Mafia Casino

Introduction to Mafia Casino

mafia casino boxMafia Casino is a compact, quick-paced card game published in 2012 by Boîte De Jeux and designed by Simon Duquette and Éric Raymond. Players take the roll of cutthroat mob bosses struggling to run the most profitable casino resort in the game world. Mafia Casino is rather unique in the way it blends strategy, basic roleplaying elements, and simplified gambling classics into challenging, multiplayer play. The game accomplishes this mixture by having players take control of unique mob bosses who have differing abilities, and by including gambling mini-games that allow players to wager their in-game money on modified versions of games like roulette, craps, and Texas hold’em – essentially all the games you can now play in online casino!

Above and beyond the base game, there is an expansion by the name of Henchmen. This expansion adds additional gambling mini-games, extra standard cards, new sabotage missions, and, most importantly, the addition of cronies who, vying to win favour, will serve the player in their criminal acts.

Mafia Casino is most suited to family play. Despite being about crime, the game presents everything in a more or less comical light. Additionally, the gambling mini-games are simplified versions of the real thing – easy to learn, and included to enhance table fun and turn-arounds in gameplay.

Components, Number of Players, Playtime and Setup

Mafia Casino is designed to be played with between two and five players, though it is recommended to play with more than two players. Each game runs an average of thirty to forty-five minutes, with higher player count games generally taking longer. All of the needed pieces are included in the base box, and the cards are rather unique. A detailed rundown of the key components follows:

1. Basic Cards

a. All basic cards follow a standardised format. In the top left of the card is a suit indicator (clubs, hearts, spades, diamonds) and a face value. These behave just like a standard deck of cards for the purposes of the gambling mini-games. To the right of the suit and value is the type descriptor. Basic cards come in a couple of types: Construction, Game, Mission, Transaction, and Client cards. Just below the suit and value indicators is the price-value information. This determines the value of the card in pearls or diamonds. Next, moving down the card is the “manpower” value and then the manpower cost. In the bottom right corner is the unique card title and action.

i. Construction cards modify the building they are named after (i.e. Restaurant construction cards upgrade your Restaurant.) These upgrades can provide value, defence against sabotage, or other unique benefits. Construction cards cost manpower, which means that playing them will require discarding other potentially valuable cards!

ii. Game cards initiate gambling mini-games in which players can make a bid at increasing their cash. Texas Hold ‘Em, Roulette, and Slot Machines are the types in the base game. In the expansion there is also Craps as a game type. These game types will be explained below. Only one of these can be played per turn.

iii. Mission cards come in a couple of types with a couple of effects. In the base game there are Espionage (steal a card from another player at random,) Bomb (destroys another player’s upgrade,) Robbery (steals three cards at random from another player’s safe,) Extortion (steals one million dollars from all other players,) Rock Band on Tour (blocks another player’s Hotel from use,) Obnoxious Family (blocks the Restaurant of another player from use,) and Expert Cheater (blocks the Casino of another player from use.) In the expansion, there is also a Settling of Scores mission, which allows a player to challenge another player in a two-card manpower fight. The winner steals one million dollars for each point of manpower more than the loser.

iv. Transaction cards allow for diamonds and pearls to be bought or sold. Selling pearls and diamonds requires referencing one of the special cards called the “market price” card, which is described below. Only one of these can be played per turn.

v. Client cards effect the building they are titled after (i.e. Casino Clients effect the Casino.) Playing a client card earns a player money for each upgrade built in the respective building.

2. Special Cards

a. Safe Cards
i. Safe cards simply serve as a marker underneath which cards with diamond or pearl values can be stored. Once a card goes into the safe, it is no longer usable as a standard card and instead represents pearls or diamonds value.
b. Market Price Cards
i. Market Price cards determine the active value of diamonds and pearls. There are four Market Price cards which rotate as sales are made, changing the values dynamically as gameplay proceeds.
c. Super Client Cards
i. These cards function similarly to clients, earning money per upgrade on the building they are associated with. However, unlike normal clients, these clients stick with whichever player actively has the highest number of upgrades in their respective building. A casino super client will stay in the most upgraded casino and earn that player income until someone else upgrades their casino further.

3. Tokens
a. There are three types of tokens in Mafia Casino. Each one is a poker chip that represents a certain delegation of money. If a player accrues enough of these, they will win the game.

Setup is very straightforward, since the majority of components are cards.

1. Separate Special Cards
a. Special cards should each be separated into their own pile, with the exception of the safe cards, which should be handed out, one each, to the players.
2. Determine Market Value
a. Shuffle the four Market Value cards, then turn one face up at random. This will be the starting market value.
3. Place Super Client Cards
a. All Super Clients should be placed face up, within reach of all the players.
4. Shuffle Action Cards
a. All action cards (missions, clients, constructions, games, and transactions) should be shuffled together into a central draw pile within reach of all the players.
5. Determine the First Player
a. Each player should draw one card from the draw pile. Whichever player has the highest face value will play first. Afterwards, put these cards in the discard pile.
6. Draw
a. Each player in clockwise order should draw seven cards.

