One of the coolest things about physical tabletop games is just how tactile they are. You move pieces, toss dice, draw cards, place tiles, and/or have some cool meeples or other pieces to move around. But there’s only so much an affordable tabletop game can do. For example, the new tiles you walk across can’t be raised up by a super cool mechanism, flipped out to reveal what’s on it, and then pulled back in place for you. Real tabletop games also don’t raise tiles up, let you run around them, or allow you to run around dungeons to collect gold and loot while dodging traps and jumping over sudden death pits.
Welcome to the world of Light Fingers, a 2-4 player digital tabletop game. Will you be quick and nimble enough to collect the loot before your friends?
Title: Light Fingers
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by developer
Interface: Handheld console with attached joycons (solo), on TV with individual joycons (two player)
Available on Nintendo Switch
What do skulking thieves do after a night of procuring shady spoils? They gather at a favourite tavern and wager it away on a friendly game of Light Fingers!
Played on a magical clockworks game board, this turn-based multiplayer game has real-time action and devious opportunities for misdirection, all in the pursuit of securing more loot than your opponents.
Light Fingers is a challenge to 2-4 thieves to see who can collect a specific amount of loot and return it safely to thieves camp first. Rounds begin with all of the players rolling dice, then taking turns moving around the board. At first, only the royal vault and your starting space are revealed, but as you move around the board you’ll discover all sorts of spaces. Roads lead to towns, but going off of the beaten path can lead to dungeons, cemeteries, hidden shops, and more. The goal of the game is to get bags of loot, but you can buy bigger dice and cards from shops, and you can play any card you’ve got once a turn to help yourself out or punish your enemies. You’ll get one loot from robbing a shop, two from reaching the end of a dungeon, and I honestly don’t know how much you get from crypts or the royal vault because they’re so difficult!
Getting loot is the goal, but it’s also what brings on trouble. Each time you get loot you’ll get a new set of guards that are solely after you, and after each player moves, the guards get a turn too. Guards will follow the roads until they get near enough that they have to go off of it to find you, giving players another reason to keep off of them. Guards will take loot from any player they come across, but if they catch the person they’re after, that player will also lose a turn. To keep loot safe (and to win the game), you’ll need to return it to the thieves camp. However, this location moves around every few times that guards are called (to keep it hidden from them), so players can really screw each other over by causing it to move right before a player stashes their loot.
The game is about as fast-paced as it sounds, but what sets Light Fingers apart from other games is the amount of style in the game. The thing that really sold me on the game was the art style in that trailer up there; seeing the board spaces flip out, raise up, and drop back down is really epic. Entering a building causes it to fold open, and you run up to the shopkeeper’s treasure chest and punch it to rob them before diving off of the square to escape. This all gives the entire game a very 3D feel, but at the same time the fancy graphics never slow the game down. You aren’t stuck waiting forever for each tile to pop up and reveal itself, and turns move quickly as well. Even dungeon runs let every player partake as opponents can grab levers to work the various traps and devices inside.
Light Fingers also has a cooperative mode – Dungeon Rush – where players run through progressively more difficult dungeons without all of the board game stuff in between. Gold in this mode accumulates until it hits the amount Guild Master Kaw is looking for, which unlocks a new card in the primary board game mode. Each completed dungeon allows you access to harder and harder dungeons, but often the harder dungeons are also loaded with far more gold. The dungeons gave me a real Hand of Fate vibe, due to both the audio and the graphics, but I wasn’t a big fan of them and my gal didn’t like them at all. She has depth perception issues with camera angles like this, meaning that she fell in pits often and had to wait for me to die or complete the dungeon before she could play again. In the board game mode, she actually handed me the controller when she went into a dungeon, and I’d feel pretty terrible any time I didn’t get her the loot despite her purposely working the traps in a way that helped me out.
The game is a bit repetitive despite some basic customization options, but I think it’s because it was just the two of us playing. I’ve watched some videos of four people playing together and the game looks SO MUCH BETTER. Dungeons are ridiculous with so many people wildly working the traps, the thieves guild moves way more often, and there are people looting shops and messing with each other nonstop. If I could wish for only one more thing on Light Fingers, it would be to add AI opponents. While I wouldn’t use it anyway, an online mode would be nice for lots of folks I’m sure as well. Finally, while it might be a trickier thing to add, I would love to see a team-based mode where teams of two thieves face off against one another.
Despite these issues, Light Fingers is a pretty sweet game for $20. It doesn’t have any less replayability than other board games – both physical and digital ones – but it’s a bit hard to recommend it for people who play the game with only two players. If Numizmatic ever adds AI/bot players, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat and come back to play way more! And with an update being teased literally as I’m writing this review and one released late October 2018 that added new tile spaces, new functionality to another, a new type of dungeon, new fall colors, and new cards, anything is possible!