Corporate America comes in a pretty bland box. Initially that’s all I really thought about it, a member of my staff looked at the rules long enough to inventory the game in the “theme” section of the shop, and that’s where it sat for a couple of weeks. I played some other new games that came in, but this one sat there lonely and dejected. Part of the problem was that it required three players, and for some reason, that magical number is hard for me to reach. If it had asked for 2 or 8 that would have been much easier, oddly enough. But it needed three, and so it just wasn’t real conducive.
|Artist||Chrissy Fellmeth, Karen Siebald|
|Publisher||Nothing Sacred Games|
|# of Players||3 - 6|
|Mfg Suggested Ages||13 and up|
|Category||Economic, Humor, Negotiation, Political|
|Mechanic||Auction/Bidding, Set Collection|
|Family||Country: USA, Crowdfunding: Kickstarter|
The night that I decided to give this game the fair shot that it deserved, a friend of mine was in the shop. She is what I would very affectionately refer to as a “hippie”. Thus, when I pulled out a game called “Corporate America” her nose was immediately upturned to the idea. But when I started to explain that it was a satire game, her opinion of it softened and she agreed to game with us.
Corporate America is a game where having the most money in the end is the ultimate goal. How do you accomplish that? By starting businesses, influencing consumer habits, becoming president, and enacting favorable legislation. That sounds pretty boring, until you start to read the cards, and then the flavor of the game starts to ring through and it’s hilarious.
The game is broken down into four phases: Wall Street, Main Street, Campaign Trail, and Capital Hill. During the Wall Street phase players will start one business. The business they begin has a start up cost but also has a pay out if it’s given type is chosen later in the Main Street phase. But take a look at the kinds of businesses you are starting: “Big Journey SUVs: Prove how big your journey is.” If you don’t find the humor in that, I am going to decline the opportunity to explain. All of the cards in the Wall Street phase are very tongue and cheek like this.
The Main Street phase is where you spend the bulk of the game. Each person flips over the top card of the consumer deck to see what kind of good the public is buying. If the flipper doesn’t like that answer, they can flip again, by paying a little bit of money. Ultimately they will choose one of their flipped cards, and that will be the one they choose to play, and the businesses of that type will gain money. However, in this phase, players can barter and bribe one another. “How about I just pay for you to see the flip? You don’t have to pick it buddy…” or “Come on pal, you know you want to pick Transportation over Technology…. do you really want to let Bill Gates win? Of course not! And here, here is a little cash to help swallow that.”
Got all of that hard earned cash? Good! Because you are going to need it out on the campaign trail. A series of legislation cards are flipped and each “candidate” tells which pieces of legislation make up their platform. Of course you don’t have to keep to those campaign promises, after all, the real life candidates don’t. But remember, that you might not be voted for the next time around if you screw someone over today. Much like the business cards, the legislation cards are full of tongue in cheek phrases and names.
Once everyone has made their promises, it’s time to vote! Oh, you think each player gets one vote? Like in a democracy? Isn’t that cute! Nope, we vote using our money… like a real election! Players take turns secretly donating to the campaign of their choice. The player with the most money is the winner of the election and will become president for the round. They will also get a handy-dandy “Executive Privilege” card which will give them a nifty one time ability. Once a president is elected, it’s back to Wall Street to make some more money!
Ultimately, we found the game to be good. It’s humor is, admittedly, the crutch it stands on but there are solid mechanics as well. The different consumer types and legislation abilities are robust, but easy to understand and quickly pick up on. My complaint of the game going on for two long, is also an easy one to rectify, simply play for one to two rounds less. Most of the games I played had four rounds (which is dictated by the number of players involved) but if you shortened it to three, I think you would have a much more enjoyable game.