Over at the STARBURST Secret Gaming Thunderdome, we are rather fond of small, quick-to-play games that can fit in a pocket and be used to have a bit of silly fun during the quiet moments. These sorts of games also make for excellent ‘appetisers’ at the start of a long session of playing games. Before you get your teeth into something like Queen by Midnight or Unfathomable, you want something to clear the air and get everyone in the mood to play games.
Darrington Press’s latest offering, Bells Hells Caper Cards, fits the bill quite nicely. This is a sort (about ten minutes), fast-to-play heist-themed game. It features Bell’s Hells, the current ‘team of heroes’ from the cult Critical Role, conducting a series of heists in order to gain treasure. If you’re familiar with the show, you’ll know that Bell’s Hells never has a lot of luck when it comes to heists, and this game reflects this level of peril quite well.
Each player has a hand of four cards. Each card represents a member of the heist crew. It also has a score and special ability. The aim of the game is to combine scores in such a way as to reach a certain number, which is set by cards that represent both how risky the heist is and how much treasure they could get. So it’s sort of a cooperative version of blackjack with slightly trickier cards.
The twist is that you can’t tell the other players what cards are in your hand. You just have to figure it out. You play multiple rounds (it varies on the number of players), and each round gets harder thanks to special rules on the treasure cards.
These are well-made cards, and the art is visually striking, evoking the sort of Ocean’s 11-style title screen, but in a cartoonish fantasy sort of way. The play style is comparable to a similar fantasy card game, Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeon Mayhem; both are quick to play and dynamic games, but we’d say that the Bells Hells Caper Cards are likely to get more play because it’s a simpler game that lends itself to repeated play. It is absolutely one to add to a list of stocking fillers, an instant classic.