Tag: 5th Street Games

A Game You Can’t Refuse – A Review of Mob Town


A couple of weeks ago I got home from work and noticed two packages on the doorstep. I thought ‘Sweet, my Belfort expansion is here. And something from Amazon.’ While the Amazon package was a birthday present for my dad that they sent to the wrong address, the second package was a real surprise. It was a preview copy of Mob Town.

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I had seen Phil of 5th Street tweet some pictures of the game and knew of it. But I didn’t expect to receive a copy. And I really didn’t know that I would like it so much.

So there’s the spoiler. Here is a quick synopsis.   Mob Town was designed by Danny Devine and is to be published by 5th Street Games. In Mob Town, you play a mob boss trying to gain control of a town. You use your ‘buttons’ or minions to take over businesses in the town based on some hidden agendas that you have selected. Points are scored based on the popularity or importance number of the property. You play over three rounds. The Boss of bosses is the player with the most points at the end.

Now for the details. As I mentioned Mob Town is a card game about taking over towns. So at its core an area control/majority game. You want to take over as many businesses as possible to score the most points. But you also want to fulfill your two agendas to get extra points. Oh, and there are those other bosses. They’re trying to take over the same businesses. And they can take your businesses right out from under you. You have to fight for your  territory. How do you take over businesses and fight to get them back? By using your minions.

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Each minion card shows a picture of one of the kinds of minions – snakes, foxes, sharks, weasels, and rats. Minion cards also have a number, one, two, or three telling how many of that type of minion the card represents. So a shark card with a two on it would mean its value is two sharks. You use combinations of minion cards to take over the businesses.

Let me talk about the businesses first. There are five types of businesses – restaurants, theaters, hotels, game rooms, and factories. Each business card has a value on it. This is the number of minions needed to take control of that business. As I mentioned above, the icons tell which type of minion must be used to take over that business.  One last thing on the card is an arrow. This arrow is the heart of Mob Town’s unique town creation mechanic. I’ll get to this in a moment. Each player starts out with three randomly dealt minion cards. Five more are dealt out to the side of the town to form the Line-up and the rest form a draw deck. The Line-up cards are available for trade during the game. Oh, I forgot one card type, Cash. These cards can be traded in for any three of the Line-up or they can be used as a wild. It can stand in for any one minion. There is one last card in this deck – The Law. The Law card is shuffled into last ten cards of the minion draw deck. When The Law shows up the round is over.

Building the town is a simple matter of laying out the business cards. The cool, interesting part of this is how you lay out the cards. As I said, each business card has an arrow on it. The arrows point in one of four directions – left, right, up, down. You lay down the first card. The arrow tells you where to lay the next card. The arrow on that card tells where to place the next and so on. Once you have your town laid out, you place three businesses to the side. These are called the Open Lot area. These are available during the game.

The next card type I’ll talk about are the agendas. The agendas are goals for you to obtain each round. They are bonus points describing some condition related to the properties you control at the end of the round. Examples are ‘Most Connected Properties’, ‘You control the most hotels.’. You choose two of the agendas for the round. If you complete these at the end of the round, you earn 3 points for each completed.

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Each player gets a number of claim tokens in their player color. These are used to mark businesses that you have taken over.

There is one more important type of component. This is the briefcase full of money token. These are used to purchase businesses from the Open Lot area. These businesses can then be placed anywhere along the edge of the town.

Lastly the game comes with a score track, some scoring markers, player tokens, and four player assist cards.

Let’s talk about how the game is played. After you shuffle the property cards, you place the indicated number, based on the number of players, out to form the town, following the arrows mechanic described above. Next you place the Open Lot cards. You shuffle the minions deck, deal out three cards to each player. Then you lay out five of these for The Line-up. Shuffle The Law into the last ten cards of this deck and place the deck to the side of The Line-up.

Each player chooses two agendas. You are ready to play. Play consists of a player choosing one of six Actions. These actions are:

– Draw two cards from the draw deck.

– Trade one of the minions in your hand for all of one type in The Line-up

– Cash in a Cash card for any three cards in The Line-up

– Switch Agendas – You can switch one agenda for another.

– Open Lot – You can spend one briefcase to take one of the Open Lot businesses and place it. You may then take it over if you have the appropriate minions to do so.

– Take Over – To take over a business, you discard the number of cards matching the two suits on the property card in any combination equal to the value on the property card. If you do so, you place one of your claim tokens on the property card. If you want to take over a business/property that another player has already claimed, you have to pay one extra card for each token on the card. If you do so, place one of your tokens on the top of the stack on the card. As the game progresses you’ll want to take over another property. This property must be orthogonally adjacent to one you control. If not you must discard a card for every property you have to ‘pass through’ to get to it from one of your properties. This is the connection cost. If those cards happen to be controlled by another player you pay that connection cost to them.

