image/svg+xml image/svg+xml image/svg+xml image/svg+xml image/svg+xml image/svg+xml image/svg+xml

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this artwork final?

No. I am no artist. All of this artwork and branding is entirely about making people take the prototype seriously. If I work with a publisher, or do the self-publishing thing, we'll get some real artists to make this look truly amazing.

This looks mostly done... how much wiggle room is there for some changes in direction?

Of course there is room for collaboration with a publisher or co-designer. What I have right now is what I would call, in software engineering parlance, stable. But this game has gone through a ton of iteration since 2016. We're used to change around here. In fact, the components for this are all automatically-generated using Squib (my other big project).

For me, the core vision of Master of the Heist for me is extensibility. It's a system that can be used for all kinds of unique gameplay. The Heist narrative genre is incredibly flexible, and so is this system.

Open Source? Doesn't that preclude commercial publishing?

Nope! The prototyping and development of this game is open source, under an MIT license. The reason for this is to provide an example to Squib users and to assist future collaboration. Legally, as I understand it, game mechanics are not copyrightable. Only the writing and artwork can be given a copyright or patent. If I worked with a publisher, all of that work will be closed and owned by them/me. Perhaps there will be an Open Source version of this game and a commercial, or perhaps the open source lifetime of Masters will have an end. We'll see.

What has been your playtesting process?

This has been playtested by over forty people. Some people have played it over 20 times, some just one time. Some of these are my gamer friends, some are non-gamer friends. Some of them are my students. The youngest player has been a five-year-old, and we've had evenings when the 7-year-old called most of the shots and had a great night. As designer, I have played easily over 100 games.

Blind playtesting is what's next for us. Right now we're focusing on perfecting the rules and perfecting the campaign experience. I am a professional writer and getting the writing just right is very important to me.

How difficult is this game? What is your ideal failure rate?

When you're new to the game, I tend to see about a 50% failure rate. But, in all of those failures I see ways they could have succeeded - and so do playtesters in hindsight. For my playtesters who are hardcore gamers, we see more of an 80-90% success rate.

But it's ALWAYS close. And who you sacrifice to get that success is what it's all about anyway!

I see dice and cards and a bag... how random is this game?

All aspects of randomness of this game have some aspect of control. For dice, you have Ideas to modify roll. For the Bag, you have Reveal subactions. The Event and Crisis cards aren't random at all - you know exactly what's coming and are welcome (encouraged!) to look and plan ahead.

Randomness should NEVER cause failure. That's not fun because it takes away your agency. What I can't STAND about OTHER "burgling" co-op games is that you can't plan beyond your immediate cirumstances, and there's no master plan. This game is the opposite.

My playtesting has shown this. When players roll their dice, they never go "yes" or "no!!" like you would in D&D - the dice are a way of unpredictably altering your circumstances, and it's your job to plan for all of the contingencies. I have never heard a playtester say, "oh well I rolled bad this time anyway", it's alway some form of "we should have done this instead".

Every hex tile is the same? What about different types of tiles?

I would be open to creative uses of interlocking tiles. It all depends on what the publisher wants to support. I currently have all of my hex tiles individually interlocking for prototyping reasons, but I would imagine that a final version of this game might have bigger chunks of interlocking cardboard to make game setup easier.

How long does it take to build a whole scenario?

With everyone working on it simultaneously, experience players it takes about 5-8 minutes according to my timings. More like 10 minutes for newbies. Because the hexes interlock, you can have four sets of hands putting in pieces and the maps are big enough that everyone can read it. Most playtesters find the building part fun, actually, because it's like a collaborative mini jigsaw puzzle.

Betrayal mechanics?

I'm open to the idea, but personally I hate betrayal mechanics or secret agendas. They stress me out. It would be easy to add this as a module or expansion. If we find that people really want this, I can design it. But I have not had very many playtesters say that the game needs betrayal mechanics.

That said, my story-driven expansion Your Last Heist does have betrayal in the plotline - which I think better suits this.

I see another 2-player Masters of the Heist card game on BoardGameGeek. What's that?

That's one of my old games. I sold a couple of copies to friends and submitted it to a contest on TheGameCrafter. It is unlisted on TheGameCrafter for sales to my friends. I think it's a neat game - but I decided to reuse the name for this game and I will likely be renaming that game to Masters of the Heist: Card Game. Sorry for the confusion.