Clink…. clink…. clink…. “Joe! Don’t damage it!” you yell at your henchmen who is beating on your doomsday device without thinking about the damage it could cause if he isn’t careful. Stupid henchmen, why are smart ones so hard to come by? you think to yourself.
In a few days you’ll unleash your master plan and take over all of London with your device and perfect escape plan. Only a few more things to do and then finally you will be done. You have spent months building, climbing the social ladder, improving your secret hideout, tightening security and buying exotic pets to firmly entrench yourself in the high ranks of society. Now soon, they will all bow to you and be at your command to do your bidding!
You can feel yourself growing anxious and giddy with the excitement of your soon to come dominance! “Prepare yourself London,” you murmur to yourself as you start laughing maniacally. “Three nights from tonight and you will all bow in fear of Dr. Power and my mighty machine!”
Publisher: Baksha Games
Game Designer: Sean Scott Garrity
Artwork: James Van Niekerk
Players: 2 – 6
Ages: 12 to adult
Playing Time: 25 – 30 Minutes Per Player
Game Mechanics: Worker placement
Contents: 267 cards, 7 doomsday cards, 7 escape cards, 30 wooden cubes, 26 pawns, money tokens, 1 game board and 1 rule book.
Suggested Retail Price: $49.95
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
In What’s He Building In There? players are competing as Evil Doctors who along with their three henchmen, are racing to complete their doomsday machine and escape plans which both require inventions to be built before hand, climb the social ladder, build their evil lair compound, increase their security to keep prying eyes out or in maybe?… As well as acquire the rarest exotic pets to help establish their status in high social circles. Players only have 15 rounds to complete and launch their evil master plan and it comes quicker than you think. Can you build the biggest, baddest doomsday machine and escape plan to prove your superiority over the other wanna be evil doctors? Bring your blueprints, henchmen and let’s see if you are the genius you think you are. The evil doctor who garners the most points wins!
Game play consists of players each taking one action per player until all four pawns have been placed on the board. Every round, players will have new workshops (up to six cards depending on the number of players) to choose from that provide the raw materials or a chance to refine materials needed to build your doomsday machine and escape plans. The first player to place on these cards will usually get a “bonus” for being their first. This applies to first 14 possible places to play on the board. The last three tracks don’t provide a first player there bonus. Note that Evil Doctors can only be placed on orange spaces and henchmen can only be placed on gray spaces. On the workshop cards, the very first space is both orange and gray and provide a different bonus depending on which pawn was placed there.
The next two spots to possibly play are money and taking the first player token. Then the next four spots are the Black Market spots that allow for things like additional refining, resource trading or money depending on which cards get placed on the board.
The next spot is the Genius at Work (GAW) track. Every invention needed to be built plus your doomsday machine and escape plan need GAW hours to be built. These hours are spent every time you build and invention so you need to make sure that you have enough hours to complete your different levels of your doomsday machine and escape plan at end game. Only the Evil Doctor may play here.
The next playing location is the Manual Labor (ML) track. This track is for accumulating enough hours from henchmen to build your final doomsday machine and escape plan. These hours do not spend as they are only used for the final project. Only the henchmen can play here.
The next three tracks are an additional way to accumulate victory points. The first is the Social Track which is how players build their evil lair. If a player doesn’t have it built by turn five, they must pay rent every turn until they finally build it. This track racks up lots of victory points the higher up you build. Note that only the Evil Doctor may place on this track making it hard to get GAW or the first player bonuses on the workshop cards and acquire these points as well.
The second track is the security track. This track accumulates victory points and the players must have built the “Real Estate” achievement on the previous track to build up to the second spot here being “Secure Fences.” The player who completes this track gets a bonus of +2 GAW and +2 ML hours at the end of game to help complete their doomsday machine and escape plan.
The last track is the Exotic Pets track. This track also accumulates victory points and the “Real Estate” achievement on the first of these tracks must be built here again to advance to the second achievement. The player farthest on this track gets an additional +5 victory points at end game.
The final step is to create and improve your doomsday machine and escape plan. Both must be completed to at least level 1 on their respective level charts indicated on the panel given or the player is basically disqualified. If either one is not finished to at least level 1, then the player cannot win the game period. The player has failed miserably as an Evil Doctor and must sit in their corner of shame and watch as all the other “real” Evil Doctor’s fight it out for supremacy. There are three possible levels on each doomsday machine and escape plan and you can complete as many on either that is possible as long as their is at least one completed on both. Each level requires more inventions to be built during game play and more resources on hand at end game. Each level is a nice jump in victory points at the end of the game.
The board is very nice and easy to navigate. It is a long board so it will take a decent size table with plenty of space for all the cards and player aids. The pawns are typical wood pieces with the Evil Doctor being very large compared to the henchmen. It adds a tiny bit to the theme but nothing special here. The cards come in different sizes. The Invention Cards are bigger than most cards that come with games probably to big and take up a lot of space on the table and the resource cards are very small and difficult to keep organized as they slide everywhere. All are good quality and should last a long time. The Doomsday Machine and Escape Plan Cards are very thick stock with slots so they can be put together and used as a wall to hide a players money and resources. These are easy to read and very well done. A nice component actually.
The way the board works with the invention cards is different as there are slots/space along the top edge of the board for the invention cards. These cards a previously said are very large and take up a lot of space. I am sure that the intent was to make it easy to read but it’s exactly the opposite here. If you are at the other end of the board, you can not read the icons at all to determine what resources you need to build it as the board is so long and far away. The player has to get up and constantly look or have it passed to them to read it. A resource track with smaller cards would have been a much better way to do this and dispense with the multitude of resource cards and length of board issues. This is my only complaint though. Otherwise, every thing is solid.
What’s He Building In There? is a sleeper hit! It’s an extremely fun game with lot’s of depth, decision making and a great theme. The choices between what to take when and will you be able to finish this track or level before the 15 rounds runs out provides for a very fulfilling game. The time goes quite fast so you need to make sure you plan well and hope you can beat the other players to the punch. First player can mean a lot in this game. If you like worker placement games and want something new, unique and a game no one else has to bring to your game nights then this is a game to check out. I never felt like I had played this game before which is very common in worker placement games to me. The more people that play, the better the game as it gets harder to get things accomplished, keep your money engine running and rack up enough resources and hours to complete your end objectives.
This worker placement game is a surprise to my gaming group! I highly recommend it and am looking forward to what Baksha Games brings to table in the future.
I am giving What’s He Building In There? 8.0 out 10 stars.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.
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