Review: Briefcase – with a suitcase among businessmen
When I first entered the market, I was full of ideals and plans, as I will never do harm to others. But the world of money washes all these ideas away. It took me one year, for which I have made it from an ordinary telephone operator on the stock up to speculator with my own office. Now it depends on me, who we keep and who is thrown overboard. I can not take human stories into account. All I care about are indices and value of colored papers in my briefcase.
This is all, what business is about nowadays. At least it seems to be this way, according to title of board game Briefcase, prepared by the Greek publishing house Artipia Games, specifically by authors Sotiris Tsantilas and Nikolas Sakaloglou. Game was released in 2012 and it is not a complete novelty of this publisher, they even prepared new game for Essen 2013: Archon: Glory & Machination. But back to today’s object of interest and illustrations of Antonis Papantoniou.
The game is hidden in a rather inconspicuous box with businessman looking up to the heights of commercial buildings. He is holding the title briefcase and whole box has dimensions corresponding to Carcassonne. But it conceals far more, than you would expect from a small box.
Specifically, we mean more than four hundred cards! Resource cards (concrete, steel, paper, and personnel), along with energy are vertically oriented and have a smaller size. More space is left to decision cards, which are already of classic size and will be used by the players themselves. These include options to buy, activated and obstacle. There is also fourth one – hire.
Residue of cards has a square format and consists of 97 cards of companies. Among these cards is a total of thirty different companies, that are waiting for your patronage. This includes 29 draft cards, that help you choose companies for one game (you can find numbers of cards used in game divided by number of players).
Each company card has cost printed as green numeral in the upper left corner, but also ability, cost per activation, production and top right is printed value in winning important points to end the game. Next to the name of the company, you will also find symbol of bulbs on both sides.Because the card is double-sided, you will recognize active from the inactive side based on these bulbs. Also the colored frame around the card is important, as it indicates actual level of the company.
At the beginning of the game, each player receives one power plant company card and puts it with inactive side (gray with lamps) up. He prepares his decision deck out of the twelve cards (three Buys, three Activations and six Obstacles), he shuffles it and draws four cards to create his starting hand. Next thing to do is place a warehouse card in front of each competitor, where he will store his resources.
Then players prepare a common gaming area, which is created of material decks. Randomly selected two of them will be locked at the beginning by using locking cards. Next to them will be also pile of action cards and central bank with victory points, both in quantity selected according to number of players in the game.
Now the only thing left to prepare is company offer. You can use a random selection cards called drafts. Selection of firms will always consist of eight companies at first level (orange) and six second-level ones (red box). After random selection is made, players place company cards in a number corresponding to amount of opponents in the game. And because this was the last step of preparation, game can start with player, who was last at a business meeting.
Player in turn can play any number of cards from his hand (he has four at start) and use their abilities. As we have explained already, there are three of these actions: purchase, activation and creating an obstacle. Even during purchase, player has a couple of options to choose from. In both cases, however, he must pay a buy cards. Their number will determine, which resources and buildings can he afford.
In one purchase, its possible to buy basic supplies, while player has to pay two Buy cards for imported raw materials (which can later substitute any raw material as a wildcard). He collects such resource and stores it in his warehouse, but it can (at start) accommodate only up to a maximum of five natural resources (there is unlimited space for storing energy). This restriction is checked only at the end of turn, so it is possible to momentarily exceed it and use all those materials immediately.
It is also possible to acquire company from their offer by paying the appropriate number of Buy cards. Each company has its own value shown in the upper left corner. Player puts a card in front of him with its inactive side up. No player shall have two same companies in his possession or buy more of them in one turn.
To activate any building, player performs third decision card, allowing him to turns building to its ON side (with a glowing light bulb). But to start such a production, player needs plenty of raw materials, which must be supplied from his own storage. First of all, every time you play blue (activation) card, you get to utilize its ability (one-time or permanent). This is the main reason for activating companies.
