Downsize Review

DOWNSIZE by BRAINCRACK GAMES

A review by Mark (mawihtec) Capell-Helm

Players 2-6
Playtime <30 minutes

The Origin Back-story
Ever since Downsize first launched way back in March of 2016, I have watched this project from Lewis Shaw of Braincrack Games develop from a “midnight scribble” as he calls it. Into a fun, filler game, all about the hiring and firing of employees. Using the traditional big business ways of thinking i.e. “MORE PROFIT!” When the Kickstarter finished in April of 2016 it had raised over £31,000 a WHOPPING £26,000 over its humble £5k target. It had grown in size and quality adding linen cards, larger stronger box and an expansion to add extra wrinkles to the fun gameplay.

Ok so far
Here was a game that provided you with
66 Employee Cards
18 Return Cards
20 Market Movement Cards
6 Rules Reference Cards
An Employee Handbook
And in a moment of brilliant premonition,
1 Trump Card

Keep talking
So onto the aim of the game. A very simple premise get rid of all your staff while maximising your profit to make the biggest amount when the recession hit (end of the game). After all in big business, people don’t matter profits do. But, fire them all too quickly and you risk allowing other companies to step in and steal some of your profits. Leave it too late and lose profits as you pay off the workers in redundancy payments. Downsize at the right time to make the biggest payoffs while causing other companies to hire and fire in response to your actions.

Game on!
You start with 10 employees (8 in 6 player games). Then you take turns in which you can
1) Hire 1 employee (draw a card)
2) Fire 2 employees from compatible departments. This allows you to take a special action. For example, Fire extra Staff; force other companies to hire and fire staff or even to gain a profit boost with additional returns.
3) Fire 1 employee with a special ability, Will your marketing campaign force additional hiring from your rivals or maybe you will send in the Auditor to inspect rivals books and reduce their profits through taxation?
If you ever find yourself with no employees left you have 2 simple choices either of which can potentially help you win or lose the game. You can either, hire 1 new employee (draw a card) OR you can DOWNSIZE (pass) your company mothballing it for that turn hoping a rival corporation does not step in and steal some of your profits. A neat twist is that whenever you gain a returns card for profits. They are drawn blind. Will you get a small $1million or could you get big bucks with a $6 million payout?
The game ends when either all companies have laid off all of their staff or all the returns cards have been used. In the first instance everyone just counts their profits highest total wins. BUT find yourself with employees left and you have to cash in some of those returns cards to lay them off. Potentially ruining your chance to win.

The Expansion pack “Market Movements” is best saved until you are very familiar with the base game because it adds in a raft of different abilities and some fun wrinkles to shake the game up.

In short
This is definitely one game I would not hesitate to recommend. It is a quick set-up/ tear-down game which is quick to play with some fun take that elements. In general a light filler for up to 6 players which is good for a bit of family fun or while waiting for the rest of the game group to arrive. We often end up playing 5-6 games back to back. To me it is a little like the breadsticks before a meal in restaurants. Nice to snack on, you end up having several but it won’t ruin your appetite for the main course. This is not a stat heavy slog-a-thon but more a gentle ride in the sunshine. It is staying firmly in my collection.

Rate me up then.
Ratings are tricky because they are subjective. I will use a rating out of 5 where 1 is not for me/ I did not like and 5 is I will play this a lot.
At a games night for some serious game time? 3/5 (lightweight filler)
Family game time with younger players, or less experienced gamers? 5/5 (quick and not too heavy)
Portability 4/5
Content 4/5 (would like to see more card varieties)
Replayability 5/5
Theme 5/5 (novel theme not represented that I can think of)
Depth 3/5 (it is lightweight fun)
Overall 4/5

Where next then?
So following that campaign what is next for Lewis and Braincrack Games? They have already had a successful follow-up campaign entitled Mined-Out. You can view the details and pre-order here:-
https://www.kickstarter.com/…/mined-out-the-pocket-sized-mi…

They also have a new game currently active on Kickstarter entitled FARSIGHT and it is well worth a look. It has already surpassed its target and is on until June 2017 I urge you to have a look and enjoy the artwork.
https://www.kickstarter.com/…/farsight-corporate-warfare-in…

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