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I’M THE BOSS!

Reviewed by Steve Kurzban

I’M THE BOSS! (Face 2 Face Games, 4-6 players, ages 12-88, 60 minutes; $35)

 

I’m the Boss! is the initial release in Face 2 Face Games’ Sid Sackson Signature Series, which will highlight both out of print (OOP) classics and unpublished prototypes from the “greatest game designer in the world” (according to Wolfgang Kramer). Kohle Kie$ & Knete was originally published in 1994 by Schmidt Spiele in Germany and was nominated for Germany’s Game of the Year Award (Spiel des Jahres), losing out to Andreas Seyfarth’s Manhattan Winter 1997 GA REPORT). The SdJ jury evidently felt that KKK had too much back-biting and nastiness for a family game award.

I’m the Boss! has a square track on its board, instead of the round one in KKK and resulting rectangular deal marker tiles. The names of the Investor families have been changed as has the artwork – neither a detriment nor an improvement in my book. The money to be earned from the deals is now represented by cards, making it easier to conceal your boodle. My only criticisms of the new design is that the number of investors and number of shares on the board should have been indicated by a larger font and should have been color coded, so they could be distinguished easily from across the table, and the game box could have used an insert to keep the components from sliding around.Imtheboss

Since KKK has been OOP for several years, copies had been commanding a premium on on-line auctions and through used game dealers in Europe, routinely fetching prices of $55-$85. Enter upstart US game company Face 2 Face Games, publishing Sid’s classic game of wheeling and dealing in English. The components are new but the game remains the same with the exception of several variants at the end of the rules booklet – some from the designer’s original prototype and some suggested by gamers over the years.

Because cards are still flying, the frenetic deal-making and raucous laughter that existed in the earlier version of the game remain its main appeal. The suggested rules variants tweak some perceived minor weaknesses from the 1994 published rules. Let’s look at them one at a time:

1) Turn order remains clockwise, even if a ‘Boss’ card had been played on the previous deal.

I’ve mixed emotions on this change, as the original rule gave players yet another reason to manipulate who the Boss should be – to set up turn order for the subsequent round of play.

2) If you have 10 or more cards at the start of your turn you must initiate a deal

This rule makes a lot of sense and had become standard with many game groups. No need to hoard cards to excess.

3) A player must either be the Boss or have played a card to get money from a deal

This closes the loop-hole of an extortionist demanding compensation for not playing a card.

4) Players who lost their investor card can draw an extra 4th card, those with 2 investors draw only 2 cards and those with 3 investors only draw one card per turn.

I like the reward of the 4th card to keep in the game those who have been targeted and lost their investor through takeovers but we found the penalties for having multiple investors too steep. Keep the normal 3 card draw for those with 1 or 2 investors and make the penalty of only drawing 2 cards apply only to someone with 3 investors.

5) You must have 4 or more cards at the start of your turn to initiate a deal

A good deterrent from letting your hand size dwindle

6) Hand limit of 10 cards starting with the 10th deal

I like the 12 card limit and see no reason to restrict its use late in the game

7) Rules for 2

Forget about it! I’m the Boss! excels with 5 or 6 players and loses much of its frenetic appeal with fewer players. Playing a multi-player free-for-all 2-handed is absurd.

Face 2 Face Games should be applauded for making KKK available to the English speaking gaming world. We fervently hope that their desire to republish many of Sid Sackson’s OOP designs and prototypes comes to fruition. I’m the Boss! is a great start. – – – – – – – – – – Steve Kurzban


 

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