So your company has been taken over by a large multinational, and they’re slashing unnecessary staff … It’s up to you to make sure the other companies take the fall, or you may hear those dreaded words: You’re Fired!
At a glance: You’re Fired! is a card game by Doug Levandowski for 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, and takes about 15 minutes to play. It’s currently on Kickstarter (it reached its funding goal on the first day), with a pledge of $12 for a copy of the game and higher pledge levels to include expansions. I think the game could be picked up by anyone old enough to appreciate office humor.
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44 Company cards (11 per player)
5 Consultant cards
The two available expansions (Interns and Corporate Zombies) contain 8 cards each.
The cards are all made to look like company name badges, with a company name, title, and portrait. There’s a small quote next to the photo, and then the card’s ability is printed at the bottom. Two of the companies have names so far–Pyramid Scheme, Corp. and Glass Ceiling, Inc.–and they’re soliciting ideas for the names of the other two companies.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the illustration style used for the portraits, and the card backs (just “You’re Fired!” repeated all over) aren’t all that attractive, but the flavor text is pretty fun and the card abilities are generally pretty easy to interpret.
How to Play
You can download a draft of the rules here, or try a 2-player Print and Play version here. (If you want to try with more players, just make another copy of it and just make sure everyone starts with the right set of employees.)
The goal of the game is to last the longest by firing your opponents’ bosses (or forcing them to play their own bosses).
Each player gets a set of 11 Company cards, and one Consultant. (Depending on number of players, you may get a choice of 2 Consultants or just get a random one dealt to you.) Each player shuffles their own deck of cards and then draws a hand of three. If you have your Boss in your starting hand, show it, draw another card, and then shuffle the Boss back in.
On your turn, you draw a card, then play a card. That’s basically it! If your draw pile is empty you just skip the draw step. If you’re ever forced to play your Boss because it’s the last card left, then you lose and are eliminated. (The Boss hates to work, and playing a card is making that person work.)
Cards that you play go into your “Break Room” (discard pile), but each player also has an “Unemployment Line.” This is where employees go when they have been fired. Some cards have abilities that require firing them, in which case you’d put them in the Unemployment Line, too.
If you ever have fewer than three cards in your hand–for instance, because an opponent fired somebody from your hand–draw back up immediately (if you have cards in your draw pile).
Some examples of employees are the Axe Man, who lets you guess an employee in your opponent’s hand–if they have that employee, it is fired. Or the Fall Guy, who can be fired to prevent somebody else from being fired. The Recruiter can actually steal an employee from an opponent’s hand and put it into your Break Room.
There are a few instances in which you get to reshuffle your Break Room and hand back into your deck. One is the Fall Guy, who has a secondary ability–you can fire him to reshuffle. Also, if somebody attempts to fire your Boss and fails, you get to reshuffle. Otherwise, though, you just start running out of cards and eventually your Boss will have to go to work.
If you have the last Boss standing (or sitting, as it were), then you win the game.
You’re Fired! is a quick-playing card game and reminds me slightly of Love Letter: you have one card in particular that you never want to play, and you’re trying to eliminate your opponents (usually by figuring out what’s in their hands) before you get eliminated yourself.
In this case, though, you have a hand of three cards, plus you draw a fourth before you play a card–that gives you more options in what you can play, but it also means that your opponents have better odds of guessing a card correctly in your hand. Also, instead of a common deck to draw from, each player has their own deck, and you can do a little bit of card-counting, figuring out which employees players may still have available to them.
I like the card abilities and interactions–most of them work thematically and the flavor text helps tie it to the corporate world. The Consultants add just a little twist–each player will get one Consultant, and at the start of the game you don’t know who has what. These are pretty powerful cards, but you only get one of them. For instance, the Whistle Blower fires the employee who’s firing one of your employees. The Motivational Speaker prevents your employees from being fired for one round.
I haven’t played with the two optional expansions since my prototype didn’t come with them, but they do look interesting. The Interns expansion gives everyone two Interns–it allows you to use the ability of another card in your hand. The advantage is that you can spend an ability by discarding an Intern–but the disadvantage is that you’ve just revealed something you have in your hand. The Corporate Zombies expansion looks tricky. Each player adds two Corporate Zombies to their company. If the Zombie is fired, two other cards from your hand are also fired. They’re probably cards that you want to play as soon as they’re in your hand … but then you have to watch for the Bean Counter, who can fire employees in an opponent’s break room.
That reminds me–because of the Recruiter, it’s possible to wind up with another player’s employees back in your deck. That can help direct strategy, knowing that you have an extra Fall Guy and somebody else is short one, for instance.
There is some player elimination, of course–in a 3- or 4-player game, some people will have to sit out while the survivors battle it out. Still, it’s a pretty quick game so even when that happens the eliminated players generally won’t have long to wait.
Overall, I enjoyed You’re Fired! and I think it’s a nice addition to the Button Shy Games line. Button Shy Games has been doing a lot of “wallet games”–microgames that consist of just a few cards and come in a little vinyl wallet. This one, by contrast, is a deck of cards–still pretty small and portable, but with just a little more depth to it. I’m not a huge fan of the look of it, but the gameplay is solid–if you like Love Letter, I think you’ll enjoy this one as well.
For more information, visit the You’re Fired! Kickstarter page.