Once these steps are complete, play can begin.

mafia casino cards

Gameplay

Turns have a simple phase progression, which each have sub-phases depending on which cards are played. Turn order progresses clockwise starting with the player who was determined to be first player during setup. Turns unfold as follows:

1. Action Cards

a. A player must choose one type of action card to play each turn. Certain types of cards only allow one card total to be played (Transaction and Game cards), while others allow multiple of the type to be played (Mission and Construction.) Once a type is chosen, no other types may be played.

i. Construction cards
1. Multiple Construction cards can be played per turn. Construction cards have a manpower cost which must be fulfilled by discarding other cards whose manpower value equals or is greater than the manpower cost of the construction. This means that some clients or other useful cards might be lost in exchange for the investment into construction.
2. The exact same construction cannot be built twice.

ii. Game cards
1. Texas Hold ‘Em
a. When this Game card is activated, all players join the mini-game, unless they have less than two cards in their hands. Each player places two cards face down in front of themselves. Once all players have set their cards, they should be flipped face up simultaneously. The active player (who played the game card) then draws five cards from the draw deck and places them face up in the centre of the play area. Using standard poker hands (charts available online or in the play manual) the player with the strongest hand from combining their two cards with the five pool cards in the centre of the table wins 2 million dollars from the bank for each participating player. If there is a tied hand, this money is divided between the tied players.
b. All cards used in the game are discarded, and only the active player gets to refill his hand. All other players will play with less cards this turn.

2. Roulette
a. When this Game card is activated, all players join the mini-game, unless they have no cards at all in their hand or only cards with values matching those of the players who go before them. Roulette is played by having the active player choose two cards of different value and placing the cards face up in front of them. All other players than the active player place one card face up in front of them moving in clockwise order. All cards placed face up must be a different value than the cards currently played by other players. Once all players have revealed a card, the active player flips the top card of the deck and places it in the centre of the table. The active player should do this until a card is revealed that matches a player’s value. Whichever player matches the revealed card earns 1 million dollars for each card that has been revealed from the deck.

b. All cards used in the game are discarded, and only the active player gets to refill his hand. All other players will play with less cards this turn.

3. Slot Machine
a. When activated, this game is played by the active player alone. The player should discard between one and three cards to serve as bet multipliers. Once the wager has been set, the player should reveal the top three cards of the draw deck. Depending on what card types are drawn and the number of cards wagered, the player will possibly win varied amounts. There is a chart provided in the handbook that outlines all the possible results. Note: A triple-diamond result with a three-card wager results in a winning of fifteen million dollars which is HALF of what is needed to win the game!

4. Craps (Henchmen Expansion)
a. This game includes all players. To begin, take the special craps tokens included in the Henchmen expansion and place them in ascending value in the centre of the table. The active player should choose two cards of differing values between 2 and Queen. The tokens corresponding to these cards should be taken and placed in front of the active player, then the cards should be discarded. These tokens serve as bet place holders. Once the active player has gone, all other players should do the same, taking the tokens representing the cards they bet. Any remaining tokens go to the active player (giving that player a small advantage.) After all tokens have been distributed, the active player should roll the included dice three times. After each roll, a prize is given to the player who hold the token matching the value rolled.

b. All cards used in the game are discarded, and only the active player gets to refill his hand. All other players will play with less cards this turn.
iii. Mission cards
1. Multiple Mission cards can be played per turn, so long as the manpower cost can be met. Most Mission cards have an immediate effect, but the Obnoxious Family, Rock Band on Tour, and Expert Cheater remain in play until they are countered by the victim player purchasing the necessary upgrades to cancel them.

2. Mission card descriptions are above, in the components section.
iv. Transaction cards
1. Only one Transaction card can be played per turn, and only one transaction action may be taken (buy or sell.) Transaction cards themselves are discarded after play, as are any cards sold from the vault. To buy, a player chooses up to three cards from their hand which have a diamond or pearl value and places them in the vault. To sell, the player chooses up to three cards from their safe and multiplies the pearl or diamond value by the current Market Value card. Once the sale is complete, the old Market Value card should be shuffled back into the stack and a new one drawn.

b. Additionally, a player may choose to skip this step in exchange for a new hand. Choosing to skip the first phase means also skipping the second phase. A player choosing to re-draw must discard their whole hand and draw a new one, then progress to the third phase, which is explained below.

2. Client Cards
a. Once action cards have been played, the active player is then allowed to play as many client cards as they desire. Client cards provide one million dollars per upgrade in the building associated with the client. Client cards are then discarded.

3. Super Clients
a. During this phase, the player with the highest number of constructions (the minimum being 3) in a specific building is given the respective Super Client. Sometimes, no Super Client movement will occur. In the case that a tie is reached, the player currently in possession of the Super Client keeps control until their construction total is surpassed. Each Super Client generates one million dollars for the player controlling them per construction in the building they inhabit. This income requires no card play, and occurs every turn, so controlling the Super Clients is very important.

4. Turn End
a. During phase four of every turn, the first step to be taken is verifying income. If any player has reached thirty million dollars by phase four of a turn, the game ends and the richest player is the winner! It is possible that multiple players reach, or surpass, thirty million dollars in the first three phases of a player’s turn, meaning that the active player may not be the winner, even if the game ends during their fourth phase.
b. If the game does not end, then the active player should draw their hand back up to seven cards, and then pass play to the next player. A player may have more than seven cards if they enacted a Robbery or Espionage Mission that turn.

mafia casino cards

Victory

Victory can come swiftly and surprisingly, especially when gambling mini-games get involved. Additionally, players should pay attention to how many cards they discard, since gambling mini-games can reduce cards down and cause the player to have to sit out valuable money-making opportunities!

Interested players should note that the Henchmen expansion provides some modifications for a longer game. When playing with the Henchmen expansion, it is recommended to up the victory value from thirty million dollars to fifty million dollars.

Additional Resources

The guys over at ‘Board to Death Reviews’ on YouTube have done a fantastic job of reviewing the game and explaining it so well that literally anyone can play Mafia Casino. I highly recommend giving this a watch.

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