I’ve been told that, as I get older, I’m going to look a lot like Tommy Lee Jones, only with more wrinkles (Editor: Talking to yourself doesn’t count).
Why do I bring that up here, other than to let you know that I’m kind of delusional?
Because I just played Fugitive, the 2-player card game designed by Tim Fowers with art by Ryan Goldsberry and published by Fowers Games.
This card game, published all the way back in 2017, pits one marshal against a fugitive who is trying to escape the long arm of the law.
(You also get bonus points if the fugitive denies doing the crime and you say “I don’t care” in that Tommy Lee Jones way)
Let’s see how this works.
Decide who gets to be the fugitive and who gets to be the marshal. Perhaps get into a gun duel at 20 paces? Oh, wait, that would mean one of you is dead and can’t play.
Ok, try something else.
Anyway, the deck of cards runs from 00 to 42, all with beautiful artwork.
The Fugitive is given the 00, 01, 02, 03, and 42 card. They are trying to lay secret hideouts out on the table in sequential order to get to the 42 card and escape.
The Marshal will be guessing these secret hideouts. If all of the hideouts on the table are revealed at any one time, the Marshal wins!
The rest of the cards are shuffled and placed on the board, in piles matching what’s on the board (so 04-14 are in one pile, 15-28 in the second pile, and 29-41 in the third pile)
To begin, the Fugitive draws three cards from the 04-14 pile and two cards from the 15-28 pile.
Then they lay down two secret hideouts, starting from the already revealed 00 card. These two hideouts will be face down and must follow one simple rule. The next card in sequence has to be no more than three higher than the previous hideout.
So you can place the 01, 02, or 03 as your next hideout.
“Dave,” you might say, if you were in this room talking to me or if you were one of the voices in my head, “that doesn’t make any sense. It seems it would be very easy to guess hideouts.”
That’s where the twist comes in. And get out of my head, I’m trying to write a review.
You can play extra cards secretly to “sprint” to a further location. Notice in the picture of the starting cards above, there are footprints in the top right corner of the 01,02, and 03 cards?
You can play these cards underneath your next hideout and add that many steps to be able to play a card more than three above the previous one.
For example, if you played the 03 hideout, you could then play the 08 hideout if you also played two steps to go with it. (Remember, all cards played are secret, even sprint cards).
Your first turn might look something like this.
And here’s how it would look to you if you had X-Ray vision.
One thing about sprinting is that you can certainly bluff. Even if you don’t need the steps, you can play sprint cards to fool the Marshal.
On the Marshal’s first turn, they draw 2 cards from any deck. Maybe they want to cut down the Fugitive’s future options and take from the middle deck. Or maybe they want to eliminate possibilities so they’ll draw from the first deck.
It’s completely up to you.
You then guess a secret hideout. You just have to say the number; you don’t have to specify which card it is, and you never have to guess sprint cards.
If that number is a secret hideout, the Fugitive reveals it, along with any sprint cards that were connected to it.
The Marshal can guess more than one hideout if they wish, but you have to decide how many when you start your guesses, and if any of them are wrong, the Fugitive can just say that you’re wrong. The actual right guess(es) doesn’t have to be revealed.
On subsequent turns, the Fugitive draws one card from any pile, and then can either lay down another secret hideout or pass, which means they’re resting and trying to accumulate cards (you may be running out if you’re sprinting a lot).
The Marshal draws one card and then makes one or more guesses.
As soon as the Fugitive lays down the 42 card, the game end is triggered. If the Marshal has revealed any cards above 29, then the Fugitive automatically wins. If the highest revealed card is 29 or lower, then the Marshal can start a “manhunt,” which just means they will be guessing all of the cards one at a time. If they get one wrong, the Fugitive wins.
As said above, if at any time during the game all of the hideouts are revealed, the Marshal wins.
Is Fugitive capturing all of the glory, or is it escaping into the wind unnoticed?
I really loved this game, though it does take a bit of getting used to in order to play it well as the Marshal.
First, let’s talk components.
The cards are very nice, and the artwork is brilliant.
The board isn’t the greatest quality, but all it’s doing is holding card piles up so it’s not really that important.
It even comes with a dry erase marker and board that the Marshal can use to record guesses!
How does the game play?
I love the bluffing and deduction aspect of this game, especially how tight it is in a 2-player game. Most deduction games I know are party games or games with multiple players.
Fugitive is a hard fight between two players while one tries to be evasive and the other tries to deduce just how they are being evasive.
You know, like your first couple of dates.
We played this game three times to get ready for the review, and the Fugitive won all three times. However, two of them were really close, and the last game came down to what was essentially a manhunt (I had revealed the 41 card, so I knew she was going to play 42 next and win outright, and I had to do a “multiple guess and get them all right” turn…and promptly lost).
The Marshal is definitely the harder part to play, just because you are using your deductive reasoning to win. The Fugitive is just using wits and guile, and bluffing.
The interplay between the players is quite neat, even if you don’t use Tommy Lee Jones quotes. There’s that frantic feeling as the Fugitive if you only have one hideout remaining. Or as the Marshal if you see hideouts accumulating unrevealed.
The fact that the Marshal is drawing cards too is key, since any card you draw as the Marshal is a card that the Fugitive can’t use. If you draw the 26, for example, you know that you never have to guess 26. So you drawing cards is also tightening the dragnet.
The game also comes with random event cards that can add to the chaos, but we didn’t try them out (Editor: Ok, that’s you thrown out of the Union of Reviewing Geniuses). They would definitely add to the randomness, but I’m not sure they’re necessary. At least not at the beginning.
The suspense involved in just the regular game is quite high.
Fugitive only takes 10-20 minutes to play, so it’s the perfect lunchtime game at work. Or a perfect filler while you’re waiting for other, more AP-prone players to finish their own game.
I’m glad I picked up Fugitive. It’s well worth your time and money, and you can buy it directly from Tim Fowers’ web site or at most any game retailer.
(This review was written after 3 plays)
Fugitive is a great bar game and also a game I’ve yet to lose!! Really like how different it feels to play the fugitive and Marshall.
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How is it when playing drunk? 🙂
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