Worker Placement Review

Worker Placement Kickstarter Board Game Review

There comes a time when you feel sorry for someone working in a call centre. A whole day on the phone talking to irate customers complaining about the price of their gas bill while having to stick to a script and never deviating. You may feel sorry for them but in Worker Placement, the latest game from Dyskami Publishing, currently raising funds on Kickstarter, that pang of pity lasts only for a few seconds as at some point you’ll give someone a job in a Call Centre and you’ll take that money.

Worker Placement board
Worker Placement's board is clear and colourful and even has spaces for you decks of cards.

In Worker Placement you are the manager of a temp agency trying to find jobs for your job seekers. The main mechanic in Worker Placement is interestingly enough, worker placement. Each turn a small number of lucrative jobs will appear and you have to try and fill that role with the right candidate, if your candidate isn’t up to scratch you can boost their skill by sending them on training and boosting their skills.

The turn starts with a neat little card drafting system. You’re dealt three cards that could include new workers, skill cards, that can be used to boost the skills of your workers or management cards, a way of gaining a one off bonus or a method of ruining your opponent. The beauty is you’re immediately placed with a difficult decision as you have to keep one card, pass on another card to the player on your left and place one card into the peer network. Choosing which card to keep and which to pass on is that great mechanic that means not only do you have to think about what you need but guess about what your opponent might need. The peer network is also a nifty little mechanic; it puts one card from each player into an auction house that gives all players the opportunity to bid on the cards available. It’s another important decision as you need to get hold of the a skill card to fill a job but it going to cost you cash to buy it.

Worker Placement Kickstarter Board Game Review peer network
The Peer Network is a nifty little mechanic that allows you to bid on cards.

Worker Placement Kickstarter Board Game Review Ed Grimsby
Now that Ed Grimbsy has been boosted with some red cubes his career options have opened up.

From here on the game follows some pretty standard worker placement conventions, you will have a number of employee meeples that you then take turns to place on the various locations on the board gaining the benefit from the space. Most of these spaces will gain you a skill cube, but you also get chances to draw a card, play a management card or the all important job fulfilment. Thankfully you’re not denied by what the previous player has chosen, if you wish to use a space that has already been taken you can do but with many of the options it now it costs some cash to use the space.

You may be trying to find jobs for workers but your main goal is cold hard cash and your finances fluctuate often. Whether it’s bidding on the peer network, a management card from an opponent or placing your employee on a crowded space, there’s always something that can drain your funds. However there is a second resource to consider; reputation. Reputation affects your chances of going first in each round, the greater your reputation the greater the odds you’ll be the first player. You often gain reputation for filling lucrative jobs or for employing particular workers, however some actions make you lose reputation and that’s where the thematic magnificence of the Call Centre comes in; it may give you an instant boost of cash but it’s going to cost you reputation. You may be doing it because you’re way behind and the call centre is an easy option, it may be because you’ve got a spare worker and are not sure what do with them or it could be you’re just plain ruthless and want to win at any cost but there’s a damn good chance you won’t be going early next round.

Worker Placement Kickstarter Board Game Review Cards
Who would have thought being a board game designer pays so well.

Thematically Worker Placement is rather silly game and it is rather self aware, adding bits of humour where it can. The jobs available and their descriptions can be rather funny. The role of Fluffer raised a few eyebrows at my gaming table but I don’t see what’s wrong with someone who fluffs pillows and cushions or a furniture store.

Worker Placement is easy to learn, quick to play and rattles along at a damn good pace. It’s a solid game that’s kept pretty tight throughout. Where Worker Placement does fall down is that there’s little in the way of long term strategy, you’re not building up massive pools of resources nor are you constructing any form of engine. You are simply playing the board as you see it each turn. The job cards, the main source of the important victory defining money, rarely stay between turns and none of them are large enough that it’s going to take you several turns to build up the resources. This removes strategy but does lead to a much tighter game. With little opportunity to make a large quantity of cash in a single action it means that players tend to stay pretty close in points and if you are lagging behind then that’s when the Call Centre looks awfully tempting.

The jobs always bring a smile.

Could Worker Placement be the gateway game the genre needs?

Worker Placement isn’t aiming on being the next Caylus or even Lords of Waterdeep. It’s a straightforward game aimed at people who don’t want too much complication and that’s fine, not everyone needs a beard strokingly complex economic engine in their game. Worker Placement may lose something in long term strategy but that is what keeps that game running at a sensible pace and doesn’t create any runaway leaders or players feeling left behind. Worker Placement may be a play on the worker placement mechanic it is also a perfect introduction to the genre, suitable for a wide range of skill levels and ages. It is a solid game with easy to learn mechanics and manages to integrate a worker placement game into a light hearted theme.

Worker Placement is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. The version reviewed here was a prototype copy so the rules, components and style may vary. It is worth noting that for a prototype copy, Dyskami have already made a good looking, well developed game.

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