“Each of you have been hired to infiltrate Bureaucrat Castle (through a five day temporary contract) and take out as many employees as possible”
Publisher: Independent / Self Published
Game Designer: David Newton
Artwork: Adam Bolton
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Game Mechanics: Deck Building, Worker Placement
Temp Worker Assassins is a new card game from David Newton and tasks players with the grisly job of infiltrating an office and dispatching the ne’er-do-well employees. However, you can’t simply walk in with a weapon, no, that simply wouldn’t do – and security won’t let you anyway. Rather, you need to use the various pieces of office equipment and stationery that you can find and craft wonderfully effective objects to help you eliminate your targets; death by a thousand paper cuts if you will.
Temp Worker Assassins meshes deck building and worker placement to create a fast paced, lighthearted game for 2 to 4 players with a play time of around 45 minutes. The game is played over five rounds (each round representing a day of the week, Monday through Friday). Each day the players place their Temp Workers on the various action spaces on the board which depict the various departments available in the work place. Each department grants one or more actions for the player to choose from and this is how new cards are drafted, weapons are gained and assassination attempts are augmented. The other option is to send your worker to undertake an assassination attempt – using the cards in hand to try and beat the target’s toughness. There are various targets available each day and the tougher the target, the more gold they reward (if the hit is successful).
How to Play
Game-play is simple and, for the most part, fast. Place a worker or attempt an assassination. In the standard worker placement vein play moves round the table with each player placing their Temp Worker and resolving the action space. When all players have placed all their workers the day moves on and a new round begins. At the end of the fifth round, Friday, the player with most gold from assassinations is the winner. It couldn’t be simpler!
The deck building element is how you prepare for an upcoming assassination attempt. Cards that are drafted through worker placement are placed into your hand, and each of these cards will either have an attack value or give bonuses to the attack cards you hold. Though billed as a deck builder, it operates in a slightly different manner than you might expect. Your primary hand is made up of five cards which you draw from your own personal library. However, your hand is not discarded at the end of each round/phase, but only when you make an assassination attempt. Successful or not, you discard all cards played and any remaining cards in your hand and then draw back up to five. Also, unlike other deck building games, cards that you draft are not placed onto your discard pile, instead they become part of your hand, of which there is no card limit. In this manner you aim to increase your hand size in preparation for an assassination attempt and this is how you tackle the tougher targets with the larger rewards.
This manner of increasing your deck might feel a little strange to those familiar with deck building games and in fact feels more akin to card drafting. It really isn’t that big of a deal, but should be noted that this game twists that mechanism a little.
Your Targets, Should You Choose to Assassinate Them!
Working 9 to 5, it’s all staplin’ and no shivving
Your shift is nearly over, your are all tooled up and now it is time to strike – assassinations are a very straight forward affair. You can play as many cards from your hand as you like, and ideally you will play them all, because unused cards will be discarded anyway. As mentioned earlier, cards will either have an attack value, or increase the attack value of other cards. Simply add up the total amount and if you are able to at least equal the target’s toughness you have completed your mission successfully (at which point your worker meeple is moved to security, but will be released at the end of the day).
Targets come in all shapes and sizes from the lowly Typing Pool Zombies, to the more dangerous Treasury Dwarves. The rosette in the top left corner displays the reward for a successful hit and the bottom left shows the toughness. In fact, there are targets who have toughness up to about 15, so you will need to go all Jason Bourne to take some of these down.
Components and Artwork
In the box you get 4 x decks of starting cards (1 per player), 60 x Stationery Cards, 22 x Department Cards, 35 x Target Cards, 5 x Turn Marker Cards, 20 Wooden Meeples (5 per player) and 1 x Start Player Marker. (Note: this might be subject to change.)
As you can see, most of the components are cards. These are used to create the board, which comprises of ten Departments, a Stationery deck, Turn cards (days of the week) and the Target cards. The version I have is mostly ready to go, with the art on the Target cards complete and the Stationery card art has since been updated to be slightly more gory (see picture examples above). While only 10 Department cards are used in each game, there are 22 in the box, so you can play with different board set ups to suit your play style. The worker pieces are standard wooden meeples and while I can’t speak of the final quality as this is a Kickstarter (things may well be subject to change), the prototype was of a high quality. I would however recommend sleeving the cards. You will find yourself shuffling the cards an awful lot and being black bordered they tend to show up wear quicker than white bordered cards.
The art of the Target cards is clear and really brings out the theme, though I would like to have seen more space on the cards given over to the character art, but do understand the constraints of design. The icons and text throughout the cards are clear and plenty large enough.
Permanent or Short Term Contract?
I have really enjoyed playing Temp Worker Assassins at various player counts, and found it worked equally well with 2, 3 or 4 players. If playing two player you each have an extra worker which provides plenty of options. On the downside, the same number of departments are available regardless of the number of players (and some departments have more action spaces than others), so some games can feel like there is too much room (with fewer players), while other games can feel overly crowded. Additionally, because the board is modular and not all departments are used there are some set ups which are less fun than others. However, the rules do provide a starting set-up for new players and this seems to work really well.
Oddly, the theme of the game is strangely juxtaposed to the way in which it plays. This is a game all about conflict, granted conflict against the game, but still, it seemed peculiar that there is almost no direct interaction with the other players. I know that this has been fed back to the designer and is an element of the game that is being looked at. For some though this lack of conflict will be pleasing, for others less so. In my experience of the game the feelings on this have been mixed. On a personal level I would prefer some direct interaction, though it would need to be carefully implemented as the current rules limit the use of cards to assassination attempts only. It could also become really frustrating if every assassination attempt was met with cards being played that reduce attack values resulting in failure.
Generally the game moves at a good pace with little down time between players’ turns, but there is occasion, especially during a assassinations of tougher Targets, when things can slow down a little. While it is simply a case of playing cards from hand to meet the desired toughness of the chosen Target, when you have a hand of 10+ cards, with some cards affecting other cards, it can get a bit fiddly trying to make sure you play them in the correct order and keep track of what is what. Unfortunately, this also needs to be done before other players can continue as the outcome might affect the game slightly (re-stocking the Target cards, or drawing additional cards from the Stationery deck, etc).
To Back or Not?
Temp Worker Assassins is from a first time designer and publisher, but has been a long time in development and as such has gone through extensive play testing to get to its current form. Unlike many other KS, this is as close to being production ready as you get, the design, the art and the game play is all there (barring minor tweaks from final rounds of feedback). If the approach to the campaign is as professional as the development to this point then a great deal of risk should be mitigated. Of course, KS being what it is there is no cast iron guarantee, but David seems to run a tight ship which can only be a good thing.
Temp Worker Assassins is set to launch on KickStarter on the 28th June. You can find out more about this game, the designer David Newton and the Artist Adam Bolton by visiting www.tempworkerassassins.com
Company Website: http://www.tempworkerassassins.com/
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TempWorkerAssassins
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/TWAssassins
Note: A prototype copy of this game was provided to me for this review.
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