Published by Talicor.

Stealth board and box

2 players
ages 10 and up
~45 minutes (~15 minutes per round)

Stealth lies on that murky edge between wargames and abstract games. It wears a military metaphor but is missing the die rolls and tables that I've come to associate with wargames.

Each player deploys a martial force composed of six robot tanks. Each type of tank can destroy (but you might as well call it capture) the opposition tanks in a unique way. Laser tanks have a long but focused reach and can be recharged at the home base. Other tanks explode with varying degrees of force and pattern. Some can be recharged back at your home base but most are destroyed when they use their single attack.

The playing field is marked out with hexagons. Home bases are at opposite ends of opposite edges. There are a scattering of obstacles through the center of the board (to lessen the efficacy of the laser tanks, no doubt). Players also place one large obstacle each within a restricted area of their side of the board. There are teleport chambers along the edges of the board that allow a tank to move to a specific square along each of the other edges of the board. These teleport chambers can also be destroyed by the tanks. Players may move any one tank two hexes in any direction (though they are restricted from shifting back to their original position) or a tank may be teleported from one teleport chamber to the corresponding one on another board edge.

The goal of the game is to either destroy the entire opposing force, gain admission to the opposition's home base, or block entry to the opposition's home base using destroyed tanks (either your own or your opponents).

Just to make things interesting, each tank is covered by a 'stealth shield' that hides the type of tank from your opponent while allowing you to peer up the tail pipe and check out the tank type. So you never know just which sort of tank is creeping up on you. Five of the tanks on the opposing side are of known types. The sixth tank is chosen from amongst four of the five tank types (you are only allowed one laser tank) so even when you've narrowed the field a bit you are still left guessing as to what just teleported in next to your last tank!

Also, tanks go up in a cascade of violence. When a tank is destroyed, if it is the exploding sort (ie not a laser), then it discharges, as well. Any tanks caught in this discharge also go off. My opponent managed to lob a shot into my home base before I had managed to deploy many of my tanks (hey, I was learning). It made for a very short, but spectacular!, game.

There's a lot going on here. One must infer tank types from their deployment and movement. You have to take into account the teleport chambers, or a sneak attack from the rear will bring a quick end to your plans. You have to consider the obstacle layout - how can you use to lessen the power of your opponent's laser?

The one hitch is that you have a very small force and a fairly large board. It is critical that you spread out so that your entire team doesn't go up all at once. It is equally critical that you cover your home base and make some sort of an attempt at reaching your opponent's home base.

Most of our games ended in either a war of attrition with both of us badly depleted by the end or very quickly when one of us committed a major tactical gaff. It would be interesting to hear some comments on Stealth from the wargaming community, who I suspect may like it, and from the abstract gamers, who I suspect will not be as pleased.

The components are top notch. Very nice plastic tanks with their interesting 'stealth shield' covers. The blue and green tanks are a little close together in color. We found that if your opponent peered up a tail pipe for too long then they were either looking at a blue or a green - which led to misleading peering, which slowed down the game...). The board design is quite good with all features well detailed. The additional obstacles are attached to the board as static cling plastic sheets that work exceptionally well.

Overall, if the subject as described sounds interesting, I would give it a try. It definitely works as a game, but not quite well enough for me to give it an unconditional recommendation.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell