Friday, 6 April 2007

Something new... I will talk about a game.

I will attempt to move the topic of things here on the Fortress back to the reason we are all here in the first place. That's right, believe it or not this blog entry will not speak of enemies of mine, or why Caylus sucks or any of that other shit that we tend to get bogged down with too often. I am going to talk (or is that type) about a game I enjoy more than the average collection of cardboard and plastic.

This game is the venerable Avalon Hill Gangsters.

Everything about this game drips with theme. You take on the role of a Gangster (Duh!) in Chicago durning Prohibition. You have 3 playing pieces that you control, one group of Racketeers, a gang of Thugs, and the ever powerful Vamp. The game is played on a street map with a large number of different colored Joints located all over the place. There are three paths to victory, Cash (earn $10,000) , a Monopoly on any single color of Joints, or ownership of 10 different colored Joints.

You start the game with ownership of 3 joints, and a small band of criminals consisting of at least one Racketeer, at least one Thug and a Vamp. You can beef up the number of Racketeers and Thugs you control. These are all represented by one counter, so think of it as increasing their strength. Each unit has a special function.

Racketeers control the number of actions you get per turn. The number of Racketeers you have divided by 2 is the number of actions you can take on a turn. Racketeers are also used to gain control of (buy) Joints. These guys can also perform a hit on another players joint or gang members but they hit only on a 6 so you have to be careful. Since these guys are the brains of the operation they can put business before pleasure and take out a Vamp.

Thugs, these guys are just that, Thugs! They can be used to extort money in unowned buildings, or they can be used to do a hit on an enemy joint, Thugs, or Racketeers. They hit on 5 or 6 so they are better at this than the Racketeers. Their weakness is they cannot bring themselves to shoot up a hot babe, and so they can not take out a Vamp.

Vamps, your ladies, the Ho's. That's right you are a pimp in this game too! The Vamp can be used to "Earn" money in an unoccupied joint. They also are the only member of your gang that can enter a space with an enemy gang member and not have a shootout. In fact if you enter a space containing a rival Thug, or Racketeer, your ladies convince them to join your gang. (That's a might fine woman that can make a man change Religion!) The opposing player loses one Thug/Rack and you gain that Thug/Rack. This is extremely useful for lowering the number of actions the other players get on a turn.

In addition to your own gang, there are other folks running about on the board.

Cops, that's right the boys in blue are here and they intend to mess up a good Gangsters day. Cops are controlled by all players and can bust any player that is performing and illegal act. (be that extortion or in case of the vamp recruiting.) Thy can also raid a Joint if there is illegal stuff going on in there too.

Public, John Q Public also is in the game. Someone has to pay for all these ladies and that expensive booze. Public game pieces are also moved by all players. Getting one in your Joint earns you cash, but exposes that joint to a raid by the Fuzz.

Also there is the Squirt Gun, every time you successfully do a hit on another player you get to squirt them one time with the gun.

On a typical game turn a player rolls 5 different colored six sided dice. (Green for Racketeers, Black for Thugs, Red for Vamps, White for Public and Blue for the cops.) After you roll you have 2 min to make your moves. When the time is up you are done. For each action available to you (number of Racks/2) you can use one Die to move a game piece. Everyone must move the cops 1's t and this does not count as an action. Then you have the ability to move other units. The number on the die is the distance that unit must move exactly without back tracking. No unit can move twice, but you can use the public die more than once to move 2 different units.

In addition, when it is not your turn, and after another player has rolled the die you are not allowed to talk. If you suggest moves in any way another player can call you on it and it costs you $500.

That is it, a quick summary of how this game plays. What ensues at this point is usually a couple of hours of get AT gaming fun!. You have to balance your play between achieving your chosen path to victory and slowing down the other players. Do a Make an enemy our of the guy to my right by using my Vamp to steak his Racketeers? Do I go for the cash or try to get a 4 joint Red monopoly? There is lots and lots of trash talking in this game, and if you do not like other players messing with your plans then pick something else. Gangsters is all about player interaction, its 100% there and you need to count on using and dealing with it if you want to win.
Everyone who claims to like AT games should at least check this game out. Copies are getting harder to find but they do pop up on ebay from time to time.

As a side note I want to say that for those of you who go to the WBC each year. (And all of you should since its the best damn game con out there!) Gangsters is the best run event there. John Pack does a great job running it and keeping it fun for everyone. There are some Great players there and it is almost as fun just to watch them play as it is to play them.


robartin said...

What, you didn't like my duck article?

Malloc said...

No I loved That!

I am just thinking about the folks out there playing shitty games looking for some direction.


Shellhead said...

I've noticed this game before at BGG, and it looks like a great game. The only thing that doesn't sound good is the restricted talking rule in a game with such heavy theme and player interaction. And unless the components are water-resistant, the squirt gun seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, if the components *are* water-resistant, then I might be tempted to put some red food coloring in that squirt gun with the water, to get a more visual effect. Either way, I really need to get this game now.

Reading your description, I wonder if this game was a major influence on Richard Garfield when he designed the Jyhad CCG less than two years after Gangsters was published? Garfield seems to be a serious boardgame fan, as he has acknowledged that Wiz-War and Cosmic Encounter influenced his design of Magic: the Gathering, and that Swashbuckler (and it's sci-fi equivalent) inspired Robo Rally.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

I picked this up a couple of years ago but it has never hit the table, we only have a small group and it is definitely to old school for quite a few of them ... but I can dream.

But what I would like to know is how it rates/compares with 'Blood Feud in New York' ? I'm going to meet up with another group I've found that has a younger clientel (twenties) and think the theme and plastic bits may make it appear more game worthy than a typical 80s AH boardgame - therefore I may as well buy it to get a good gangster game played.

