We thank Starling Games for their donation to St Thomas Hospital .

How often has it been asked, ‘What would have happened if Hitler was assassinated before the beginning of the war?’ Its a hard subject to speak on. Hitler’s grasp on the cult of his Nazi party, lead to horrors and misery. His death would bring about a shift away from war and genocide and maybe change events. The ramifications of it all would be strangely rewarding but also leave something else. Its a dark thought. One that leaves deep felt questions. In BLACK ORCHESTRA from Starling Games, players join together as a group of conspirators, trying to do just that. Many of us have seen the film VALKRYIE, which was based on an actual series of events. They almost saw Hitler killed and humanity saved from the eventual obliteration and destruction of millions. Well now we can try to change history. Save humanity.


I love the art on the box. Dann May and Lucas Soriano add a noir aesthetic, which compliments the games mood. The illustrations are not to serious, not to comic. Its through the work and works with the images on the cards and, well good job. Inside the box are a board, a set of conspirator sheet (9), 10 dice (with a target, numbers and an eagle on), 5 player pawns, tracking cubes, three sets of cards. One running from 1 to 7 on their back (Event cards), a set with SS symbols (Interrogation cards) and one that has a grey back (Conspirator cards). Deputy tokens (with Hitler’s henchmen on), difficulty tiles (Beginner, Medium, Hard), 24 items tiles and then a rulebook (glossy and detailed. in truth perfect).


To set up, lay the board out in front of you. Choose the difficulty level (Beginner is best to start, then afterward its up to you!) and place the token on the Hitler’s military tracker. Place the items tiles into the required slots on the board. Put all henchmen and Hitler onto the board, where the icons which match their tokens are. Shuffle the numbered cards and lay them out from 1 – 7. Shuffle both Conspirator and Interrogation cards and place them by the slots. Choose your conspirator sheet. Take the cubes that match their colour and the pawn also. Put each cube on the lowest settings for suspicion and motivation tracks. Now place your pawn on the train station location on the board.

On your turn, you can take three actions, Move, searching for an item, draw a card or, at the cost of one action per die, roll the dice in an attempt to gain more actions. This comes with risks. Attracting the suspicion of the gestapo and pushing up your suspicion level. This dice rolling “Conspire” action allows players to benefit and lose out. Profit and loss.¬†After all players actions have been taken, an event card is drawn. These are based on real events and have effects. The game is played over seven stages of World War 2, represented by seven stacks of event cards. Those 1 – 7 cards. As new numbers are turned, new stages open up on the board. Hitler and his deputies walk the board, interact with you, and present various opportunities or threats in their time. During the final stage, many board spaces become off-limits, as the Allies move closer to Germany and the end of the war.


Winning is better as a group. That is why people love team sports right? As a co-op game (there are variants also) what really adds to the entertainment of the piece is that it allows players to really work together. You have to ebb and flow with the game. Push and pull with events. Help, join, co opt and complete. Its tough and BLACK ORCHESTRA really works effectively in eking out a valuable experience in togetherness. The mechanics, visuals, components behind the game work effectively in simulating the tensions at play in killing Hitler, stopping the war and surviving the dreaded Gestapo.


Theory is fine but practice is something else. The pace of the game can be a killer. You spend 45 minutes or 60 minutes, pushing and pulling together. Then everything deflates and the ability to join all the dots (get all the required elements to execute the planned plot) failed. We flatly hated this.


BLACK ORCHESTRA is a refreshingly unique move away from a war themed game. Players are opened to an involved, group experience that feels real and has the texture of truth with value. I feel there are elements that make it lob sided but as a game for a group, it is on par with some of the greats like FORBIDDEN ISLAND and PANDEMIC.

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