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Quick Game Review – Agent Hunter

agenthunterSpies are tricky bastards. They hide out in safe houses, disguising their identities and sneaking around in the dark. That’s why they make such a great theme to paste on a game like Agent Hunter, which is basically all about guessing numbers.

Agent Hunter is a game about using your spies (who all have secret agent designators like ‘1’ and ‘2’ and ‘3’ and a bunch more that go all the way up to ‘9’) to find your opponent’s spies (who, because they are members of a secret spy organization exactly like yours, all have the same exact numbers). You take cards out of your hand and point to a safe house and say, ‘is that guy a zero?’ And if that guy is a zero, you capture his safe house. If he is not, your turn is over.

Just so we’re clear, there is basically nothing spy-ey about Agent Hunter. It’s a guessing game where you try to figure out where your opponent is hiding cards with specific numbers on them. You run down the line, trying different numbers until you get lucky and nab three safe houses in a row. If the other player is guessing with a ‘6’, you know he’s not hiding a ‘6’ because he only has one of each number and he just showed it to you. If the other guy is running down the line guessing ‘5,’ and the last guy in your line is a ‘5,’ you can spend your turn to switch out the hiding card with one from your hand – but you can only do this five times during the whole game, so you have to be careful, especially because you can give away points by doing it.

So basically, this is kind of a guessing game with numbers. It’s a lot of elimination and systematic guessing. There’s no spy action at all. But the art sure is cool.

It’s also ten minutes of fun. The first time we played, we had no idea how to make it work, and we were doing dumb stuff and making mistakes. It took ten minutes to finish the game. Then we figured out what we were doing wrong, tried it again, and it still took ten minutes, but it was a tense ten minutes. There are no optimal moves, just bad decisions and painful mistakes. You’ll sit there trying to remember if you already checked that spot with a ‘4’, and if you did, if the other guy has switched it out. You’ll mix it up to confuse and befuddle, just to have your clever plan backfire and cost you big-time.

If Agent Hunter were a long game, it would suck. If it were expensive, it would be overpriced. You get 22 cards and 10 cardboard circles, so it’s not exactly a big throw-down of a game. It’s more of a micro-game, and if it were sold on Kickstarter they would charge like five bucks for it and take forever to deliver a game that comes in a paper envelope instead of a box. It is, however, a pretty clever game, especially if you’re just looking to kill a few minutes while you wait for Real Housewives to finish recording so you can watch it without commercials (or you’re waiting for The Strain to start, because you don’t wait for that one, you watch as soon as you can).

Agent Hunter has about as much spy theme as the back of a cereal box, but it’s quick and smart and fun. Oh, and cheap.

Summary

Pros:
Ridiculously quick
Easy to learn
Smart with some cool gameplay

Cons:
Not a whole lot of game
Theme is just this side of pointless

If you want a quick game that you can play in a hurry, or if you just need something to push you over for free shipping, you can pick up Agent Hunter here:

SUPER SPEEDY SPY GAME

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