Play Time: 10 mins.
Good Cop Bad Cop is a hidden role and deduction game setting up each player as a Law Enforcement officer and secretly either an honest or crooked cop, with each team trying to take out the leader of the opposite faction first.
Introduction – Why it’s fun to aim fake guns at family and friends.
Hidden Role and Deduction games are quickly becoming the go-to mechanics for medium and large group tabletop games. The last few years have seen quite a few different styles and themes of these games, but there’s a certain friendly familiarity that starts to become apparent after picking up and playing a few of them.
The Good Cop Bad Cop Card Game takes that familiarity and sets it in the backdrop of another familiar territory of theme: the Corrupt Police District. A recent viewing of The Departed is about all you need, as a player, to come into this game ready to rock and roll.
If there’s one aspect of more recent releases like Coup and One Night Ultimate Werewolf that is missing, however, it’s directing violence towards members of the opposing team. Bang! Was one of the first games in this genre that our group played – and while the player elimination got really old rather quickly, there was always something very magical and special about shooting your friends.
The designers behind Good Cop Bad Cop seemed dead set on bringing some of that delicious violence back into the Hidden Role genre. They brought weapons.
Does Good Cop Bad Cop bring enough weaponry to the table to set it apart from other titles? Read on to take a look and decide for yourself!
Light Weight Party Game - very easy to introduceThe Good Cop Bad Cop Game can be taught in just a few minutes, and even played without the equipment for the first game for a simplistic experience and for everyone to get a feel for it.
It may not be perfectly appropriate, thematically, for younger gamers – as a significant part of the game is spent picking up cardboard guns and aiming them at each other.
Good Cop Bad Cop is largely card based, and with a deck size of just 52 with a few other components, fits very nicely into a really small box. This seems like a common quality found in party games, which fits perfectly allowing them to be carried around even in something as small as a jacket pocket.
The Cards all have a nice glossy finish and are sturdy enough to stand up to repeated plays. Given how important the hidden role cards are, and how often they will be handled by multiple players in each game, this may be a game that’s a good candidate for sleeving.
The other component that you will quickly grow fond of in the Good Cop Bad Cop Game is the cardboard gun cutouts. These come with plastic stands so they can be stood up and aimed at whatever poor bastard is deserving of your ire when you take a turn to acquire one of the weapons.
I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that is universally loved about the gun tokens, but every single player in the 3 groups I’ve played this game with has LOVED picking up a gun and pointing it at someone else.
It’s possible that I’ve just been playing games with too many psychopaths.
Instructions and Rules
Games like Good Cop Bad Cop are precisely why I like to include Instructions as a category for review: Great game instructions clearly express the rules, and equally as importantly, don’t get in the way of the game.
The actual instructions themselves walk through the setup and get the game on the table quickly. Other small really nice-to-haves are the player counts on each of the cards that go into the game. This makes it incredibly easy to pass the cards out to multiple players and have each take a pass at removing all of the non-necessary cards, instead of having to reference the rulebook for correct counts.
The Rule cards are also a perfect reference included for each player to take quick glances at and be aware of what they can do on their turn.
The goal of the game is to eliminate the player who is the leader of the enemy faction in the game. Each player is either an Honest Cop or a Crooked Cop.
In Good Cop Bad Cop, each player is given a set of three Integrity cards. The summation of these determines whether you are an honest cop or a crooked cop:
- Having two honest cards and one crooked cards: Honest Cop
- Having two crooked cards and one honest: Crooked Cop
There are also two other individual Integrity cards that will be mixed in and passed out to the players: the Agent and the Kingpin. Having one of those cards in your set of three Integrity cards means that you are the leader of that team – regardless of the other Honest/Crooked cards that you receive
These cards are placed face down in front of you, in any order that you choose. However, after they are laid down, the order is not supposed to change. The importance of this will make sense in a few moments.
On every turn, you get to:
- Perform one of four actions
- Aim your gun, if you have one.
To accomplish the goal of eliminating the enemy leader OR eliminating the other players, you will want to identify their Integrity, and the only way to do that is through looking at their face-down cards. The primary method of examining Integrity cards is the Investigate Action.
