Play starts by laying down the mine entrance card and three destination gold cards 7 card spaces away. Only one of those destinations has gold in it. You then take turns drawing a card that determines who the saboteur is.
Each player is dealt seven cards which represent different directions of tunnels you can lay down and a range of event cards that can help or hinder the other players. The aim is to take turns to lay these cards to get to the destination with the gold.
The clever twist is that one of the event cards lets you look at one of the destinations and confirm whether it contains the gold and in so doing direct your teammates to the correct card. Of course, if you are the saboteur you may decide to misdirect the other players to the wrong card. However, if you do that, and another player checks the same destination card it will give away your role -- unless you can convince the other players that it's not you but the other player who is lying.
A full game consists of 3 rounds of the above, each round ending upon the discovery or failure to discover the gold. Failure happens if nobody has reached the gold destination, the draw pile of cards has run out and nobody can play any more cards in their hand.
The result is a game that starts as a path-laying challenge that soon evolves into a devious game of cat and mouse with the saboteur. Winning or losing often relies on how convincing you can be that you are not the saboteur -- a combination of what you've said and the cards you've played that may or may not persuade the other dwarves.
Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Saboteur 23 months ago. It was re-examined by Ellen Robertson and updated yesterday.
- Play with three people.
- Have your hand face up so you know who the saboteur is.
- Play out the round, highlighting how the saboteur may play to trick the others.
Play Time: This game will take between 25 minutes and half an hour to complete. If there is a lot of spoken debate about who to trust some rounds can last longer. Also, if the saboteur is cunning they can also prolong the round by laying cards that force the dwarves to take a long route requiring more goes.
8+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Young children need to be able to cope with other players lying to them. Also, some of the more nuanced relational aspects of the game may be lost on them. Still, a young player can still enjoy the game particularly if the other players are accommodating. They often love being the saboteur.