Stop Thief! – A Game Night Steal
Catching an invisible thief requires careful attention.
Your fellow investigators recently tracked down the notorious Atlantic Seven and you tipped off the police to their exact location. The city will finally be able to rest easy.
Suddenly an alert pops up on your phone—the devious Debbie Atlantic had one more trick up her sleeve and evaded the arrest! She even robbed the jewelry store during her escape. Put that trenchcoat back on, private eye, it’s time to bring that thief to justice.
In Stop Thief! players take on the role of private investigators, trying to catch thieves as they move around the board and commit crimes. But the thieves are stealthy and don’t show up! Rather, their invisible movement is tracked on a free app, which plays sound clues to hint at their location. Investigators must use deduction and intuition to track down the thieves, make an arrest, and earn a rich reward!
There are two main modes of play in Stop Thief! In competitive mode, investigators compete against each other to arrest the most thieves and earn the most money. In cooperative mode, players work together to catch the Atlantic Seven before they steal all the loot. Depending on which mode you select, setup varies, but the general idea is the same.
Each player selects an investigator ID card, takes the matching movement cards, and places their investigator meeple on the subway space in the middle of the board. Depending on the mode, players will be working on their own to arrest a variety of thieves, or working together to stop the Atlantic Seven.
Players take turns clockwise around the table, doing the following three steps in order:
1. Get A Clue
Players begin their turn by selecting “Get Clue” on the app. The app will play a sound for everyone to hear (a creaking door, a broken window, or steps echoing in a hallway). This tells you what the thief is doing this turn. On the first turn it will also display the building or street where the thief is located, to help get the investigators on the trail.
2. Play A Card
Players then move around the board using their movement cards, which are unique to each investigator. Movement cards sometimes have a special ability on them as well, so it’s fun to try out different investigators. Players must travel along the footprint paths using all the spaces, and cannot move through windows.
Sometimes a movement card will allow you to get a private tip, which is for your eyes only (in competitive mode) or a helpful hint for the group (in cooperative mode).
3. Attempt An Arrest
If a player feels confident about the space where a thief is located, they can call in the police for an arrest. They can only make an arrest on the space they are on, or adjacent spaces.
Select “Make An Arrest” on the app, enter the number of the space where you believe the thief is located. If you’re right, earn the rewards. If you aren’t, pay $1,000 to the bank. Make it count, private eye!
Play continues until a winner is declared. In competitive mode, this happens when a player reaches enough money to win ($25,000 – $45,000, depending on the number of players).
In cooperative mode, you all win once all members of the Atlantic Seven are behind bars.
It’s rare to find a game that so effortlessly blends together smooth mechanics, easy-to-learn rules, replayability, strategic tension, and gorgeous production value. Yet Stop Thief! manages to do all of this in grand style and still make it look ridiculously easy. This is one of the best family games I’ve played in a long time.
One of my favorite things about the game is how replayable it is. Both modes of play offer fun ways to explore the game, and you’ll want to try the modes multiple times with different investigators.
Cooperative mode can even be played as “one versus many”, where a human player can be the thief (using the app) and challenge their family to catch them.
There are tons of ways to change the difficulty of the game, either through the app, or forcing the person playing the thief to not look at the game board!
The art is absolute perfection! The game features beautiful illustrations, an engaging game board with spot varnishes for
extra flair, and uniquely painted meeples. I wish there was a plastic tray to organize the bits, though.
This game is just elegantly smooth in how it plays. Simple mechanics, easy to learn, and so much fun to deduce where the thief is. The kids loved to be the thief and outwit their family! The two modes of play (and multiple ways to play them) will have you coming back to this one often.
Stop Thief! is a “restored” game that was originally designed in 1979 by a rocket scientist. The publisher, Restoration Games, has quietly been making a name for itself by bringing back old titles and giving them a refreshed and revitalized printing. I’m a big fan of another one of their great family titles, Downforce. It seems like they have a nose for doing things right, and Stop Thief! does not disappoint.
Final verdict? Go out and buy this game, it’s a steal! You can find it today on the Restoration Games website or ask for it at your local game store.
Restoration Games provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Stop Thief! for this review.
Stop Thief! (2nd Edition)
Number of Players: 1-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 30-45 minutes