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Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game

Yippee-Ki-Yay!!! The 1988 film that this game is based on has certainly been the cause of many heated arguments…should Die Hard be considered to be 'a Christmas film?'… well let me put that question to rest.. it certainly is and leave it there!

Warning!! If you haven’t seen the film than this is definitely going to be a spoiler to the whole story. This is a 2-4 player game, designed by Sean Fletcher and Patrick Marino, where 1-3 players are co-operating as the thieves led by the dastardly Hans Gruber trying to steal $640 million from the Nakatomi Plaza and then blowing up the roof of the building with all the hostages on top including the hero’s wife! Meanwhile, one player will play the good guy, street-smart New York city cop, John McClane (Bruce Willis) who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time trying to foil Han Gruber’s plans, rescue the hostages and save the day.

Like all great movies, the board is divided into three acts, with each act revealing the next part in the story. John McClane and the thieves all have their own objectives during each act, with the third act setting the scene for the final showdown. The player playing John McClane has their own deck for each act and can add to their deck from previous acts, giving John more actions choices, but John's deck is also a timer... If his deck ever run out, John dies and the bad guys win! John needs to survive all three acts, complete his objectives in each act and then push Hans Gruber out the window in the final act (spoiler)!

John draws five cards during his turn and should he ever get down to two cards in his hand he has to discard those cards and draw back up to five. Only played cards can be added to the next act, not John’s discarded or unused cards. The thieves have their own deck and draw three cards each and each play one to unlock the six levels of the lock to the Nakatomi vault and then set charges in the final act to blow up the roof. They cannot talk to each other when choosing cards to play and they take it turns being Hans Gruber who decides on how to carry out the actions. The thieves can discuss actions after all the cards are revealed simultaneously with John’s chosen card.

These cards can show a range of actions from movement, fighting with a punch or shooting, or, for John, also being able to sneak undetected and recover cards. The thieves have to unlock the vault using their cards, which means covering up random numbers from a grid of cards until all locks are covered and they can move onto the next lock. If John finishes his objectives and gets to the goal spot, the act finishes and the next act begins. If John kills any of the thieves, they can forgo their actions to bring back another thief but they can take no more actions that round. Killing a thief or wounding John depends on a die roll being higher than the card action value. The thieves don’t need to complete their act objectives as these will just give them a bonus but John must complete his act objectives to advance to the next stage.

This game is extremely thematic. It’s very easy to set up each round and the graphics are fairly simple with lots of silhouette characters rather than images from the movie, probably due to a rights issue, but it's an effective style all the same. It’s fairly easy to understand what players are doing and the actions are very clear tho' I would say that this game definitely plays best and is more fun with four players.

Has this Die Hard game got the potential for replayability? Well, the movie still excites on repeat viewing and, astonishingly, that's now almost a third of a century after its original release! Perhaps like the film, you'll at least want to bring this game out once a year at Christmas time, and it'll no doubt whet your appetite for watching the film and its sequels once again. Sure, the game can feel slightly repetitive in that John's objectives don't change, although the order can always vary. As the hero famously exclaims, 'How can the same s*** happen to the same guy twice?' Well with this game it certainly can and maybe, if you are a fan of the films, you might just be glad that it can.

(Review by Andy Solanky)

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