Because my life has been lacking in frustration lately, I’m taking a look at Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave – the new standalone/expansion to the original (from designer A.J.Porfirio and publisher Van Ryder Games) that I hate-loved so much. We’re talking new abductors, new conversation cards, new demands, and new terror cards.
Going up on Kickstarter Monday, 7/25 (we’ll link when it’s up), this new version of Hostage Negotiator is bigger in every way – given the success of the campaign, the plans are for bigger dice, bigger board, bigger pawns, and a bigger box designed to hold everything – including the original box itself. Still, at its core, Crime Wave sticks to the intimidatingly difficult gameplay core of the original.
Basically it’s more Hostage Negotiator.
**Kickstarter Prototype Alert – Van Ryder provided us these cards for preview, but the Kickstarter will likely bring upgraded dice/boards/components, so nothing’s final. You’ve been advised!**
Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave can be just as intense and nail-biting as the original, with the dice and the cards seemingly always working against you. That means it can be as frustrating as it is enjoyable, but that’s what made the original so great.
There are differences, of course. The basic Conversation cards are functionally identical in both versions; however the rest vary from being slightly similar to completely different. The same can be said for the Abductors, who each have their own special rules, starting scenarios, and Major Demands to consider. Same deal with the Terror cards.
Alert! Tokens (not included in our preview copy, so we used stand-ins) are also new, though they serve purely as a reminder of ongoing effects rather than an honest-to-goodness added mechanic. To be honest they aren’t even all that necessary, though if you have trouble keeping track of things like temporary effects amidst all the dice rolling and hostage rescuing you’ll probably appreciate their inclusion.
The nuance of the cards is what really sets Crime Wave apart from its predecessor. The quirks of each of the three new Abductors are interesting. One has no Major Demand but she’s desperate to run and will likely end up with several Escape Demands by the halfway point. Another begins very calm and collected, but if things are too calm she’s likely to get agitated very quickly (this makes rescuing hostages by reducing the Threat Level incredibly tricky). The third one, well, he’s something of a powder keg who starts the game with the highest threat level and one fatality.
It is possible to combine both the first game and Crime Wave together, though you probably want to follow the rulebook’s suggestion and not simple shuffle everything together – there’s a chance it could severely skew the balance. Thankfully, there’s a handy guide in the back that talks about the best ways to merge the two, so veteran negotiators will still be able to enjoy the challenges of the original game along with the new components.
Rob: I’m finding it really weird to come to any sort of conclusion other than “it’s more of the same, but a little bit different.” I know that seems like a cop-out, but I honestly can’t sum it up better than that.
Andrew: That’s fair, but I honestly have no problem with that. Just as with the Abductor Packs for the original, Crime Wave seems like it is just there to extend your core Hostage Negotiator experience (if you’re a veteran) or give you a solid jumping-on point if you’ve never played the original. More of the same? Maybe, a bit. But more of what works isn’t a bad thing.
Rob: Fair enough. As I said, Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave is practically identical to the first game on a surface level, and while there are a ton of subtle differences throughout, the overall experience remains the same. It’s thematic, intense, frustrating, and a solid single player experience.
Andrew: And considering that the folks at Van Ryder teased us with something special in every copy that will, and I quote, “blow people’s minds”, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this one.
(Thanks to VanRyder for providing our Kickstarter prototype for preview. Their generosity didn’t influence our opinions)