II of this review how much the campaign improves the game.



You know what? I like Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers better than the original Burgle Bros game. BB2 is very thematic, it’s a good length, and even though there’s a lot of randomness, that’s very thematic! Luckily (no pun intended), there are ways to mitigate the randomness. The game feels like a heist! If you wanted Ocean’s Eleven in a board game, Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers is probably your best best.

Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers is a good cooperative game. I strongly suggest you find a FAQ online because the rules skimp on a lot of edge cases. This looks wonderful on the table, doesn’t last too long, and has enough challenge to make an interesting game.

Appendix: Mini-Game 2: The Dexterity Game

This game is very hard to put back together. If putting the stickers on was the first mini-game, closing the box is a the second mini-game. For me, the tubes kept falling out when I tried to close the box, so I ended up having to use the punchout skeletons to hold the tubes in! See pictures below.

This is yet another reason (from a list of many: see here) to keep the punchout skeletons!

A Review of Flourish

Flourish was a game that was on Kickstarter back in September 2020. It promised delivery in March 2021, and you know what? I got mine in March 2021 (just a few weeks ago)!! It is really rare to have a game deliver on-time!

I picked up this game because it had a cooperative mode and a solo mode: this is a cooperative games blog after all.


This game is pretty.

There’s a lot of cardboard (that you don’t really need … see below)


At it’s heart, this is a card game. The cards are gorgeous and linen finished.


This is the signature edition, so it has some extra stuff in.


The boards above are for making the box!


You can see how the boards go in above (in English, French, and German).

Overall, this game looks really nice.

All packed up, it looks pretty cool (see above). You can see the counters (upper left) and a lot of extra cardboard …


The rulebook is ok. It’s more like a pamphlet of three pages (see above). It describes the base game (competitive), solo mode, cooperative, two player game and some challenges. It’s very terse.


Like a good rulebook, it shows the set-up right away (see above middle). The overview and details come next (above right).


You can also see a lot of the rules described above. Here’s the thing: the rules are a little too terse. The description of how to score is very weak. Only after studying the two examples above did I have a sense of how the game worked. This was an operational definition of the game with a very weak abstract definition of the game. Without that example on the right (above), I am not convinced I would have played the game right! Recall, I had a similar problem with some of the rules in Sleeping Gods (see combat rules in that review). Again, I am happy for the examples to clarify the rules, but I feel the rules as presented are incomplete without the example.

The rules, as they are, are readable. You can learn the game (barely). But the rules are too terse! And I believe they are incomplete without the examples. Make sure you look carefully at the examples to learn the game!

The Game


If I were to describe this game in one phrase, I’d say “Seven Wonders with Flowers”.  This is a drafting game (for some definition of drafting)  where players pass cards to their neighbors and choose one card to play.  Players choose three cards per turn:  one to pass to the left, one to pass to the right, and one to play in your “garden”.  After three turns (called a round), you do some scoring.  After four rounds, you do some special final scoring add up the points.

Ultimately. this is a victory point game. You are playing cards into your garden and scoring at the end of every 3 turns, and then a special scoring round at the very end (after 4 rounds, where each round is three turns).


The victory point markers are really nice and make it easy to keep track as you score throughout the game.


The most important picture in the rulebook (above) shows an example card and indicates when you score parts of the game.

The game is very easy to play and get into.  My friends and I were up and playing very quickly after I gave them a rundown.  The phrase “Seven Wonders with Flowers” goes a long ways towards helping people into the game.

The scoring is basically encapsulated on some summary cards.



Solo Rules


Hurrah! The game has solo rules!  (Thank you for following Saunders’ Law).  You basically play normally, trying to build your garden and pass cards to your “neighbors”, but in this case you only have one neighbor who is just “randomly” building a garden (to my left, below).


After you play through, you do some math and subtract your fake neighbor’s score from your score and compare it to a chart at the end of the rulebook (see below).


As a solo mode to learn the game, it was pretty good. I didn’t think it was a great solo mode: I don’t have a burning desire to play this solo and try to “get a better score”, but I could see maybe playing it again solo. It is a fairly relaxing solo mode, which might be the main reason to play it solo.

Competitive Mode


Out of the box, this is competitive game.   Again, think “Seven Wonders with Flowers”.  You try to build the best garden you can, all the while passing “junk” cards to your neighbors.  The strategy in the game is trying to figure out what’s best for you, and worst for your neighbors.


We have played Flourish a number of times competitively and liked it.

