Specter Ops is a team game with hidden movement, deduction, and player powers.
Hidden movement in games is used to represent stealth/sneaking. This allows games to simulate situations like a cloaked Klingon Warbird on the hunt or a secret agent infiltrating an enemy compound.
Instead of moving a figure on a publicly visible board, hidden movement is usually accomplished by the unit’s controller secretly writing down the unit’s move. Then, when the unit decloaks or otherwise becomes visible, the controlling player places the figure onto the board.
Some other games that use hidden movement are Scotland Yard, Fury of Dracula, Letters from Whitechapel, and Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator.
One player is the Agent. Their goal is to stealthily complete objectives and escape.
Everyone else is a Hunter. Their goal is to stop the Agent.
(In a 5-player game, one Hunter is a Traitor secretly helping the Agent.)
The Agent spends the game secretly moving around the board completing 3 of 4 objectives and then escaping. The Hunters must track the Agent and reduce her health to 0 or delay her for 40 turns.
Both the Agent and the Hunters are represented by miniatures on the game board. The Hunters visibly move their miniatures, but the Agent does not. Instead, the Agent writes down her moves and only uses her miniature to denote where she was last seen.
At the start of the game, the Hunters select characters with special Agent-hunting abilities. Then, the Agent selects her own character and 3 pieces of equipment to help evade the Hunters.
How to Play
There are 4 objectives, and the exact location of each is randomly determined at the start of the game. The 4 potential objective-location groups are shown on the Agent’s movement sheet. For each group, roll a die. Circle the corresponding location on the Agent’s movement sheet and place a mission token (blue side up) on the board at that space.
For a 4 or 5 player game, the Agent rolls the objective locations secretly, circles them on her sheet, and does not place mission tokens on the board during setup. Immediately after the Agent completes an objective, she places the completed objective on its space on the board.
The Vehicle starts on space K17, and all of the Hunters start inside it. To represent the Vehicle on the game board, there is a Vehicle token. To represent the Hunters in the Vehicle, there is a Vehicle card.
For a 4 or 5 player game, the vehicle starts on space K23.
Additional 4 or 5 Player Setup Rules
Place the additional Escape Point token on space H1.
5-Player Secret Roles
After everyone has chosen their character, the Agent gives a secret role card to each player. The Agent will choose one of these players to receive the Agent card, and the rest will receive a Hunter card. The player that receives the Agent card is a Hunter Traitor who secretly works with the Agent to win. For an explanation of how the Traitor functions, see the Hunter section below.
Line of Sight
During the Game, the only way the Agent can be seen is if she is in Line of Sight to a Hunter miniature. To be in Line of Sight, the Agent and Hunter must be in the same row or column, and there can’t be a structure in between them.
For example, if the Agent is on spot Q5 and a Hunter is on the spot Q10, the Hunter has Line of Sight and the Agent is visible. If the Hunter was on spot Q12, the Hunter would not have Line of Sight and the Agent would not be visible.
If the Hunter is in a road, the hunter can see both rows or columns in that road.
The Agent takes her turn, and then the Hunters take their turn.
At the start of each turn, the Agent may move up to 4 spaces. Diagonal movement is allowed. Moving through a Hunter is not allowed. Since the Agent doesn’t physically move a piece on the board, she must write where she ends her move on her movement sheet (Q5 for example). After moving, the Agent announces that she has moved.
Moving 2 or less can be beneficial because it nullifies the Hunters’ Motion Sensor, explained in the Hunter section.
If, before moving, she starts orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to an objective, she may complete that objective by flipping it over to its red side.
If, while moving, she passes through a space that a Hunter has Line of Sight to, she must place the Last Seen marker and her miniature in that space.
If, after moving, she is in Line of Sight of a Hunter miniature, she must place her miniature on that spot.
Finally, if after moving she has completed 3 objectives and is on one of the exit points, she wins.
Character and Equipment
At the start of the game, after the Hunters choose their characters, the Agent chooses her character. Each character has a special ability.
The Agent also gets to choose 3 Equipment cards. There are four generic Equipment cards (Adrenal Surge, Flash Bang, Smoke Grenade, and Stealth Field) with two copies of each. In addition, each character has a character specific Equipment card that they may choose. Each Equipment card may only be used once in a game, except for some of the character specific ones that may be used twice.
Equipment may either be used before or after moving, but only 1 Equipment card may be used in a single turn. Each Equipment card explains how to use it. Most of the Equipment cards must either be revealed or rotated to show when they are used. When any Equipment card is used, the Agent must write its initials on her movement sheet.
In a 4 or 5 player game, the Agent chooses 5 equipment cards and has 2 extra health.
At the start of each Hunter turn, the Hunters must decide their activation order.
A Hunter may either move, use a character ability, or activate the Motion Sensor (if in the vehicle and if it hasn’t moved this turn). Then, the Hunter may attack the Agent, if the Hunter is not in the vehicle and the Agent is in Line of Sight. Once the first Hunter’s activation is finished, the second Hunter’s activation begins, etc.
Most Hunters may move up to 4 spaces in a turn, if not in the Vehicle. The Vehicle may move up to 10 spaces in a turn, but it must remain in the double column/row roads. Entering or exiting the Vehicle ends a Hunter’s movement.
To move the Vehicle, a Hunter must start the turn in the Vehicle. The Vehicle’s movement may be split between multiple Hunters’ activations. If one Hunter moves the vehicle 6 spaces, a second Hunter could move the vehicle up to 4 more spaces. A Hunter may exit the vehicle after using it.
