Burncycle promises robot Ocean’s 11, but delivers drudgery instead

The soft hum of servers and the whirr of sentry drones are broken up by the clicking actuators of your robotic team of infiltrators. Through a maze of corridors and corporate offices, avoid detection and break into rooms to gain access to the company’s secure operations in order to shut them down.

That is firing cycle, the latest release from publisher Chip Theory Games, a small studio known for its slick designs and chunky components that include signature plastic chips and miles of neoprene mats. It’s a fully cooperative experience, with up to four players working together in a complex stealth-based tactical game.

Polygon got a chance to preview the game ahead of this year’s Gen Con in Indianapolis and, similar to Chip Theory’s previous title, Cloudspire, we found an elaborate game of enormous scope. In the various scenarios, you traverse one to three floors, each of which corresponds to a small dungeon in width. This can be quite a commitment as the longest option takes three or four hours to fully complete. Of course, there are shorter missions, but even these present a cerebral challenge of juggling multiple subsystems and processes.

Burncycle designed to be played on the table.

firing cycle makes excellent use of Chip Theory’s signature poker chip tokens, giving the game a powerful feel.
Image: Chip Theory Games

Mastering the ruleset takes multiple games and a heavy dose of dedication. Players take turns performing actions limited by the burn cycle of the same name. This is a row of chips on a sideboard that you pull from a bag and manipulate throughout the game. Each represents an action, with certain chips enhancing certain action types such as terminal or movement. This approach greatly influences the tactical approach you construct each turn and how you tackle the obstacles on your current floor of the building you are trying to infiltrate. In addition, the burn cycle degrades over time and requires maintenance from players as fragmented chips are replaced with new options.

Dice are rolled to perform each of these burncycle actions as you move through corridors, interact with the board, and even occasionally take apart an enemy sentry post or two. Shifts come quickly as there are processes to break into locked doors, alert guards, explore rooms, and manage energy. Enemies have their own activation phase and priority system, track recently discovered invaders, or move on a patrol path.

A player's sideboard, an edge-sewn neoprene mat.

Chip Theory has also swapped cardboard components for neoprene where possible to give the game a luxurious feel.
Image: Chip Theory Games

We are not finished yet. There’s an entirely separate mini-game that represents the digital portion of your team’s heist. You move your character’s pings across an interconnected network, avoiding detection by the AI ​​opponent while balancing your priorities between the physical and simulated digital gameplay. This is done to lower the threat level, another system that affects how the environment reacts. There are other things like B. a Command Module robot shared by players, items to use, and personal goals called Imperatives.

Sometimes it’s just too much. It can feel more procedural and artisanal than entertaining or dramatic. I would compare large parts of the game to the emotional resonance of actually writing software or doing database management, which is hard to reconcile with the promise of a robot ocean 11. Too much time is spent waiting in rooms to avoid patrolling sentries or fumbling with side distractions as opposed to actual, meaningful progression.

A few stacks of Chip Theory chips in a clear plastic case.

Custom pack-ins help keep track of components.
Image: Chip Theory Games

At its core, however, lies a deep and rewarding mystery. Unraveling this riddle is a cognitively engaging experience that offers great satisfaction when you emerge on the other side. It works especially well as a solitary endeavor where you can exit the game setup and return to the problem at your own pace. It’s also surprisingly modular, offering a ton of variable content like new bots, businesses, and scenarios to shake up the game. These interlocking options are the game’s greatest strength and allow for easy expansion with additional aftermarket options. The core box is huge in itself – and expensive, only costing $150 for the base game alone – but the overall system has legs and the publisher has shown commitment through ongoing support.

firing cycle is a unique and rich tabletop experience that requires a heavy investment from its players. It is a very appealing product with eye-catching looks and stylish tabletop presence. Publisher Chip Theory Games is in the middle of its second crowdfunding campaign for the title, this time on Gamefound, where the boxed game and all of its expansion packs are available for pre-order. Delivery is expected by March 2023.

https://www.polygon.com/23291283/burncycle-board-game-review-impressions Burncycle promises robot Ocean’s 11, but delivers drudgery instead

Charles Jones

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