Game Designer: David Newton. Artist: Adam Bolton. Amazon Price: £24.99
First off you need to go through the two wrapped decks and sort out certain cards: the separate Player Decks; by colour on their Fronts - the Backs of these cards are the same colour and design as the Stationery Deck. Then locate the Zombie cards from the Target Deck and the five Day Marker Cards that also have the same backs as the Stationery cards. Finally there are the five Starting Department cards and the five Other Department cards; lay these out as shown in the display. Once you have located and sorted these you can set up the game, probably best to do this by looking at the Set-Up illustration on page 2. You need good eyesight to read the names on the cards on display. In later games you can add different Departments into the Office - for that is what you are setting up, a major company's office. The Departments have some really great names and often even better effects - these are documented in the rules booklet along with illustrations and examples.
The Rules Booklet is short, just 14 pages including front and rear covers, in fact the rear cover has the breakdown of the Game Contents (components) and the Key Words found on the cards. Make sure you read and understand these Key Words before you begin to play as they are vitally important to your use of the cards. Each player has a set number of Temp Workers (meeples in their chosen colour) each of which count as one turn for you, so in a 3-player game you each have 4 Temps and thus there are four Turns in each Round.
One player is randomly chosen as the first player and then the Day Marker Card, starting on the Monday, is turned up, with three players the player going third only gets one turn at being the First player - the First Player marker passes clockwise at the beginning of each new day and there are five days in the game. At the end of the fifth day you simply count up all the points you have scored and the highest total wins, there are no special tricks or modifications for the end of game.
This is a deck building game with a few differences. On each player's turn there are two basic options; 1 is to Reach a Target, place one of your Temp Workers on one of the Target cards and play out cards from your hand with the necessary number of points to enable you to take the Target card which will give you endgame points). The good thing is that if you have miscounted your attack score and you do not reach the Target value then nothing happens, there are no forfeits for not winning except that you have wasted your turn. 2. you place one of your Temps on a card in the display and unless you are moved off - in the opening display there is one card that allows the swapping of meeple positions - then you have the power of that card, either immediately or per turn, depending on the card. Most cards only allow one Temp per Round but there are cards with different compartments that can take 2, 3 or even 4 Temps each one gaining their chosen advantage from the card. How you manage the Display and your Temps is the business end of the game, it is, as they say, "the crux".
On our first game we had a little trouble understanding how the game should be played because the rules are written with a brevity that to begin with appears to contain loop holes. Actually though once you get your head into the right gear the game flows really well and plays both thoughtfully and cleverly. With all the possibilities of cards available for your Office there are innumerable variations and therefore this can be a perpetually changing game; the set up uses the easiest display of cards to get you started.
When you complete/reach a Target you take the card and unlike most other deck builders you put it straight into your hand, if you have any cards there remaining, and then discard all cards you hold, dealing yourself a new hand from your own personal deck. As you collect Target cards and Stationery cards your deck grows, Day Marker Cards, if you win them, are also added to your deck - you win the Day Marker Card by being the first player in a Round to reach a Target. This is where the 5 value Zombies are useful. It is possible, but highly unlikely that at the end of a Round no one will have reached a Target and if this occurs then the Day Marker Card remains and there will be two cards (or even more but I seriously doubt it) to be won.
If on your turn you only place a Temp Worker then you don't play any cards, though your choice of Department may mean that you have to Discard a card or cards from your hand in return for another reward. If you do this then it doesn't count as playing cards so that on your next turn you draw five more cards; doing this allows you to build up enough value on your cards to be able to reach the higher value Targets. Some of these Targets only have a points value if you meet certain conditions and generally these Target cards are amongst the highest values to reach so it's not always worth chasing the larger value cards if you then cannot meet the necessary requirements to feed them.
Some people may be put off by the slightly jokey title and when first setting up the game it did seem like too much time had been spent making up the jokey names for the Departments and not enough on creating the Rules booklet, but as I said, once we got the game mechanics off pat everything fell into place brilliantly. The thing is though, despite the jokes and somewhat funny title this is actually a very good core players game, well different enough from other Deck Builders to make it a game to look out for and keep.
You can find TEMP WORKER ASSASSINS on the internet but first check out your local game store