Instead of moving, a Hunter may either use a Character ability or the Motion Sensor. For example, instead of moving, The Prophet may use the post-cognition Character ability to make the Agent announce where she was two turns ago.
If a Hunter starts the turn in the Vehicle, that Hunter may use the Motion Sensor. The Motion Sensor may not be used if the Vehicle already moved that turn, and the Vehicle may not be moved if the Motion Sensor was already activated that turn.
When the Motion Sensor is used, if the Agent moved 2 or less spaces on her turn, she says “no motion detected.” If the Agent moved more than 2 spaces on her turn, she must say where she is in relation to the vehicle.
For example, if the Vehicle is on N9 and the Agent is on G9, the Agent must say West. If the Agent was on G10, Southwest.
After moving, the Agent will either be in Line of Sight or she won’t.
If the Agent isn’t in Line of Sight, she must say “clear.”
If the Agent is in Line of Sight, she must place her miniature on her current location. Then, if the Hunter isn’t in the Vehicle, that Hunter may attack the Agent.
If the Agent and Hunter are on the same space, the Hunter automatically deals 1 point of damage to the Agent. Otherwise, count how many spaces away the Agent is from the Hunter (including the Agent’s current space). Then roll a die.
If the roll is a 1, the attack automatically misses.
If the roll is a 6, roll an extra die and add the rolls together. Every extra die that rolls a 6 grants another extra die.
If the total die roll is equal to or greater than the number of spaces, deal 1 point of damage to the Agent.
If the Agent is reduced to 0 health, the Hunters win the game.
If the Agent stuns a Hunter with a Character ability or Equipment card, that Hunter may only move 2 spaces on their next turn, cannot use Character abilities, and cannot attack the Agent. To show a Hunter has been stunned, put a Stun Marker on the Hunter card; remove it at the end of the turn.
A Hunter may not be stunned while in the Vehicle.
5 Player Traitor
In a 5-player game, one “Hunter” is actually a secret Traitor helping the Agent win the game. The Agent secretly assigns this role at the start of the game.
At the start of each Hunter turn, the Hunters may vote (by majority) to revoke access to the Vehicle for a single Hunter.
When the Agent would be seen by the Traitor (when the Agent is in Line of Sight of the Traitor), the Agent does not have to place either the last seen marker or her miniature on the game board.
If, however, the Agent is in Line of Sight of the Traitor and doesn’t place her miniature on the board and then another Hunter moves into Line of Sight, she must place her miniature on the board. In this situation, the Traitor is revealed.
When a Traitor is revealed, the Traitor immediately becomes a second Agent. That player gains his own movement sheet and immediately makes a hidden movement. Then, he chooses one of the remaining three Agent characters and 2 of the remaining equipment cards. The second Agent starts with 4 health (6 if he chose the Orangutan). The second Agent cannot complete objectives. He may voluntarily reveal as an Agent in place of his Hunter activation.
To win, the non-Traitor Agent must complete 3 of the 4 objectives. Then, if the Traitor was revealed, both Agents must escape before the end of round 40 to win. If the Traitor was not revealed, the Agents win when the non-Traitor Agent escapes.
I love this game. I enjoy playing the Agent and the Hunter(s). Hidden movement is cool. As the Agent, trying to outsmart your opponents through feints, bluffs, and counter-bluffs is awesome. As the Hunter(s), locating, cornering, and attacking the Agent is incredibly satisfying. The addition of the Equipment and Character abilities also adds a lot to the game.
For example, with the Smoke Bomb you can make a 3 by 3 area within 4 spaces obstruct vision. So, you could throw it out at a road to block LoS when you run past that road. You could also throw it down and then move into it; you can only be hit if your opponent is on top of you in that scenario. (If you are The Cobra, you stun any Hunter on top of you.) Or, you could bluff; throw it out to block LoS in one direction, and then go in a completely different direction. That last one is my favorite, but I do like the idea of double Smoke Bomb Cobra.
Unfortunately though, I have only met 1 other person who enjoys it as well. (After 3 games one of my other players no longer likes the game.) This game is certainly not for everyone, and there are 2 main reasons why it might turn a player off.
Some people feel overwhelmed and have a lot of trouble deciding what to do initially, particularly for Hunter players. Since, at the start of the game, you have 0 information about which Agent character is being played, what their equipment is, or where they went. This has really turned off multiple players. A few pieces of advice to avoid this for hunters are:
- Use the roads for vision. Place your miniatures in such a way that the Agent will be forced to run past at least one of them. This is excellent for initially establishing where the Agent went.
- Pick Prophet for your first game. Prophet’s post cognition ability makes it impossible for the Agent to completely juke (outmaneuver to stay hidden) the Hunters.
- Don’t be afraid to not move on your turn if you are in a good position.
The second problem some people have with the game is they find it boring. As the Agent it isn’t really boring because you have to constantly plan your moves. As the Hunters, if the Agent is consistently moving 2 spaces a turn or spends turns waiting, it can get boring if you just wait for them to show themselves. This has never been an issue for me because I am highly competitive, and I have no problem waiting if I think it is a good move. But, I understand that this can be a boring, low action situation for people who just want to be engaged and have a good time.
I have not had a chance to play with the Traitor, but it does intrigue me. I have only played 2 and 3 player games so far, but I like the game so much that I already want to recommend it. For people that don’t like deduction games, I would avoid it, but for competitive players that love trying to outsmart their opponents, I highly recommend it.