Review: Agents of SMERSH

Review: Agents of Smersh

[Shut Up & Sit Down is immensely proud to present the following review of Agents of Smersh, a story game, by James Wallis, story game designer. James is the wonderful mind behind Once Upon a Time, and the actually-extraordinary Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s also a lovely man. Enjoy!]

James: Agents of Smersh is a cooperative board-game for 1–4 players although it can be played by five if you want, and there’s part of its problem right there. The other problem is that Agents of Smersh is one of those children, like Carol Thatcher or Chelsea Clinton, whose parent is so dominant that it can never get away from them to build its own identity no matter how hard it tries.

What is Agents of Smersh? Agents of Smersh is Tales of the Arabian Nights given a rework and a re-skin. And at this point you are either looking slightly quizzical—’Tales of the Arabian Nights, is it that… oh I remember, Paul and Quinns reviewed it here, they dressed up, it was funny, I think they liked it quite a bit’—or you have just wet yourself with excitement. To understand Agents of Smersh it is important that you understand Tales first, so either read on or skip the next six paragraphs while you change your pants.

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Agents of SMERSH

Agents of SMERSH


SMERSH is a portmanteau of two Russian words that translates to “Death to Spies.” It operated as a counter-intelligence agency by the Red Army during the 1940s. Despite having had a large number of paid employees, little was known about the agency until recently when Russia opened their archives.

Agents of SMERSH is a cooperative Storytelling game that pits players as UN Secret Service Spies set in an alternate 1970s timeline against a newly formed and independent SMERSH. The game will be able to accommodate play with either The Encounter Book that contains over 1500 written encounters with a similar reaction matrix to Tales of the Arabian Nights – or played more simply with only encounter cards with shorter encounters and no matrix. Agents of SMERSH includes custom dice to determine success or failure of encounters, and more strategic play from what is typically expected of a Storytelling board game. There are plenty of James Bond gadgets, guns, cars, pop references and detailed artwork – not to mention a touch of humor. The game features the artwork of George Patsouras (The Resistance & Flash Point).

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