Publisher: Greenest Games
Player Count: 1-4 Players
Game Length: 40-80 Minutes
Set in a futuristic world of bizarre characters, cyborgs and robots, criminals are still going to seek to bring trouble to the common people. Hijacking a plane is their latest pursuit of anarchy, but the police were able to surround the plane and keep it on the runway. Now it’s your turn. As a hostage negotiator, it’s your job to seek the release of the hostages and even challenge these criminals to surrender before the swat team goes in guns blazing.
In this semi-cooperative, dice placement and set collection game you’ll be using your limited turns to gather resources, gain passenger cards and engage the hijackers as you seek the most points through a variety of different means. Are you going to work together with your fellow hostage negotiators to gain more time or are you going to move fast and save who you can before it’s too late? Check out the review below to find out if Hijacked brings is the right pressure cooker for your board game table.
ON YOUR TURN
With only a limited number of turns available until the police breach the plane, you’ll need to use your dice efficiently to save hostages, break down the hijackers and most importantly, score the most points.
Armed with only 2 dice per turn, players will roll them and place them to activate a variety of locations around the board to build their winning approach.
Resources such as crypto, medicine, intel and food can be gathered and used to meet passenger needs or bribe hijackers.
While I understand the reasoning behind the actions, I wouldn’t necessarily call the game very thematic from a mechanical approach. Visiting the passenger card section requires you to play a certain value to reveal the passenger card and the passengers adjacent. This represents connecting with that passenger and the nearby passengers. You can then gain that passenger card if you can pay a necessary resource and if your trust level is high enough (more on that in a minute). If you choose not to grab the passenger, you can discard them for a single point. Afterwards you can take an additional action which might be reserving one of the newly revealed adjacent cards by placing a dice on the card and hoping your opponents don’t roll a higher number.
You might choose to build trust with the passengers. This mini game is community driven since all players can contribute. Taking this action allows you to play a push-your-luck cube drawing game where you hope to pull the right color out of a bag. You can choose to stop, but winners go big… or fail hard. Drawing green cubes builds up your trust allowing you access to more passengers while drawing red cubes can even end up costing you points.
I mentioned this is a semi-cooperative game. Aside from the trust section, players can also delay the police by working to match one another’s point total at the exact same moment. This is a tricky task, but if achieved, everyone receives a rewards and the police are pushed back giving everyone an extra turn. The bigger challenge isn’t getting everyone on the same page to pursue this, it’s actually getting everyone on the exact same point total which can often feel a little out of reach.
Aside from gathering an extra dice for a future turn (if it’s available), players can reserve their very own hijacker and talk them down over a series of turns. Each hijacker provides a unique set scoring objective, so when persuaded to leave the plane, that player has access to those end game scoring points.
There are some corporate objectives available, but the primary scoring objectives come from gathering sets of passengers to earn passenger and pilot tokens. When a player has been able to negotiate the release of 3 passengers and 1 pilot, the end game is triggered. That is unless the police have breached the plane prior ending the game immediately.
ARTWORK & COMPONENTS
Artwork from Macedonian illustrator Mihajlo Dimitrievski (The Mico), while not his best, brings a lot of personality and flavor to the game. Each passenger card features a uniquely illustrated character. The hijackers look pretty hardcore and give the game an edge. The fully-illustrated board falls a little flat for me. The composition seems half-baked and could have been presented in.a more dynamic way.
Components are pretty standard with an assortment of wooden tokens, meeples, playing cards and dice.
The rulebook can get you through the game, but it is a little confusing and often feels a little backwards. Be sure to read through it in it’s entirety before attempting to grasp any concepts.
PROS & CONS
➕ I love the unique theme… it immediately drew me to the game
➕ The artwork is solid and has a lot of personality
➕ The semi-cooperative nature, while minimal, does provide some thematic interaction presented a unique way.
➕ Once you get a good grasp of the rules, turns move by quickly without much downtime
➖ Actions feel disjointed from the theme. While the designer did their best to bridge the gap, I never really felt like I was saving passengers or negotiating with terrorists.
➖ Even though I appreciate the semi-cooperative element, it ultimately falls flat. Over the course of multiple games it was nearly impossible to bring all the players together at the same time to trigger the co-op bonus.
➖ My biggest con is that I often felt like there weren’t any actions available worth taking. Yeah, I could grab another resources or discard a passenger card for a point, but it often felt very programmed. I wanted more demanding and beneficial choices.
WHY WOULD YOU LIKE THIS GAME?
If you dig the theme and you’re looking for a brisk euro that isn’t going to press you too hard, Hijacked might be in your lane. The unique theme and solid artwork will certainly stir up some interest as well.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS GAME?
The idea behind the game is very intriguing. This is a theme that is waiting for the right game. Hostage Negotiator from Van Ryder Games is the only other hostage negotiation game that I can think of and it didn’t quite hit it out of the park.
I went in really wanting to love Hijacked. After a couple stumbles with the rules, we were able to get on track and experience the game as it was intended. Visually, the game is solid, and that along with the engaging theme, sets an intriguing stage.
Overall, the game plays at a nice, brisk pace and different objectives (saving passengers and pilots, building leverage and convincing the terrorists to give up their life of crime) seem motivating. It was the lack of consistently engaging choices that left me a bit empty.
The variable setup is intended to provide new game experiences, but when you’re just rolling dice, it doesn’t necessarily matter. With limited choices and only 2 die per turn, I often felt I didn’t have anything to do. This is unfortunate, because the looming S.W.A.T. breach that ends the game doesn’t give you a lot of time to waste. This led to players often passing on the passenger set collection challenge and just dumping cards for a minimal score… While I guess something is better than nothing, it was incredibly disappointing settling for a minimal score.
Resource management is loose and you’re at the mercy of the passenger deck to help you match up the right cards with the right resources. I honestly just wasn’t that interested in freeing passengers mainly because building card sets doesn’t feel like freeing passengers. The same could apply to talking down the terrorists. It all felt overly simplified and disconnected.
The game ends quickly enough and even if you achieve the end-game triggering objectives, it leaves you a bit unsatisfied. I feel like there might be something cool going on, but the game really needs to be tightened up. Perhaps it would benefit from some additional play tests. Unfortunately, Hijacked just didn’t engage me like I was hoping it would and while it might be good for a couple plays, it’s not something I can recommend.