The city sleeps; its riches safely stored behind locked gates and barred doors. But no one watching what goes on beneath their feet, and tunnels under the city streets become a highway for the highway men. There’s no honor among thieves here.
Prowler’s Passage is a 2 player game of set collection and area control from Renegade Games that takes about 20 minutes to play.
Set up starts with laying the six hex tiles adjacent to the district control track. The hexes form the city, containing five different types of districts – banking, political, market, residential, and castle. Along each side of the hexagon as well as trisecting it is a passage. Each of these passages gets an item token. The four points at which they meet in the center each get a statue. Three achievement cards are drawn and place along the edge of the control track.
On a turn, the player places one of their passage markers an empty passage area, and collects the token on that space. Then they move the control markers for each district adjacent to the passage they just laid one step closer towards them. If a statue was completely surrounded by passages, the player may collect that as well. Achievements can be completed on any turn too – first to fulfill the conditions can claim the card and place it in front of them for end game scoring.
Play continues in this manner until mid-game scoring, triggered by two statues being collected or each player placing eight passages. Players gain wealth (points) for number of passages in their longest continuous passage, statues, and item sets. Play then continues till all passages have been laid, and the game is scored again. In addition to scoring all the same conditions as the mid-game, achievement cards are also scored at this point. Highest score wins!
Two player games are fantastic for somewhat more cutthroat mechanics – it’s hard to get angry that someone is “being mean” when that’s entirely the idea and you’re the sole competition! Prowler’s Passage strikes that chord nicely with the tug of war between district control, achievement race, and item capture.
The first few turns go quickly with players making early gains and collecting a few tokens likely related to achievement cards. But as more passages get placed it slows, with each player starting to think a few turns ahead towards statue capture and area control. Lack of foresight can lead to a painful last few turns for one player. Do you remember playing squares in school, where you connected the dots and scored points for closing them up? If you’re not paying attention you could wind up helping the other player claim most of the statues.
There are more tiles and achievement cards than will be used each game, so a player’s strategy will have to change a bit from game to game. The changes aren’t extreme (no new mechanics, etc.), just enough to get an idea of what it might be advantageous to collect (or block the other player from collecting).
My biggest ding for this game was the graphic design. I actually like how each district looks, but unfortunately the art in such a small area winds up making the board very busy. Coupled with a few colors that are too similar, it can be hard to tell which districts you border in some areas. I think it would have been preferable to have the details districts printed on the plain control board where it’s not as important to know where you’re placing things, and more simple symbology on each tile to represent then districts.
Having two scoring phases is definitely a plus. The break in action can diffuse standoff and allows for some regrouping. Your opponent has HOW many bank districts? It’s time to get in there and break up that longest passage for sure.
“Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances.” ~ Lemony Snicket
Prowler’s Passage is a fun area control game with lots action and required planning. It’s easy to learn but it will take a few games to start thinking up good strategies. It has a fast set up, but the game play is little longer than your average two player game. Prowler’s Passage is a well done intersection of the item collection and area control mechanics, and the variable strategy adds to its replay value. However the colors and graphics may make this one tough for visually challenged gamers.
Final Score: 4.5 Star – Prowler’s Passage is a fantastic two player game for competitive types.
• Variety in game board achievements adds to replay value
• Theme sets the stage
• Two scoring phases allows for some strategy evaluation to get back on track
• Busy board and similar colors can make this a challenge for visually impaired players.
• Tiles would be better snapped together somehow to prevent passage pieces separating areas.