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Police Precinct - Board Game Box Shot

Police Precinct

| Published: 2013
62 22 4

Walk a day in the shoes of a police officer; routine traffic stops, disorderly conduct… but can you catch the murderer before he escapes?

go to: Who would enjoy this game?


Police Precinct is a cooperative game experience that allows you to assume the role of a Police officer with unique abilities. The game places you in a squad car and challenges you to not only complete your “ordinary” police calls (although some turn out to be anything but ordinary) but to race against the clock to collect key evidence on a murder case and apprehend the suspect before he leaves the city. All the while, street thugs multiply, car thieves appear, gangs may form, and traffic accidents block roadways. If the crime runs out of control on the Crime Track, or if the Murderer escapes the game board, you must hang your heads in shame.

Police Precinct game in play

Set Up

After the three game boards (Main, Crime Track and Evidence boards) are set up, several sets of components need to be sorted and positioned around them. First, two Emergency cards are chosen at random from a shuffled event deck. These are placed on the board at their listed locations. If two of the same color are dealt out, the “Urgent” marker is placed on the first one placed. In addition, if either of these Emergency cards have an “Unknown Circumstances” space on them, shuffle and place one face down on each. Place the Turn marker on the space specified by the number of players.

Next, shuffle and place each of the Evidence cards: (Crime Scene, Interview, Examine body, and Murder Weapon) to the places specified in the rules. The Interview and Weapon decks will be placed in a random location as designated by a die roll. Then roll all six dice and place a Street Punk token on the board in the “Bad Hood” area that matched each number rolled. If one or more Hoods receive more than three Punks, just re-roll. Place the Crime marker at the start of the Crime track and finally, place the Turn Marker on the starting space of the turn track based on the number of players. This is key, as the difficulty of the game scales depending on the number of officers patrolling the precinct.

With the game board set, it’s time for the players to get ready to play. Each player chooses a Character card and places it in front of them. Then each player takes the matching squad car and chooses whether to start the game as an unmarked card – increasing their Investigation by 1, or a marked card, which increases a player’s movement by one street. The cars are placed at the Police station. All the other Police cards, the Event deck and tokens are placed in piles to the sides of the board, ready for use in the game. The First Player token is given the player who chose their character last. Now the game is ready to play.

Note: If playing the semi-cooperative version that includes a Dirty Cop, randomly distribute one Loyalty card to each player. Players keep these hidden as one of them will be a Dirty Cop that must work against the players instead of with them.


Police Precinct is played in a series of turns where you must complete all the actions for your turn before play passes to the next player clockwise. After every player has taken their turn, the turn marker is moved down on the turn track, and a new round begins. Your turn is made up of 4 Phases:

Phase 1: Move your Squad car
You may move your squad car up to 2 streets, not counting intersections. (3 streets if you are patrolling in an “unmarked” squad car). Once your squad car arrives at the destination street, you may encounter whatever location is on either side of that street. The only thing you may have to worry about in moving your squad car are traffic accidents or other events that may occur that may block your path. In these cases, you may have to stop your movement and handle the event.

Phase 2: Perform an Action
You may perform only one of the following actions on your turn:

  1. Investigate the Murder: Being the main focus of the game, when your squad car is at a location that has an Investigation card deck there, you may search for clues. Draw one card from the specific deck at that location equal to your Investigate rating (magnifying glass) on your character card. Add another card from each other officer at that location. You can also spend Donuts to draw additional cards. In addition, other players, no matter where they are in the precinct, can play Police cards that contain that same magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner to aid your investigation. Once you have a final total, draw that many cards from the top of the deck and any clues found are placed on the Investigation board. Any “useless” cards are sent to the bottom of the deck and one is permanently removed from the game – increasing your chances of finding a clue on subsequent turns.
  2. Arrest Street Punks: When on a street with Street Punks, you may attempt to arrest them by rolling a number of dice equal to your Arrest rating (Hand cuffs) on your character card and rolling equal to or higher than the number of Punks at that location. Other players at the location add a die to that roll as do spending your Donuts. Players may also play Police cards with the handcuffs symbol to help as well. Each successful roll removes one Punk from that street.
  3. Handle an Emergency: The Emergency cards are placed randomly at locations throughout the precinct. When at this location reveal the Unknown Circumstance (if present) roll a number of dice equal to the Emergency rating (Police Light) on your character card. The number rolled must be equal to or higher than the number displayed on the left side of the Emergency card. This roll can be supported just like the roll for arresting Street Punks. If successful, take the reward listed at the bottom of the card and remove it from the board. Fail and sometimes you may end up in the hospital!
  4. Upgrade your Character : If you end your movement at the Police station, you may train your officer and trade one Donut for a character upgrade tile that will increase one of your three stats or movement. This change is permanent and you may only have two such training upgrades in the game.
  5. Draw a Police Card: Yup. Draw a Police card.
  6. Accuse a Player: If playing with the Dirty Cop mechanic, you may discard three Donuts and accuse another player who must reveal their Loyalty card. If the payer IS the Dirty cop, they leave the game and go into hiding – waiting to see if their machinations brought about the other officers’ downfall. The accusing player gets a Donut! If the accused was NOT the Dirty Cop the accusing player discards all their Police cards and ends their turn.
  7. Reveal yourself as the Dirty Cop: Flip your Loyalty card, discard everything except your “Dirty Donuts” and take the turn listed on the Dirty Cop Loyalty card and try to foil the plans of the rest of the officers!

