Jeppe K. Jørgensen,
Steven B. Camphausen,
Rune K. Jørgensen,
Morten Primdahl,
and Jakob Keller





But let us now turn to a game which might have a high potential to be my favourite game for this year's convention. With TUSBAS, a small new publisher from Denmark has found his way to Essen, and with them they have brought their new game King of Chicago which leads up to six players deep into the Mobwars of the roaring 1930s.

In this game, each player starts the game with a car, a small business which may be either a liquor shop, a casino or a brothel, one mobster and some starting cash and capital. In turn, the players use their cars to drive through the streets of the town to acquire new counters of henchmen, booze and ladies, and depending on which and how many counters they might get of each kind, they will try to open new businesses in either of the three aforementioned branches. The businesses now may be either small, medium or big ones, and the bigger the business a player wants to open the more of the counters he has to possess. If a player has accumulated enough counters to open up a business, he drives his car to a fitting building area, selects the business he wants to open from the common stockpile, pays the fitting counters to the bank and takes the deed associated with this specific business. From now on, the business will generate an income for the player, and thus he will receive additional cash after every four turns when an evaluation phase takes place. Instead of opening a business, a player also may decide simply to enlarge his turf by placing a token of his colour on an empty building lot, and from now on that turf will yield and additional income of protection money.

However, the other players might get jealous of a very successful entrepreneur, and thus they might decide that it is the time to show him who might be the real boss in town. Thus, a player might squeezed a few of his mobsters into his car, and then drive to a business or car belonging to another player and challenge him for a shootout. In this shootout, the players will each will roll a dice with the final result being modified by mobster abilities and possibly the size of the attacked business, and the shootout round will be won by the player with the higher result. Depending on the result, the looser will have to send one of his mobsters either to the hospital or the graveyard, and the whole shootout comes to its end once one player has no mobsters left. If the attacker of a business was the winner, then he may take the business' deed from the looser and thus take over the business, whereas all other results lead to a preservation of the status quo with the only change that a few of the mobsters might have been eliminated.

Talking about mobsters, the player my hire them during the evaluation round which always takes place after four rounds of play. During this round, each player first collects his income and then draws a card from the random deck. This deck consists of several kinds of cards, with some cards bringing new tokens to the gameboard whereas some others might be kept by the players as special action cards for specific situations in the game. There is also a possibility that a player might draw a mission card, offering him some kind of mission in town upon the completion of which he will receive some additional money.

However, of great importance are the mobster cards which may be also drawn here but which are not kept by the drawing player. Instead, the mobster cards are lined up for auction, and then one by one all the mobsters revealed in this evaluation phase will join the player who will bid most for their services. As indicated, the mobsters have special abilities like gunfighting or driving, but others may have more obscure skills like forgery which gives an additional income or a reporter who will reveal all of a player's mobsters hiding at a specific location.

When all mobsters have been auctioned, one final auction will take place and this one will be for the control of the Police. The winner of this auction will be in control of the Police car for the next four turns, and using this car he may move through town and arrest other players cars or close their businesses - or threaten to do so and thus blackmail them to pay for not using the Police's powers.

The game continues until one player has accumulated 10 victory points, and these points will be awarded for a number of reasons. Thus, a player receives victory points for his businesses (1, 2 or 3 points - depending on the size of each business), one victory point for each two mobsters in his gang, one victory point for each completed mission and one victory point for the biggest turf in town.

To my mind, the game excellently captures the spirit of the dark and dirty business conducted by the crime lords of that time. There are many opportunities for the players to engange in different kinds of activities, and the game offers an even higher degree of interaction between the players due to the fact that the small gameboard automatically will lead to confrontations during the course of the game. It might not be the kind of familiy game which could or would be expected from a major publisher, but for a small publisher like TUSBAS the game really is a milestone and it would deserve to be known among a larger audience of gamers. Perhaps I should not keep secret about the fact that a few of the other well-known hobbyists attending Essen like Mik Svellov from Brett & Board or Greg Schloesser from the IGA did not think too much of the game due to the fact that it possesses a luck-driven engine requiring quite a number of decisions to be solved by a roll of the dice. Still, my own preferences do not exclude such a game if the other mechanics and the overall impression of a game make up for an element of luck, and to my mind the rather good impression of the playing mechanisms is strengthened by a very fitting graphical design which consists of nicely fashioned playing materials with cute cars and an interesting card design which in part uses old photographies, and thus I consider the game to be really worthwhile to try!

For this reason, I decided to put my special SPIEL 06 recommendation out for King of Chicago, a game which certainly does not receive unanimous praise from many other reviewers around. However, those of you who have followed my G@mebox reviews over the years will not only have recognized my strong demands of a game to have a good background story which is well reflected by the rules, but you will also have discovered my Talisman-Section and my great passion and vice for dice-rolling adventure games. King of Chicago definitely is more than a simple dice-roller, but despite its orientation on building up a "criminal economy" the game somehow also gives a great feeling of adventure which goes behind simple economic planning: small jobs to solve, shootouts to survive and a "loyal" gang of personalized henchmen leave a feeling of involvement which you usually find in adventure games, and here King of Chicago to my mind has fully succeeded in making a clever combination of both. Perhaps the rules could need a twist or two concerning the sometimes rather unbalanced drawing of cards in the evaluation phase, but I still consider King of Chicago to be a game with a high replay value and a dangerous addictive potential !!!

If your interest should have risen after this short description, you might want to have a look at the King of Chicago Homepage.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany