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Evil Corp

Google used to have a motto 'don't be evil'. Ominously, they abandoned it in 2018. If you've ever fancied yourself as a technology billionaire with a business empire that sprawls around the globe, and if you're not unduly troubled by ethical considerations, then Evil Corp could just the game for you. :-)

In this light economic game, the 2-6 players are the CEOs of technology conglomerates. The board is made up of six markets (continents), and within the evil-shaped (infuriatingly irregular rectangular) box, the plastic tray pulls out to form the centrepiece of the board's six interlocking pieces. Each market/continent has three city locations and a location for your CEO's 'secret base'. Through the game you'll be drawing Opportunity cards and using them for their effects. Most have two sections: a top section that lets you pay to place out a business at a named city location and a 'nasty business' bottom section that specifies an action - typically, a 'take that' action that will adversely affect another player. Your aim is to place out a Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 card, ultimately each matching your own colour, and then unlock your CEO's endgame condition, where you pay $9 billion and flip your card to reveal that your seemingly benevolent mission statement concealed an altogether more sinister plan...

Evil billionaires are obviously not short of cash, so true to form cash flows very freely in Evil Corp. It's paper money unfortunately but think of this not as implausibly high-value bank notes but as the 'Bearer Bonds' beloved of movie villains. You'll routinely start each turn raking in billions for your secret base and for every business (cube) you have placed out around the globe. World Events may affect income in some markets (either increasing or decreasing your take) but you're unlikely to be short of cash. You'll need to spend cash to place out your Phase cards and you may well want to buy more Opportunity cards, tho' the number you can take into your hand is determined by the size of your secret base. Even so, players draw up to their hand size for free at the start of their turn. If you do run out of cash so that you cannot pay a bill that falls due then the rules provide for bankruptcy: not a fatal setback but a serious one because it stops you collecting any income on your next turn, although it does give you immunity that turn from all financial attacks.

With art by Michal Ozorowski and Liam Brazier, designers Alfie Dennen and Allix Harrison have put together an entertaining tongue-in-cheek game that starts off amicably enough but which becomes increasingly combative as play progresses. Whereas in early rounds you will probably be mostly focused on expansion, players will increasingly be eyeing each other's Phase cards and will inevitably gang up on a rival who looks like they may be close to seizing a win. There are Agent cards within the Opportunity card deck that can be used to thwart win conditions but which can also defend against an Agent attack, so these scarce cards are likely to be increasingly valuable in your hand as the endgame approaches.

Evil Corp is particular fun with a higher player count, tho' playing with five or six players will almost certainly extend the game because there's a greater prospect of players being able to gang together to frustrate each other's endgame. The game is quick to learn and easy to play, so even one you can break out for non-gamers or family members as a very playable, albeit dark, alternative to Monopoly.

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