In Too Deep: Solving the Syndicate’s Agenda with Evidence

July 30, 2022 | Sessions | 0 comments

Influence criminals and take calculated risks to collect evidence against the nefarious Syndicate with In Too Deep.

The theme of In Too Deep was what immediately drew me in. It sounded so different, and even touched upon the idea of making moral decisions about how to proceed. Plus, it’s not like I own a lot of solo spy games! So I eagerly opened the box for the first time, prepared to work as a secret agent as I influenced criminals from afar. What could go wrong?!

Game Overview

Game Name: In Too Deep
Publication Year:
2021
Designers:
Josh Cappel and Daryl Chow
Artist:
Dominik Mayer
Publisher: Burnt Island Games
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

Across the city, criminals act as possible characters. Yet there is a process to influence them, and working to complete storylines or collect evidence takes practice. All the while, the solo opponent works for the Syndicate and makes its own progress to potentially foil the plot!

A Rather Extensive Setup for Playing In Too Deep
R

First Play

July 28, 2022

Complexity

3

Latest Play

July 28, 2022

Expansions

1

Setup Time

15 Minutes

Lifetime Plays

2

Play Time

1 Hour & 20 Minutes

:

High Score

87

1

Game Area

48" x 22"

;

Low Score

64

Running Up That Hill

For the solo game, a total of 4 criminals dot the map. Each has a unique ability, but these can only be accessed once enough grip, or influence, has accrued.

I’m not much of a miniatures person, but wow! Every piece looked completely unique and extremely detailed. The sprinter was definitely off to the races!

Victory points are also based on the criminal with the least grip, so it’s wise to interact with all of them pretty evenly.

Essentially, though, my goal was to manipulate the board state to meet the criteria on my storyline cards.

Taking a Look at the Various Criminals to Influence in In Too Deep

All Sorts of Evidence

In a thematic sense, the evidence gathered would provide details about the Syndicate’s activites and help discover what their plans were. Intriguing, if a little abstract.

For as I read through the rules and started to play, there was a bit of a disconnect with this awesome, unique idea.

Collecting and filing evidence was fun, yet with a lot of hidden information, I couldn’t exactly make the best decisions. The solo opponent was also unpredictable.

Yet when a storyline’s requirements were met, I had a fantastic time celebrating my plans… Or pure luck. Ha!

An Interesting System to Collect Clues with In Too Deep

Echo, a Solo Opponent

Once again, I liked the concept of the solo opponent more than the execution. A small stack of cards provided random actions based on a few dice rolls each round.

This moved criminals, items, blockades, and the like, thereby making it difficult for me to plan ahead.

Echo also scored something every turn. I had to try to keep up by completing storylines pretty regularly for all of the different rewards. It was all a bit chaotic on the surface.

Granted, I enjoyed a lot of the elements of the challenge, but felt myself sort of getting lost in the iconography.

Following the Instructions for Echo from In Too Deep

Making Decisions

Did I mention how cool the miniatures are?! The bases also feature a slot to hold an item, although I found some of them to be just a tad too tight for the cardboard tokens.

Working out a strategy on the map was my favorite part. With just 2 actions per turn, every choice had to count.

At times, I could only control a single criminal. Yet as I worked to complete a storyline, I had up to 3 different individuals to work with, possibly with extra actions!

Blockades created barriers, drones added heat, and the sentinel offered both opportunities and problems.

Traveling Throughout the City with Quality Miniatures from In Too Deep

Bridging the Gap Between Multiple Mechanics

I still think this is one of the most unique sorts of themes, but it was the gameplay that fell short for me. For all the time and effort I put in, a single roll from the solo opponent could undo my efforts through no fault of my own. Items I had picked up could even be shifted away, which felt like a strange element that punished me for picking anything up.

The real struggle for me was how everything happened on its own: The board state was the core element, but evidence was on its own and wanted to share the spotlight. Many of the concepts were pretty simple and straightforward. Yet the randomness meant that I always felt like I wasn’t making much progress in the grand scheme of things.

For instance, I had a main storyline card to work towards at most times. Some of them were far too difficult to pull off, especially considering how my actions could be undone in an instant. And then, there were a couple I drew that were actually ready to be completed or required a single shift. Not exactly balanced: It truly was the luck of the draw.

Then again, perhaps the game simply isn’t for me. I dislike experiences where my progress can be completely reversed, particularly when playing solo. It’s an interesting way to add challenges, but it’s never struck me as a satisfying gaming moment. I hope this one works well for others, though, as the theme is still one I find quite fascinating!

Incomplete Chapters

Overall, the entire game spanned a total of 3 major rounds, or chapters. If every piece of evidence could be filed, there were bonuses to go around.

With the speed of the solo opponent, evidence was snapped up quickly. It was almost like I was the one who would determine if a chapter was completed or not.

Alas, it was quite difficult to keep up! I still managed to file away important evidence here and there, though.

It felt like there was something possibly amazing here, but all of the mechanics just barely missed the mark for me.

Missing the Last File Space from In Too Deep

Making It All Work

What fun! I enjoyed the storyline cards with their various requirements. Completing this one took some planning, but I managed to pull it off quite nicely in no time!

As for the rewards, I could either go for a safe or reckless approach. It came down to whether I wanted more clues or extra dilemma cards, which could cause some issues.

But again, I felt like I was mostly trying to keep up with the solo opponent. I wasn’t really driving the action.

So very close! Things might have gone well had I not been rather blindsided by the random end game scoring…

Matching the Requirements to Complete a Storyline from In Too Deep

Session Overview

Play Number: 1 and 2
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Outcome: 64-60 and 87-101 (1 Win and 1 Loss)

Different types of evidence determine some of the major end game criteria. This plays into a possible major penalty for the player with the most corruption, plus the point values of evidence types. The problem? Many of these tokens are left face down until the very end. So it turned out to be a random gamble that I only had a little control over. An interesting concept with a unique theme, but I felt like I didn’t have the chance to make a major impact.

Struggling to Pull Ahead with Hidden Information from In Too Deep

%

1 Play

Affordability

Price & Value

5

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

7

Originality

Design & Theme

9

Quality

Components & Rules

3

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

7

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

7

+ Pros (Positives)

  • All of the miniatures are amazing with plenty of details that make them easy to match up with their cards.
  • The unique theme looks at a technology-focused future with a consideration about morality and corruption.
  • Having a shared pool of characters adds to an interesting mechanic, and encourages utilizing everyone.
  • There are a lot of choices about how to interact with the board and work towards completing storyline cards.
  • Dilemma cards provide more scoring opportunities and corruption, enforcing the idea of balance and trade-offs.
  • Evidence can be filed in different ways to earn special boosts, complete the chapter, or affect final scoring.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • The rulebook is very dense with text, takes some time to get through, and requires a lot of flipping around.
  • Tons of components make for a huge play area, and the box only includes an insert to store the miniatures.
  • Random actions by the solo opponent and hidden information make it difficult to plan ahead each turn.
  • Not all of the storyline cards feel balanced in terms of difficulty, adding to the sense of always catching up.

More In Too Deep

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Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%

Goals and Milestones

R

Score at least 60 points.

R

Score at least 80 points.

Continue the Conversation

Have you played In Too Deep? What do you think about the theme and mechanics? I can see how this one would work well for the right sort of player… Which, sadly, isn’t me. But I had fun during some moments of play, especially when I completed some difficult storyline cards! And now I’m suddenly turning into a miniatures person. Ha ha!

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