Heat is a heist card game for three to five “enterprising individuals,” also known as thieves, from designer Dave Chalker and Asmadi Games. It plays in 20 to 30 minutes.
It’s available now at the company’s website and for preorder from several major board game retailers.
How it works:
Players are dealt five cards each, but they aren’t allowed to look at them. Instead, they pick up the top two cards. They choose one to keep and one to pass to their left (or right during the second heist). They take the card they were just passed and draw one from their stack of cards. They again choose one to pass to the left. This continues until they have five cards.
Then it’s heist time.
Players choose one of their cards to play. They all put them down at the same time, then they’re resolved in order of the letter on the card — A, B or C — on the card. They play three more cards, then have two more heists.
The fun is in the cards. Players can steal money, a lot or a little, but to do so, they usually have to take heat. They’ll have to pay off the cops at the end of the game, so they have to be careful how much heat they have. Some cards allow players to return heat, and many are dependent on what other players play.
The more heat that’s come off the board, the more players will have to pay at the end of the game.
Why you might buy Heat:
This game is fun.
It’s light, quick, and easy to teach.
The cards make sense, and the combinations can be tough to come by.
It’s funny — and annoying — when you can’t get a combination because you just gave away a card you didn’t know you would need. This can lead to a lot of second-guessing your opponents, since you know what might be in their hands.
There’s enough meanness in the game to make you feel like a thief, but not so much that you feel like a jerk.
The art is stylish and has a fantastic retro feel. It’s especially nice to have males and females depicted on the cards. The box is small enough to take along in a purse.
At $16, the price is right.
Why you might not buy Heat:
If you don’t want a game about stealing, move on. This one is full of theme.
Same goes if you don’t want to bluff or beat up a bit on your opponents.
The plastic discs used for money are too slick, they don’t have numbers on them, and there aren’t enough included. We brought out coins to play with, which was both thematic and convenient.
It only supports three to five players, so if you need a game for fewer or more than that, you might want to look elsewhere.
Dealing and choosing cards isn’t intuitive. We had to reshuffle more than once because we accidentally picked up all the cards we’d been dealt or because a player moved ahead without waiting for a card to be passed to him.
It takes a few plays for the dealing and choosing of cards to become natural. It was worth it for me, but it might not be for you.
Heat is a great game. It does exactly what it intends to do. It’s a good time for the right group of people.
If you’re not sure about it, you can download a printable copy for free on the company’s website and try it out.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Heat from Asmadi Games. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.