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Subject: Chicago Poker: Executive Review rss

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With my "executive reviews" I try to distil the essence of a game in a brief summary, adapted to time-challenged gamers (like myself).

Story
Chicago Poker is set, can you imagine it?, in Chicago. The players are mob bosses, deploying their men (and women) to gain control of the businesses in the city. The winner is the player who controls a certain number and/or type of different businesses: 3 identical ones, or one of each kind (there are 4 of them), or 5 businesses whatsoever.

Theme
Since the game is, after all, a variant of Poker, the theme is quite thin: the authors, however, have probably done the best possible job in giving a theme to an otherwise very abstract game. In this respect, the special cards (see below) add a nice touch of "realism".

Components
The cards are of very good quality: they are quite thin, but at the same time seem very durable (think about the ones in Thurn & Taxis). No problem with the cardboard tiles representing the Chicago businesses, nor with the nice wooden bullets which are used to mark the nearing end of the fight to control a specific business. Another plus is the artwork, simple, movie-inspired but very well done.

Mechanic
Tha game is, in its essence, a variant of Poker. Each player gets 5 cards at the beginning. On every turn, each player has 3 actions, an action consisting basically in drawing a card from the deck or playing a card. At the end of the turn a player cannot have more than 7 cards in hand. On the table there are some business tiles (from 2 to 4, depending on the number of players): the cards, whan played, have to be laid down on one of the businesses. The goal of the players is to gain control of the businesses realizing the best card combinations on each of them: the combinations are similar to the ones of Poker, but not identical. Two details are of interest here. First, not all the cards are laid on the table face up: for each business there is a different way to play the cards, some face up and some face down, so that there is ample room for bluff and deception. Second, there are some special cards that allow specific "gangster-like" actions, like killing one of the men of one other player (i.e. eliminating one card from the table), having a police raid one of the businesses, etc. The special cards make the game less tactical of course, so it is possible to play without them to have a more "Poker-like" game experience. When one of the players plays his/her fifht card on one of the businesses, a bullet is put on it: after another round, all the cards of the players on that tile are revealed, and the business is awarded to the player with the best combination. Then a new business tile is put on the table to replace it.

Complexity
Chicago Poker is an easy game to learn and to teach. That's all there is to say.

Length
The game is quick: a 2 players game lasts about 30 minutes. Of course, with more players it could be something more.

Replayability
Like Poker, if you like this game the replayability is almost infinite, since the abstract element is not really eliminated from it.

Number of players/Solo playability
The game cannot be played solo. It's for 2-6 players. I have personally only tried 2 players games (a lot of them): with a higher number of players the game should probably become more random and less predictable.

Final take
Chicago Poker is a fun game: though not a masterpiece, it could be perfect as a filler or as a game to play with non-gamers, especially since the rules are very easy to learn.
I rate it 7/10.
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PK WADDLE
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Even with 4 it only took 30 mins .. a great little filler with a very creative mechanic. Love that you are Euro-like ( very light of course ) .. BUYING businesses with poker hands. Good stuff !!
 
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