Family Business Review

A game that I picked up in a trade on Board Game Geek was Family Business.

In Family Business, each player takes a mob family and attempts to "take care" of all of the members of the other mob families. To do this, the players take turns; this consists of drawing a card and then playing an Attack or Defense card. If an Attack card is played, any player can play a Response card to counter the Attack card just played. In order to take out opponent's mobsters, you play Attack cards to put them on the Hit List (and Defense cards to remove your own). Once a mob war starts (by playing a card, having a certain number of mobsters on the Hit List, or having few enough mobsters left in the game), the mobster at the front of the Hit List is "whacked" at the beginning of each player's turn. The game continues like this until only one mob is left with any members still standing.

With the simplicity of Family Business, I don't really feel the need to include too many pros and cons. However, this wouldn't be a review if I didn't include any, so here we go. One of the first things that I immediately liked about Family Business was how Response cards worked. If anybody chose to play a Response card, it became that player's turn (skipping anybody in between). I really liked this rule for a couple of reasons. First, it was a fairly unique rule that I hadn't seen in other games. Second, it really allowed two mobs to start fighting each other. (What would happen is one mob would attack another mob and get countered. The mob that was attacked would then attack back on their turn and get countered. This could go on for several iterations while the other players are sitting back and watching, while hoping that they will kill each other off.)

The next thing that I liked about Family Business was that it was a pretty lightweight, easy to play, and yet still fun and engaging game. I think that most anybody could play this game, and I would even think that it would be ok for kids, since most of the art is cartoonish (keep in mind that I don't have kids, so I am no the expert on what is child appropriate). In addition, this could easily be carried around and played in around 30 minutes, and so it works well in a variety of situation - potentially even as a game to play at work during lunch.

Whereas I enjoyed this game, it suffered from a common problem that occurs in a lot of card games: luck of the draw. If you draw the correct cards, you can do really well and take down your opponents. If you draw poorly, you can quickly get a lot of your mobsters eliminated, or have a hand full of worthless cards. Whereas I realize that it is difficult to have a card game without drawing cards, I felt like Family Business had a bit more card drawing luck than some others that I have played recently.

Another con that I found in the game is that each mob family was the same, and each mobster within each mob family was the same.  Though the game was focused on "putting a hit" on other players' mobsters through the use of Attack cards, I thought it could have had more depth if the actual mobsters (or at least mob families) had some kind of unique characteristics or powers in the game.

Overall, I give Family Business a 7.5/10. I never have figured out how to rank these simple card games against my other board games, but this is a game that I definitely feel is worth keeping. I enjoyed the game, and I can see myself breaking it out and playing it periodically, but I think it will live out most of its life as a filler game.

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