Captivade Board Game Box

Captivade, 4 agents, 4 Criminals, buy it for you?

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Captivade was sent to me at my request. I saw the game for sale on Amazon and felt that it could be an interesting review however, I had obviously splurged my monthly board game budget on the 1st as I do every month.

Captivade then is a mash-up of Capture and Evade which is an incredibly apt name for this game as that is exactly what you will be doing.

Captivade Board Game Play Session


Set up is quick and simple. Take the board and place it in the centre of the table, pass each player a reference card and a map so they can track their hidden movements, players then select their Agent and Respective escapee and using the not provided pens, fill out the start of their journal, place the action deck next to the board and place the prison card next to that. Add the agents’ tokens to the board in London and the escapees to the outside of the prison, and now you’re ready to play Captivade.

The game has an asymmetrical start with one of the escapees starting at £1000 and the others all starting at £600. This is not explained other than Ruby Red is wealthy. During play, we have not found a reason for this disparity so I can only assume something was discovered in playtesting that meant one lucky sod starting with an extra £400.

Captivade Board Game Play Session

Captivade gameplay

The gameplay is broken down into 3 phases which are Run, Roll, and Chase. We added a fourth phase when we played with my 74-year-old mother which was Explain. The Explain round was played at the start and end of every phase and again sporadically throughout the game.

The first real phase is Run, this is the point where the escapees move to a new location. On your turn, you can stay where you are or move to a location up to two connections away.

Connections are the locations on the map that are connected via lines. The dotted lines between locations are shortcuts that allow an escapee’ of the same colour as the two locations to move through. They are difficult journeys and no one else would be able to make the crossing.

As well as moving between the locations that are connected together you could, if you have enough money, take a flight to another airport. Each flight, no matter where it goes costs £300 so each escapee can take two flights whilst Ruby Red can take 3 and still have £100 in the bank.

Once again, this is an unfair advantage and in our playtime, we could not work out why this was.

The second phase is Roll. When all the escapees have arrived at their final location you record the number in your journal and roll a die. This first dice has colours on it, Roll your own colour or the colour of the location you are currently at then you have been spotted and need to roll the number die to find out how many weeks ago you were spotted.

Refer to your journal and place your pawn on the location you were at that many weeks (rounds) ago.

You track the weeks on a nifty little calendar which is an addition that adds to the theme but could have been tracked on the board using a token to save costs and clutter. Not that Captivade is an expensive game. At the time of writing it is available on Amazon for £27.99.

Now, after the escapees have Run and Rolled it is time for the Chase. You also control the agents, and each player controls an agent that is sympathetic to their colour escapee. Important because the agent you control is the only way your escapee can gain money.

The agents can stay where they are or move up to three locations or two locations and take a flight. Agents do not pay for flights, I guess that makes them the real criminals but those are the rules.

Agents cannot use the dotted routes which are considered too challenging to take but any number of agents can occupy a single location.

Captivade Board Game Play Session

Capturing the Escapees

So the agents are very busy and only have time to search the last two locations they were at. If the escapee was at either of these locations they are considered spotted and must roll the colour die. If they do not roll their own colour, they are captured. The agent transports the escapee back to prison and they cannot search more that round.

Does it work?

Captivade is a great concept and should be fun. The components are reasonable if a little flimsy but far better than some first-time projects I have played.

The gameplay is almost excellent but ultimately something very fundamental is missing from the game and I believe it needs a few more months of development before it is ready for launch.

The concept is great, Captivade should be a tense experience of cat and mouse with elements of social deduction but there is just something missing that leaves you feeling a little flat.

You think there will be situations when you ask questions like “Why is your agent going there when clearly the escapees are over here?” and then revelations “Ohh sneaky you are slipping money to your con so, therefore, I am following!”

During the many 2, 3 and 4-player games, I have played this has never happened, to me or to anyone I have played with.

In the first few games, I was continually checking the manual as I felt that something was amiss, I concluded that I had not understood the rules, which could do with a little more clarification on certain points.

Why does Ruby Red have more money? Why is the first game only 6 rounds when we have never caught anyone using deduction in 10 rounds? Why would knowing where a player was three weeks ago help when you could have taken three flights by then?

These are only a few of the issues that we faced when playing but we kept playing because there is a game here, it’s just missing a few things that would improve it vastly.

Captivade Board Game Play Session

Could it be better?

There should be more ways to discover the routes the escapees have taken and airports should be red flag areas where the escapee is always spotted.

Adding an airport alarm and, for example, not allowing the flight to leave until the next round would mean that taking a flight, instead of a way to never be captured, would be a way to give away your current location and represent that the airports become a focus for the agents looking for people arriving when an alert at another airport is triggered.

Every time you are spotted it should be last week. Where were you last week would mean that evasion is harder and therefore moving around a lot is riskier but essential. This is the tension you need to make Captivade better and it’s this tension that hidden movement games offer.

There are some aspects that I have left out of the rules until now because they are good and should remain. If you roll a colour of the location you are at that is not your colour you have to reveal the zone you were in a specific number of weeks ago. This rule should be “reveal the zone you are currently in”.

When you roll the dice and the colour doesn’t match either you or your location you have to draw an event card. Well in the manual they are called event cards but in-game they have Action Card printed on the back so be warned of the disparity and you won’t have an issue.

Either way, some of these cards are a great idea, shutting down a specific airport or trapping an escapee in a zone, for example, adds to the tension for the escapees and would add excitement for the agents should who should be able to react faster to these events.

If you are in the USA, let’s say Alberta, and you discover that someone is trapped in Zone E until the next turn, you want to get there and search immediately, in the current rule set it makes no difference because you are at least two turns from getting to Beijing Airport.

This could be made all the worse if Beijing is shut down, now you have to get to Dubai airport before you can search Zone E. At that time the escape could have left via Dubai airport or headed to Zone F and Sydney airport.

We did capture each other a few times through sheer luck. At this point, the player’s escapee character is out of the game and the agent who captured them is also out of action for one week. They return to play in the next round but there appears to be no reward for the agent that captures an escapee, there should be an incentive to be the capturing agent like private intel on the other escapees or additional moves.

So, the last point of, pointlessness, is, who wins and why should we work together to capture the escapees?

If your escapee is captured can you still win by capturing the other escapees or does that just make everyone a loser?

Captivade Board Game Play Session

Should you buy Captivade?

This is a hard question to answer. After speaking with the developers a little I have to say that they are open to making changes and seem very keen to receive feedback.

I also have to consider that a small company just won’t have the resources to play test their game as thoroughly as a large one so I do not want to be harsh about Captivade, however, Captivade is not, in my opinion, ready for sale.

I personally think the game needs a few tweaks to add excitement and tension. Perhaps even separating the roles and having locations that the escapee visits to obtain funds rather than the agents. Again, as with all my suggestions, this needs to be tested.

Please be assured that if the rules are changed, if there are addendums and additions that shore up the problems mentioned then Captivade has the potential to be a fun game with the tension needed for a hidden movement game that I would be happy to bring to the table.  

Captivade Board Game Play Session

In Summary

Captivade could be great fun but unfortunately misses the mark by a few feet. A few changes and some play testing could see Captivade become a family favourite.