Released by Milton Bradley in 1986, Mad’s Spy vs. Spy Board Game is a great game to add to any collection and still bring out to play on family game nights.
A spy’s mission is to safely bring back bombs to his home’s manhole. It may sound easy, but spies need to first build a network of tunnels, grab the bombs without being blown back to home, and must always be on the look-out for other spies trying to block theirs or another spy’s way. As the cover of the game describes, it is “an explosive tunnel-building game of risk and rivalry!”
Spy vs. Spy was originally created as a black and white comic strip by Antonio Prohias. It first appeared in Mad Magazine in 1961 and quickly grew in popularity. The two spies are constantly trying to outdo one another (one dressed in black and the other white). The humorous scenes, depicting their warring tactics, make for an entertaining time. The production of a board game brings this excitement to the table.
Two to four players, ages ten and up, are recommended for playing a game. To begin, 13 bombs are placed on the spaces of the board showing the bombs. Each person chooses a spy and places a T shaped tile beside the color matching ladder of their starting positions. All other tiles are placed, facedown, in the bottom of the box. Players then pick four more tiles and set them in their matching color rack. These will be used to ‘dig’ tunnels (they are placed on the squares of the board).
Choosing a person to go first is an interesting, but appropriate method for the game. The first person who rolls an ‘explosion’ on the explosion die begins the game. (In the article, deciding who gets to goes first, other methods of going first in games are shared, if interested.)
The basic turn of a player is as follows and is shared on a diagram:
MOVE-players move through the tunnels
ROLL-players roll the bomb die if his Spy begins on a bomb space or lands on one
DRAW-players draw a tile from the box and PLAYS one of his five tiles
In order to MOVE through tunnels they must first be built. Players may not always be able to MOVE on their turn. If this is the case, they only DRAW and PLAY tiles; striving to reach a bomb before the other Spies do.
In digging tunnels, Spies must always form correct paths; paths leading to no where are not allowed to be dug. The tile’s paths must connect to each other.
To block a tunnel, a Spy tile is placed on top of the tunnel tiles. A Black Spy is placed on a White Spy’s tunnel tile (and vise versa) in order to block it. Included in the game is also the Grey Spy. This character was part of the comic strip until 1965. Depicted as a female, she balanced the two spies. In the game, a Grey Spy can be placed on top of either a black or white tunnel tile.
If a Spy does return safely home with a bomb, he READS the message on the bottom of the bomb and as the directions say, “the message allows you to break the rules temporarily, to your advantage.” The bomb’s message is a reward for achieving the mission. It will read one of the four messages:
DRAW AND PLAY
MOVE A BOMB
REMOVE A TILE
The winning of a game depends on how many Spies are playing the game. If 2 Spies are playing, the first player to bring home 7 bombs has completed his mission and wins the game. For 3 Spies, 5 bombs need brought back. For 4 Spies, a mission is completely accomplished with 4 bombs.
The characters, obstacles created, and objective of the Spy vs. Spy board game is a lot of fun to play. Inspired by a classic comic strip, the game in turn inSPYers families to gather together and have a great time enjoying each other’s company. It is a Blast!
(the game can be found here and there on sites like EBay)