If we've learnt anything from watching six seasons of The Sopranos, it's that even mobsters have families and have to cope with everyday mundane tasks. I don't remember an episode where Tony Soprano hired a babysitter but I can easily imagine him doing so. So could game designer Paul Brook and publisher East Street Games, hence Mob Sitters...
In this light party game, 3–8 players are baby sitters working for a mob boss. Each has their own individual deck of 20 cards. The decks are substantively the same (ie: same mix and value of cards), although each has its own distinct artwork and captioning. This is a nice touch that adds to the flavour of the game.
The cards show variously loot to be stolen from the boss, additional crimes to be carried out on the side, accusations that can be directed at other players to tell the boss or squeal to the cops to report their actions, and reaction cards to defend against another player's accusations.
Players draw from their shuffled deck and place out three of the cards on their play mat. Steal and job cards that you want to carry out are played face up, other cards are played face down. Players then go round the table revealing their face down cards so that they take effect. You'll be hoping that you can go a whole round without anyone ratting you out either to the boss or the cops (depending on the type of card) so that you can bank your face-up card(s). And if you've concealed any accusation cards, you'll want to play them on your opponents - probably directing them at the most valuable cards revealed by other players. Beware though, reaction cards can pin the blame on a neighbouring player or on the accuser. Whichever player ends up with the blame, the card goes into a negative area on that player's playmat. At the end of the game, players with the highest totals in their boss and cops piles are eliminated; the winner among the players who remain is the one with the highest value loot locked away in their safe.
Mob Sitters is a fast playing filler-length 'take that' party game. Much in each round comes down to the luck of the cards you happen to draw but there is plenty of scope for bluff and banter. Is the face-down card you've played a 'Phew! Got away with it' card or even a reaction card that will bounce the accusation so that it negatively affects the accuser, or are you bluffing by having just played face down a low-value job card? Is it better to play high- or low-value job cards face up? The high-value cards are obviously desirable but they do pin a target on you. In a game with a high player count, you may do better trying to get away with lower-value jobs so that other players direct their accusations elsewhere. All of this means there's depth and psychology at work in this game that can go a long way to compensate for an unhelpful card draw.
Mob Sitters has different end-game scoring conditions for differing player counts and, certainly, the game plays quite differently with three or four players than at the higher player counts. As you might expect, it can be more chaotic with a larger number of players, and it also becomes more of a memory game as players struggle to remember how much each of their rivals have in their positive and negative scoring piles.
The version shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype ahead of the game's upcoming Kickstarter launch. The finished version of the game promises some further tweaks, including individual 'agenda' cards... We'll add a link to the Mob Sitters KS campaign when that goes live.