GTM #208 - Saboteur: The Duel
Reviewed by Jane Trudeau-Smith & Philip Smith

Get that gold! That’s what this game is all about, and whoever has the most gold at the end of three rounds wins! Mayfair's Saboteur: The Duel is a great, little, portable card game from Mayfair for just two players. Each player portrays a dwarf in search of gold, and they’re digging through a tunnel to find it. But, obstacles can prevent your progress, so you’ll have to strategize the best route to take!

Easy to Learn?

The rules took less than 10-minutes to read through and were easy to comprehend. We only had to glance at them once or twice during our first game to make certain we were using the action cards correctly. There’s even a rule option for a solitaire game if you want to play it solo.

How is it Played?

One player is the blue dwarf, while the other is green. There are two “start” path cards showing a ladder coming out of a tunnel with a colored hat of the dwarves. These are placed on the table between the two players. There are 18 goal cards that are shuffled. In the first round, place six goal cards, face down, between both players in a specific starting pattern (shown in the rulebook). They are spaced out over 10 spaces and five rows, with the goal being to build tunnels from your ladder to the goal cards that are mapped out. The goal card could contain gold, or nothing at all – you won’t know until you get there! There are 34 additional path cards that are shuffled together with 18 action cards. Each player is dealt a hand of six cards, and the rest are placed in a draw pile. Players take turns and can perform one of four different actions:

  1. Play a path card on the table – you must play it on your color path, unless the tunnels between players eventually merge. You must also make sure the path connects to all adjacent cards around it – that can be tricky sometimes! Pick up a new card from the draw pile when done.
  2. Play an action card from your hand and pick up a new card from the draw pile after you take the action. You can sabotage your opponent, which stops them from playing cards unless they have a repair card to counter it. There are key cards that allow you to open a door in a tunnel when the door is not your color, and rockslide cards that permit you to move cards from the path, which could sabotage the other player’s tunnels.
  3. Discard two cards to remove a bad action your opponent has given you – in this case, you’re penalized since you’re only allowed to take one card from the draw pile.
  4. Pass by discarding one or two cards from your hand to replace with new ones – very handy when you have nothing advantageous in your hand to play.

Once you reach a goal card on your path, you turn it over. If there’s gold on it, you can “claim” it by putting a dwarf counter of your color on it.

Play continues during the round until either:

  1. All six goal cards have been revealed
  2. All dwarf counters have been placed (there are eight available)
  3. The draw pile is exhausted and no one can play anything from their hand

Once the round is over, you count up the gold for each player, reshuffle the path/action cards, place six new goal cards (same configuration each time), and start the next round. After three rounds, whomever has the most gold wins the game!

We never got to the point that all six goal cards were turned over, or all dwarf counters were placed – all of our rounds ended because we had no more cards we could play – but, that’s really the luck of the draw.

Timing of the Game

The first time we played it took closer to 45-minutes because we were checking to make sure we were playing correctly, but the second time it took just a little over 30-minutes, which is also what the manufacturer indicates is the approximate time of play.

We enjoyed playing this fast-paced, handy game and would consider toting this one along on a vacation, weekend trip, or as a filler game during a lengthy day of gaming!

Fast Facts:

  • MSRP: $15.00
  • # of Players – 1-2
  • Age Range – 8+
  • Approximate Time of Play – 30-minutes
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