Cooperative Mode


The cooperative mode is similar to the solo mode: all players work together to get the best score (looking it up in the rulebook after you are done). You simply add your scores to find the “group score”. There is NO SHARING information when playing cooperatively, all you can do is look at your neighbor’s gardens to figure out what works best for them.

Here’s the thing: I think this game works best cooperatively! I know I am biased (as this is a cooperative games blog), but rather than the “hate-drafting” you do in games like Seven Wonders or the competitive mode of Flourish, in the cooperative mode, you look at your neighbor’s garden and get EXCITED! “Oh, I can’t play anything great, but I got something good for you!” There’s more excitement in the air as you are sharing cards! Sometimes, you don’t have anything great for your garden, but there’s a thrill you get helping out your neighbor!

We thought Flourish was pretty good as a competitive game, but was significantly more fun as a cooperative game!

Some Caveats


This game, at it’s core, is a simple drafting game.  You pass 1 card to the left, 1 card to the right, and play 1 card in front of you.  Grab a new card, lather, rinse repeat.   This game, at least the signature edition is waaaaay over produced.  I spent an hour punching out the cardboard (see above).  I found out you don’t need them EXCEPT FOR THE EXPANSION. 




I am not convinced it was worth all that for the expansion.  I mean, the game is huge now! 

But, it’s just a card game. And then they give you these little cardboard trellis between players to help you keep track of when you have passed cards to your neighbors:

I’ll admit, it did help a little, and it looks real nice, but I could have easily done without it. Here’s the thing: I don’t think you need the signature edition of the game (which I have been describing here) which is more expensive, more complex, bigger, and doesn’t add that much.

At it’s core, Flourish is a simple drafting card game. I am not sure all the extras are worth it.

One Suggestion


Although we like the cooperative mode best, trying to get the “best score” is not really the funnest objective. We were discussing it after we played a few games, and we think there should be a series of “mean neighbors” you have to try to “defeat” by having a better garden than them!

For example: Mean Mr. Green Jeans is extra proud of his roses, so he can grow them faster! He can redraw a card every turn if he has no roses! If you can grow more roses than Mean Mr. Green Jeans, you get extra points! If you get over 300 points, you can beat Mr. Green Jeans!

I think the idea of a “mean neighbor” would give the game more focus and make the cooperative game more fun! If players have a much more tangible and identifiable and personal goal than “beat 300 points”, I think it would made the game even better.



This is a good game. The solo game is decent (if not great), but fairly relaxing. The standard competitive mode is good, but the game really opens up the cooperative mode! In the cooperative mode, you always feel like you can do something on your turn .. even if your garden stinks, you can still help your neighbors!

The rulebook isn’t great: Make sure you read the examples thoroughly as a I am not convinced you can play with the rules as given.

The production is beautiful, but I don’t really think you need the Signature Edition. At it’s core, it’s really just a card game. All the extra cardboard seemed to distract from the game more than help it.,

At the end of the day, Flourish will probably be played cooperatively by all my groups. If you’ve always wanted a drafting game like Seven Wonders but with a cooperative mode, Flourish might be what you’ve been looking for. The only other cooperative drafting game I know of is Sidekick Saga, but Sidekick Saga is much more complicated. Flourish is a simple cooperative drafting game that I think will appeal to a lot of people.

Top 10 “Small” Cooperative Board and Card Games

What do we mean when say a board or card game is small? We mean one of of many things:

  • How much does it weigh? (weight)
  • How difficult is is? (complexity)  This is taken from the “complexity” metric on BoardGameGeek
  • How long does the game last? (length)
  • How big is the box? (dimensions)

Of course, some of these metrics are closely related (weight and dimension), but they are all different ways to measure “how small” is a game.  The 10 Games below are our favorite small cooperative board and card games. 

10. Pandemic: Hot Zone

Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America, Z-Man Games, 2020 — front cover

Weight: 1.05 pounds
Complexity: 1.92/5
Dimensions: 9 x 5.88 x 2 inches
Game Length: 30 Minutes

Pandemic: Hot Zone is a game that was developed by the designer (Matt Leacock) as a way to demo Pandemic (the bigger and more complicated parent) in game stores: it was a way to give a Pandemic-esque experience in a shorter time frame.  For those of you who don’t know, Pandemic (and so many spin-offs) is a fantastic cooperative game that’s taken the world by storm since it’s release in 2008.   Pandemic: Hot Zone is a simpler, smaller version of the game with fewer rules.  There are fewer roles, only 1 research station, only 3 diseases (which you can’t eradicate), and a few other differences.  The game is fun and only lasts 30 minutes.  The thing is, it isn’t THAT much shorter that Pandemic (officially 45 minutes) and it’s just different enough that anyone who knows the original Pandemic might get tripped by a few differences.  The Pandemic: Hot Zone box is smaller and it is still all the goodness of Pandemic in a smaller package, but if I had a choice, I would probably always play Pandemic instead.  This is best used as a welcoming game that’s good to introduce someone to the wonderful world of Pandemic without overwhelming them.

