Buzzworthiness: You’re Fired!

Thanks to Button Shy Games for providing a review copy of this game.

Today’s review is for a business themed game that just went live on Kickstarter today.  It’s called:

image by BGG user jtagmire
image by BGG user jtagmire

You’re Fired! is a 2-4 player game from designer Doug Levndowski, and is the first in Button Shy’s so-called Tuckbox series (I reviewed a few games from their Wallet Series back in August).  Your company has been taken over by a transnational corporation, and your division has been deemed redundant.  So you need to prove that your division is better than that other division in order to keep your own job.  This means that you need to get your opponent’s boss FIRED.

The game comes with four decks of 11 employee cards, 5 consultant cards, and four player reference cards.  Each player gets one of the decks, plus two random consultants (one consultant in a 3-4 player game).  The consultants are shuffled into your deck, and you draw three cards to start the game.

On your turn, you draw a card and play a card.  You’ll always be drawing up to four cards unless you don’t have enough cards in your deck, so draw extras if you need to.  When cards are played, they go into your discard pile, called here the Break Room.  When cards are fired, they are placed to the side in the Unemployment Line where they are essentially out of the game (though a few cards make reference to the Unemployment Line).  Here are the seven roles you each have in your deck, plus the quantity of each:

  • Axe Man (2): Name an employee.  If it’s in your opponent’s hand, fire it.
  • Bean Counter (1): Name an employee.  If it’s in your opponent’s Break Room, fire it.
  • Boss (1): If fired or played to the table, you lose.  If your opponent ever unsuccessfully tries to fire your Boss, you get to reshuffle your entire hand, deck, and Break Room into a new deck.
  • Fall Guy (2): You can fire this guy to prevent any employee from getting fired.  You can also fire him to reshuffle your hand, deck, and Break Room.
  • Manager (2): Allows you to fire a random employee from your opponent’s hand.  You can also fire the Manager to prevent the firing of your Boss.
  • Recruiter (1): Name an employee.  If it’s in your opponent’s hand, recruit it to your Break Room where it becomes your employee.
  • Secretary (2): Your opponent shows you two cards from their hand.  You can also play the Secretary if your Boss is in your hand to search your deck for any employee, draw it, then play another employee.

There’s also five different consultants, each of which will be unique to your deck:

  • Boss’s Spouse: If your opponent fired any of your employees last turn, shuffle one back into your deck.
  • HR Director: Name an employee OTHER than the Boss.  If it is in your opponent’s hand, it is fired and this cannot be prevented.
  • Motivational Speaker: Your employees cannot be fired until the start of your next turn.
  • Temp: May be played as any employee in your Unemployment Line.
  • Whistle Blower: Play this card as a reaction to fire the employee who is firing one of your employees.  Your employee is still fired.

The game is over when one player plays their Boss or when their Boss is fired successfully.  The opposing player then wins.

image by BGG user Moezilla
image by BGG user Moezilla

COMPONENTS: I have a prototype copy, so I can’t speak to final quality.  The art they have now is fine (though it’s a little odd that the Axe MAN is pictured as a woman), and each card does well in explaining what it does.  The reference card is handy for reminding yourself of all the card abilities, though my copy does not say anything about what happens if the Boss is unsuccessfully fired.  I think they’re planning to fix that.

THEME: At first, I thought it was a little weird that competing companies were responsible for firing each other.  Then I found out that it was a competition between redundant departments, and the theme made much more sense to me.  The theme is fairly strong in this little game, with each character being represented well by its ability.

MECHANICS: The game has a simple draw-one-play-one style, which is present in a lot of games from Fluxx to Love Letter.  And, because you are actively trying to remove cards from your opponent’s deck, it does have a Take That aspect, though not nearly as nasty as in some games.  All of the special abilities are pretty good, and I’d be hard pressed to say which one was the best – each one of them can be super important in the right situation.  The Secretary can tell you what is in your opponent’s hand, so you can then have some information for the Axe Man or Recruiter.  The Manager allows you to fire people without knowing anything, and the Bean Counter can just weed out those that have already been played.  The Fall Guy and Manager are also very important for defense if the Boss is in your hand, and the Fall Guy is the only way you can control when you get a reshuffle.

The Consultants are, I think, what makes this game stand out.  By having symmetrical decks, it would be a case of people just playing the right cards at the right time.  The Consultants add a little extra variance, and it’s important to understand how to operate them.  They’re all a little more powerful than the basic cards, and they’re all going to be super helpful at the right time.

STRATEGY LEVEL: This is a fairly light game in the strategy department.  It’s pretty easy to pick up on some basic combos as you go.  Most of where the strategy comes in is reading your opponent and trying to guess what their plans are before you ruin them.

ACCESSIBILITY: The game is quite easy to pick up.  Because the cards are so well described, anyone can intuitively grasp how to play.  Strategy might take a game or two, but this is a quick one.

SCALABILITY: I only received two office decks for a two player game, though there will be two more added in the full game.  As I’ve said, I think the Consultants make the game, so having only one in your deck takes down the asymmetry a bit.  I’d be inclined to say that this is just a two-player game, though I suppose that might change with the expansions.

REPLAYABILITY: You’re Fired! plays in about 10-15 minutes, so that makes it a very good filler.  Because of the limited number of cards, I don’t know if you would want to play it all the time before it gets stale, but it is something that can be pulled out, taught quickly, and played a couple of times.

INTERACTION: Pretty good interaction here, primarily because you are trying hard to dump cards from your opponent’s deck.

FOOTPRINT: It’s a small game, and can be played pretty much anywhere.

LEGACY: I have to compare this game to Love Letter.  They have the same kind of feel, where you’re trying to eliminate your opponent before they accomplish their goal.  They are very different games, but I think they fit into the same kind of bucket.

IS IT BUZZWORTHY? Yes.  I like this game a lot.  At first, I was worried that there would be a dominant strategy, but those fears have been alleviated after a couple of plays where I couldn’t use that strategy.  I think that this is a very good quick game, and I wish Button Shy a lot of success with their Kickstarter campaign.  Thanks to them for the review copy, and thanks to you for reading!

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