The Mansky Caper by Calliope Games Review

Theme and What is it?

The Manskys are THE big-time crime family in your town … and your family is sick of always coming in second. You and your family decide to take matters into your own hands and rob Al Mansky’s own home while he’s out on the town. Work with your fellow players to come home with the most loot!

Gameplay Mechanics

As pictured above, the game is set up with five rooms face-down, chosen at random from a stack of ten. An empty safe is placed on each room, identity cards are passed out, and every player is given a black stash bag and one favor marker. Player tokens matching the identity cards are placed on the getaway car during set up. 

The youngest player selects a room, unlocks it (turns the room card face-up), and places his or her pawn in that room. The oldest player then does the same. When rooms are unlocked, the safe is then loaded with the appropriate tokens, according to icons at the bottom of the room card: some Danger-Danger! tokens, some Gasp! tokens, and some Loot tokens. 

Each player’s identity card has a special power that only that character has, which can only be triggered by ANOTHER player giving you a favor marker. In other words, you can’t use your own power. But hey, you’re family, and families stick together. I scratch your back and you scratch mine.

The youngest player starts and play goes clockwise. Each turn, the active player can choose to 1.) stay put and open the safe in the room he/she is in, 2.) move to another room and open that safe, or 3.) stash their loot in the getaway car. 

When you open a safe and draw out a Loot token, you’re in luck! … And so are all the other players in the room with you. The loot token will specify how many coins and/or gems are drawn out. That loot must be split evenly between all players in that room (you ARE family) and any leftovers are placed on the board in the room. If someone leaves the room, the remaining players can then split that leftover loot, and if you’re the last one left in that room, well, you can take it all, you Greedy Gus! All this loot is placed on TOP of your black stash bag to indicate that it’s unstashed loot.

Drawing out a Gasp! token usually results in obtaining some loot (which again must be shared with any other players in the room with you) with any number of other effects in the text below.

Drawing a Danger-Danger! token means you’ve triggered one of Al Mansky’s traps! Roll the Danger-Danger! die to discover your fate. Sometimes you can disarm the trap, but other times, you may blow up loot, or worse, the whole room. 

After you score some loot from the Mansky Mansion, you’ll want to head to the getaway car at some point to stash it safely away. You move your pawn to the getaway car and place all your unstashed loot in your black stash bag. WHEW! Safe. 

Watch out though! While you were out, other members of the family may have looted without you, and pocketed some of the goods. Do you want to play it safe? Or do you live on the wild side? And which play style will prevail?

Initial Impressions

I was really excited when I saw this one come across my desk. I’m always interested in seeing the newest stuff out there, and I know a LOT of blood, sweat, and tears go into games like these. Ken Franklin took the mafia and made it family-friendly somehow, and I’m eating it up.

Game Build Quality

Holy cow, let me tell you my FAVORITE pieces in this game are the safes. They’re made of very sturdy cardboard with hinged lids that do a fantastic job of hiding the loot while still letting you draw a token easily. They look good, they feel good, and they really make an impression.

My nine-year-old will tell you his favorite pieces are the gems (he likes shiny stuff) and my husband and son both really liked the instruction manual. It’s a really well-thought out guide to the game, but the best part is that it opens into a comic book format to give you basic instructions and an introduction to the story behind the game. It’s really well done, and a very creative take on the (often boring) instruction manual. 

Artistic Direction

Again, the comic book format of the first half of the instruction guide was really awesome. I love the richness of the colors on the pawns and room cards, and I like how Al Mansky’s wealth is displayed so casually on the room cards. The rich rug under the bed in the Master Bedroom, the wine cabinet chock full fine vintages in the Wine Cellar, and the fact that Al Mansky even HAS a trophy room in the first place. 

Fun Factor

My husband, nine-year-old, and I really enjoyed this game. It’s a great game for families, despite the mafia theme, which the kiddo got kind of into. My mother watched us play the first time and though she usually hates the kinds of games we play, she said she wanted in on the next round! “It appeals to a wider audience,” she said. And lo and behold, next round we played, she loved it!

Hardcore boardgamers can definitely enjoy this, but it’s also good for people who aren’t dedicated to the hobby.

Age Range & Weight

I’d recommend this for ages 6+. It’s fairly easy to learn, easy to teach, simple enough strategies. It’s a lightweight game, and perfect for a warm-up at game night, since it plays up to six.

Conclusions

The game plays much better with more players. A two-player game I played with just my husband got fairly predictable as far as strategy (do I stash now? or take my chances?). We still had a great time, and laughed a lot at our rather terrible luck (we blew up the whole mansion by game’s end) but I don’t think I’ll be playing this two-player very often.

Adding more players definitely increases the level of interest for me, and it makes decisions about stashing my loot much more difficult. The stakes are higher with more hands in the pot. 

All in all, it’s a great game, and one we plan to keep around for a long time to come.

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