Duration: +-40-90 minutes
Distributor: Czech Games Edition
The Prodigals Club – Board Game Review
Ah yes, life has been kind to you, your best friends have always been your unending supply of money and the material wealth that came forth from it. Every day you attend new meetings, acquire new partnerships, mingle with other high society members and hope you will gain even more influence and stockpile some more of those loveable stacks of cash. While it’s fun to throw wads of money around, all the stress that comes with keeping up appearances is slowly getting tiresome. You and your associates have been watching the tiny maggots below you, otherwise known as the common man, and notice, even though they don’t have many resources, they do have loads of fun. It seems there are only a few logical things to do, namely throw your cash out the windows, get rid of your possessions, make everyone dislike you, even the fat, loveable, gullible Beatrice who always speaks kindly of you, and last but not least, lose your influence status. Shit-shack in the middle of the woods, here we come.
- 5 double sided game boards
- 30 wooden errand boy tokens (5 colors)
- 10 player colored tokens (2 each – used in election competition and turn order marker)
- Current round marker
- Renaissance man marker
- 6 bonus action tiles
- 5 player boards
- 110 cards
- 5 society score boards
- 20 influence markers
- 6 dame Beatrice tiles
- Election scoreboard
- 25 political circle tiles
- Borough indication marker
- 42 money tokens
- 50 possession tiles
As this box contains a plethora of different items, mainly cardboard based ones, there are enough things that will catch your eye. Not only are the different items all fun and original, there’s great artwork on nearly all of them. The illustrations fit the rather comical theme of the game, while still upholding a serious and detailed appearance as well. Not only is it fun to see a great diversity in all the different items, everything simply looks like it was designed with care and the developers seemingly spared no expense, while in reality this board game is available at a very cheap price. The board(s), cards and tokens all looks great, the pawns have a fun touch to them as well. Your main pawns will be colored top hats, which look very simple, yet are a fun addition to the theme of the game.
To reach the lowest class of society you’ll have to get rid of all of your worldly possessions, your influence in the high society and the amount of votes that support you. As this game is rather expansive, well go through the basics, as there you’ll have the choice to only occupy yourself with one of the three aforementioned conditions to drop down the ladder of society. We’ll assume you’ll always do your best to keep all three in mind. Another small note is that this game might be a tad confusing if you don’t have any experience with games that require a decent amount of setup before you can actually start playing. It’s best to see a small tutorial video first, with the rulebook at hand, as this small booklet might not always be crystal-clear.
The play area will consist out of four zones, namely the three ‘competition’ areas in which you’ll either get rid of your possessions, influence or votes and a small central zone, in which you can switch up the turn order or get hold of a few other global benefits. In all of these zones, you’ll find immediate benefits, which help you get rid of items of the three categories, while others (often card based ones) allow you to build up a small stock of items which you can activate later, at the end of the round, or other rounds, in order to grant you even bigger bonuses and so on. Of course, you’ll have to take turns as for choosing what course of action you will take when it’s your turn, and you’ll be able to make several moves during each round. To perform your action, you’ll have to place one of your errand boys on one of the errand spaces, granting you the advantages of that spot. Truth be told, that’s the basic premise of the game, even though at first it might look utterly confusing.
You’ll have to keep in mind that you can only lose possessions, votes or influence by performing the proper actions, which are almost always activated by the actions of your errand boys or cards you have in stock. Nonetheless, you can’t focus on only one portion of the game, as the game will end when one players reaches zero in one of the three categories BUT scoring will be tied with the category that is still the highest. This means that even though you have sold all your possessions and lost all your influence, your score will be equal to the number of votes you have left.
While keeping track of your errand boys will already prove to be hard enough, there are some global things you will have to keep track of or certain items players have in stock. The lovely Beatrice will keep promoting you and the rest of the players, increasing your influence again, if you don’t take the proper actions. You might also gain votes again, if you tend to ignore Hyde Park, or you might even find yourself at a great disadvantage because other players have certain political tiles on their side, which grant them extra effects in combination with cards.
Luck or Strategy?
The Prodigals Club certainly has a higher strategy factor than it is about sheer luck. Many of the choices you make for your errand boys can be well thought out in advance, even though things get a lot harder when more players join the battle of poorness. You can also plan for the next round, if you decide to put an errand boy on the space that determines the player order, which could perhaps grant you a favorable pick at the beginning of the coming round.
Of course, things like the cards which get flipped over on the empty spaces each round are pretty much dealt by fate itself, not ensuring you to plan great moves but they will allow for some planning at least. That being said, there’s a clear difference in strategically planned moves when playing a game with two, as compared to more players. When there are two players, there is only one player that can possibly mess up your plans, and you’ll only have to wait one turn before you can place a new errand boy. Of course, seeing you use the flipside of the boards when there are only two players, there are slightly less errand options to explore.
The Prodigals Club is one of those games that might look rather hard at first but eventually proves to be very manageable, catchy and addicting. While there is a proper amount of time needed to set up the game and all its parts, you’ll be playing rather quickly after that. You’ll soon find yourself in an unconventional battlefield to get extremely poor and start enjoying other things in life than your overwhelming wealth and power. If you have some time on your hands, and you love to play more expansive board games, this one is surely worth checking out.