Updated: Jan 13
In Counterfeiters, players are forging bank notes. These are of varying quality, initially easily passed off at the supermarket. As you take a succession of worker placement actions with your three animal henchmen to develop and expand your printing equipment, you can forge more and better quality notes that will net more from money launderers. You can only buy assets and equipment using real money (the sellers are too savvy to be fooled by your counterfeit bank notes) and the aim is to accumulate more genuine cash than your opponents. Ideally you'll be squirrelling as much of your real money as you can safely away in the Caribbean, where it will be outside the grasp of a crime boss who will periodically demand 50% of all the genuine cash that you haven't managed to smuggle out of the country.
Counterfeiters is designed by Olivier Bourgeois, with art by Ian O'Toole, and it's published in a packed compact book-sized box by Quined Games. There's some iconography to decode but Counterfeiters can be learnt quickly and it plays intuitively. The theme comes through strongly, with police progress on a police track gradually closing down operations, triggering the crime boss' visits and eventually determining the end of the game.
Players may be in contention for desirable spots to send their henchmen, and players can manipulate the police track so as to adversely affect an opponent, but, in the main, this is a game where players can concentrate principally on maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of their own engine for printing and passing off counterfeit notes without worrying overly about the 'take that' element.
It's especially good to see such an accessible worker placement, engine-building game that can be played to completion with 2–4 players in around 30 minutes, so Counterfeiters is definitely one to look out for. Just be sure you only accept the genuine article!