Osprey Games brings us Escape from Colditz! This is probably the most interesting board game I’ve had the pleasure of playing, in large part because of the mythos and history surrounding it. This alone creates a great deal of intrigue and appeal. This game has, therefore, been a great success for decades upon decades since its release in 1973. These years have also accounted for countless developments in remastering (not recreating) to produce something “new” yet still a solid piece of remembrance regarding the initial game and history therein. Even though there are new changes to the rules, the creators of the game decided to give us the original rules, too, so we can tell the difference and play a better game. Thus, we get to relive the escape.
The game comes with a separate book labeled “History,” to tell players a little bit about Colditz and the mythos around the game. Nonetheless, I’m going to give a very short overview of what Colditz was. Colditz Castle was a Renaissance Castle in Germany. It gained international fame was Oflag IV-C, a Prisoner-of-War camp during World War II for allied officers who had repeatedly escaped from other camps during the war. It was converted into a high-security camp under Wehrmacht control, but had one of the highest records of successful escape attempts. There is a lot more to the history of Colditz, but for a brief overview, you get the point.
This game is for two to six players, but is best played with around four, ages 12 and up. The play time is—brace yourself—three hours. This is a sit-down-with-friends, order-a-pizza, and stock-up-on-drinks kind of game. The gist of it is that one player is the German Guard, while the others are Escape Officers. The Escape Officers must organize escape attempts by their team of prisoners. The winner is the Escape Officer with the most successful escape attempts or the Guard who limits the most number of escapes.
This game holds a lot of beauty in a lot of small ways. The box cover itself is a detailed rendering of a German Guard with his gun at the ready, looking for prisoners as two of them lay under a bush right in front of him. The detail in which the light sources are taken into account is almost too good to believe. The real detail lies within.
The map board emits the isolation and confinement that any prison would. A World War II parcel holds the game components, along with historical documents for the continued ambience of the era. The card decks are wrapped and packed nicely and neatly, too. Most people wouldn’t look underneath the storage tray, but if you do, another surprise is hidden for you. I won’t give it away, but it’s something you’ll want to see.
A “roll-and-move” game being released in this decade seems a little pointless and even monotonous (given the more “advanced” games out these days), but the game holds more excitement than you’d think. Making it over the fence, having a guard pull a gun on you in the last second before freedom, and more!
This gem of a game starts off slow, sure, but it sure as Hell picks up and ends with some serious fun. It’s an immersive tabletop game with a lot of potential to make any game night a blast. For history buffs and board gamers alike, Escape from Colditz isn’t a game you want to miss.