Don't worry, Tony Danza isn't lurking around the corner of this review. Today Jeremiah's taking a look at The Boss, from Blue Orange Games. The Boss is a bluffing and hidden-information game for 2-4 players. Players are gangsters looking for their shot to move up the ranks by making hits on cities across the country.
So is the Boss a made man, or does he wear cement shoes? Let's check it out!
The Boss comes with a small board for scoring and keeping track of your gangsters if they end up in jail or the hospital.
27 City cards: Each City has a specific color and a unique set of cards .
8 Boss cards: Each Boss corresponds to a City and has a listing of each of the cards in that City's card sets.
Gangster cubes in two different sizes and four different colors for each of the players.
5 Police cards (2 gold badges, 2 silver badges and 1 with both gold and silver badges on it).
Also a few Banishment tokens.
Each player takes a set of cubes (7 big, 3 small). The small ones are a one-shot type--once you use them, they don't come back. Then you select a certain set of Cities and line the correct Bosses up (depending on how many players there are). Chicago is always placed second from the left. Then all of the cards that match the Cities in the game are shuffled up and one City card (of the matching color) is place face down under each Boss card. Then you deal the rest of the cards equally to the players. Each player places a cube on the start space of the score tracker, and you're all set.
On a player's turn you must play a card under a Boss (revealing info about that City), and then you may (if you want to) take control of a City. To do that you just place cubes on the Boss of your choice (you can't play on Chicago unless you've placed gangsters somewhere else first). You also can't place cubes on a city's Boss unless you place enough to have more total cubes than any other player who has cubes there.
Play goes on like that until all the cards are placed. Then the facedown cards are revealed and whoever controls those Cities either reaps the reward or suffers the punishment that is waiting for them! Chicago is a little different; if you control Chicago, you score half the total loot of the last cards placed on all of the cities to the left of Chicago. (It's a nice little twist!) Not all cards are good cards, so you may end up scoring, or you may end up putting your gangsters in the hospital or in jail where they have to wait a round or two before you get them back!
The last thing you do at the end of the round is flip over one of the 5 Police cards. Once there are 3 matching colors face up the game is over, and the player with the most points wins!
The Boss is just a touch to long to be placed in the filler category (at least I've found that in my dozen or so plays), but it makes a nice little main event for a casual or abbreviated game night. The tension is actually pretty high in The Boss, as Chicago adds a twist as the game gets into later rounds. This game is all about playing the right card at the right time to leak out information as strategically as possible. It's not a hard game to learn, but those tense decisions make it fun!
Thematically this game makes great sense, and the mechanics work harmoniously with the theme, bringing some real excitement as the final cards are revealed. You're not always sure if there's some sort of booby trap waiting for you, or if you're going to snag some loot!
The components are all great, and the artwork is spot on. I know Blue Orange was concerned because of the imagery showing guns, etc. But it makes so much thematic sense, and gives the game an added sense of adventure and a touch of grit without it ever seeming violent or gratuitous.
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--The Boss has just enough weight to it to keep gamers engaged, while being easy to teach and accessible to casual players. The Boss is a great bluffing, staring contest that's a hit with kids, families, casual players, and gamers alike!
Have you played The Boss? What did you think?
Theology of Games would like to thank Blue Orange Games for providing Jeremiah with a review copy of The Boss. This in no way affected his opinion of the game.