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Subject: London on Board reviews: I'm the Boss rss

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Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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After doing a couple of group reviews at the end of last year, London on Board is now selecting a game of the month and asking everyone to try and post their thoughts. First up is a recent craze at the club, Sid Sackson's I'm the Boss. I think the game was first brought in by Soren quite a while back, but it didn't take off at the club until the recent reprint. Since then, it must have been practically keeping Paul in business all by itself!

So is the love universal? First up, the BoardGameGuru himself.

Paul Lister
United Kingdom
London
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What I find scary about I'm the Boss is how is takes me back to 'Nam, er no, working in a finance deal making environment. The deal making process is quite like a lot of Capital Market transactions, Except an 'I'm the boss' card would be a 'Call to the Chairman, my cousin' or a 'Away on Holiday' would be a 'Come and join us on a XXXXX guaranteed bonus'. Back to Scary - the players fall into these rolls seamlessly shouting, pleading, hectoring, even down right threatening, almost willing to sell their grannies to do the deal - all the sort of behaviour seen in the meeting rooms of the City of London and Canary wharf. And all these players are normal sociable upright human beings. They don't bear grudges (quite like the markets, never let personal feelings get in the way of making money) and then slip back from sociopath to sociable the instant the game finishes. The game almost has a role playing element, it encourages fast ands loose alliances, and in that, it reminds me a little of Diplomacy. It's an amazing game.

Thumbs up from Paul then, what about our other former Geeks of the Week?

John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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I think the thing that really separates I'm the Boss from other negotiation games is the lack of grudges. You can stab someone in the back one minute and do a deal with them the next. It only takes a few minutes of your first game to see that everyone screws with everyone. So you just join in the fun The game is quick to teach and despite the crazy claim on the box of the game lasting 1 to 4 hours, I've never seen it go over an hour. So quick, easy and fun. A pretty good combo.

Tom P
United Kingdom
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Only one play so far but would like to play again. Loved it - wasn't sold on the theme at first but once the cards started to get played at just the right moment to really mess everyone's game up I saw just how fun this is. It's a total riot and I'm sure with more plays I'll have more constructive comments but for me this is a great game if you like lots of interaction, some planning with total annihilation of said planning just before the plan comes to fruition. Which I do, however frustrating that may be!

3 for 3! And I'm not going to disagree with them.

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Easily the most fun negotiation game I've played, because it's so freeform and it doesn't (with the groups I've played with) suffer from the problem of people feeling hard done by. There are some clever design decisions, like having the powerful recruitment effect require three cards rather than one (compare to the overpowered "Deal Breaker" card in the Monopoly Deal Card Game). I like the randomised suspense-building endgame too, though there does seem to be a slight problem of the person who gets the last deal having the best shot of winning. But really, this game takes a few minutes to explain, is (unusually) great with six players, doesn't outstay its welcome and is a huge amount of fun. It's with good reason that it's become a firm LoB favourite, and it also went down so well with my sister and her fiance that they picked up a copy too.

Let's keep the love flowing for now.

Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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The theme and board design didn't appeal to me at all when I'm the Boss was pulled out, but I was certainly in for a surprise. This game is all about knowing when to make a deal and when to step away and - the most fun part - when to try to ruin somebody else's deal.

Unlike so many dry and deliberate eurogame auction mechanics, the words "I'm making a deal" are followed by a round of backstabbing and jostling for position that really does capture the feel of ruthless investors looking after only their own interests. It's easy to get carried away and overpay just to get into the action, and that's one of the great things about the game: optimisation strategies go straight out of the window once the jostling starts. And then when the turn is done you realise that, in the heat of the moment, you've spent all your cards and have no play next round.

It's not all party-game shouting as it's actually quite hard to eke the best value out of every play. At the end of the game I always think back as to how I should have played: less shouting and more restraint. And then next game I forget that and throw myself into the dealmaking feeding frenzy. But win or (always) lose, I'm the Boss has been good fun every time.

Henrik Havighorst
Germany
Haltern am See
NRW
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I have only played this game once but enjoyed it very much and the prospect of playing this again, with other people is quite exciting. The game design is as simple as it gets and relies solely on the fact that the players are happy to dedicate their energy and communication skills to the game. I can see how game might not be that interesting should players decide to not go with the theme and simply try to struck the best deals with no negotiation, backstabbing and skulduggery going on.

But if you happen to play with a lively bunch and some cutthroats in your midst you are in for a treat. The game is well balanced due to the setup and you it is likely that everyone will himself in the position of the boss and the lackey respectively, depending on the situation. The artwork is a bit dated and so is the card design and it takes a few minutes to get your head around it, but that's okay with me.

For a game of that age it plays surprisingly good and it is a testimony to the ancient formula, keep it simple.

Wow, does anyone have a bad word to say?

Jon Day
United Kingdom
Lee
LONDON
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I've also played the game once. I would say that I would be happy to play the game but I wouldn't consider purchasing my own copy.

