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Subject: Review: Blackmail rss

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Michael Cheong
Singapore
Singapore
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I've noticed that only popular or well-known games get reviewed while the lesser lights, good or bad, tend to be neglected. Where better to start than an unknown game with but 1 rating? (which I realise is my own, I think)

Blackmail is a 2-4 player game and the theme of the game is that each player is an unscrupulous neighbour trying to blackmail the other players by cacthing them at inopportune moments. Sounds fun enough. The gametrack is uniquely shaped, a kind of four-petal layout with each person's house in the centre, something like a Ludo board with curved edges.

Each player has his own movement token, a few cameras and some envelopes. I'm one for nicely done pieces, but Blackmail just doesn't cut it. The pieces are made of rather cheap plastic and the envelopes are less than satisfactory. I was willing to overlook these weak game pieces in hope that the game may prove to be a gem. How disappointed I would turn out to be.

Basically, the game consists of rolling dice, moving to a location and paying to place a camera on that space. If you choose to place a camera on that spot, any other player who lands on that space gets 'blackmailed' by you, resulting in an envelope at your house. When you have made a full round around the track back to your house, you have to first count how many envelopes are at your doorstep. Then, you can negotiate with the blackmailer a 'settlement' price or you can afford to bypass the negotiation and take your chances by drawing the labelled 'Blackmail' cards. By drawing a card, the player is forced to pay whatever sum is indicated on the flipside. Clearly, that's a double-edged sword, depending on how much you were (un)willing to pay during the negotiation stage.

There seems to be so much potential for extortion and brinksmanship, but the ineptitude of the game makes it fall rather flat on its face. While the 'negotiate or I'll take a risk' mechanic works reasonably well, the truth is that the game is won and lost in the first round. The player who is unlucky enough to receive the first blackmail letter loses big time, because your starting capital is not enough to conduct a decent negotiation, and taking your chances with the random Blackmail cards is even worse, before they can bankrupt you and knock you out of the game straight off. So, you'll be crippled, with not enough money to place more cameras while your blackmailer can further extend his advantage because he's got more cash to spend on more cameras.

Essentially, the game goes round and round in this vicious cycle. It's pretty much 'winner takes all'. That's worsened by the fact that the advantage is accrued entirely by luck. In our first game, I was unfortunate to suffer the first blow, from which I never recovered, even as I tried to recoup what I could in the next stages. Meanwhile, the original blackmailer had gone off and placed around 4-5 cameras to my 2, and the contest was effectively over. Even though there are 'redemption' cards like the FBI card among the blackmail cards, which sends the balckmailer to jail (lose a turn), they are hardly any solace or even common enough to pose a threat to the blackmailer.

By and large, this game commits the gravest mistake any game can ever commit: it simply isn't fun. We gave it two shots, we never finished either game, and in both instances, tellingly, it was the leading player who decided to stop the game and start over, because he wasn't enjoying himself.

I would be content to put this game at 4/10, but the terrible English on the cards (misspelling 'loses' as 'looses', etc) makes me relegate this to 3/10. Where the heck is the QC? It may be selling reasonably well for a board game here in Singapore (locally made, I believe), but you find it more often in shops selling 'drinking games' or 'sex games' rather than the real board game stores. Rightly so.
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joris etraco
Belgium
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You are nothing but a "SORE LOSER" without any luck !!cry
You wrote in your "profile" that dice-rolling games are not for you because in Monopoly you go jail in, jail out, jail in etc. You also wrote in your "review" that you never "recovered" from the first blow you already suffered in your very first game.
I think you should better go back to your computer games wich you can play on your own, then nobody will know that you are losing and you do not need to "recover" from any blow :-))
Do not give any "reviews" on games if you are not mature enough to handle losing a game.
I have seen grown man laughing their heads off while playing this game, right at home and not in a drinking or sexselling place shake
 
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Hunter Shelburne
United States
San Marcos
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sijor wrote:
You are nothing but a "SORE LOSER" without any luck !!cry
You wrote in your "profile" that dice-rolling games are not for you because in Monopoly you go jail in, jail out, jail in etc. You also wrote in your "review" that you never "recovered" from the first blow you already suffered in your very first game.
I think you should better go back to your computer games wich you can play on your own, then nobody will know that you are losing and you do not need to "recover" from any blow :-))
Do not give any "reviews" on games if you are not mature enough to handle losing a game.
I have seen grown man laughing their heads off while playing this game, right at home and not in a drinking or sexselling place shake


Some people aren't sore losers, they just don't like luck driven games. Alot of people here don't enjoy them. I myself don't, but I like a smattering of luck and dice here and there. Instead of making ignorant comments like the one you just made, try and see what kind of a community you are in here, overwhelmingly anti-luck driven games.
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Layla Travers
United States
Texas
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The take on Blackmail
I'm not what you would call a typical board gamer - in fact I don't play them that often, haven't since I was a kid. But I did play Blackmail a while back. A friend of mine has it and practically had to beg me to play with him. Reluctantly having agreed he explained the rules to me and we got started. At first, I wasn't too interested, but the longer I played the more I started to enjoy myself. I felt like I was getting sucked into the game and even made it a point to try to windevil , which I didn't but my friend was very amused with how I got carried away with playing. All in all, I found the game compelling and this coming from a gal who doesn't like to play boardgames!
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