Entry for Green Box of Games Summer 2018 Design Contest.
2 players. 10 minutes.
You've figured out how to get ahead. You don't have to work harder or be smarter, you just have to look better. Your goal is to show up to work dressed a little better than everyone around you--but not too much (you don't want it to be too obvious that you're substituting style for substance). Don't sit next to the Boss, and of course, you *have* to sit by the New Hire to help out. A quick tile-laying game with (almost) perfect information.
32 tiles, in two groups:
- 16 "Workers" - Three sets of 1-5, and one 6.
- 16 "Cubicles" - 16 tiles of any value (these will be used face-down).
40 cubes, 20 in each of 2 colors.
Each player takes 20 cubes in one color.
Lay the 16 Cubicle tiles out in a 4x4 grid, face down. These are the spaces where the Workers will be placed.
Set the value 6 tile (the "Boss") aside. Mix the other 15 Worker tiles face-down, and separate them into two roughly equal groups. Mix the Boss tile face-down into one of the groups. Stack the non-Boss group face down, then stack the Boss group face down on top of that. Flip the entire stack over without disturbing it, so that only the top tile shows face up (and the Boss tile is somewhere in the bottom half of the stack).
The better-dressed player starts the first game. After that, the loser of the previous game goes first.
On each turn, an additional worker comes into the office and sits down in a Cubicle. The active player takes the top Worker tile from the stack (revealing only the one beneath it), and places the top tile in any unoccupied Cubicle. A tile may be played in any available space--whether or not adjacent to a previously-played tile--with the following two exceptions:
- A tile of value 1 represents a "New Hire" who needs help. When a New Hire is played, the tile played on the very next turn must be placed orthogonally adjacent to the New Hire if possible.
- A tile of value 6 represents the "Boss," who is subject to the "New Hire" rule, but otherwise may be placed in any open Cubicle. No Worker really wants to sit by the Boss, thus no subsequent tile may be played orthogonally adjacent to the value 6 tile.
After a tile is placed, compare its value to any orthogonally adjacent tiles. The player who "wins" on each adjacent side places a cube of their color on that border.
Scoring Points Edit
Tiles with more points represent Workers that are "better dressed" than tiles with fewer. Your goal is to place each Worker adjacent to other tile(s) that you've out-dressed by an appropriate margin (making you look better-qualified, and more suitable for promotion). The key is the spread between the new Worker, and the tile(s) it's adjacent to. Out-dress your neighbor by one, and you get the point. Out-dress your neighbor by two, and you're clearly trying too hard, so the other player gets the point. The same math holds for any larger difference; i.e, an Odd difference between neighbors = High value wins; an Even difference between neighbors = Low value wins.
Here, Green plays the leftmost "2" tile, which is two lower than the "4" tile to the right. Green wins the point and places a cube of her color on the line. If on the next turn, Red were to play a "3" tile above the leftmost "2" tile, Red would score a point for beating the lower "2" tile by one, and another point for beating the "2" tile to the right by one, placing a red cube on each line. Note: If this were to happen, then Green probably wasn't paying attention--she would have seen that the "3" tile was next on the stack when she placed the "2".
Strategy consists of considering the next tile that will be available to your opponent when laying yours, using New Hire and Boss tiles to force your opponent into an unfavorable position, and counting the remaining tiles available--especially toward the end of the stack.
End Condition Edit
Play continues until either (a) all the Workers have been placed (which is not terribly common, because the Boss usually takes a Cubicle or two out of play, or (b) no legal move remains. Tally the number of cubes placed by each player, and the high value wins. Then play another round, because the game is quick, and you have time.
This was inspired by a live-action "game" that a co-worker and I played at the office over several months. At first, we were trying to out-dress the other on a daily basis. A button-down shirt was nicer than a polo, and a tie was even better. Wool slacks were nicer than cotton khakis. In order to avoid a "race to the top" (I could just see him showing up to work in a rented tuxedo), we instituted the odd/even rule, to penalize someone for overshooting the mark. This went on for a surprisingly long time. Eventually we started placing "side bets," each of us selecting an (unwitting) co-worker for the next day, to see whose pick out-did the other. The game eventually collapsed when one of these side-bets came to work in the morning dressed "business casual," then went to the gym over lunch and came back to the office in shorts and a T-shirt. The resulting rules dispute lasted for days, and ultimately killed the game. But it was great fun while it lasted.