Phase 3: Draw a Police Card
Quite simply, draw a Police card and add it to your hand. Police cards have a dual use. The main body of text on the card is for you to use during your turn. They only offer opportunity and bonuses to help your cause (thankfully). They can be used at any time during your turn and don’t count as an action. In addition they can be used to support other players to add to their chance for success when performing actions.

Phase 4: Draw one Event Card
Take the top Event card – hold your breath – and reveal it. Event cards are usually occurrences in the city that require your attention as an officer of the law.

The first type of Event card is the Emergency Card that is keyed to a specific location in the city, and is placed there immediately and stays on the board until the players attempt to confront the emergency. Each of these emergencies will have a reward when confronted and may, if failed, send officers to the hospital. Emergency cards may also have an “Unknown Circumstance” that is dealt face down onto the Emergency card and is only revealed when the officers confront that card. This Unknown Element may provide a benefit or a detriment to the Emergency. It’s all part of the danger when you arrive on the scene to take care of the situation. Emergency cards are also color-coded. If a second Emergency card is drawn that matches the color of an Emergency card already on the game board, the card in play receives the “Urgent “ token. This is where things begin to heat up because if the Urgent token is present on an Emergency card and the same color Event card is drawn again, the token is removed and the Crime Track is advanced one space. Crime is running rampant!

The Second type of Event card that may be revealed is a Special Event that will provide a benefit or challenge to all the players at once. A street riot may break out, an escort mission may be required or there may be a dangerous gas leak. These will have definite consequences if not responded to as soon as they are revealed.

After an Event card is drawn, and placed or resolved, play passes to the next player. If all players have taken one turn, the Turn Marker is advanced down the turn track.

How You Win…and Lose

You must complete the investigation of the murder by filling every space on the Investigation board. At this point the Murderer token is placed on the turn track on space 16. Then He (or she?) will move sequentially to each Bad Hood for the next 6 turns. You must arrest the Murderer before it can leave Bad Hood number 1 and escape. If the murderer is arrested, you win!


The familiar art by George Patsouras gives the game that CGI “heightened reality” look which is perfect for this theme. Too real and it would look like a licensed crime product (yawn). Too cartoony and the game couldn’t be taken seriously. Overall, Police Precinct has excellent production quality.

Learning Curve

Low. Once you have made your way through the very poorly formatted rulebook, the game is extremely easy to play, especially with the included player reference cards. As with all cooperative games, working together to confront the game is the true challenge.

Who would enjoy this game?

Family Gamer {maybe}
The game is a good one for families with older children. The theme is a little more “in your face” than some co-ops, so caution is advised since the main subject matter is a murder investigation.
Strategy Gamer {maybe}
The random event occurrences may be a turn-off for the average strategy gamer. Those that appreciate a difficult co-op will like the many directions players are pulled to achieve victory. You must be strategic in the gameplay but know that your strategy may be blown away by the unpredictability of crime.
Casual Gamer {yes}
This is a casual gamer’s wonderland. The workings of the “doomsday clock” mechanic and the theme work perfectly together to create a fun and fraught-filled game night. Set up can take a bit of time, but the game moves fast, especially with more players.
Avid Gamer {yes}
Police Precinct is a game that you must try if you enjoy co-ops with strong themes. Avid gamers should (and will) compare it to the other more widely known co-ops out there. This is a good thing since the game is a standout. Try it!
Power Gamer {no}
Not a Power Gamer’s cup of tea. By its very nature, this won’t appeal to a players who need intense competition and a test of gaming prowess.

Final Thoughts

Unlike competitive board games, cooperative games seek to create a more personal feeling of accomplishment. “We are all in this together!” and so forth. Ever since that certain revolutionary co-op game hit the scene in 2008, designers and publishers have been fiddling with cooperative mechanics to create games that have a true emotional group impact. To be fully immersed in a co-op, there must be a familiarity in the subject matter that provokes an emotional investment and a theme that meshes well with these programmed mechanics. The closer a player feels to the subject matter, the more personal the game becomes. Here is where the game excels.

