City of Spies: Estoril 1942 Tabletop Game Review

City of Spies: Estoril 1942 board game reivewDo you have what it takes to enter the City of Spies?

The names Bond, James Bond. We all know a good spy story when we see one and City of Spies: Estoril 1942 is not only based on that genre, but also a particular period in history. In 1942 Estoril in Portugal was rife with intelligence work and diplomatic secrecy and it is in this context the game exists.

Players are trying to build a spy ring, by a kind of tile management / deck building / area control system. As always we don’t go into rules, that’s what how to play videos are for, but we will say City of Spies: Estoril 1942 plays fluidly, it’s simple to set up and as game mechanics go it all works really well.

All players begin with six spies in their spy ring, as head of the ring you send your spies out into the field to complete various missions. Needless to say spies all have their own specialties. Mission boards are chosen ramdomly and laid out, six each with 4 spaces. Needless to say how many spies you can place differs dependent on how many people are playing. The overall idea is to gain victory points by doing successful missions and collecting other tiles.

All the usual spy type skills are here, seduction, assassination, strength, nationality (spies of the same nationality can aid each other), so it’s really a case of working out what the best spies are to keep and what the best ones are to get rid of. There’s plenty of thinking choices, but it’s never taxing because it’s all so straight forward.

The quality of the game is great, with the tiles being solid, the artwork has a bit of a cartoony feel, but it’s not ridiculous and definitely fits into the overall framework.

We’d suggest you play with 3+ players to get the most out of City of Spies: Estoril 1942, a 2-player game was good, but it didn’t work as well as the 3 or 4 player.

As far as negatives go, City of Spies: Estoril 1942 might take a few games to get into before it clicks and your excitement level rises. The main downside to the game has to be the name, unless you’re aware of the historical context Estoril offers, you might see it on the shelf and sort of bypass it.

Overall City of Spies: Estoril 1942 is definitely worth a look, it can be a lot of fun and it’s different, with a lot of cool decision making aspects, what should you keep, what’s going to give me the most powerful spies, but also give me the most victory points at the end of the game. It’s a well made game with some quirky artwork that fits the spy genre well.

Definitely one to check out if you get the chance.

Review by Colin