Larceny, from Waning Gibbous Games, is a heist themed party game in which players compete to be the most successful thief. This is accomplished by overcoming the most difficulties (Catches) and pulling off the most capers (Scores) through the use of specialized equipment, skills, and general goofiness (Fixes). With a little planning, improvisation, luck, and plenty of laughter you might just prove that you have what it takes to be a world-renowned thief!
A basic game of Larceny is played until, “You get sleepy or reach a mutually agreed upon number of points.” according to the rulebook. The game begins with all players being dealt a hand of 7 Fix Cards. One player assumes the role of the “Chief” and will be responsible for judging the outcome of the “Crew’s” (the other players) efforts to overcome the catches and acquire the score. The Chief selects a card from the Score deck and two Catches that the crew will have to overcome for the round. Each player then submits one Fix for each Catch. The Chief then decides which Fix best solves each Catch using whatever criteria he wishes (realism, humor, surreal, spite, etc…) and the player whose Fix was chosen are awarded the corresponding Catch card. Each Catch card counts as one point towards winning the game. If both of the Fixes belong to one player he not only receives the Catch cards, but the score as well. This would result in the player scoring 3 point in one turn!
The chief is encouraged liven up the story line of the score if he is so inclined, but even without any embellishment they are fairly entertaining.
The Catches range from the realistic to the ridiculous, but always manage to present an interesting challenge for the players to overcome.
The creative and often hilarious use of the various Fixes is what drives the game. Sometimes the obvious Fix is the best and other times you need a Yo-Yo and a banana.
After points have been awarded, the players re-fill their hands to seven cards and the chief role moves to the next player in clockwise order. If a player has reached the agreed upon point total he is declared the winner.
In addition to the base game described above the rule book contains a number of variants:
Best Laid Plans: Players use between 2 and 5 of their Fixes to create a plan and then try to convince the chief that theirs is the best. At the end of the day the Chief still decides who is successful, but the players get to make a case for their plan.
Worst Laid Plans: The opposite of the Best Laid Plans variant. In this case players try to make up the worst plan that may still succeed based on the Fixes that they submit. According to the rulebook the goal is make a bad plan, not a stupid one. In other words, “Just crazy enough to work.” As always, the chief chooses who is successful and points are awarded.
On the Run: In this even more challenging variant the Chief plays 2 Catches and the crew only submits one Fix to overcome both!
Larceny With A Twist: Similar to the base game, but allows for greater customization of the Catches as players add Fixes to them for modification at the Chief’s discretion. Players then try to overcome the Catches with new fixes and once again the chief decides who did the best job.
Heist: This variant is more of a story telling cooperative game than a competitive one as the players work together to overcome a multistage heist and earn the score together.
Troubleshooters: This is a team battle where on side plays offense and the other defense. A Chief judges if the thieves overcome the Catches or not. If successful, the thieves score one point, if not the defenders score one point. The first side to four wins the round.
Brainstorming: A quick version of the base game where there is only one Catch and players only put forth one Fix each. As usual, the game is played until the agreed upon number of points is scored by one player.
I must be honest, Larceny is not my normal cup of tea. I am a highly competitive gamer that finds my entertainment in ruthless mental competition where all involved attempt to leave their opposition in smoking ruins and this is most certainly not the experience offered up by Larceny. However, when reviewing a game or anything I suppose, it is important to be aware of what the subject’s goal is and whether or not it was accomplished. In other words, do not judge Schindler’s List a bad movie because it was not funny enough for your liking. Comedy was not the goal. Larceny is not trying to be Chess, Agricola, or Diplomacy and to judge it by that standard would not be appropriate. What Larceny is trying to be is a fun-filled family/party game that leave all who play it in exhausted ruins from laughing themselves silly, and in this regard it is a resounding success!
Those familiar with the game Apples to Apples will immediately recognize it as the inspiration for the underlying mechanics of Larceny. If you are already a fan of Apples to Apples than you should stop reading and simply look into acquiring Larceny right now. If you are like me and not a fan of Apples to Apples it may take a little more convincing. I am not exactly sure why I liked Larceny more than Apples to Apples, but I believe the theme had a lot to do with it. While Apples to Apples is wide open it just seems ridiculous, but the theme of Larceny gives it a direction and rather than being a limitation I found it an improvement. All of the players are placed in a common mindset and as a result the comedy that ensues has everyone on the same page and therefore laughing at the same joke. An example from one of the games that I played with my step kids, Katie and Jarrett, involved the Catches: World Weary Detective and Quicksand. My fix for dealing with the World Weary Detective was a sledgehammer. Katie felt that Jarrett’s answer was superior and awarded him the Catch. When I grumbled, she said there was no way to use a sledgehammer to deal with a detective. I explained to her my plan was to crack him in the head and roll the body into the quicksand. Que look of horror from the stepdaughter and high fives from the stepson! While I freely admit that my lacks a certain degree of finesse, there is no denying it would work! Que side-splitting laughter and a joke that was referred to for the remainder of the game! Due to the theme, the we all related to the humor and fun was had by all. It did not really matter that Jarrett got the point, only that we all were laughing like fools!
In conclusion, my reaction as well as that of my family was entirely positive. If the social aspects of gaming are what matters to you most Larceny will be a sure-fire hit with like-minded friends and family. If you are more inclined towards hyper competition Larceny is probably not for you. However, I fall into the second category and did enjoy it with the family, so it can be hard to say. Who knows, Larceny might just steal the ice from your veins and replace it with a smile on your face. It did mine!
At the time of this writing, Larceny is an active Kickstarter project. I am in no way affiliated with this project other then my role as a reviewer of the game. However, as a gamer and aspiring designer myself I always root for others to succeed in making their dream a reality. If you are interested in learning more about the Larceny Kickstarter Project follow the link below.
Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review. No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.