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Be the Big Boss, Create Clever Nuck Tats, and Don’t Be Killed by Ghost Face

by W. Eric Martin

• Let’s start this post with a game that I never thought would see another release, partly because the production of the original edition was so over the top that it would be hard to match. What’s more, I never would have guessed the publisher for the re-release given that the game doesn’t seem to fit its catalog.

Nevertheless, here we are: Funko Games will release a new edition of Wolfgang Kramer‘s Big Boss in June 2023, nearly thirty years after the game’s debut from KOSMOS when that company was still known as Franckh-Kosmos.

Your goal in Big Boss is to end the game with the most money. The game board consists of a snaky, looped track of 72 spaces, and you start with a hand of random number cards (from 1-72) and possibly some “floor” cards.

Over the course of the game, you found companies and enlarge existing companies. The first player, for example, plays a number card, then covers that number and two adjacent numbers with building tiles. If a number already has a building on it, and you play that number, you add a tile to that space, increasing the value of the company. By playing a floor card (second floor, third floor, etc.) you can place a building tile in any company so long as its on the matching floor.

Companies increase in size by growing along the track, merging when one touches another, with the smaller company being absorbed. Twice during the game, you can purchase ownership in a company, which counts as three shares of that company’s stock. You can also purchase individual shares of active companies, and you want to boost the value of those companies as much as possible for the endgame cash out when you see who has ended up with the most loot.

I see one or two copies of Big Boss for sale each SPIEL in the used vendor stalls, and they sell for several hundred Euro, so it’s nice to see a new version hitting the market — coincidentally the same year that Renegade Game Studios will release a new version of Sid Sackson’s Acquire, which Kramer has acknowledged as an inspiration for Big Boss.

This new version has been long in coming. I have emails from 2007 with defunct German publisher Pro Ludo, which had planned to reimplement Big Boss as “Die Hauptstadt von Alturien” to be the second title in a line that started with Der Markt von Alturien, which was a new version of Kramer’s 1988 game City — but Markt wasn’t well-received and Pro Ludo disappeared, with the “Hauptstadt” design instead being released by KOSMOS in 2009 as Alcazar…which was also not well-received.

In any case, I’m glad the original design will be available once again. Let’s see how it holds up on today’s market…

• Funko also announced three other titles for release in June 2023, and these games match my expectations for what to expect from the company:

Scream: The Game is a co-operative design for 3-8 players that plays in 20 minutes, and to win you have to ensure that no one is killed by Ghost Face. The game uses an app, and Ghost Face — voiced by Roger L. Jackson, the actor who does his voice in the Scream movies — will call players with challenges during the game.

Yes, Ghost Face calls players because at the start of the game, you can enter your names and take pics so that you will be called during play, indicating that you are Ghost Face’s next target, and you have to escape with help from your friends.

— Escape is also the goal, along with exploration, in Star Trek: Cryptic – A Puzzles and Pathways Adventure, an escape room-style of game for one or more players set in the “Next Generation” era of Star Trek.

The game includes three missions, each taking 60-90 minutes, and in the publisher’s words: “Using your PADD as your guide, you’ll decipher subspace transmissions, discover alien civilizations, and prevent planetary disaster with logic, deduction, and creative thinking. Prepare to boldly go where no one has gone before!” Also, prepare to use isolinear chips in the comfort of your home where you most certainly have gone before.

NUCK TATS is a 3-6 player party game in the style of Apples to Apples and other “player judge” games.

Each player gets a white board that shows a pair of clenched fists as on the game cover, and each round a customer shows up at your tattoo shop. What eight characters are you going to place on their digits to make them happy? Aside from the judge choosing a winner each round, each player has a set of tip cards, and if you really like someone’s answer that was not chosen by the judge, you can tip that player to show your appreciation.

As with many such games, I think points are secondary to being clever, but perhaps the rules will prove me wrong when the game debuts in June 2023…

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