The Game Bistro

An infrequent blog devoted to the gaming pursuits of Kevin Whitmore, host of a weekly game night at the "Game Bistro", and longtime gamer who thinks too much about boardgaming.
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Big Bad Boss

Kevin Whitmore
United States
New Mexico
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So a while back I sought out and have now collected nearly all the Franckh pre-Kosmos games. Apart from a few dreary exceptions, I got all of the cool looking games they produced, except for the extremely rare and very-expensive Big Boss. I know of one copy for sale at £250, something like $400 – whoof!

So what does a collector do? Well, I perked up with interest when I noticed the pieces used in one of the other Franckh games I got, Terra Turrium, uses the exact same pieces as Big Boss. Oh there is the detail that the Big Boss corporations have special stickers on eight of the blocks, but otherwise – exactly the same building pieces! And Terra Turrium has enough of them too. Big Boss has 100 building blocks, eight of which are specially stickered. Terra Turrium has 100 identical building blocks. So a bit of labeling and eight of them could serve as the special corporation toppers. Promising!

Another nice touch is that Big Boss uses the same colored sticks as player flags that Terra Turrium does, Nice!

Big Boss also has a counter and 7 shares for each of the eight businesses. This seems trivially easy for me to make some homemade versions. But as so often happens with my idle plans of action, I hit a slight snag and had not yet solved it, when I got distracted…

The snag was the board… I took a look at the pictures here on BGG, and deduced that the board used for Big Boss was not going to be able to be recreated using the Terra Turrium board. The Big Boss board has a sequence of 72 spaces, that ramble about in an eccentric path.

The key point is the longest straight path is 12 spaces long. The Terra Turrium board is a 10 x 10 grid, and it is also raised so that the blocks nest nicely on their spots. Not unsolveable, but enough to slow me down.

The distraction: an online friend of mine decided to sell off his copy of Alcazar. Alcazar is a 2009 release that was intended as an update to Big Boss. However, it is a serious departure from the original game. The theme has shifted from sleek business buildings to rustic castle building.

Further, the game play was significantly altered, the shares were eliminated, and replaced by nobles to place in the castles. I went back and forth on whether to get this game, but ultimately crumbled and got it.

So now I am examining Alcazar, and evaluating what to do. The most obvious idea is to play it as written. The second thought is to play the enclosed “New Big Boss” game enclosed as a variant within it. The only barrier to that is that the game is entirely in German, but this will not stop me, I can do translation work when motivated. A third option is to follow Joe Huber’s guide to How to play Big Boss (or something very similar) with a copy of Alcazar, as posted here on BGG. And a fourth option would be to use the Terra Turrium pieces on the Alcazar board to actually play Big Boss as written.

Four options! Sounds good, but which to do first? Often if a game doesn’t go over well, it can be harder to get it back on the table for a second chance. I’m likely to go with option 1 or option 4. In considering option 4, I have realized that I would still be doing a slight variant. The Alcazar board is very close to the Big Boss route of wandering spaces. But it is not identical.

(note how Big Boss has the first lane run from 1-12, while Alcazar runs from 1-11.)

I am still evaluating, but I don’t think this slight shifting of corners would pose a big change to the play of the game. On the bright side, the Terra Turrium pieces fit perfectly onto the Alcazar spaces.

Oh! One more detail – Big Boss uses a deck of 90 cards containing 72 ground plots (1-72) and 18 Story cards. Unfortunately the cards from Alcazar do not support this, as they have given the Tower cards (which correspond to Big Boss’s Story cards) a different back. Fortunately I own a 6 nimmt deck, and can use that to support playing Big Boss with a deck of 90 cards, all with the same back.

So it would seem I am finally ready to play Big Boss: I will use an Alcazar board, playing pieces from Terra Turrium, shares and counters that are home made, and cards from a 6 nimmt deck!

God, I hope I like it.
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