Review: Sneaks and Snitches

Posted by James (admin) on July 31st, 2011

Sneaks and Snitches is a very clever game – it’s incredibly simple but delivers a lot of interaction in the form of trying to out think your opponents.  During the game, players are all thieves trying to steal gems and items so they can win by scoring the most victory points (VPs).

Each round a number of loot cards (depending upon the number of players) are placed in the centre of the table and each one has a letter next to it.  Most loot cards show a number of coloured gems the player that steals it will receive, but they also show items worth VPs and  a few other items.

Next, each player secretly picks one of their lettered criminals to be their sneak (thief) and another be a snitch (guard).  When all players have picked, all criminals are revealed and placed next to the matching letter – snitches above and sneaks below the loot.  Any loot that has a snitch next to it can not be stolen (B, D, F and H in the example picture) and, therefore, any sneaks next to it get nothing.  If a single sneak is next to an unguarded loot, i.e. no snitch (E) then that player gets that loot.  If multiple sneaks are next to an unguarded loot (C) then they get in each other’s way – the main loot stays where it is but each player takes a bonus card (which shows a single colour gem on it).

The game ends when the loot deck runs out and players score VPs based on who has the most, second-most, third-most of each gem (including any bonus cards), although in some cases these can be zero VPs.  The amounts of VPs for each colour and position depends upon the number of players.

Sneaks and Snitches is a fast-playing filler game but packed with entertaining decisions.  Taking turns is fast as players only have to simultaneously pick their 2 cards.  In effect, the players are blind bidding but the difference is that have plenty of information on which to base their decisions and it’s more about trying to out-think your opponents with some second-guessing and triple-guessing.  This can be very funny especially when you block someone else who thought they’d out-thought you.

Trying to steal the big loot cards seems foolish because they will obviously be guarded but then maybe the other players may leave them unguarded because no-one would be ‘crazy’ enough to try to steal such obvious targets.  Maybe trying to pick up the smaller loot cards is better because they will be less guarded but then having a small amount of each colour gem probably won’t get you many VPs.

Watching what relative quantities of gems everyone else has is very important as scoring is based on the relative quantities of gems owned – so you want gems that will improve your position and stop others gaining ones that will worsen it.  In one case, I guarded one red loot card and tried stealing another just to ensure no other players would gain any red gems that round because I already had the most red.  Some special cards cause every player to discard half of their gems of a specific colour, apart from the player that won that card, which can be interesting game changers.

Some gem colours are worth more VPs than others and/or offer more VPs for lower realtive amounts – so this ensures not all gem colours have the same perceived value.  Plus, you must remember to factor in the bonus cards players have as you don’t know what colour gems are on them until the final scoring.  I like that the gems players have earned are on display throughout the game but the secret aspect of the gem totals that the bonus cards adds is a nice extra factor.

We played with 3 players which meant it was easier to focus on a plan.  I think it would be lots of fun with more players too as there are more loot cards on offer each round and more VPs are available, although I’m hoping it doesn’t feel more random because you need to read more people’s intentions.

I was intrigued by Sneaks and Snitches prior to Spiel 2010 and, now that I’ve finally played it, it turns out that it’s a fun game that would be great for new gamers as well as experienced ones.  It was a really pleasant surprise and the game really worked for me (even though I finished in last place).  Exquisitely simple but delivers a great filler game.


[Played with 3 players]

(By the way, bizarrely, Sneaks and Snitches is the only game Ive ever seen that doesn;t say how many players it is for on the box – It’s for 2-5 players.)

Some gem colours are worth more VPs or offer more VPs for lower positions – so this ensures not all gem colours have the same perceived value.

One Response to “Review: Sneaks and Snitches”

  1. Friday Rules! 19.08.2011 | Rules of Play Cardiff Says:

    […] Spot – this week we have a review of Sneaks and Snitches, from the excellent Metagames blog. If you’ve played it, let us know what you think by […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>