But not only because of production, companies can also produce decision cards (according to sketched symbol in the lower right corner), and these are put on player’s discard pile. Moreover, there is also a bank, anyone can visit and get rid of unwanted Buy card to optimize his hand. Player will be rewarded not only by better deck for next rounds, but also victory point for each card with letter B (= Buy) sold in this way.
Decision card Obstacle serves to lock and unlock raw materials, but also companies in the menu. Its good for attacking, because its not possible to use this card until its freed again. And there is also a fourth option, that will be added during the game. This is a rental (Hire) decision card, which can get players into production companies of opponents by paying him entry cost.
At the end of the round, player discard cards not played, draw four new ones and gives word to the next opponent in line. By alternating in activation and shopping, rivals continue until all the ingredients, companies or Buy deck gets empty. Players add to victory points obtained in the course of the game bonus points for all chosen companies, remaining raw materials, but also for any companies‘ ability. The player with the highest score gain is the winner.
As you can see easily from playing, drawing and reshuffling cards, Briefcase is based on deckbuilding mechanism, which is not alone an essential element driving this game forwards. It is only a supplement, an action bridge between you and companies, you are trying to influence on the market.
This time is not the most important thing to improve your deck, but also to properly use different actions and buying. Optimization of your draw pile plays of course a big role, but given only four types of cards, your options are pretty limited in this direction. But its in this case good news, because you can concentrate on strengthening your chances. With buying more decision-making cards, you do not improve your deck, but rather do specialization.
And because of this, Briefcase really brings a unique feel. Most important thing in the game is ability to properly manage your stock of raw materials. Storage capacities are very limited and you must be able to work with them. During the game, of course, storage space increases slightly, but it still remains at a similar rate to prices of better companies in the offer.
Activation of buildings and usage of their skills is another important factor, which you must do quite well. Sometimes it is not easy to do, what you need to do, because you do not have right cards in your hand. And that’s just the gene inherited from deckbuilding and makes the game interesting.
A big advantage is of course simple rules, that you easily get into your blood and its easy to learn even to less experienced players. Those, who have some experience with deckbuilding, have distinctive advantage. Length of the game corresponds to its type and it takes around one hour of your time.
The only drawback remains, that you often feel, like you’re playing Briefcase by yourself. There is not much chance for attacking others or to spoil their actions. Game is very focused on optimizing your own activities and remaining competitors are here only as a backdrop and winner will be decided at the end by a simple sum. So if you’re looking for interaction, you’ll have to wait for the expansion. With this, it is clear, that it actually does not matter, in which number of opponents you are playing. The effect of this is only visible in increase of game time.
Processing is absolutely excellent. Buildings are gray, while inactive and do not disturb you in play, while their richly colored other side immediately catches your sight. This makes really easy to differentiate active and inactive companies from each other. Overall, cards are of high quality and very well illustrated. Rulebook works well and you will learn game quickly. From a technical point of view, there is nothing to complain about.
Briefcase is a very nice card game, that brings novelty to games with deckbuilding – working with raw materials. It is fun and when you play, you feel you have control over the development of it all. With four types of cards, you need to use when building your deck, you affect your chances only with their ratio. This game definitely deserves plenty of attention, because it is truly exceptional.
Review: Briefcase – with a suitcase among businessmen
Briefcase is an interesting game, in which you build your own deck made up of only action cards. There are four types of them and you must ensure, that you will have them in the right ratio. Only then will you be able to work well with raw materials, to buy companies in the market and provide them with inputs, that can be produced effectively. And that will take you one step closer to victory. The game offers an interesting insight into the deckbuilding, that will surprise even most experienced player of this type of games. It's much more thoughtful type of game, where you still need to consider your options. Although there is no significant interaction between the rivals in the game, it makes up for everything with variability and sense of control. As number of firms is much bigger, than you need for each game, companies available in front of you are constantly different and make Briefcase feel really variable. Actually, it's completely different game, so you should definitely want to at least try it once.
Reader Rating0 Votes
very interesting shift of deckbuildingu
huge amount of cards
simple - just four types of actions
control of the game
lack of interaction
random draw of cards sometimes can ruin your chances (just like any deckbuilding)