3000 Scoundrels Review: Stellar Visuals and Creative Mechanics Combine For A Marvelous Experience

3000 Scoundrels immediately captured my attention at Gen Con even without getting any hands-on time with it and shot up to one of my most anticipated games of the year shortly after. After spending some time with the new title from Unexpected Games and designer Corey Konieczka, I can say that it has surpassed those expectations with its ever-changing cast of quirky characters, inventive mechanics, old west aesthetic, and tight gameplay. Bluffing feels useful without becoming overpowering, and you'll be able to get new players up and running quickly. In short, 3000 Scoundrels is a marvelous experience that I cannot wait to dive into again, and you won't regret trying either.

3000 Scoundrels pulls its name from its most inventive mechanic, and this will form the base of the overall experience. You'll hire Scoundrels from the Saloon and add them to your crew, and each one will cost a different amount of money and will contain a special ability, but it's the way in which you create and combine Scoundrels that makes the system unique.

(Photo: Unexpected Games)

Scoundrels are formed by combining a Job card and a Trait card, and Job cards are housed in sleeves that have a clear front. These are split into green, purple, and black Job decks, and once you shuffle both the Trait and Job decks you will create Scoundrels by putting the top Trait card with the top Job Card. Since these are all shuffled and only certain numbers of cards are used from game to game, your group of Scoundrels will likely be different every time, and as the game states in its title, there are 3000 variations between the two decks.

The character designs are incredibly charming and the various combinations can result in some fun mash-ups. The overall wild west aesthetic is also quite charming, and even your character boards feature stellar designs and big pops of color, and having your cards styled after beat-up playing cards is a nice cherry on top of the sundae. The stellar visuals wouldn't mean anything if the gameplay didn't deliver though, but 3000 Scoundrels doesn't let players down.

(Photo: ComicBook)

You'll quickly learn how to build upon your base abilities by choosing one card in your hand, and then you'll hire Scoundrels from the Saloon with their own abilities, and these correspond to those same cards in your hand. As you hire more Scoundrels your options will open up as will your avenues to victory, which is decided by whoever has the highest Tech Score. This ties into the game's central premise that you are all attempting to find The Traveler's left behind tech and gadgets in safes across three separate locations, and 3000 Scoundrels provides several ways in which to get the highest total.

Your Ace and 2 card abilities for instance allow you to look at a safe and mark it with a token (which can provide bonus points at the end of the game if accurate), though even if you don't have one of those cards on your turn you can still bluff and use it anyway. You can be called on that bluff though, which can net your opponent more Reputation and you less Reputation, and the Reputation Track gives you a Tech bonus at the end of the game. There are also Scoundrels that let you steal Safes from the three locations and then there are Scoundrels that let you even steal Safes unused in the game, and then certain Scoundrels also have their own bonus Tech values that you gain just by having them in your crew.

(Photo: ComicBook)

This versatility is one of the game's biggest strengths, as I always felt like I had several choices on any given turn that could benefit me in the long run. Bluffing also felt rewarding to pull off but didn't feel like a necessity to win, and some characters have abilities that you might want to use over just bluffing your way to victory. The game also has optional Leader Ability cards that can be added to your games, and while I would recommend just getting a feel for the gameplay without them in your first game, afterward I wouldn't ever play a game without them, as they just give you another option in which to move your point total forward.

Games play out over the course of 2 or 3 days, and for those who are familiar with the mechanics a 3 Day game is recommended and felt like a perfect amount of time to get the most out of the game's various mechanics without overstaying its welcome.

(Photo: ComicBook)

While 3000 Scoundrels will likely become an often replayed favorite in my house, there are ways the game could be spiced up even further. Unless you can mark a safe and then claim it within the same turn, it doesn't seem that beneficial to mark safes accurately. If a safe is a higher number (5 to 7), marking it with is actual number will net you 1 bonus Tech Point, but it's for anyone that steals that safe. That means you being honest could net your opponent 1 extra point, and while it isn't a huge number, games can be quite close, so 1 point can really make a difference. There's no penalty for not marking them accurately though, and since you can check your marked safes at any time, there's not much incentive to be honest there.

That's not really a huge flaw though, and honestly, that's being extremely nitpicky to find any fault with 3000 Scoundrels. 3000 Scoundrels is a thoroughly captivating experience that I would recommend to any playgroup and any style of player to at least try, and odds are they will end up having a grand time with by game's end. 3000 Scoundrels more than delivered on my high expectations, and I can't wait to make another trip to its delightful world.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Published By: Unexpected Games and Asmodee

Designed By: Corey Konieczka

Art By: David Ardila and Matijos Gebreselassie

3000 Scoundrels hits stores on October 7th and you can pre-order the game here.

Review copy provided by the publisher