Print n Play version. Lost one card from victory!

9. The Grizzled
box cover

Weight: 10.6 ounces
Complexity: 1.94/5
Dimensions: 5.51 x 5.51 x 1.97 inches
Game Length: 30 Minutes

Game setup

The Grizzled is a “mostly cards” game in small-ish box.  It’s played in silence as players cooperatively try to survive a war in the trenches.   It’s very thematic and tense as players will take “bad stuff” or other effects for each other so they can survive the war.  The goal is to survive and try to get peace to win.  The game is mostly about matching patterns on cards (or rather, not matching too much) and trying to deduce your comrades cards/patterns (based on what they play).  There are special abilities and negative personality traits and threats that add to the theme.  This feel very much like war: “We are stuck in a trench: we have to be quiet to survive but we still have to do something!  Comrades in arms work together!”  The game has an even further thematic twist, as the artist of the game (Tignus, a French cartoonist from Charlie Hedbo) was killed in a terrorists attack not long after this game came out.

The Grizzled

8. Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game

high quality image of front cover

Weight: 11.9 ounces
Complexity: 2.42/5
Dimensions: 8 x 4.5 x 7.5 inches
Game Length: 30-60 Minutes

Setup for solo play

Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game is a small card only (and 1 die) game that really nails the Space Marine motif.  For a small little card game, there is a lot of complexity and choice here!  It even made our Top 10 Cooperative Fantasy Flight Games!   It’s unfortunately hard to find this game these days, but offers interesting tactical and strategic choices as Marines kill bugs.  This would probably be higher on the list if it wasn’t so hard to get a hold of these days.

Action cards for Brother Claudio & Brother Goriel

7. Mint Cooperative

Cityscape Tin

Weight: 0.007 ounces 
Complexity: 1.43/5
Dimensions: 3.94 x 1.18 x 2.36 inches 
Game Length: 15-30 Minutes

Mint Cooperative Kickstarter... Early Christmas Present!

Mint Cooperative is a tiny little game that fits in a mint tin!  We reviewed it here.  It’s probably the second smallest game (yes, there is one smaller)!  It’s got a little die and lots of little cards.  Given how small this game is, it’s surprisingly easy to read and see!  It’s a decent game you can just plop into you pocket and bring out any time.


6. Unlock!

Amazon.com: UNLOCK! Squeek & Sausage, The Formula, and The Island of Doctor  Goorse Card Game Set: Toys & Games

Weight: 6.4 ounces 
Complexity: 1/5  to 3/5 (varies on the game)
Dimensions: 3.6 x 1.2 x 7.1 inches
Game Length: 60 Minutes

The Unlock! games are a bit of cheat to put on here.  The newest Unlock! games are only available 3 adventures per box: see our review of Unlock!  Epic Adventures here for more discussion of the game and this issue.   However, you can still find the “little mini Unlocks” for the first 15 or so adventures.  They are board games answer to an Escape Room game, where the box contains a full escape room adventure!  Your smart phone and the cards in the game help guide you through many puzzles and mysteries.  If you can still find the “one adventure per box”, they are a nice form factor (a small game) that’s easily portable to your friend’s house.  And very fun! Although we won’t rank all of them, we can give you our top 5 Unlock! mini boxes:

  1. The Tonipal’s Treasure
  2. The Adventures of Oz
  3. Expedition: Challenger
  4. Squeak and Sausage
  5. A Noside Story

5. Solar Storm

Solar Storm box cover

Weight: 6.2 ounces
Complexity: 2.12/5
Dimensions: 4.96 x 3.78 x 0.98 inches
Game Length: 30-60 Minutes

A few turns from defeat in my first solo game.

Solar Storm is a (mostly) card game that we reviewed here.  It reminds us a lot of Pandemic with a lot of it’s mechanics, but it still feels different.  I’d honestly rather play this than Hot Zone (#10) if I wanted a smaller Pandemic experience.

Solo action!

4. Sprawlopolis
The cover image

Weight: 0.089 kg
Complexity: 1.83/5
Dimensions: 4.50 x 3.00 x 0.25 inches
Game Length: 15-20 Minutes

First game with all expansions: Beaches, Construction Zones, Interstate, Points of Interest, and Wrecktar. Final score after all that: –1.