Designer Ole Steiness has taken a seldom used theme and spun it into a great co-op experience. Players must juggle three different areas of concern: investigating the murder case (that will end the game after 22 tunes or less); Emergencies which if left unchecked will end the game, and the multiplying Street Punks that will allow crime to overrun the city.

The game has some fresh mechanics for co-op. The dual-use Police cards players a choice to help their fellow officers or benefitting themselves. Players may upgrade their officer through training. Very cool and necessary! Patrol Officers that show up when you need them most, and then there’s the Event deck… which contains challenges for the officers, but also events that may help the players, “global” events that all players must focus on together (like a street riot), and of course the Emergency cards that provide unique and balanced variations to the game experience. Four different colored Emergencies might be drawn, and only when a second of the same color is drawn does the Urgent marker come into play, igniting the need to take action. This creates waves of alternating intensity that works remarkably well. And having a traitor mechanic in this type of game is perfect.

These mechanics do seem a bit clunky at times, they aren’t as polished as say the game engines that drive Flashpoint or Pandemic and after a first play you may come away feeling a bit “over taxed.” But the thematic experience doesn’t suffer. And it is a difficult co-op to win. One minor missing element is an actual solvable puzzle to determine the identity of the murderer. There is no actual deduction needed to solve the crime, (Like Clue or Mystery of the Abbey), but this doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment – although, it would be a great addition.

The game streaks by with great forward momentum. Add in the Dirty Cop variant, and you really have an inimitable game experience. If you are up for a challenge and like a good police drama, then Police Precinct should be tops on your “most wanted” list.

User Reviews (2)

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Advanced Reviewer
Rosetta Stone
19 of 20 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Intense gaming pressure that is sure to thrill!”

Common-Man Games has really hit one out of the park in Police Precinct. Ever since playing Pandemic and Witch of Salem there has been a movement in our house and gaming group towards more co-operative games. I feel that the mark of a good game, and especially a cooperative game is the games ability to evoke a sense of what I call gaming pressure on the players. Players should feel that they are confronted with not quite enough time or options to complete their objectives. Obviously too much pressure and leaving players with a sense of helpless defeat is not good and gameplay that is too simple and players feel that victory is guarunteed is equally bad. There must always be a delicate balance between difficulty vs. simplicity. To this end I feel that this game has succeeded.

This game leaves players with 1 overarching objective, solving a murder. However, the continuous calls for service keep stacking up and players are forced to eventually deal with these calls or face losing the city to a crime spree. Game play is challenging and gamer interaction is essential. The theme is strongly incorporated into the game causing the players to feel as though they are part of Common Man PD.

I have a 1st gen copy, the artwork in this copy is ok, not exceptional. The cards themselves are fine but the gameboard (which is substantial in size) is less than stellar. Another frustrtaion that I have with this game is the 2 different sized cards. I prefer a standard 2.5″ x 3.5″ card, mini cards just look and feel cheap to my eyes and when you consider the enormous size of the game board the smaller sized cards just look pathetic. I have seen the 2nd gen board and have noticed that the artowrk on this board is much better.

Another frustration that I experienced here was the confusing set of rules that were included with the game. They explained the basic aspects of general gameplay but left more questions than answers when it came to the application of some of the turn cards. I understand that this is a common problem for many Kickstarter games. I would strongly encourage players to persist through their questions until they can learn the game as this is an outstanding game!

Overall Impressions:
The game is a fantastic coop full of interesting dilemas that players are essentially forced to worked together to achieve victory. Gameplay is intense and once players are familiar with PP games will avererage 1.5 hours (although you will feel like it has been much less thanks to the great thematic player tension).

I would rate the player experience at 10 out of 10!

Player Avatar
11 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Attention All Units, Time for Fun”

I always wanted to be a cop so a game with a police theme was just the ticket for me. After watching Tom Vasel’s review of Police Precinct (PP) on YouTube I decided to pick one up. This was easier said than done as PP was a Kickstarter and sold out very quickly. Also complicating things is the fact that I live in Germany.

I was able to track a copy down in Belgium. Since receiving the game I have played it over a half dozen times with experienced and new gamers alike and everyone has really enjoyed it. I have always thought that co-op games lend themselves very well to introducing new people to more complex games and PP in no exception.

Game play keeps everyone engaged as there is always something that needs to be done. Like other co-ops you do not want a “dictator” on the team as they will end up playing a solo game and issuing orders for “the best” move. The components are well made, the board is huge and well laid out, and the box looks great on the shelf.

I HIGHLY recommend that you look into picking up the second edition which is die to release around October 2014 (Essen Speil).


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