Review: True Crime Legends
Posted On April 24, 2020
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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# of players 3-5
Game Type: Engine Building/Empire building
Gamer Type: Moderate
The crime game genre has taken off on the internet. People play “Mafia,” “Mafia City,” and GTA clones looking at the seedy underbelly of crime in a reality TV sense. We see the crime glorified, respect between peers diminished and violence being used for the visceral “pleasure” of it. Silk Hat Games takes a different take on this. They look at the criminal world through the historical lens where they bring famous criminals together in a dream team. True Crime Legends looks at the business of running a criminal empire, not the glorified violence of it all, but making it an interesting addition to the crime genre.
The story of the game is that you are a gangster from history building your empire/cartel. As you go through the game you recruit your crew, equip them, and acquire assets. The game is the classic rags to riches story; however, instead of using hard work to improve your lot in life, you use your criminal empire to move up in the world. As it is not a children’s game this story earns a strong 6.5 out of 10.
The artwork for this game is well done. Martin, the game’s designer, uses custom graphics to build the experience of the player. The visuals are a type of cartoon realism, closer to realism than the cartoon. This gives the game a surreal feel as you move through the steps of building your empire and earns True Crime Legends an art score of 6.
Mechanics and Strategy
The mechanics of the game are interesting. Players have a boss (their character), which has the highest power and is their primary item. The player then drafts gangsters, assets, and upgrades from a dynamic market (where the first player each turn has a slight advantage). This builds up each player’s crew. The market and the “Tactics” deck act as the randomizers in the game, which help keep the game balanced. The dynamic of the boss “powering up” during the game by increasing your assets, keeps people balanced in their approach. It also prevents mass asset buying in the last round. The game ends when only one player has money or when the game completes the fourth round.
If the game reaches the end of the fourth round, then the player with the most money and value wins. This allows players to have a strong engine building strategy throughout the game (money for cards, cards for money repeat). The temptation to run an offensive game is very well alive in this game, as is the “sit back and defend” approach (due to retaliation). Of the four big strategy approaches (offense, defense, engines, and rush), rush is problematic. While it can be done successfully, the strategy seems to break down quickly. Overall, we award Silk Hat a score of 6.5 for mechanics and a 7 for strategy.
The game looks at the business aspects of “True Crime” while still maintaining the violence that makes the crime genre appealing. This is a difficult balancing act, but one that the game does quite well. This earns the game a novelty score of 6. There are a lot of crime games out there, but this one has mechanics that make it more interesting than most.
Overall, this is a nice little game for your adult friends. I like the 16+ rating the company gives this game as the subject matter may not be the best for young players. It plays in about an hour, so it is a nice game for playing with friends. Play is integrated enough so no one gets bored waiting for their turn and are as excited to see what other players do as they are to see their play. The overall score for this game is a very strong 32 out of 50, which is very strong for a card/dice game. True Crime Legends is a great little game to have on your shelf.
Dr. Christopher Smithmyer is a writer for NRN, the Vice President of International Affairs at Brav Online Conflict Management, and an Adjunct Professor of MBA Business at Doane University. He is also part of the founding team at BlackWalletLTD, one of the leaders in stable coin 2.0 ecosystem maintenance. Dr. Smithmyer’s focus is international business and finance, along with reviews of board games, weapons platforms, and survival items.