Sprawlopolis is, without a doubt, the smallest game on here by almost any metric!  It’s just 18 poker-sized cards that fit in a tiny plastic wallet and some some, foldy rules.  And that’s it!   The cards are two-sided: One side has “scoring conditions” and the other side has 4 blocks in a city.  Choose 3 cards using the scoring side, then build a city with the rest of the 15 cards to build a city (trying to “maximize” the points)!  And that’s about it!  There’s a lot of variety, it’s easy to take with you, the game doesn’t take up much space on the board, and the game play is quick and fast!  

Supposedly, a newer version is coming out that’s more the size of, say, The Grizzled (see above) since this game has done so well.

Wallet edition

3. Decktective

Decktective - Bloody-red roses Second Edition
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Complexity: 1.17/5
Dimensions: 4.96 x 3.78 x 0.98 inches
Game Length: 60 Minutes

3D Crime Scene

There are currently two Decktective games out:  Bloody-Red Roses and The Gaze of The Ghost.  Both of these games made our Top 10 Cooperative Detective Games!  There are small little card games, but with interesting little mysteries and mechanics for solving some crimes.  Part of the thrill of these games is setting up the scene of the crime (see above) using the box and cards are elements!   These games are fun and light and easy to take with you, but they are a little longer (60 minutes) than most games on this list. 

Decktective: The Gaze of the Ghost, dV Giochi, 2020 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

2. Deckscape

Deckscape - 7 Games To Choose From

Weight: 7.9 ounces
Complexity: 1.61/5
Dimensions: 1.1 x 3.6 x 5 inches
Game Length: 30-90 Minutes
Deckscape: Der Test, ABACUSSPIELE, 2017 — box and sample cards (image provided by the publisher)

The Deckscape games are small card games that offer the Escape Room experience in a tiny little box!  There are currently 6 of them (with a 7th coming soon).  You can easily fit them in your pocket and take them with you.  The time and complexity varies quite a bit between different Deckscape games.  Here’s our current favorites, ranked:

  1. Behind the Curtain (so good it made our Top 10 Cooperative games of 2019)
  2. The Mystery of El Dorado
  3. Time Test
  4. Heist in Venice
  5. The Fate of London
  6. The Curse of The Sphinx (by far my least favorite)

Deckscape Mega Review - Small Box, Big Experience | Meeple Mountain

1. The Shipwreck Arcana

The Shipwreck Arcana boxart

Weight: 7.9 ounces
Complexity: 2.15/5
Game Length: 10-30 Minutes

shipwreckarcana Instagram posts - Gramho.com

The Shipwreck Arcana is an odd little cooperative game that has generated much interest here at Co-op Gestalt! We first reviewed it here, and it’s really grown on us! We have used it as the model game for playing cooperative games (with hidden information) as solo games: see our discussion of Changing Perspective here. The Shipwreck Arcana is a quirky game where each player has a hidden number, and players are trying to give clues to each other using only the cards on the board to guess those numbers. It’s very logical and almost feels like a logic puzzle. If that doesn’t scare you away, then I think you’d love this game. It’s quirky, different, logical, mathematical but it’s a small game (on every axis except complexity) you can take with you everywhere. It is one of the most complex games on our list!

Game components

A Review of Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwoods


We have discussed many of the different cooperative Escape Room games here at Co-op Gestalt:

  1. Unlock! games (see my review of Unlock: Adventures here)
  2. Exit games (Dead Man on the Orient Express is one example from my Top 10 Cooperative Detective Games)
  3. The Deckscape series (Deckscape: Behind the Curtain from my Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2019 came very close to the number one spot)
  4. the Escape the Room series (see my review of The Cursed Dollhouse here)

The current trend seems to show people really like the Escape Room type games! One series we have missed so far is the Escape Tales series! So, to rectify this, we have been playing the Children of Wyrmwoods (see picture above) escape room game.

Why So Long?


Why have we taken so long to look at the Escape Tales games?  The Children of Wyrmwood is the third in this line, the first two being The Awakening and Low Memory.

New box cover Escape Tales: The Awakening

Box Cover, English

Why so long?

  1. They are all rather expensive.  Each  Escape Tales game is about $35,  which is a little expensive given that the Unlock, Exit, and Deckscape are so cheap ($10-$15) (but see below for content).
  2. They are daunting.  Each game says 450+ minutes!  That’s quite an investment of time!
  3. They are creepy.  Creepy is good (take a look at our Top 10 Creepy/Spooky Cooperative games), but sometimes that can be a bit of a turn off.  The first Escape Tales was about a hospital (not a fun subject), the second one was about hacking (not real fun necessarily).