The Investigate Action allows you to peek at one other player’s face down card. Often, knowing two of the three cards that someone has face down will be enough to identify them – but this won’t be complete information, since they could still have the Agent/Kingpin card.
The Equip Action lets you pick up some of the very powerful and game-changing Equipment cards. The catch is that to pick one Equipment card up, you have to turn one of your own face-down Integrity cards face-up.
Equipment has a pretty wild mix of rule-breaking actions to take, and each of them will specify on the card the condition and time for playing them.
The Arm Action lets you pick up one of the limited amount of pistols up from the table. Similar to the cost for Equipping, you have to turn one of your face-down cards face-up to draw a weapon.
The Shoot action will let you fire an armed pistol at the player who you have aimed at currently. This will kill them, unless they are the Kingpin or Agent, in which case they will reveal all of their cards and become wounded. The next time a wounded player is shot, they are dead and the other team is victorious.
Finally, after an action has been performed, you can aim an armed pistol at a new player. Then, play will pass to the next player in order.
Good Cop Bad Cop is the kind of game that is perfect as a night-starter or a night-ender, and in our experience, usually will have players itching to go another round or two. The games can play very quickly and sometimes also have abrupt and surprising endings!
This isn’t really a bad thing, however, as the chaotic nature of Good Cop Bad Cop is simultaneously a big part of its charm. There will be games that play out in an almost predictable way, with lots of methodical investigation happening early on and then action later. There will also be games where people pick up guns on their first turn and start blasting away as soon as they can.
The equipment cards also bring the bulk of the variety to the experience. Having the ability to switch Integrity cards mid-game, or prevent someone else from shooting during a round can alter the whole course of things in a hilarious and entertaining way.
It’s also important to recommend checking out the expansion packs that have already been released for Good Cop Bad Cop. Variety is really the lifeblood of a game like this one, and they add a LOT of value for potential purchases if your group enjoys the base experience.
The first time our group sat down to play this game wasn’t the kind of experience that really stood out. There was initially a sense of awkward flow and not really knowing what you’re doing, while everyone else was largely (seemingly) feeling the same. We went around the table, ploddingly taking our turns and slowly figuring out key pieces of information before drawing weapons much later on and taking shots at confirmed members of the other team. I think there may have been one or two pieces of starting equipment used.
We all looked around, and thought there might be more to it after learning the ropes and pace, and dealt the cards out for another round. It was at that point that something snapped and my buddy Andy decided he was going to pick up a gun on his first turn. He aimed it at Pat who was shooting him in the prior game. No discernable reason, questionable logic.
…and that is where everything changed. Suddenly nobody was safe, and everyone was questioning everyone. Did he know something we didn’t? Guns are a limited resource in the game, so before long the other two guns (3 total in a 5-6 player game) were snatched up and the rest of us were scrambling to investigate and pick up equipment to try and either contribute to the chaos or slow things down to try and save themselves or their leader.
In those moments of that game, Good Cop Bad Cop became more than the sum of its parts. People were yelling at each other, picking up their cardboard guns so we could aim at one another like lunatics. Sheer, stupid fun. It also lead to a lot of discussions about how nobody could get anything done at that police precinct since most of the employees spent the bulk of their time threatening each other and killing other cops.
If there’s one thing we all took away quickly from our plays of the Good Cop Bad Cop Card Game, it’s that picking up handguns and pointing them at your friends, while they are pointing them back at you is incredibly fun.
Good Cop Bad Cop – The verdict
There’s a primal joy to be found at aiming fake guns at your friends and getting into boisterous yelling matches claiming them to be a crooked cop, and Good Cop Bad Cop taps right into it.
What we Loved about Good Cop Bad Cop
– The Guns. Oh lawd the guns.
– Very quick to get a game going, and easy to teach.
– The Equipment cards really mix things up and add a lot of variety to the game.
What we didn’t Love as much about Good Cop Bad Cop
– Fun for a few games, but starts to present the itch for something more (if your group is made up of regular board game players)
– While this is true for all games, the makeup of the group ultimately determines much of this game’s fun.