Play continues with each player taking one action per turn until…The Law shows up. When a player draws The Law, the round ends and scoring happens. You score the face value of the properties you control plus 2 points for each unused briefcase plus any agendas you reached.

You then shuffle all the cards with their respective types and rebuild the town, Open Lot, The Line-up, and the draw deck with The Law in place. You play through another two rounds and then score a final time. The player with the most points is the Capo.

What Do I Think About Mob Town

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You already know what I think. I really like this game. It’s the best of both worlds. It is accessible to non-gamer and easy to learn. Yet, though it is light, it has strategy that will satisfy

gamers. I’m very impressed with the unique town building mechanic. It is so simple you’ll think ‘Why didn’t I think of that?”. It is elegant in its simplicity. It adds replayability and variety. It also

adds difficulty and strategy as the arrangement of the town itself plays into a player’s decisions. A town with a single card connecting two town nodes offers a tempting control point.  But if it is only a value one then it may not be worth the trouble. The take-over mechanic is easy to understand and adds some ‘take that’ to spice the game up. The resulting player interaction can be very entertaining. The briefcases give additional options for scoring and afford last minute surges. The Cash cards enable players to profit for the changes that occur during the game.

The physical parts of the game are excellent. First, the art is fun and fantastic. The cool thing and slightly unusual thing is the artist is also the game’s designer. Yup, Danny did the art too. That’s his regular day job, artist. The animal are nice and cartoony and will appeal to a wide audience. Danny’s infused some humor into the game too by naming the building with insider references and fun names like The Motel Hotel Inn and one theater showing a 5th Street Games Film starring The Smashing Monster in’ The Sound of Rampage; and Coming Soon: Ghosts Love Candy. I appreciate adding fun to a game. There’s some fun things in the minion cards too like the weasel with the baseball bat and the shark with the pool cue. Nice references Danny.

The theme of the game comes through very well. Taking over towns, fighting over properties, and running to another town when The Law shows up. That’s how I would imagine mob life to be. So the game’s not just about some cool mechanics. Bravo Danny.

The game is currently halfway through its Kickstarter campaign and only about $800 away from funding. The base game pledge level is only $25. For $35 you get the base game plus the City Limits expansion. I’ve play PnP’s of two of the three expansions included in City Limits, Professionals and Cities. These expansions add special player powers and other game variations. I really enjoyed both these expansions and think they are well worth the extra $10. There are a few other pledge levels.  One will get you an early Game Crafter produced copy of the game while your regular production copy is made. One will get you personalize tokens. And there are two levels for multiple copies of the game.

Comments from my kids: “I liked how you build the town.” “I like how you can take over other people’s businesses.”

I’ve played Mob Town with my kids and with some of my gamer friends. It’s a hit with both. Mob Town is a solid, well designed casual game that will please most anyone. I recommend it.

You can support Mob Town right here. Go do it now. Once you’ve done that go over to the 5th Street Games site and check out all their cool games. I would like to thank Phil for providing a review copy of the game.

A Conversation With…Phil Kilcrease of 5th Street Games


This time on Go Forth And Game I’m talking to Phil Kilcrease, head honcho at 5th Street Games.  5th Street Games publishes several games – The Crow And The Pitcher, Castle Dash, and Kickstarter darling, Farmageddon.

Tom:  Welcome Phil.  Talk about 5th Street Games a little bit. How did it come about?
PK:  I’ve always wanted to run a game company since middle school. The idea of helping people have fun has always been really appealing. What cemented 5th Street Games coming into existence was an Entrepreneurship class with Rob Wuebker and participation in the Foundry business incubator. The philosophy of those programs is “Why wait? Start experimenting now!”, so I launched with Castle Dash in a VHS cassette box to save on cost. Then, I learned of Kickstarter…
Tom: Tell us about your games.

PK: It all started with Castle Dash. It’s a soldier placement combat game where you place soldiers to attack other players or to gain Armory cards for bonuses in battle. When you successfully attack and break into another player’s castle, you can steal a treasure or rescue a soldier for more options. First to steal three treasures wins the Castle Dash.

Crow and the Pitcher had been my favorite trick-taking game for a long time before I picked it up. Players work together to fill a Pitcher card by playing Stone cards that add up to the Pitcher’s value with the highest card matching the lead suit taking the trick. Stone cards are worth one to three points each. If the Pitcher value isn’t matched, though, the lowest card matching the lead suit takes the trick AND the Pitcher card (which is -5 points). After each player has dealt a hand, the highest score wins the game.

