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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > DIE HARD: THE NAKATOMI HEIST


Yippie ki-yay, board-game lovers


Yippie ki-yay, board-game lovers

“Twelve terrorists. One cop. The odds are against John McClane… That’s just the way he likes it.” So the original tag line went, when the Bruce Willis-starring high-rise action thriller Die Hard hit cinemas back in 1988. Now, thanks to the OP Games, we can nostalgically relive that hardy, resourceful and wisecracking New York cop’s first adventure in tabletop form. It comes fitted out with some very impactful, Mad Men-style silhouette-based graphic design, a Hollywoodappropriate three-act structure (each act expanding the fold-out board, giving a pleasing sense of escalation), and components liberally festooned with the film’s most quotable lines.

Given the one-man-army theme, designers Pat Marino and Sean Fletcher have appropriately fed McClane’s heroic struggle into an asymmetric one-versus-many structure, similar to the recent Jaws game, except this time the team of one-to-three facing the lone player take the role of the villains, rather than the heroes.

Each turn, every player throws down a single action card; McClane from a hand of five, drawn from his own act-specific deck which also represents his health, and the thieves (they’re not actually terrorists, of course — spoiler alert!) from a hand of three drawn from a shared deck. Appropriately for a character scrambling to survive, the McClane player has to be more careful about their card management. Anything they play will be saved and shuffled into future act decks, so they need to keep an eye on which act-specific actions might later prove useful. But once they’re down to two cards in hand, they have to discard those and redraw a whole new hand, inevitably losing some handy actions.

The thief players, meanwhile, have to coordinate using minimal player communication, not only to select the best fly-in-the-ointmentswatting actions, but also the best combinations of numbers (found in the top-left corner of each thief card) to crack the codes on six vault locks, represented by a randomly assembled grid of numbers. This is the thieves’ win condition (in addition to blowing up the building’s roof in Act III), unless they kill McClane first by whittling down his draw deck.

Both sides have a trio of objectives per act. The thieves’ are optional, but always useful, giving them extra lock-breaking actions. McClane’s are compulsory, the only way he can trigger each new act and ultimately win the game. By moving, shooting, shoving, punching and sneaking his way around the impressively expressionistic board, he must pull off such plot-based achievements as finding a pair of shoes (that don’t fit), throwing a thief out of a window, and scaring the hostages off the roof.

While the game’s fidelity to its source’s storyline is admirable, this does make it very linear, and replays become repetitive, although switching sides does change it up a little. Also, for a movie which is all about one guy winning against all the odds, it does seem considerably easier to win as McClane, especially as he essentially levels up during the three acts, while the code-cracking is far more of a slog for the thieves than their bare-footed foe’s tasks. Even so, if you’re a gamer who won’t stop quoting Hans Gruber, this would still make a great Christmas present.



It’s a handsome production (aside from its incongruously ugly figures), and enjoyably faithful to the movie, but a lack of variation in its narrative limits its replayability.


► Double-sided board

► 80 John McClane action cards

► 40 Thief action cards

► 25 Lock cards

► 1 John McClane player board

► 1 Lock tracker card

► 1 John McClane figure

► 1 Hans Gruber figure

► 7 Thief figures

► 1 Die

► 17 Blue lock cubes

► 12 Red support/draw blood cubes

► 1 Lead thief marker

► 40 Objective tokens

► 16 Objective tiles


They’re both nostalgia-indulging movie adaptations involving one-versus-many play and featuring some impressive visual design.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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