Diabolik - Heists and Investigations is a hidden movement game inspired by one of the longest running Italian comic series, Diabolik, also adapted to the “silver screen” twice (in the 60s by Mario Bava and most recently by the Manetti Brothers) and as an animated series. The game is designed by Luca Maragno, and developed by Pendragon Game Studio, the English edition is published and distributed by Ares Games. It will start to hit the stores from December 8th. Let's learn a bit more about the game in this Designer's Notes, originally published in the issue 256 of Game Trade Magazine.

“I always liked hidden movement games. From the classic “Scotland Yard” to “Fury of Dracula” or the more recent “Last Friday” and “Hunt for the Ring”, they have always been fun experiences.

At the same time, I’ve always thought the hidden movement mechanic could be used to create something original in terms of gameplay. As a great lover of movies and the Crime genre, I wanted to explore the possibility of recreating all the dynamics of a great crime movie in a game.

Diabolik and the charming Eva in the game.

I'm also a huge fan of comics, so I think it was quite natural in my creative process to associate the gameplay I was designing with Diabolik. This comic book series was first published in the 60s and I used to collect it since childhood - during my summer holidays on the Adriatic Sea I forced my mother to browse the stands of the street market to find the older issues!

Today, in Italy, Diabolik is still an icon as ever - the comic books sell over 100,000 copies monthly! It’s going to hit the screens with a movie adaptation this year, with a cast including some of the most important actors of Italian cinema.

Diabolik is a ruthless thief, flanked by the charming Eva Kant. His enemy is Commissioner Ginko, a scrupulous detective with strong morals. The strengths of Diabolik's stories are the heists, always "impossible" and carried out thanks to the use of James Bond-like gadgets (such as his modified Jaguar that allows him to release spikes or liquids to lose the police) or tricks you might find in Mission Impossible (the use of masks).

The first innovative element of gameplay was to introduce teams into the genre: two players play the criminals (Diabolik and Eva) and two play the detectives (Ginko and Morrigan, the latter created especially for the game). Players on the same team must coordinate their strategies; to do so, we thought to place comic balloons with lines like "head north" or "let's meet up" behind the screen that criminals use to keep track of their movements: players can point out these balloons to communicate with the teammate without being heard by opponents. There is no need to write down the movements, as the plotting is handled using cards instead.

Diabolik: Heist and Investigation sheets.

To the hidden movement mechanics, we have added Heist and Investigation sheets (there are seven of them and in each game three are randomly drawn) to provide goals for both teams. Each Heist and the attached Investigation are a sort of "puzzle solving", in which secondary characters can also enter play.

Another important element was the escape. In a good crime story, the criminals escaping once exposed is often a main element. Hidden movements alternate with escapes, and criminals can also use it as a strategy: one of them gets chased, luring the police away from the heist scene to allow the other to move in the shadows with more calm.

Finally, the action! Each team has its own card deck, either Crime or Police (48 cards in each, all different), which allows players to do everything that makes the comics exciting and which is typical of the crime genre. There is no shortage of wonderful Diabolik gadgets, his iconic daggers, masks, the Jaguar, the Hideout. On the other side, the detectives will be able to mobilize crime labs, reinforcement agents, coastal guards, helicopters, and even a good smoke from Ginko's iconic pipe will help unlock some clues.

Lastly, a note on esthetics. With my partner Mathias Mazzetti, who takes care of the graphics, we agreed that the final result had to be a feast for the eyes. We had access to over 60 years of comic stories and researched the right drawing for each card. Above all, the map board had to be spectacular and was made to look like a map to hang in a police station to really hunt down the criminals!

Luca Maragno, the game designer of Diabolik.

I am also convinced that the board game world now has the opportunity to involve more and more new players, as long as you "take them by the hand". To do this, we also created a "game within the game" with “Escape from Clerville”: it is a one-page rule set enabling players to learn how to play in five minutes and which already uses several mechanics of the actual game. We believe, in this way, to have created something appealing for anyone who loves the crime genre, for hardcore board gamers as well as for newcomers, approaching the board game for the first time.”

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