Review: The Initiative Board Game by Unexpected Games
Website Link – https://amzn.to/3sJN3Pj (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Price – retails for $59.95, currently on sale for $47.96 (at time of writing, March 6th, 2022)
Disclaimer: The game was given as a birthday gift to Confetti from some dear friends. This review is not sponsored and all thoughts are our own.
The Initiative is a cooperative, code breaking board game fuelled by the story of four teens trying to solve a mystery using a strange board game they’ve discovered.
The real-world players will play through the mysterious board game, “The Key,” and help the teens through a few big moments in their lives too. The story is told through a graphic novel format. Players actions and decisions impact how the story unfolds. The better players do, the better their rewards and story path.
The main campaign takes place over 14 chapters: a game accompanied with some story. Each game should take about 30-60 minutes. The object of each game is to successfully maneuver your characters over the board to collect intel while avoiding potential threats. The intel collected will be used to crack a cipher. Guess the code successfully to win. Failure comes from running out of time or potential moves before solving the code or guessing the code incorrectly (you only get one shot).
The players have four potential actions to take: moving, collecting clues, revealing clues, and regrouping. To take an action, players must play a card of a higher value (1-12) to the appropriate stack. Through movement, revealing information, and collection, players will build their knowledge, but if they run out of potential moves or they take too long (revealing too many time cards), they’ll lose. While they can’t play cards higher than 12 for any specific action, the regroup action can reset a pile to prolong the game. Unfortunately, the Regroup pile is the only pile that can’t be reset, so that strategy has a limited shelf life as well.
Players don’t need to uncover every clue, just enough to figure out the answer to the code.
There is also an additional post-campaign set of games to continue adventuring beyond the story. These missions are based on word, number, and unique codes. Completion of the post-campaign will earn players further rewards, but they’ll have to discover those for themselves.
Do you have what it takes to crack codes, handle adolescence, and uncover a mystery years in the making?
We played through the campaign as a group of four, working through multiple games per session. It took approximately four weeks to play through all fourteen chapters, meeting once a week. We completed the post-campaign missions and overall bonus puzzle as a duo. Overall, we got well over 10+ hours of playtime out of the game.
The Initiative is definitely aimed to be family friendly. The game’s core system and rules are easy to learn and on the simpler side. While the puzzles get more complex once the core campaign is completed, this would be a good introductory puzzle game for a family to play. If you are a group of all adults who desire a more challenging puzzle experience, then the Initiative won’t fulfill that specific need.
For us though, we loved watching the progression of the game through the campaign. The rule variations were fun and surprising, bringing small but nuanced changes to each game. Chaos is a huge comics fan so the fact that the campaign book was filled with comics was another pleasant surprise. While we guessed one of the main game mechanics “twists” from the beginning, it was still a delight when it was revealed. Occasionally having mini puzzles and ciphers to crack during the downtime in between games was also very enjoyable.
We enjoyed the combination of puzzle solving and turn/risk management. The Initiative is a fun, quick-paced game that keeps the codes and story coming at a great pace. Confetti even ranked it as her 3rd favorite board game of 2021!
Overall Fun: 5/5
Final Averaged Rating: 4/5 Stars