The first James Bond board game of this generation turns players into supervillains

James Bond has largely been absent from the modern board game revolution, but that’s about to change with SPECTRE: The Board Game from Modiphius Entertainment. The catch is you won’t be playing 007 or any other MI6 agent. Instead, you will choose between classic Bond villains such as Ernst Stavro Blofeld (You Only Live Twice), Rosa Klebb (From Russia, with Love), and Raoul Silva (Skyfall).

Modiphius Entertainment has established itself as a strong design studio in the tabletop industry. It has released hit titles such as the miniatures game Fallout: Wasteland Warfare and the role-playing game Star Trek Adventures. It also has Dune and Homeworld RPGs on the way.

SPECTRE: The Board Game has you and up to three of your most villainous friends competing to become Number 1 of the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion (SPECTRE), the sinister organization in constant opposition to James Bond throughout the series and the namesake of the 2015 film.

The team behind this title is impressive. One half is the French design studio Kaedama, consisting of Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, and Théo Rivière. The other half is the Modiphius group of Stefano Guerriero, Javier Angeriz-Caburrasi, and Juan Echenique. Among these designers’ credits are classics such as 7 Wonders, Hanabi, and Cash ’n Guns.

In SPECTRE: The Board Game you will pursue various schemes by placing your villain and enforcer pawns on action spaces. While there is an array of common locations on the central board, each unique villain sheet has its own set of spaces you can trigger. Some begin restricted at the outset of play and will be unlocked over the course of the game. The actions themselves are derived from the various movies but are also reimagined to co-exist and enrich the experience at the heart of the design.

While 007 is not the center of the game, he will foil your schemes and hinder your progress as you attempt to complete secret plans and bring your evil machinations to light. The secret agent moves about the board based on a die roll, blocking actions and forcing strategic flexibility. But he can also pay a visit to the villains. When this occurs players must reveal one of their secret plans to the other villains at the table. This cleverly references the series tradition of the antagonists spilling the beans on their master plan before actually executing it.

Bond cannot totally derail your headway, however, as utter defeat is impossible. There is a clear philosophy of refraining from aggressively damaging your accomplishments or inflicting overly negative progression. This allows for a larger focus on the internal struggles of the criminal organization as the most prominent villains vie for the coveted position at the top.

According to Modiphius co-founder Chris Birch, SPECTRE: The Board Game is also highly interactive.

“When a player takes a spot on the board prior to other players, they block them from taking that spot (either with their villain or their henchman pawns), which could hinder the strategy of any players taking their turn afterwards,” Birch told Polygon via email. “Furthermore, some scheme actions could involve stealing resources from your opponent — Blofeld’s ‘Racket’ — or even removing other player’s agents from the board — Silva’s ‘Takeover’.”

He also points out that completing all of your schemes is not necessary as there are multiple paths to victory.

“Different strategies can be pursued in order to become Number 1,” Birch said. “Completing the schemes is just one of them, but not the only one. We leave it to the player to discover their favourite strategy, and to have the chance to adapt to an ever-changing landscape.”

A James Bond game would also be incomplete without a large suite of toys. The game features a wide range of recognizable weapons and locations from the films. Of particular interest is the ability to assemble devices, constructing menacing machinery like a superlaser as a strategic consideration.

Combine those material pursuits with the social elements of spying on your peers or executing blackmail, and the game seeks to create an atmosphere of nefarious immersion. This isn’t simply about accomplishing a small task list of goals, it’s about establishing a criminal empire and gaining immense power.

One of the most exciting prospects for this game is the fundamental twist of the classic Bond villain actually succeeding. While this has never occurred on screen, players embark on a re-imagining of these vintage moments where they are empowered to corrode the foundations of society. The idea of besting the iconic MI6 agent is a novel objective and turns the recurrent themes of the franchise on their head.

SPECTRE: The Board Game will be coming to retail in spring 2022.

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