|3-6 Players||1.5 hours|
You are a white collar worker hoping to score brownie points with your boss. Make sales calls, schmooze, and sabotage your co-workers in the process.
The board tiles are placed randomly on the table, into a 4 by 4 square. After the board is assembled, players place their pieces in the appropriate spot in the Sales office. The time clock is kept between the last player in the turn sequence and the first player.
When a player's pawn starts a turn at their desk, they have a choice of actions. They may make sales calls, or roll the die to move their pawn around the office.
To make a sales call, a player draws a card from the phone stack. Unless this card ends their turn, they may draw a second card from this stack. The player may not move their pawn if they make a sales call, so after reading their cards, their turn ends.
If a player decides to move around the office, they roll the movement die. If the die roll has a question mark, "?" next to the number, the player must move the spaces and then draw a cards from the "?" deck. After moving and reading their card... their turn ends. Players do not have to move the entire number of spaces rolled on the die.
After the last player makes their move or sales calls, the clock advances by 15 minutes.
The cards range from merely awarding a few Brownie points (BPs) to asking players to go to specific office locations to gain more BPs or avoid losing BPs. Some cards have time limits (usually 2 turns) most do not. If a player recieves a card that tells them to do something "Immediately" they must place the card face up in front of them and spend their next turn(s) attempting to complete that task.
The player who has the most BPs is the Employee of the Month -- aka the EOM. They get a nice red chip to put in front of them, and they are the unhappy target of many of the card tasks. Anytime a player passes the current EOM in BPs, the new points leader claims the EOM title and chip.
Many of the Phone cards are actually "Secrets" -- these are special cards which allow you to influence other players turns or are severe punishments if you don't get the card into another player's hands. Secrets are traded between players by "gossiping." To gossip, players must have their pawn land in a square with another player outside of the Sales office. When gossiping, the player who moved gives one card to the opponent, then draws a random card from the opponent in return.
Gossiping may only be avoided by revealing secrets -- for instance, a player may be about to hand you the "project from hell" secret... but you can cancel this by playing another secret like "the boss is behind you"... countering back and forth until one player cannot play makes gossiping quite fun.
If a player has accumulated too many "bad secrets" they may go to "Lunch." This allows them to discard as many cards as they like -- gaining 1 BP for each card -- but, they miss 30 minutes (2 turns) of play.
Finally, the best way to gain BPs is to get your review from the Boss at the end of the day. This can be done between 3 and 5 pm. After 5, the game is over and you don't get extra points. Once you have been reviewed, you are out of the game and your score is protected.
The player who has the most brownie points at the end of the game wins.
If you like the movie "Office Space" or the comic strip "Dilbert", then this game is one you are sure to enjoy. If, however, you actually work in a white collar corporate office -- it may force you to relive your worst nightmares.
We played using rules labeled version 1.0 -- There are later revisions of the rules if you check the website.
This game works because all of the players have simple goals. The turns are consistent, and strategy tends to revolve around getting the most brownie points. In our games, the opportunities to gossip were rarely used -- largely because no one had cards when the opportunities presented themselves. When gossiping did occur, it was usually an attempt to make the EOM lose points just prior to getting the Boss' review.
In general, humor can help or hurt a game. In this game, the humor helps -- a lot. The variety of tasks and secrets ensure that the game has some replay value, even though the plot is seemingly bland corporate life. The game flows quickly, and keeps the players attention. As long as the humor is appreciated, it's also fun.
The game setup has a few minor flaws. First, the "Immediate" cards sometimes are not obvious -- we found that most cards should be kept hidden UNLESS they actually affected every player. Had the "Immediate" cards been labeled more clearly, it would have resolved some of our rules discussion the first time we played. (I refer to cards that become "Immediate" AFTER you perform a special task...it is unclear if these should be played face up right away, or only when the condition is met to make the card become an "Immediate" action.)
The second minor flaw is the game's instructions for setting the board up. As far as we can tell, there is little purpose for the board setup strategy... no one actually benefits from the office layout, so the elaborate task wherein all of the players assemble the board could be skipped by having a single person set it up.
Finally, we have a short list of other comments and oddities -- the game comes with "stress chips", they aren't used except for putting stickers on them at assembly time. We have no idea what their original use was...but they don't do anything. The rules neglect to mention that you'll need a score pad and a pen -- the Brownie points add up and subtract very fast. Lastly, our "what-if" scenario that the rules don't mention -- if two players simultaneously jump ahead of the EOM in points and are tied... which one becomes the new EOM? We had to flip a coin to resolve this one.
There aren't any major holes in the rules because of a very effective sentence -- it restates the "golden rule" of Magic the Gathering -- Do what the card says and use common sense. This saved so many arguments that it needs to be praised.
We liked this game enough to recommend it -- but it is priced a little high for our taste. Those of us who would buy this game were thinking that it would cost $15 to $20 -- in reality, it costs $30. The game has some quality issues in its rules and printing -- there are quite a few typos. (Even the website admits that the rules have a lot of typos in version 1.0.) If you get a copy of this game, I hope you get a later version of the rules -- and some of the cards... the typos certainly detract from version 1.0, but the game is fun even with the typos.
As a note to parents, the game's humor is occasionally centered around "potty humor"-- and some language is borderline offensive for younger kids. Examine the cards closely before allowing a child under 14 play this game.
Where to buy:
The only place to buy this game is online at Immersion Games. As of May 2003, it costs $30.
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