Farmageddon is a hand management game with a dash of Take That. Players are planting crops into one of the three communal fields in hopes of getting enough fertilizer onto the crop to harvest it for cold, hard cash. There’s also a set of action cards players draw from that give defensive options (such as harvesting a crop more easily) and offensive options (such as stealing a crop). Once the crop deck is empty, the farmer with the most cash from harvested crops comes out on top.

My Happy Farm is our first import and is currently on Kickstarter. Players each have a farm full of sad animals they are trying to make happy by feeding the animals their favorite meals.  Whenever an animal is fed, it doesn’t get fatter; it gets …longer. The more an animal is fed, the longer and happier it becomes. By the end of the game, the player with the happiest animals is the winner.

Jungle Ascent is our most recent acquisition. Players are racing to the top of Mount Frab to claim the Ultimate Prize by building a path of bridges, ladders, and conveyor belts to the top while throwing hazards like fireballs and bombs at their opponents. The first player to reach the top claims the Ultimate prize as her own and is the winner.

Tom:  I’m excited about My Happy Farm.  I remember Dice Hate Me liking Castle Dash a lot.  And both Jungle Ascent and Castle Dash look fun. Farmageddon had a pretty successful Kickstarter campaign. I’m sorry I missed out on it. What do you think made it so successful?

PK: The artwork was a big part of the appeal; Brett Bean and Erin Fusco both did an amazing job evoking such character in each piece. Communication with our backers was also quite important. Grant and I did our best to answer questions quickly while also asking for feedback from time to time. Lastly, I’d say there was a latent demand for the game. It was one of Game Crafter’s best-selling games for a while, and quite a few people knew about it already.

The set up for My Happy Farm.

Tom:  Let’s talk about you’re latest effort, My Happy Farm. Tell me how 5th Street got its hands on it.

PK:  My friend Alf Seegert introduced it to me at the SaltCON game convention. Halfway through the game, I knew it would be a great fit for 5th Street’s line. Alf put me in contact with its publisher, IGAMES from Ukraine, and we set up a localization agreement.

Tom:  How do you prototype? How extensive?

PK:  I print & play; first through black & white, then color as the game improves and has longer periods between iterations. Bit-wise, I pull cubes and such from the collection I’ve built over the years.
Tom:  What ‘baby’ have you had to throw out?

PK: Two in particular: a real-time space civ, and a real-time lumberjack game where you would get to flick down the trees. The space civ was determined to be too niche for the cost, and the lumberjack game ultimately didn’t have enough going on.
Tom:  Theme or mechanics first?

PK:  Depends on the project. Unique mechanics are always great, but theme can really make a difference in the development of a game.
Tom:  Balance in a game – how do you get it?

PK:  Playtesting. LOTS of playtesting. Think you’re done? Wrong. Keep playtesting. Although, some games don’t need balance to be fun. Bang and Shadow Hunters are both good examples. They both have characters that are stupid powerful, but each game is short enough that it doesn’t matter too much.
Tom:  How do you know when to stop designing? How much is too much?

PK:  You can typically tell when a game is done enough; right game length, desired interactions, that sort of thing. When you’re to the point that you’re just changing things to see what sticks, it’s a good chance the game is finished.
Tom:  What are your two best pieces of advice for aspiring game designers?

PK:  Play lots of games. It’s good to know what’s been made, and you may be inspired by a particular mechanic.  Playtest your games in a variety of ways. Start with conventional strategies until the game feels solid, then start going crazier. Try where everyone is playing an extreme strategy at the edge of your rules. Or with one player doggedly going after an alternate victory condition. Stress test. That’s where wonky rules breakdowns tend to occur.

Tom:  What are your current top 5 games?

PK:  In no particular order:
Race for the Galaxy
Super Showdown
Neuroshima Hex
Twilight Struggle
Pocket Battles
Tom:  Man, I want to play Super Showdown.  I missed the Kickstarter.  Friends played Twilight Struggle at game night on Tuesday and it looked like a lot of cool.  So Phil, what’s next for 5th Street Games?

PK:  We should start having our games appear in FLGSs by mid-summer, so that’s exciting, I’d say. We also have Jungle Ascent to launch later this year and we’re attending Gen Con. It should be a fun rest of the year.

Well, it sounds like 5th Street Games is really starting to take off.  Like I said, I’m very excited about My Happy Farm and can’t wait for my copy to arrive.  It’s been awesome getting to know more about you and 5th Street.



Photos courtesy of 5th Street Games and Dice Hate Me.