Monday, 10 November 2014

Small Print

Long-time GNNers will recall having my embryonic game thoughts periodically thrust upon the table in the form of scribbled paper and basic photoshop skills, before I inevitably retreat with tail between my legs. THE TIME HAS COME AGAIN.

Let's be fair, it's been a couple of years. You've got off lightly.

I've been developing (i.e. thinking about) a game inspired partly by Raj and partly by High Society. Last night I play tested lengthily it with some like-minded folk (i.e. myself) and I think it's ready for a sortie out into the wider world of GNN. It only takes ten minutes to play (i.e. it won't waste as much of your time as Henchmen or Year of the Sheep).

the stuff

It's a game of buying businesses and gaining the monetary value. Just like real life, you can do it straightforwardly, or operate with nefarious duplicitousness.


Each player (2-4) is given a set of Paperwork cards: they are mostly Shares but they also have three Contract cards - Small, Big, and Total. The backs of the share and contract cards are identical. Players are also given wooden contract markers also labelled Small, Big and Total.

On the table there's a deck of Business cards that have a monetary value between £1m and £15m. These are shuffled and placed face-down.


Play breaks down like this:

1. Reveal three business cards
2. Place paperwork cards face down (up to three per player)
3. Reveal paperwork cards.
4. Assign money.

Over a set of rounds (four for 2 or 4 players; three for 3 players) three of the Business cards are flipped face-up in a row, and players take turns placing a Paperwork card beneath them - face down. The cards will determine who gets what money from the business, and the Business cards have numbers on them to show how these divide between big and small contracts. Once everyone has played up to a maximum of three cards (or passed) the cards are flipped over and the business value is divvied up.

Total contract will claim all of the business. Big and Small contracts will split the business according to the numerical values shown on the business card. And Share cards divide whatever is left over (or split/claim everything if no contracts were played).

But the contract cards under one business can be declared Illegal under certain circumstances.

A total contract and no other contracts is legal. Shares are ignored.

big and small contract with no other contracts is legal. Shares are ignored.

One or two small contracts is legal. Any shares claim the remainder.

Any other combination of contracts will have over-valued the business and they are all declared null and void - the business is now split between share cards, if there are any. Share cards will also swoop up or divide anything left over from contracts that haven't claimed all the business. Any remainders after this divvying up go into a pool in the playing area labelled Small Print. 

Also note: any business valued at over £10m splits the first £10m only between the contracts/shares; the rest goes into the small print pool.

There are also the Contract Markers. Players can choose to play these honestly, and put the marker on top of the corresponding contract card to announce to other players what they have played.

But they can also play any other marker, or no marker at all, or put a marker on a Share card (for instance, claiming to have played a Total contract to try and keep other players away). Markers are always returned to players after each round, though cards are not. So it's up to all players to try and remember who has used up what contract cards…


At the end of the round any player who played a contract marker dishonestly has to take a penalty chit for each instance into their hand.

The business cards and any played contracts and shares are now discarded, and the next round begins with a new starting player.


At the end of the game the player or players with the fewest penalty chits claims any money in the small print pool, and the player with the most cash wins.

Ties are decided on fewest penalty chits followed by most cards left in hand.

It's a celebration of rampant capitalism!

What it doesn't look like yet

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