Before I begin, I was sent a copy of the game in order to review it. I have received no money to create this review. You can check out my video review below. Get your own copy here.
There are very few companies out there that have close to a cult like following. Chip Theory Games happens to be one of them, and happens to be one that I am tangentially a member of said cult. (I may or may not have close to 50 pounds of game from them). Now the cool thing about this cult is that there is something for everyone. You have the RPG adventure types like me who adore Too Many Bones, you have the straight up beat each others faces in with Hoplomachus, and you have the Moba style Cloudspire. For me, it’s TMB that has my heart.
However, this past year they launched a new IP. burncycle. This is a stealth game, with a good amount of dice chucking mixed in. In the year 3,000 humanity has died out, and been brought back to life by the benevolent AI robots that survived whatever nonsense we did to kill ourselves. Then, in the least shocking thing ever, humanity took over and enslaved the robots. Now it is up to your plucky team of bots to infiltrate the mega corporations of humanity and start reclaiming your robo-freedoms.
Each game you, and your bots, will sneak their way through 1-3 floors with a specific goal. This could be hacking certain terminals, it could be tricking guards to move into a certain room, it could be doing something on the network to mess things up for the stupid fleshbags. However, no matter what your goal, the core gameplay is the same. You will take actions with your bots each round based on the eponymous burncycle. These actions will be determined by a chip draw at the beginning of each game. You will be able to move different types of chips in and out of the burncycle (each chip gives bonuses to specific types of actions) as you move through the various floors. However, after each player has played, the cycle will start to degrade, at which time you will have to either have less efficient turns, or cycle in one of your chips you hold in reserve.
At the end of each player turn you will get to utilize the burncycle again on the network. You will move your pegs (IP’s) around the board based on the color of the chips in the cycle. As you move around it you will get ever closer to the center, as you do you will lower the overall threat (an endgame condition, and way that the evil meatsacks become more powerful), and increase your signal strength-which you will use to defeat the “pings” that the humans send out on the network to boot you out of it.
Then the enemy will activate based on their various AI rules, and attempt to find you, and depower you. You will play around and around until you reach the final floor and achieve your objective, or until you are depowered, or the threat reaches the max level and you lose.
So what do I think?
As always with Chip Theory the production on this game is absolutely stellar. Additionally, the game delivers exactly what it promises. A stealth game with lots of dice chucking, and hard decisions. I think the decisions of how to manage the burncycle, how to utilize your bot, extra chips, and the shared bot make for an intensely replayable game. I am regularly stunned that the best games I have are games where I see absolutely no combat, is it wonderfully refreshing.
I am also very impressed with the changes made from the first iteration that I got to play during previews of the game and now. The CTG team took all the feedback and made significant changes that have made the game significantly better, especially regarding the way the network works. I enjoyed it in the preview phase, but now I love it.
The game is stunning to look at, but it is a table hog. I mean your table is gonna look great but its gonna be full!
It is not easy to learn this game. Nope. There is a lot going on, and a ton of rules to internalize, and as always plenty of keywords to discover. It should be said that the rules in burncycle are better than the rules in any of the other CTG games I have played, but it is still a lot to take in. It will be 3 or 4 games before you really feel like you have it down, and are not referencing the rules regularly.
Bringing it all together
burncylce is another wonderful title in the CTG catalogue. It it plays very differently from the other games in their ouevre and ABSOLUTELY delivers on the promise of.a stealth game. The game is a blast to play, though it does take a while to get the hang of it all. It looks great on the table, and is a joy to play with-the components are just that nice. This is a game that goes a bit against what you may be used to with Chip Theory, in that it is not a game about combat so fans of the company should be aware of that.
* One of the best, if not the best stealth game I have played
* Creative theme, that is well realized
* Fantastic components
* Table hog
* Lots of rules to grok
* Lots of dice chucking, but very little combat
* An exceedingly promising start to this new IP