Demon Worker by Japanime Games – Review

Theme and What is it?

The lord of the demons throne has sat empty for weeks now. You thought he would show up, but secretly hoped he was gone for good. It has been long enough that your lust for the throne can no longer be ignored. You must act swiftly and brutally to crush the others who will also want to seize power. You can’t do this alone so you must seek out and find demon workers to help you build your evil empire. Time is short and your resources are limited. Will you be able to take control of the underworld and reform it in your image?
Demon Worker is a worker placement and resource management game for 3-4 players.

Gameplay Mechanics

Players start the game by interviewing (card drafting) demon workers. Players are dealt six cards and they select one and pass the other five to the person on their left. The interviews keep going until each player has drafted six cards. Each player starts with two human workers that they send to various locations to collect resources which allow players to bring the demons from their hands into play. These demons can then visit locations and collect more resources, hire new demons and a few other options. Demons will have abilities that are triggered when they go to locations and can receive bonuses when they are in specific locations. Players want to collect what is needed to hire as many demons as possible and build their Evil Points (EP), which determine the winner. After five work days the player with the most EP wins.

Initial Impressions

I was very excited to play Demon Worker. I enjoy worker placement games and the theme for this one seemed cool. There were some initial hiccups because the rulebook was missing some info and the pictures in it were too small to really see what was going on. But a quick email to the publisher resolved the questions I had. The first game was rough, but once we had some clarification we did not have any issues getting through the next game. It is great to have publishers that want you to enjoy their games and go out of their way to make sure you have a good experience. Demon Worker moves quickly and there is not much down time. Just enough to start thinking about your next move. I love the art (which I will talk about more below). Overall it was a great experience and the group had fun.

Game Build Quality

All the components are very nice. I don’t have any complaints. The cards are a nice stock and the board and tokens are thick. Demon Work should hold up to some serious play and when you have something that involves dark beings, you always want to make sure it will be sturdy. Those pesky guys sure know how to ruin stuff quickly.

Artistic Direction

By far my favorite thing about Demon Work is the artwork. It is very lighthearted considering it is a game that involves unquenchable thirst for power and the subjugation of human souls. Why not make it have a fun anime theme? There is great detail in the graphic design that makes this game fun. The score board looks like a chalk board. Like that is the best way for demons to keep track of their quest for the throne of never-ending fire and brimstone. The art makes the experience very fun and really draws you into a game that would have felt too dark and heavy if the designers went with a Dante world view of Hell. The way it stands, you can try to wrestle control of humankind with some fun and often comedic artwork.

Fun Factor

The great thing about Demon Worker is that it is a quick playing worker placement game. Rounds go quickly and a full game shouldn’t be more than 45 minutes. Because it plays so fast everyone can stay involved in the game. It also has some easy mechanics that, once explained, let new people get right in and play. 

Age Range & Weight

The suggested age range is 10+. I did play a game with my ten-year-old daughter and she struggled with it. She has not played too many worker placement games so it took a few rounds for her to get what she needed to do. Once she figured it out, she took off with it, but she felt like she was way behind and lost interest in the game about half way through. I think that she may enjoy it more now that she knows what she is doing. She loved the art and spent lots of time exploring the cards to see what she could see on them. The older players all got the hang of the game way faster and didn’t seem to lose interest like my daughter.

Conclusions

Although we did get off to a rough start with Demon Worker we were able to get everything figured out and had fun playing the game. It is nice to have a lighter worker placement option to teach people the genre. One issue I have is that it is a 3-4 player game. We do lots of 2 player gaming, so this can only ever get to the table when we have enough people. I wish they had a two-player variant for it. But other than that minor detail, it is a fun game that plays at a great pace. The art is super fun and allows players to be involved with the game without feeling like they are selling their souls to the devil. Speaking of devils, be advised that this game does involve demon lore and some of the characters that you can be are Satan and Beelzebub. If your family or friends are not into that kind of thing, then I would recommend a hard pass an Demon Worker because that is what the game is all about. It does have cartoon style art that makes it feel light, but the overall goal is to become king of the demon realm through unabashed power grabbing moves and crushing those weaker than you. Sounds like a great family game right? Huh, maybe that’s why my daughter was not into it…