Positive:
Simplicity - few rules and those there are are intuitive with the theme. i could very easily see myself playing this with my semi-gaming family.
Some nice 'take that' moments as you play your 3rd I'm the boss card on the same deal
Playtime is appropriate for the depth of the game.

Negative:
Limited replay value.
Poor card design - it is sometimes difficult to tell permanent family cards from use once cards.
A new player can very easily unwittingly give the game to another player through poor bargaining.
You can get frozen out of deals due to the card draw vs the deals that are landed on.

I can't help but think that this design could be tweaked a little and made into a great gamers' game. As it is its a decent family game, but there's not really enough here to keep me coming back.

More tempered approval from Jon. What about Lloyd?

Lloyd
United Kingdom
Camden
London
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Back-stabbing and general chaos within the first few minutes, and as long as everyone goes in to the game with the understanding that you are *meant* to be as evil to each other as possible, it is a huge amount of fun.

As for our game: I was managing to talk people in to cutting me in to almost every deal, but was soon identified as leading (I was!) and so cut out of deals and became a target for people to try and recruit my investors or to send my investors away when I was in on deals.
This game was probably the quietest I have played so far (in 3 attempts), but still had half the table shouting at each other and laughing as people scuppered deals at the last minute and played "I'm the Boss" cards on top of others.

A great, cut-throat game that seems to always get people laughing, arguing and cursing each other, but in the best way possible.
This is maybe not a game I'd buy myself, but is one that I'm always happy to play when I see it.

And Will has lots to say.

Will Mellor
United Kingdom
London
ENGLAND
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I am the boss is a truly great game! (from my one play!)

As Paul says this feels like it mimics a dealing / trading environment - after 60 mins you have quite a buzz. Unlike say open outcry trading which is actually quite organized (but looks chaotic) this really is chaotic! The game itself reminds me of Chinatown (which I love) in that it's pure negotiation throughout.

Unlike Chinatown where you work in parallel negotations for other players building / business assets and information is open (money excepted), in ITB information is mostly hidden. Open character cards are used to form the basis of a single negotiation per turn with additional hidden cards from players' hands that can be played at any time. There are six open characters and (with 6 players) up to 60 (I think) hidden cards so this means that what will happen in a round is pretty much anyone's guess.

Each player starts with one of the Open character cards but these can be stolen which can leave players feeling out of it until they amass cards to steal a character back. The range of cards mean that its possible to engage in a negotiation even if you have lost your character.

Actually - in our game I didn't have an open character for a lot of the game. It meant that I felt disengaged from all the chaos and a bit withdrawn. However, like dealing / trading its all about timing and there was enough space in the game for me to figure out ways of doing creative deals "I will cancel that vacation if you cut me xxx".
Just like trading people lean to closing deals with people they think are doing badly and conversely won't deal with people that seem to be doing well. This means that it can actually be an advantage to not have an Open character as this is seen as an advantage - particularly if you have more than one! The guy that can do a little deal every time will likely win.

So... thoughts... On one hand it was engaging exhilarating and exhausting at a level beyond most other games. On the other for large portions I felt out of the game - I wasn't involved and everyone else was having all the action. I didn't like how the game fluctuated between periods of deals and periods where people just took cards. It felt very stop-start but I imagine in some games not all the players would follow this flow and would take a contrarian approach to make sure they have cards when others don't.

I am the boss is a truly great game but its not without flaws. I would see it as a nice game for a change of pace once in a while but more regular play would probably diminish the experience.

Let's wrap things up with some brief thoughts on a few other sessions.

John Mitchell
United Kingdom
Enfield
Middlesex
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This differed from the game I played last month in that people started making deals early, rather than pick up cards to the max. There seemed fewer family cards being played from hand - most deals involved just the permanent investors - and the game ended well before the draw deck was exhausted. I thought sometimes people were selling their involvement too cheaply. Also, making deals too readily with those already rich.I think we all had fun.

Simon Harris
United Kingdom
Sutton
Surrey
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I can see what the fuss is about, it really seems to be my kind of game. Stacks of interaction, backstabbing and deal making/breaking and all in a surprisingly short time frame given the amount going on.

Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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I'd never played before, but my experience with Traders of Genoa stood me in good stead and I grabbed a sneaky victory from Soren's grasp! It's good to be involved in as many deals as possible.

Soren Vejrum
United Kingdom
Richmond
Surrey
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Always, great fun. Thought I finally had the victory this time after managing to be in many deals and blocking John B a number of times, but first-timer Rich flew under the radar and stole the victory

Looks like I'm the Boss will be a firm LoB favourite for some time to come.
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Andre Lucato
Brazil
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Awesome multifaceted review. I once had the opportunity to attend LOB so it's easy to hear the Guinness toasts whenever a deal is closed.
Best wishes from overseas to Paul and all of you mates.
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John Fisher
United States
Fairfield
Ohio
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I have incorporated an idea that helps with the card design.

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/7181683#7181683
 
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