Ken Bradford said...

Blood Feud is a great game for fans of Samurai Swords and the gangster theme. The combat is practically lifted wholesale from it. What did you guys not like about it?

Malloc said...


You can talk all you want before the dice are rolled, but you can not point out moves to someone else without paying for it. For example, If I just kicked your ass and it was not Michael Barnes turn to play. He rolls a 4 on the cop die and, due to his being poor under pressure, doesn't see that he can bust my joint. He starts to move the cop in the wrong direction. You can not say anything to him with out it costing you $500. Now people often pay up and tell anyway. This is perfectly fine.

Before Michael had rolled you could have coached him all you wanted. But once there are real numbers on the dice its mouths shut.

the game is not water resistant. We usually don't bother wiht the gun, but if we do there is a no shot over the board rule.


You should try this one out if you have it. It should go over well with any crowd even with its lack of plastic. I have not played blood feud yet so I can't comment on that game at all.


Manolito said...

Very good and interesting text ! True, that's what we come here for ! Let's hear about old or new games who would just be ignored anywhere else...

But... In fact... Let's face it this is a eurogame !! It was created in France by Gérard Mathieu as the great "Supergang", and then adapted for the US market by Avalon Hill a few years later - Gérard Mathieu was of course credited. "Supergang" was the first game released by ludodelire before "Full Metal Planet" and "Formule Dé".

OK, it may be from Europe (I even remember that it had wood cubes to show the racketed place), but it's true that this kind of game in the 80s was much influenced by american games at the time.

So Ameritrash made in France ??!!

PS : well, you've guessed, I'm frome France that's why my english is rather bad !

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

OK - I'll do my best to persuade/coerce another three to experience it. I've just remembered though that one of the Cop markers is missing (the ones you have upside down I think) so I'll have to make a new set since a single replacement won't match the others.

Ken - no we haven't tried Blood Feud either, I was looking for recommendations whether to get it (as well as or instead of) as it sounds great and looks fanplastic.

robartin said...

I owned a copy of this game at one time, but only played it once. I should give it another try. It's got a really retro 70's vibe to it. The way the different colored dice work is really clever. The thing I didn't care for is that you have a very limited number of each type of gangster (like one or two of each). It seems like it would have been more fun if you could have mobsters swarming all over the city.

Bohemian said...

Sorry, Manolito. Eurogames, by definition, do not include squirt guns.

Of course, Ameritrash made in France presents an entirely different problem...

Manolito said...

Of course, it definitively is in the category Ameritrash. Yet, it is so in the spirit of the french boardgames of the 80s, like the ones made by jeux descartes or Eurogame (the brand, not the category !) for instance, that i find it strange to call it amerisomething. French designers from this time were obviously very influenced by american games like Diplomacy, Dune, Civilization, Cosmic Encounters, Junta (I think especially Junta and its dark humour for this one)... These games were quite well known in France these days.

I suggest you check the section about "Supergang" on the Faidutti's ideal game library, there is a text in english in wich he recalls working with Ludodelire. And there is too a beautiful picture of the amazing components.

We're really talking FFG quality ! Maybe better ! It was THE most beautiful game created in France in these years. And still one the most beautiful I ever saw until today. Everything was drawn by Gérard Mathieu who was a comic book artist. He made the minis of the game too (made of steel, painted) and draw the beautiful mapboard as well. You can see that the gun is more impressive in the french edition ! But the gun was easily broken if i remember correctly... The bank notes were bigger than true bank notes and - it was amazing - they smelled like real bank notes !! Anyway I played it all the time when it was released. It's such a fun game that everybody like it, I can assure you. Even people who are not heavy gamer enjoy it. Well, except the ones who don't like luck and dices in their games, of course... But none of us here has such friends...;)

"Supergang" was quite a success in France (for a non traditionnal family boardgame), and it remains dear to my heart. I must say that i like it more than "Full Metal Planet" that is now much more sought after and is supposed to be a great classic...

Crumb said...

AFAIC the term "Ameritrash" applies to a style of game, not where it was designed or published. It also has nothing to do with which games influenced which other games. The game could have been designed in Palau by a medicine man from the Congo who was educated in Norway and based the game on the ancient game of go, but if it has plastic bits, lots of dice, nuclear weapons, and player elimination, it's probably Ameritrash.

From what I gather from this article, this game is Ameritrash all the way.

Michael Barnes said...

Everyone out there collectively jacking off over PILLARS OF THE EARTH (which is, in every way, the new CAYLUS) should read this article and get educated on what a great, classic AT game really is. GANGSTERS is one-of-a-kind, a really fun game that lets you shoot your friends execution-style with a water pistol. There's a lot of really neat theme rules and it's WAY better than BLOOD FEUD as far as I'm concerned.

The only other gangster-themed games that are worthwhile are CASH N GUNS and FAMILY BUSINESS in my estimation...although there's some new one out that has REAL BULLETS listed among its components.

Contrast to PILLARS OF THE EARTH, which features REAL WOODEN CUBES.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Family Business is even shittier than this blog, if that's even possible.

Malloc said...

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Family Business is even shittier than this blog, if that's even possible.

08 April 2007 17:54

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Michael Barnes said...

The wit and ingenuity of "Anonymous" has completely changed my mind not only about FAMILY BUSINESS but also about this blog. Reading his post made me realize just how wrong-headed my opinions are- our blog is pretty shitty, but FAMILY BUSINESS? Hoo-boy! It just took reading that line from "Anonymous" to shake me out of that...ever since I read his post I've been crying softly into an iron pillow of shame.

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