The aim of [redacted], or at least the four player game, is to get the opposing team’s intelligence dossier out of the embassy via the helicopter you’ve just called onto the roof. To do this requires careful co-ordination with your team mate. The only problem is you don’t know which of the other three players your team mate is. You also don’t know where the intelligence is but don't worry if you’re struggling work it all out because you can win by blowing up the opposing team’s helicopter, the only problem is you also don’t know where the explosives are. The ambassador’s mansion is full of all kinds of tricks and tools to help you find this information out, the x-ray machine allows you to check what players are carrying and security cameras allow you to see what items are changing hands but the most interesting way to interact with players is with your cache of hidden weapons.
Whenever two players cross paths, a secret interaction occurs. Each player selects a card, representing whether they’re going to ignore the other spy, be friendly and exchange items or choose a weapon with which to beat up, interrogate or steal from them. Weapons work on a rock, paper scissors system and get discarded when used. The winner gets the opportunity to attempt to steal a random item, beat them up to slow them down or try and gain information about which side the loser is on. Even this information is kept secret and you only have a 1 in 3 chance of actually seeing their allegiance and the victim has no idea which card you saw.
This interaction of stealing, swapping items and general kicking the snot out of each other is the main basis of the game. It is the main opportunity when information can be exchanged and [redacted] is a game all about hidden information. Whether it’s the loyalty of the each agent, the location of the intelligence or even what weapons and equipment you have in hand, [redacted] is all about keeping as much of that information secret as possible while trying to find out that information about the other players. It’s like playing several games of Battlestar Galactica at once. At times this can feel a little overwhelming as there’s a lot of information to keep track of but that’s what makes it feel like a proper spy caper. Did those two agents just trade the dossier? Did she just use the brass knuckles or the garrotte? I know he’s a Russian agent but who is the second soviet spy? Slowly but surely the information comes together and it’s time to make a run on the helicopter but can you be sure which players are going to help and which are going to stand in your way?
[redacted] is a Kickstarter game and it follows the Kickstarter trend that I’m finding difficult to pin down, but I’m going to call it ‘kickstartification’. I don’t know whether it’s the funding method that allows game developers to experiment with crazy ideas or whether there’s a kitchen sink mentality of trying to fit everything into a single game but in a similar manner to games such as 404, Damage Report and 12 Realms, [Redacted] is a game that crams a load of concepts, game variants and scenarios into a single box. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is really up to you but I really do believe that [Redacted] is the kind of game that doesn’t come from traditional publishers.
In the interest of openness, I have only played one game of [redacted] and that was via Vassal with the game's developers, Ludi Creations, this means I have absolutely no idea how good the components are going to be. I’ve also only played one of the scenarios and there was a little development still going on. However the four player game I took part in was solid and full of intrigue, deception, bluffing and making a mad rush for the helicopter. Ferrero Rocher?