We've been working through our backlog of games and one of the games from the UnboxBoardom selection last year was Prowler’s Passage. Since we’re always on the lookout for great two player games, we gave it a shot.
Prowler’s Passage is a two player game where each player tries to control a number of districts while placing tunnels throughout the city and collecting items at the same time. Scoring is done based on the items collected and districts controlled. Controlling districts is a tug of war with the opposing player and based on what districts you control, your scoring strategy will be different.
The artwork looks good but the theme can sometimes feel inconsistent and distracting. Each of the players are supposed to be thieves prowling around a town at night digging tunnels. When a player builds a tunnel, they can place it anywhere on the board which implies that they are building all across the city. With this theme, we would expect something like you need to build out from your existing paths since you can’t just teleport to a different part of the city. At its core, this is an abstract strategy game with an attempt to dress it up with a theme, but the theme can sometimes bring up more questions rather than immersing the player more into the game. If you play the game as an abstract strategy game, then you can really enjoy its gameplay without worrying about the theme.
The first play through takes a little work as there are a lot of potential strategies to think about along with trying to understand the theme. However, once you power through the first game, it becomes a lot clearer what to do when. The basic action is placing a tunnel, collecting the item, and moving districts. After a long break of not playing, one could easily pick it up, skim through the rulebook and enjoy the game.
There are several different strategies players can use to win in the game. Not only are each of the 5 districts that you can control very different in their scoring, one also needs to plan when to score them as there is a scoring round in the middle of the game. Because the game is a tug of war on the districts, ones you control at mid-game may not be under your control at the end. The scoring is very balanced so even if it seems like your strategy may be failing, you could still be close to beating your opponent. The choice of strategy will change your gameplay and there are many paths to victory.
Because of the various ways to achieve victory and the easy to pick up rules, the game lends itself to being played several times. It is a good two player game which is rare to find these days, but it takes slightly longer to set up than other two player games. This is a game we would pick up when we want a more in depth two player game instead of a quick one.
Prowler’s Passage is a deep two player abstract strategy game, but the theme feels distracting. The rules are fairly easy to pick up and most importantly, remember. If you ignore the theme, the game is very enjoyable and will keep you wanting to try out different strategies to beat your opponent.