Calvin’s Commentaries: Get Adler
London, 1937 — Intelligence has discovered that Top-Secret documents are missing. So, too, is MI6 Agent Adler. The only clue is an intercepted message: “Trafalgar at seven.” MI5 Agent Gold, Inspector Sharpe of Scotland Yard, and Constable Townsend have been thrown this task: “Find and eliminate Adler.” They’ve got seven hours.
So starts the introduction to Get Adler from designer Randy Thompson and the Canadian publisher Caper Games.
Originally released in 2016, the game is getting a new edition and is on Kickstarter until April 11, but I’m sure the new edition will be available for a while as it has already reached its funding goal.
The company website (www.capergames.ca) describes the game as “a multi-player card game in which secret characters investigate each other to unmask Adler. Once the traitor is revealed, the game transforms into an action-packed race against time to eliminate Adler and to recover top-secret documents.”
So up front, you have to be a certain type of gamer for Get Adler. There are certain people who are not into the mental exercise of deduction style games, and they are not necessarily a good fit for every gaming group.
But, a good thing about Get Adler is its versatility, playing from four-to-eight players. That makes the game quite adaptable for a gaming group. Those who like deduction games can play Get Adler, the couple that don’t can opt to play cribbage, (never a bad alternate choice in my world).
So what is a key element in Get Adler?
“We always seem to get at least one new innovative twist into our games,” he said via email. “With Get Adler! the interesting thing is that there are two distinct parts that work very well together. The first few rounds are all about trying to deduce who Adler is.
“But the last few rounds (after he is found out!) it’s all about trying to catch him. If you try to arrest him, he will most likely play an escape card: a motor-car, or jump on the bus, or take a bike, or take the tube or take a boat along the Thames. The good guys can match the escape card! Adler can then play another one, and then another hero can match it. “There is also a shootout and Adler can throw a bomb. So the escape and chase is the best element.”
Just as background Thomson grew up in beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. “Looking back on my childhood, I can remember inventing games,” he states in his online bio.
“At around 9 and 10 years of age, I used to sit down outside and show hockey cards to my beloved dog Spotty. I also made mini baseball games in the dirt with sticks and small pebbles. And best of all, I used to cut out those same hockey cards and play hockey at the kitchen table, with a silver ball for the puck: the foil from my mother’s cigarette package.”
As of 2017, he has designed seven games and authored two books.
But back to Get Adler; I am always fascinated with how a game comes to exist in the first place.
“My girlfriend and I were watching a few episodes of Sherlock Holmes from Britain, starring Jeremy Brett (Granada TV),” explained Thomson. “At some point around this time the idea popped into my head. I always thank God for any new idea I get. I still remember drawing out the first four characters on cut out bristle-board: Inspector Sharpe, MI5 agent Gold, Constable Townsend and double-agent Adler. Gold was also inspired by Laura Holt from Remington Steele.”
“We worked on Get Adler! for two years,” said Thompson. “I drew out the first characters in early 2014. I really wanted a female character in the story line, and created Sarah Gold from MI5.
“We Kickstarted the first edition of Get Adler! in January 2016. In early 2017, we Kickstarted the Premium Edition and currently we are on Kickstarter with our Signed Edition (just raising extra funds for shipping and customs).”
There were of course a few bumps on the design road.
“Originally the game was designed for four players, but a distributor in Britain asked us if it would be possible to expand the game to six players,” said Thompson. “So I had to come up with two additional characters. Although characters five and six were easier for me than (eventually), characters seven and eight. Character five became Kate Collins, an accomplice for Adler. She is now essential to the game. I am so glad I was challenged to come up with more characters. Russian good-guy agent Tarasov became character six. I love them all.”
And there was of course the hurdle of money.
“As a small Indie publisher the biggest hurdle was raising money to manufacture,” said Thompson. “I had never done a Kickstarter before, so that was very interesting. And thankfully we funded.
“What I learned, though, is that shipping and customs can add lots of extra costs, and you have to be ready for that. You are manufacturing and shipping not only for your backers, but for the rest of the games you will need to sell that year. I’m very thankful for Kickstarter.”
The cards look great, with a sort of ‘vintage British’ feel to them, which works perfectly.
But I have to say with Adler in the name I would have loved this to be a full blown Holmesian game. I recognize such rights might have been nearly impossible to acquire but it would have added an extra layer of interest for me.
The greatest strength though goes back to the four-to-eight player option. Not many games easily accommodate such a range.
As designer Thompson remains happy with his creation now that it has been out in the hands of the gaming public.
“Love it,” he said. “We always listen to feedback and then try to improve the rules with any new edition. We did that with the Premium Edition, so I think that overall the rules and gameplay are excellent. It is our best game to this point.”
And just as a hint for what might come next.
“We are just finishing up our playtesting for Vertium – a strategic game of space colonization,” said Thomson. “We have a teacher in the USA who is playtesting it at the moment. We have tested it and developed it a lot. There are two phases in this game also. The first part is all about competing with other factions as you try to colonize the planets of Coper in Quadrant 1 of the Milky Way. The second phase is all about battling for those planets. We have an excellent new mechanic that has to do with moons, but you will have to wait till the Kickstarter to see that.”