We finally got The Children of Wyrmwood to the table because we nominally liked the theme (explore a forest in a vaguely fantasy setting: see below).


What Is Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwood?


Children of Wyrmwoods is an escape room puzzle game meets a storybook game. It’s quite long, taking 450+ minutes to play. It unfolds the story of travelling and exploring the Wyrmwoods. The game’s components are:

  1. Normal cards:  There are a lot of numbered cards that you reveal when you explore or solve a puzzle (see below)
  2. Location cards: You spent “effort” (the little green tokens) to explore Locations (the game give you a certain number of green tokens at certain poiints) where you can explore some things (see Location below right, and corresponding explore card to the left of it):
  3. Storybooks:  When you explore a location, you read the correspond entry in one of three storybooks.
  4. A Website: For solving puzzles, you have to go to website and enter the proper code to unlock content in the game:

So, the game does require an internet connection to run: it’s not even a standalone application you can download.  (See us entering a code on my phone above).

Putting all these pieces together, you get an immersive story with 3 storybooks, some Locations to visualize and explore, a bunch of puzzles on cards, and a website to enter puzzle answers.

Gameplay: Storybook meets Puzzles

The game feels like a storybook game (see Top 10 Cooperative Storybook/Storytelling Games here) meets an escape room game.  There is definitely much more of a story here than most Escape Room games!  It has to: the game takes 450+ minutes, so there has to be something to hold your attention!  It took us 4 very long sessions to get through the game.  The first session (the tutorial) was about 1.5 -2 hours, and the last three sessions were about 2.5 – 3 hours each.  Overall, we probably spent 10+ hours in this world exploring the Wyrmwoods!

The storybook part was good: the story felt very unique and fairly unified.  My only major complaint was that I hated the font and size of the font and had to use my glasses.  I feel like a better font choice would have made this easier to read.  It was fine. (See my glasses below?)


The puzzles were in general pretty good.  There were a few we got stuck on, but the website has a nice interface for hints.  We never got stuck for too long and in general the puzzles were fun and challenging.


Little Paper Pieces

To solve a lot of the puzzles in this game, we had to make our own representations of the puzzles on scraps of paper (see the scraps above).  If this had been an EXIT style Escape Room game, we would have simply torn/cut the card up.   But, this is an Escape Room you can play again and again: the cost of that is making that work is you have to do your own cutouts.  For example: see the puzzle below?  Obviously, you have to rotate the wheels, but how do you do that?


Answer: make you own wheel!


The little “arts and crafts” we had to do through out the game was a fun little surprise.  We actually quite enjoyed it.



Overall, we enjoyed the heck out of this game. We spent 4 weeks, with 2.5-3 hours immersed in the game! We liked living in the world and had fun reading the storybook and solving the puzzles. But, we did not enjoy the ending! We apparently got one of the “bad” endings (we got torn to shreds by wolves) which was very frustrating after having spent 4 weeks of our life in this world!! “We did all that work just to die like that?” It felt a little random to be honest. We were trying to figure out what we could have done differently and maybe we think we should have explored a little bit more? But we’re still not sure that would have helped: the ending felt a little random. How could we have done better? The first 99% of the game was great. The ending was … not so great and a little random.


This game feels a lot like Unlock games (because you use the website to help you enter puzzles), the Exit games (because of the arts and crafts you have to do to solve some puzzles), and a Storybook game (because of the three storybooks that direct the game). We figured out that there are at least 3 major different endings, so we think it might be feasible to replay this game! Most escape room games don’t really have a lot of replayability so that’s a nice feature of this.

We liked the puzzles (and there were a lot of them). We liked the story that unfolded and the vaguely fantasy world we lived in. We liked exploring the world, reading the book, and solving the puzzles. We liked that it felt like a story unfolded, we liked how the puzzles challenged us so that when we made progress, we felt like we EARNED our progress in this storybook. The ending was a little disappointing just because we had spent so much time in this world: it almost felt like an ending to a Choose Your Own Adventure book: we simply made the wrong choice(s).

Overall, we’d give this a 7.5 or 8. It would probably be a solid 8 if the ending weren’t so disappointing because it felt more random than it should. We probably just should have explored a little more: and that’s our fault.

Children of Wyrmwood is a great blend of a Storytelling game and an Escape Room game. I would definitely recommend it! I would also recommend passing it on to your friends when you are done so they can play it …