Family Business (game)

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Family Business
Players 2–6
Age range 8 +
Setup time 5 minutes
Playing time 30 minutes
Random chance Medium
Skill(s) required Alliances

Family Business, although played with a set of specialized cards, is more like a board game in the way it is played. "The game of mob vengeance" is for 2 to 6 players, each of whom plays with 9 mobsters from real historical gangs:

Game play[edit]

Players hold five cards, drawing a sixth at the beginning of their turn. Players take turns in order (clockwise) using attack/rescue cards or discarding. Players can also use block cards whenever they want to, even if it is not their turn. When a player uses a block card, the turn automatically goes to them, regardless of who went last, and that player draws two cards (one because it is the beginning of their turn, and one to replace the block card just played).

The object of the game is to be the last mob with any mobsters alive. Mobsters are eliminated by being contracted by other mobs. A contract places one mobster from any gang on the hit list. When there are six or more mobsters on the hit list, a mob war begins, killing one mobster each turn in the order they were placed on the list. The mob war ends when there are no mobsters left alive on the hit list.

Towards the end of the game (when there are six or fewer mobsters alive total between the remaining mobs), the "mob war" is always on and cannot be stopped. The last player left alive wins.

The cards[edit]

There are three different types of cards: attack cards, rescue cards and block cards. Attack cards and rescue cards are played when it is your turn. Block cards, however, can be played at any time. Usually a player makes allies and blocks his friends and attacks his enemies.

Attack Cards[edit]

  • Contract: Places one opponent's mobster on the Hit List. It is blocked by Family Influence and Mob Power.
  • Contract / No Mob Power: Can only be blocked by Family Influence.
  • Contract / No Family Influence: Can only be blocked by Mob Power.
  • Contract / No Mob Power, No Family Influence: Cannot be blocked.
  • Priority Contract: Places a mobster first on the hit list. If blocked by Mob Power, the attacker's mobster goes on first instead.
  • Double Contract: Places two mobsters from one gang on the hit list. If blocked by Family Influence, the gang attacked only has to put one mobster on the hit list. If blocked by Mob Power, the attacker and target both put a mobster on the hit list (in that order).
  • Hit: Eliminates one mobster from an opposing gang who is off the hit list (this is the only card that can do so). The attacker then places one of his own mobsters on the hit list.
  • St. Valentine's Day Massacre: Kills every mobster on the hit list. Named after the real event.
  • Double Cross: Places one mobster from each gang on the hit list, order determined by the attacker. Cannot be blocked.
  • Mob War: Starts a mob war, even if there are less than six mobsters on the hit list.
  • Ambush: Starts a mob war at a double rate, killing two mobsters per turn instead of one.
  • Vendetta: Places two mobsters from each gang on the hit list, order determined by the attacker. The mob war is also started at a double rate, killing two per turn. Blocked by Safe House.
  • Turncoat: Switches a mobster in play from the player with the most mobsters in play with a mobster in the discard pile belonging to the mob with the least mobsters in play. (Included in 2006 version only.)

Rescue cards[edit]

  • Take It on the Lam: Removes one mobster from the hit list. Blocked by Finger.
  • Police Protection: Removes one mobster from the hit list. Cannot be blocked.
  • Substitution: Replaces one mobster on the hit list with another mobster from an opponent's gang. Cannot be blocked.
  • Intrigue: Changes the order of the hit list to whatever the player wants.
  • Truce: Stops the mob war. If there are six or more mobsters on the hit list, or six or less mobsters left in the game, the truce has no effect and the mob war continues.
  • Pay Off: Removes all of one player's mobsters from the hit list.
  • Federal Crackdown: Removes all mobsters from the hit list.

Block cards[edit]

  • Family Influence: Blocks a contract.
  • Mob Power: Blocks a contract and places one of the attacker's mobsters on the hit list instead.
  • Safe House: Blocks Vendetta.
  • Finger: Blocks Take It on the Lam.

Strategy[edit]

A smart player will attack to his right and block to his left. Example:

              Moran Gang
Murder, Inc.             New York Mob
Bank Robbers             Capone Mob
             Purple Gang

If the Purple Gang frequently attacks the Capone Mob, then they will get more turns (because, if the Capone Mob blocks and takes the next turn, then the Purple Gang gets the next turn; the other four gangs are effectively skipped). Similarly, if the Purple Gang frequently blocks the Bank Robbers, then they will get more turns (again, the other four gangs are effectively skipped). However there is always the risk that a mob other than the Capone Mob will use family influence or mob power to save that person's mobster. This point emphasizes the importance of alliances with other mobs.

A common strategy is to save rare cards for the right moment. Because there is only one copy of cards like Vendetta or St. Valentine's Day Massacre, smart players will save them for the end of the game, unless an especially opportune moment presents itself sooner. If these cards are played very early in the game, they are recycled and can be picked up by other players later in the game.

Saving Hit for the end of the game is often a smart move, since it cannot be blocked and eliminates a mobster.

External links[edit]