We then turned our attention to Chicago Poker, a recent game by the two Brunos (Cathala and Faidutti) and published by Phalanx Games.
The game is set in the Roaring Twenties and is about taking control of the various speakeasies, gambling houses, jazz clubs and distilleries dotted around Chicago. Theme aside, it’s really a card game about building the best poker hands at four tables played simultaneously. On their turn, a player gets three actions to either draw a card or play a card. The cards are valued 1-15 in five suits and the usual poker type combinations are aimed for. As soon as one player has played five cards to a particular business (table), that table gets marked for scoring (a shootout) when it comes round to the declarer’s turn again. Some cards get played face-up and some face-down so there’s an element of bluff that can be brought to bear in coaxing people to play cards at other tables. As soon as a table gets scored, the winner takes control of that business and once someone has collected a set combination of businesses, that player wins.
This was quite a fun game that played reasonably quickly with plenty of opportunity for bluffing or playing the odds. There are some special cards which can upset someone’s best laid plans. For instance, Mark K played a liquidation card on one of the businesses where I had a fairly strong showing, allowing him to remove my last card played there. Noting that this left me with no chance of winning that hand, I was able to play a limousine to move my cards to a different business. Not that it did me any good: I still lost at that second location. Mark G looked good for a while once he took control of 3 of the 4 different types of business but Nige claimed the win by getting three of the same type of business (even though I just about persuaded him that I had got a better hand and was ready to snatch the business from him - but honesty got the better of me eventually).