Before I Kill You, Mister Spy… is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will take on the role of super villains as they try to capture some of the greatest spies in the world. Of course no good villain can simply capture a spy. They have to taunt them before killing them. They’ll have to watch out though as their opponents will be trying to stop them and even steal their spies. The player that can score 33 points first, will be declared the winner.
To begin, the cards are all shuffled together to form a central deck. A number of cards are then dealt to each player depending on the number of players. Once everyone has their hand of cards, the dealer becomes the first player. Play now begins.
On a player’s turn, they start by drawing a card. If there is no card to draw, then the game ends. After the player draws a card, they must then perform one of four different actions or pass. The actions are play a lair, play a spy, steal a lair or steal a spy. The first action is to play a lair. To do this, the player simply places a lair card from their hand facedown in front of themself. As long as the card is facedown it is a Secret Lair of value 1. A taunt card can also be played in the same way as a Deathtrap. I’ll explain the deathtrap in just a bit.
Another action that a player can take is to play a spy. This is done by playing a spy from your hand into your own lair. However, the lair has to be strong enough to capture the spy first. That means that the lair cards added together must have a value at least as large as the spy’s value. The player is allowed to turn over any of their secret lair cards to increase the value of their lair, adding it’s value to the total. For instance a lair card with a value 3 could be flipped over and added to a unflipped card to capture a value 4 spy. Once the spy is captured, the player proceeds to killing and taunting. The player can immediately kill the spy that they just captured and earn the spy’s value in points or they can taunt them to earn more points. When a spy is killed, the spy card is placed face up in a score pile in front of the player. Each time a player taunts the spy, the spy’s value doubles. To taunt a spy, the player takes one of the taunt cards from their hand and reads it aloud in their best villain voice, replacing “Mister Spy” with the spy’s name. Other players may foil the taunt by playing the other taunt card with the same letter. If this happens, the spy escapes and is sent to the discard pile. If the first taunt succeeds, the spy can then be killed for double the points or taunted again. This process can continue again and again until either the player decides to kill the spy or the taunt is foiled by another player, allowing the spy to escape. When a spy is killed using a taunt, the taunt card is placed facedown on the face up spy in the player’s score pile. That way players can’t see which taunt cards have already been used. It should be noted however that two matching taunt cards can not be played on the same spy.
Another action that is available is to steal a lair. To do this, the player plays a spy from their hand as a double agent, allowing them to steal a lair card from another player. Either face up or face down lair can be stolen. The results of taking a face up lair card are already known before taking it. However, the face down card must be flipped over and the results applied based on the following. If the spy matches the lair, the lair card is stolen and added to the player’s lair. The spy is then kept for their point value. Taunting is not allowed with these spies. If the spy is larger, the lair card is stolen but the spy escapes to the discard pile. If the spy is smaller, the lair card is not stolen and the opponent captures the spy. They are then able to taunt or kill them at that time. If the the secret lair card turns out to be a taunt card, the spy has sprung a Deathtrap. The spy is killed and the owner of the deathtrap scores the value of the spy. The taunt card is then discarded. It should also be noted that a player can not play spies into their own deathtraps.
The final action it to steal a spy. Spies are able to be stolen anywhere, including a player’s hand or the top of the deck. This is because spy cards have a different card back then the rest of the cards. To do this, the player simply chooses the spy card that they want to steal. They are then able to keep it in their hand or play it immediately. It can be captured in the player’s own lair, or as a double agent to steal another player’s lair. It should be noted however, that a player is not allowed to steal a lair from the player that they just stole a spy from.
Once a player finishes their action, play passes to the next player in turn order. The game continues with players taking turns until a player reaches 33 points or the deck runs out of cards. If a player reaches 33 points, they game ends and they are the winner. If the deck runs out before that happens, players compare scores. The player with the most points at this time is the winner.
This game contains a single deck of cards in a small pocket sized tuckbox. The cards are excellent quality and the artwork is really good. There are 3 different types of cards. The lair and taunt cards all have the same back while the spy cards have a different style. The spy cards all show a different spy on them with their name. Each one is different and looks really cool. The lair cards have a blueprint on them. These have some humorous stuff on them, like the Plot Device or Cavern of Woe. The taunt cards are quite funny and have some cool looking villains on them. There might not be a lot to this game, but it looks really cool for a simple card game. There is no score pad or anything like that to keep track of score with, but keeping a score pile with face up spies and face down taunts actually works rather well. Overall, I think that the game looks really cool. I really like it.
8 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is a small double-sided piece of paper that folds up to fit inside the tuck box. It’s got a glossy finish to it that looks nice. There are a couple of pictures on the sheet along with a few examples of gameplay. The rules are laid out really well and everything is easy to read. It only takes a few minutes to go over and you’re ready to play. There’s nothing difficult to understand at all. All in all, I’d say that the rules look nice and work well for the game.
8 out of 10
This is a simple game that is really fun. In some ways it has a bit of a take that feel to it, especially when you’re stealing other players cards. I really like the way that you can start setting things up to score some points but before you can pull it off, your opponent snags one of your cards from you. I also like that you can double your points in a kind of press your luck way. Each time you taunt your captured spy, you make it possible for an opponent to completely foil your kill attempt, leaving you with nothing for your trouble. The game also has a set collection feel to it as well, as you’re trying to get the lair cards arranged to capture a particular spy in your hand. There seems to be a bit of strategy to the game but nothing so intense that you’ll have to sit there pondering on your next move for hours. Nothing like that at all. The game is pretty quick too. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes or so. It’s a great little filler card game that is easily placed in your pocket to be played anywhere. Fans of spy games like Spy or Die Trying should really enjoy this fast playing game. I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun in a small package.
8 out of 10
Before I Kill You, Mr Spy is a fast playing card game full of spy killing fun. The game doesn’t take very long to play. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes. The artwork on the cards is really fun and humorous. I especially like the taunt cards with their witty quotes. The game is pocket sized making it easily portable and playable anywhere. The game is really quite simple but is still fun enough for anyone to enjoy. This is a great little filler card game that fans of spy games like Spy or Die Trying should enjoy. I highly recommend it. I really enjoyed playing this one. It allows me to unleash my inner Dr. Evil. Now excuse me, I must hold the world ransom for 1 million dollars! What?
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cheapass Games at their site.