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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Family Business) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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Box Art




SUMMARY
Style of Game: Filler, Card Game
Play Time: 30 minutes
Theme: Pasted on
Number of Players: 2-6
Main Mechanics: Take-that!
Components: Good
Weight: Light

OBJECTIVE
There are just too many gangs in this town for their own good. So you and your mob family have decided it is time to eliminate the rival gangs and be the last gang standing. Eliminate all other mobsters in your opponent's gangs and you are the winner.

SETUP
Start by placing the box on the table so that all players can reach it. Put the box bottom on top of the box lid. Use one of the short sides of the box as "the wall". Once you have done this each player should take the nine cards of a mob family and spread the cards out in front of them, face-up. Finally, shuffle the action cards and deal each player 5 cards face-down and place the rest of the deck within reach of all players. Now, is "the wall" setup necessary? No. Is it something that adds to the flavor of the game? Yes. You can choose whether or not you want to use the wall but either way it is important to keep the hit list organized so you know which mechanisms to be using throughout the game.



GAMEPLAY
Each player starts the game with five action cards in their hand and nine gangsters face-up in front of them. Each of the gangster cards is of exactly equal value and the gangs have no asymmetrical special powers. The heart of the game is in the action cards.

There are three types of action cards: red, green, and blue.

Action Cards
The red action cards are attack cards of various types. The main attack cards are contracts. These contracts simply place one mobster of an opponent on the hit list. There are variations of contract cards and more aggressive attack cards that allow you to forego the hit list and just kill other mobsters. There are also attack cards that are uber aggressive and slaughter multiple mobsters at the same time.

Then there are green action cards called rescue cards. There are fewer types of green cards and they function as the means for you to protect your mobsters. This can be done in several ways, the most common being to return one mobster from the hit list to the controlling player.

Finally, there are blue cards called counter cards. While each type of action card directly contributes to the strategy you are taking toward influencing the standard game play, the blue cards take your strategy outside the normal flow of play and include turn order. Not only do these cards reverse or cancel the attacks of other players, they give you the next turn, so knowing when to use blue cards in a way that goes deeper than just protecting your own mobsters is vital. One blue card may be played on each turn. All players have the opportunity to play this one blue card though. It does not have to be the player being attacked. The player that is able to announce the use of the blue card first will get to use their card. This is where the deeper strategy of the blue cards comes in. I can cancel the effect of a contract or other types of cards when it is impacting another player so that I can take the next turn.

A turn
On a player's turn he or she will draw a card so that they then have six cards in their hand. They then play one card from their hand or just discard a card if no valid card is playable. A player plays the card face-up to the table and announces the effect of the card.

Here the purple player has played a red attack card and has targeted the green player.



If a player must put one of their mobsters on the hit list they will slide the mobster of their choice from in front of them to the next open spot on the hit list in the middle of the table. If there are no mobsters on the hit list then the player will stand his or her card up against the box that was placed during setup. All mobsters that are on the hit list are in danger, but not immediately killed. The mobsters that are closer to the box are in more danger than those at the end of the hit list.



All players have the opportunity to be the first player to immediately play a counter card to reverse or cancel the effects of the card played, if possible. To start the game turn order will move to the left but if any player plays a blue counter card that player will take the next turn. Again, only one blue cards can be played on a turn and it does not have to be played by the player that was impacted by the card played by the active player.

The green player has played a blue counter card.



Now the purple player would have to place his mobster on the wall instead of the green player.




If there are ever 6 or more mobster cards on the hit list a mob war begins. When there is a mob war in effect, before the next player begins his or her turn the mobster that is up against the wall will be killed. That mobster card is turned face-down and placed in the box. All remaining mobster cards are slid toward the box, the closest mobster card is now stood up against the wall and will be killed immediately at the beginning of the next turn. A mob war continues until there are no mobster cards on the hit list at the beginning of a player's turn or the truce card is played. Play then goes back to normal and mobsters that are placed on the hit list now are not killed at the beginning of a player's turn, until another mob war begins.








Play continues like this until there are six or fewer mobster cards in play (meaning in front of players and on the hit list combined). Once there are 6 or fewer card a mob war immediately begins no matter how many mobsters are on the hit list and the game will continue until a player wins. The last player with a living mobster (in front of them or on the hit list) wins the game.

There are several other rules in this game that are directly controlled by the effects of the action cards and how they interact with each other but I am not going to go into all of those.

MIXTURE OF THEME AND MECHANICS
The mechanisms don't make this game drip with theme but they mesh with a mob theme for the most part. There are some things you could question if you were trying to pick the game apart, and for the most part, the theme could be changed and the mechanisms wouldn't need changed but there's a little flavor that you can engage in.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pros:
- Fast-paced, take-that game that is fun
- Easy to learn, fun theme, and plays pretty quickly
- Creates a fun atmosphere, especially if the players create alliances and rivals
- Solid game for the price point
- Luck is somewhat mitigated with negotiations (not always)

Cons:
- A lack of the right cards can really put you behind
- There are several cards in the game but there's not that many that spice the game up too much. A lot of the game is, play a contract... can you cancel or reverse a contract? No. Good. Yes. Shucks.
- One player can be picked on strongly
- The counter cards can cause a player to miss multiple turns. Before you say, "He should play a blue card to take the turn order!" Sometimes you simply do not have a blue card and you can't get one because you never get a turn.

Now, I listed some cons and they may seem like hefty concerns but at the end of the day I like this game. Personally, the only con that ever really gives me a negative feel (not always just for myself) is the losing multiple turns because of the way turn order can change so easily. Again, if you are not dealt a blue card at the beginning of the game, which is of no fault of your own, you have no way to influence turn order. Now, some groups house rule this to the point that turn order does not change with the use of blue cards, but I don't typically like having to house rule a game to enjoy it. So we play this game with the counter card rule and just suck it up.

The other concerns are just small things people should be aware of when considering this game. While there are not a ton of cards that spice up the core of the card play, the ones that are in the game are definitely fun and must be played well or they will be wasted. The game is meant to be quick and fun and it is most of the time. Every once in awhile the game starts to drag out in the middle of the game. The end is always fun, but the middle can make you start to wonder how long you have been playing.

The core of this game is the game play but the element that makes it enjoyable is when you can create some negotiations and start playing cards to help one another and create a better feel of theme. This is a great game to play with the same people somewhat regularly and allow the meta-game of some previous games start to build some tension. Constantly playing this with new groups is easy, but doesn't always allow that feel to build in the first game with a group.

I don't want to sound too negative here because I do enjoy the game. We seem to go through periods of playing this game regularly and not playing it at all. It is just one of those games that I think people should be aware of the cons because it is the kind of game that is barely going to tip one way or the other on the scales for each person. I'm not sure it's a hate it or love it kind of game... More like slightly above average or slightly below average. I just so happen to fall on the slightly above average side of that spectrum when I weigh the pros and cons.


Rating - 6/10

If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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