Full disclosure: A review copy was kindly provided to me by Side Room Games.
The Kickstarter campaign page for Maquis can be found here.
What is Maquis about?
Maquis, designed by Jake Staines, is a solitaire worker placement game in which you are the French Resistance during WWII. It has already had a previous life as a celebrated PnP and app, but Maquis is now being published by Side Room Games. It's a small-box game that packs a pretty big punch. Each game, you will draw two missions, which you will need to complete within a limited timeframe. To complete tasks and gather supplies, you must place members of the Resistance at various locations throughout the city. But be careful! There are several chokepoints around key locations, and for every worker you place, you will also place a police officer—one who is cooperating with the Nazis and who will make sure you never come home. If all of your workers are imprisoned, if you can't complete your missions within 15 days, or if your village loses all of its morale under the Occupation, you will lose the game.
There are some fun twists that add spice to a game of Maquis. If you are blocked by a police patrol on the way home and have acquired a weapon, you can use it to shoot the patrol and make it home. However, weapons are scarce, and dead patrol officers are replaced by soldiers who cannot be killed and who decrease your town's morale. Also, you can try to control locations by blocking them off with your own workers—you won't typically place two meeples in the same spot on the city map. However, if a patrol officer cannot be placed, he will attempt to make an arrest. (Yikes!)
Most interesting, however, may be the use of "spare rooms" that you can activate in designated spaces during the game. Need an extra safe room? A chemist who can make explosives? Spare rooms can help you customize a game of Maquis to get the resources you need.
Things I like about Maquis
Maquis is the most exciting worker placement game I have played in a while. The drama of sneaking around the city while having your Resistance members work together to avoid the police makes for a tense and thrilling experience. Every time you turn over a patrol card to see where your enemies will go, you'll feel a little nervous. The costs of failure are brutal, because you can't get your Resistance members out of jail if they are arrested. Maquis is also quick enough to never outstay its welcome, as well as portable enough to be enjoyed just about anywhere. The variability of the missions will push you get to know the game better, play it smarter, and choose resources—and spare rooms you build—as wisely as you can.
Possible concerns about Maquis
One of the biggest selling points for Maquis is its small size and portability. It is possible, however, that its size may eventually become a detriment. There are not very many mission cards, so even if you always draw two randomly and see several combinations of them, you might feel a little burnt out if you play a lot and feel like you are pulling the same missions again and again. Additionally, while Maquis is a difficult game, there are a few tried and true strategies that I find myself using repeately, although with variations.
Should I back it?
I definitely want a copy of Maquis for my collection. It's a quick, fun, and challenging solitaire game—one that shows just how intense a worker placement game can be!
If you want to check out some gameplay, click below for my preview video!