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Tiefe Taschen

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

I very nearly missed this game. The name of the game and the strapline on the box are entirely in German and so I assumed this was a German-only game. In actual fact, it isn’t. Box lid notwithstanding, the game has English rules as well as German, and the rule summary cards are also dual language. The components are actually all language-independent. This means the publishers, Fobs, are missing a trick: if I nearly missed this game, others will also have passed this by and not realised what an excellent game is hiding inside this box.

Tiefe Taschen translates as Deep Pockets, and this is a game about graft (in the American sense of the word) and political corruption. It’s a social bluffing game for 4 to 8 players. In Tiefe Taschen, players are all corrupt politicians whose only objective is to line their own pockets. The draw pack represents the Treasury and is made up of cards representing bank notes worth between 1 and 5 million Euros. One player starts as the President. He turns over as many Treasury cards as there are players and he decides how the money will be distributed. He can divvy it up so that everyone gets something, or he can favour one or more individuals. He can even choose to take all the money for himself…

Players each have a hand of five action cards. These allow them to vote on the president’s distribution (for or against), to steal the top facedown card from the Treasury, blackmail another player (take one of their money cards) or avert the threat of blackmail and take money from your blackmailer. Cards are revealed in clockwise order and some card actions only take effect in certain conditions: for example, if more than one player decides to take money from the Treasury, only the person who plays the card first gets to benefit, the others get nothing. Blackmail cards will only take effect if the player has previously placed his Investigator meeple in front of that player.

The President’s distribution goes ahead unless the number of votes to reject it exceeds the number of votes in support; if there is a tie or if no-one uses their card action to vote, the distribution goes ahead. If the distribution is rejected, the President has to resign and gets nothing from the distribution. The first person to reveal a reject card becomes the new President and they offer their own distribution, which again is subject to the remaining players’ choice of action cards. Though failed Presidents lose out on cash for the rounds in which they were voted down, there is no actual player elimination in this game because all players are back in for subsequent rounds.

With only five cards to choose between, Investigators to position and turn order playing a role, this is a game where there is much bluff, bluster, promise, threat and counter-threat. If you like games with much negotiation and table talk, then you’ll love Tiefe Taschen. And to add even more spice to the game, players always have the option of offering bribes to other players to entice them to vote in a particular way. To bribe you, I pass you a money card from my own supply and I put a token on it indicating how I want you to vote. If the action card you then play complies with the terms of the bribe, you get the money you were offered.

The game is simple and straightforward, and it plays fast. This is essentially a social deduction game that substitutes hidden actions for hidden roles. Certainly if you like games like Secret Hitler and Werewolf, then you’ll get a kick (as well as a kickback) from Tiefe Taschen.

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