FAMILY BUSINESS - Reviewed by John
Category/Format: Conflict/Card Game
A 30 minute card game, copyright Spielfreaks Ltd (Europe - 1987) and Mayfair Games (USA - 1982), based on Mob fighting during the 1919 - 1933 Prohibition period in America. A fun game to be taken as such, not a game for bad losers.
As the Boss of a gang you have to eliminate your opponents by skilfully playing your cards, thus making what's left of your Family Business all powerful. There are two sets of cards, the Mob deck and the Action deck.
The game is for 2 - 6 players, aged 11+. Each player selects a mob (9 cards of a given colour) and places them face up on display to all other players. Two cards representing,
a) A WALL up against which gangsters will be placed on the Hit List, and
b) A CEMETERY where eliminated gangsters will be buried, are removed from the Mob deck and placed in the middle of the playing area. The Action deck is shuffled and each player receives 5 cards.
In turn players will take a further card from the Action deck and then play a card from their hand of 6 cards. The instructions on the card are then obeyed (unless the player nominates it as a discard - normally because the player holds 6 cards not relevant at the time). Some of the cards will apply to all players, others will affect the Mob nominated by the player. A Mob that is attacked may have Cards to counter that attack and even damage the attacker.
A successful CONTRACT on a gangster involves him being placed Up against the wall. Once six gangsters are against the wall a Mob War will start and the gangsters will start to be killed one at a time and placed in the cemetery.
The types of cards found in the Action deck are -
a) Contract cards - puts an opponents gangster on the Hit list
b) Counter cards - to block the above action and sometimes to invoke retaliatory action.
c) Attack cards (6) - which escalate the War
d) Rescue cards (7) - which allow a player to remove, rearrange or replace gangsters on the hit list.
The novel twist to this game is that the sequence of play is clockwise unless a Counter Card is played, in which instance that Countering player replenishes his hand back to 5 and then it is THEIR turn and the sequence goes clockwise from THEM, until another Counter card is played. This can be very frusrating if you have a Rescue card to play but can't get in to play it , as the following sequence portrays : -
Suppose in a 6-player game, players are A-F, and against the wall at the moment are 4 gangsters, these being D,D,A,C. You are Player D and you have a Rescue card which states that you can Rescue ALL your mobsters from the Wall, so you're not too worried. It is B's turn to play and the sequence goes like this :
B plays a Contract on E; E plays a Counter card which requires B to put one of his mobsters against the wall. The wall now reads D,D,A,C,B.
It is now E's turn as he played a Counter so he plays a Contract on A, for which there is no Counter so A's mobster now goes on the wall, which reads D,D,A,C,B,A
As no Counter was played the turn goes clockwise to F. But wait, there are 6 mobsters on the wall so a Mob War breaks out and the one nearest the wall gets killed first...oh dear, it's the first of the D's
F plays a Contract on E, there is no Counter so E places a mobster on the wall, which now reads D,A,C,B,A,E
As no Counter was played the turn goes clockwise to A but the first mobster on the wall gets killed...oh dear, it's D again. So you see his Rescue cards were of no use to him. Needless to say, player D will get his revenge later on, which is what makes this a cut-throat, yet enjoyable game !
So have FUN, if you're picked upon take it on the chin and come up fighting next time.