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Flashback: Kohle, Kies, & Knete

(In this issue, we review I’m the Boss!: The Card Game, a card game linked to the Sid Sackson design that first appeared in the marketplace as a boardgame with the title Kohle, Kie$ & Knete. So, we thought it might be interesting to “FLASHBACK” to the feature treatment Steve Kurzban gave to the original game way back when in the Summer 1997 issue of GA REPORT)

(Schmidt Spiele, 3-6 players, about 60 minutes, 1994; out of print)

Reviewed by: Steve Kurzban

Ikkkt’s a shame that America’s finest game designer, Sid Sackson (Acquire, Bazaar, Can’t Stop, Domination, Executive Decision, Sleuth, Venture etc.) can only get his recent designs published overseas in boardgame-crazed Europe – where the kohle.jpg 17 KBdesigner actually gets his/her name on the box. Kohle, Kie$ & Knete (loosely translated as “Boodle, Buck$ & Bread” and referred to hereafter as KKK) is a very American game in content (deal making) but with a mechanism that is very Germanic in execution. KKK is highly interactive, with 3 to 6 players (best with 5 or 6) constantly and simultaneously involved in frenetic card play and negotiation.

KKK’s board shows 16 deals waiting to be completed. The game has a variable ending after the tenth deal has been concluded, which adds tension and uncertainty. Dividends on deals increase as more are concluded. Each deal requires the participation of a different combination of investor cards (or their greedy relatives) to be concluded. If a deal can be put together by the current “boss”, the participants must agree to the distribution of the dividends that result.

The mechanism that makes this wheeling and dealing so entertaining is the influence cards. Players are dealt five of these cards to start the game and can’t have more than 12 at any time. The influence cards are a volatile mix of Clan cards (relatives of the investors),. Travel cards (sending investors of clan on vacation and unable to deal), Recruitment cards (played in triples to steal investors from other players), Boss card (to take control of current negotiations) and Stop cards (to negate Travel, Recruitment and Boss cards).

On a player’s turn, he must first decide to either open the current deal (board space the marker is currently on) or draw three influence cards and pass to the next player. If a deal is opened, the Boss must try to recruit the investors needed to earn the dividends. Other players can cooperate or sabotage the deal by playing their influence cards out of turn. This results in a wild free-for-all that leaves most gamers exhausted by game’s end. This interaction makes for a variety of strategic options that require clever timing, negotiating and cooperation among the participants.

Most multi-player games bog down with the addition of a fifth of sixth player. Not so with KKK which flows effortlessly with six for an exhilarating 60 minutes. There is never a lull or any dead time between turns in this contest of savvy and guile. This game is definitely not for the passive or timid gamer.

The components – board, deal tiles, money and colorfully cartoonish cards – are all top notch. Finding a copy of KKK, part of Schmidt’s “Bestselling Authors” series, can be difficult but is well worth the effort. KKK has become one of our playtesting groups all-time favorites. Highly recommended.


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