The Monday Game: Wicked Grifters

Time to return to the well of near-infinite game combinations at the Boardgamizer. A quick note too for the rest of this week:

Tomorrow starts National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’ll be doing a horror story, as outlined in Friday’s status update post, but this will most likely occupy most of my free time, so updates here will probably point to the Wattpad story-in-progress as I write chapters of it.

That said, onwards to game-making!

The Unused Parameters


I like the idea of a networking medieval game based heavily around chivalry and such, but it’s not grabbing me on a deep level, and the constraint is more of an art thing and doesn’t seem to really change the underlying story/mechanics much.


The constraint makes this an interesting quick worker-placement game, but the theme basically being zombie pirates is somewhat played thanks to being an intersection of popular culture like that. The storytelling mechanic adds an interesting bit to it as well, but not enough to sway me over the winning prompt.

The Winning Parameters


I’m thinking this will be an asymmetric game, something where one side is trying to infiltrate the base/speakeasy of the other, and using a secret role card for the particular gangster and their ability, trying to remember who is going where to set up The Sting-style traps.


By default, you’ve got to have a Redford and Shaw character in this. Let’s call their roles “The Fresh Face” and “The Gambler”

Brainstorm: The Mechanics

Firstoff, we need factions. Let’s set up the Marconis, the Falcones, and the Coppers. Marconis and Falcones are trying to infiltrate the uppermost level of the opposing organization, while the Coppers are trying to get reasonably high in both organizations. Next will be the Roles.

Let’s do two layers to this. Everyone has a public, open role, that’s a unique character like “The Fresh Face,” “The Gambler,” “The Fence,” etc. This has some sort of power value, and an ability of some flavor they can use on their turn. It also has a smaller version of the card with just the face/identifying symbol on it. Next, let’s add the hidden roles (Let’s call them ‘Family’ cards): These will indicate if they are Marconi, Falcone, or Copper, and thus dictate their endgoal objective.


Plus, bonus points if all of the art can be in this pencil-and-watercolor style too

Let’s set up the power structures for the two organizations as two pyramids, with the Boss at the top, and underneath that is the Right-Hand and Left-Hand man, then the three Capos, then finally the four Gangsters. Total of 20 cards between the two pyramids, so let’s use 25 total cards, each the size of the smaller Role cards, and bearing only a picture and a single Power value. Shuffle and set up the two full structures of the crime families, and then the leftover 5 as well as the players get put up outside the pyramids. All cards are kept face-down at all times.

Players get a set of actions on their turn (let’s try 3). They can use the actions to:

  • Gget Influence points (color-coded by player)
  • Reveal their role card and spend influence points on people directly above them in a crime family (people outside the families are considered directly underneath all of the lowest-level Gangsters) or anyone in the same or lower level of their family
  • Temporarily reveal and swap two cards (or look at them and do nothing else)
  • Challenge for a position directly above you (Revealing your role card and the one of whoever you’re challenging) or any position below you in the opposing crime family (This is the “Leader has advantage” ability, as a Boss can enter any non-Boss position in the other family).
  • You can also spend your whole turn looking at all cards on a given power level of a single family.

If you Challenge, you roll a set number of dice and add your power, trying to trump the person you’re challenging who does the same. Gangsters and Public roll one die, Capos roll two, Right/Left-Hand Men roll three, and Bosses roll four. You also get a bonus to your roll equal to the Influence you have on the person you’re Challenging, while any other players who have Influence on the person you’re challenging can choose to add that bonus to you, to the challenged person, or do nothing with it. If you fail to beat them, remove 1 Influence. If you succeed, your card and their swap places.


Pictured: When the Copper players all have the highest raw-Power role cards

Endgame is becoming the Boss of the opposing Family for Falcone/Marconi players, while the Copper players win if they have an Influence on both Bosses. First person to do it flips over their role card and their Family card and double-check to make sure they did indeed win!

And with that, onwards to the story!

Brainstorm: The Story

This one can be kept short and sweet. The Falcones and Marconis are out for blood and revenge, seeking to tear each-other apart as best as they can while the FBI and local Coppers are trying to stop them and take down the major players at the same time. No-one knows who to trust, and new players are constantly entering the game.

That should be sufficient for now, part from a name: ‘The Sting’ is a bit too infringey, so let’s go with something else instead. A quick search for slang shows some results for grifters as a term for old-time conmen, and I’m currently listening to a song called “The Wicked” and ‘wicked’ was a 1920s term for something “wonderful.”

I think we have a name: Wicked Grifters.


One Role can be “The Banker,” and they get oodles of Influence points to spend each turn


Brainstorm: The Elevator Pitch

Two crime families clash over the streets of the big city! Secretly maneuver and connive your way into power, and take down the family who did you wrong! Or, play as the police, and seek to take down both families at once while avoiding getting found out. Either way, plans and traps abound in the game of Wicked Grifters!


Pictured: When you could still wear straw hats without anyone batting an eye

Closing Thoughts

Definitely going to be light on content this month thanks to NaNoWriMo, but glad we were able to get this one out. Again, I think this one has a ton of potential as a full game, and I’ll probably be looking at developing some of these into full games sometime (hopefully) early in the new year.

Let me know in the comments/reblogs which prompt you liked best, and how you would do the Wicked Drifer design differently! Until next time; cheers!

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