Gangsters!: Taking Care of Business

Tagline: “It isn’t personal; it’s just business!”

This is a somewhat complex family game, but a light game for wargamers and others who do not mind “doing the dirty” to their competitors. It is set during the Prohibition era in America. It is not a “Euro” game insofar as it does involve tearing down the opposition as well as building up one’s own position. In other respects it is Euro-style:

Rarely takes more than an hour to play, typically 40 minutes

Rules are simple

Players have a few choices at each turn

No player elimination

Intervals between playing ("down time") are very short

There are not many pieces for a player to manipulate in a given turn

Brief description of play. The deck includes three major kinds of cards, rackets (which score points at endgame), enforcers, and actions. The objective is to score points at the end of the game (which occurs soon after the deck of 55 cards is used up). During a round the top card of the deck is revealed; each player in turn can swap that card for one in his hand, which then passes to the next player; the last gets whatever is left. Hence players know who has which cards, aside from the original deal. The last player plays a card onto the table (representing three areas of the city), or plays an action card. Enforcers protect your rackets and can “bust up” your opponent’s. The game tends to have a building up phase followed, near the end, by a fairly “bloody” phase during which many rackets and enforcers are removed from the table.

Components: 55 playing cards; 20 smaller cards (I use business-card size); rules (ca. 1,700 words)

Competition/Other Gangster Games: “Family Business” is a gangster card game. However it is entirely oriented to “bumping off” gang members, and plays *very* differently from this game by all accounts. Avalon Hill’s Gangsters (now out of print) has roughly the same theme, but is not, as far as I can tell, a card game.

I know of no game that uses the rounds of play mechanism or the other major mechanisms of this game, but I cannot pretend to be familiar with a great many card games.

Expansion/series possibilities: I do not see this as terribly expandable. Certainly additional cards can be devised, but an entire set as an expansion might be more than is practical. A “contemporary” stand-alone gangster game could be devised using the same rules but a different set of cards (e.g., Drugs instead of Liquor). It would likely involve much more killing, unfortunately.