|Designed by||Jonah O.|
|Extra Material||suit chips, dice|
a cutthroat game of marketing pharmaceuticals to doctors
The players represent pharmaceutical sales reps attempting to market their products to doctors. The goal is to make as much money as possible (side-effects be damned), but watch out! If the Department of Justice catches you marketing off-label, you'll have to pay up. Recommended for three or four players. There's nothing really stopping you from having more, so long as there are enough non-Personality cards for everyone to have a hand of three.
You'll need one Decktet, a full set of 60 tokens (10 in each suit), two 6-sided dice per player, and one more 6-sided die. Feel free to include The Excuse and Crowns, but Pawns can be a bit much.
Separate the deck into two piles: Personalities (henceforth Doctors), and everything else (henceforth Drugs). Shuffle each pile, and deal a hand of three Drugs to each player. Arrange the tokens into piles by suit in the middle of the table, and agree on an ordering of those suits from 1 to 6 (e.g. the usual Moons-Suns-Waves-Leaves-Wyrms-Knots, or however the piles are arranged on the table). Give two dice to each player, and place the leftover die in the middle near the chips. The player who takes the most prescriptions leads the first round.
A Doctor's rank represents his prestige, and the suits represent his specialties. A Drug's rank represents its cost, and the suits represent the conditions which the FDA has approved the Drug to treat. Aces (representing generics) are 1, Crowns are 10, and Courts (if you're using them) are 11. The Excuse is a 0 and is approved to treat nothing; it's a placebo that your company is selling for some reason. The six specialties/conditions are:
Knots: Back pain
At the beginning of each round, a Doctor is flipped over from the deck for all to see. One by one, starting with the leading player, the sales reps choose one or more Drugs from hand to market to the Doctor. Doctors will often prefer cheaper Drugs, but more expensive ones will earn you more money. Whether or not the Drug is approved to treat any of the appropriate conditions is beside the point, and will only matter when the DoJ investigates in Step 3. If a player has earned tokens in previous rounds (see Step 4), she may lay some down with the Drugs now to spend money on research & development. This makes them more expensive, but can modify what conditions the Drugs treats: each token acts as an XOR on the Drugs' suits, canceling out a symbol if it is there or adding it if it isn't.
Now comes the time for the Doctor to decide which drug he'll prescribe. His preferences are a mix of the following principles:
- Cheaper drugs are better than expensive drugs.
- Companies with a history of treating a particular condition are favored over those w without such a history.
- Drugs that entered the market earlier are favored over those that entered later.
- Whee, randomness!
These principles will determine each Drug's rank in the Line of Treatment. Each player rolls her two dice, adds them to the cost (rank) of the Drugs and number of R&D tokens she played that turn, and subtracts the number of tokens in her supply (NOT counting those used for R&D this turn) that match any of the Doctor's suits. The Drugs of the player with the lowest total will be prescribed first, with ties broken in favor of the player who went first this round.
But wait! Now that you're earning boatloads of money and catching the attention of the Feds, are your Drugs approved to treat exactly the right conditions? If not, there's a chance you'll get in trouble: roll the spare six-sided die to determine one of the six conditions. If that condition is treated by both your Drug and the Doctor, or by neither, then you're fine. But if it's treated by either one but not the other, your CEOs are indicted and the company loses billions in a settlement. Return all tokens of that suit to the supply. Remember to factor in R&D, so the rules are as follows: you are indicted if the rolled suit appears in 1 or 3 of the following locations, but safe it appears in 0 or 2 of them: suits on the Doctor, suits on your Drugs, and suits on your R&D tokens spent this turn. If you were indicted, begin Step 3 again with the next-lowest player in the Line of Treatment (as determined in Step 2). If there is no next player, just skip to the cleanup phase; nobody earns money this round. If you made it past the watchful eye of the DoJ, you earn profits! Go to Step 4.
4. Payment and Cleanup
The player who successfully made it out of Step 3 earns money. Take tokens equal to half (rounded down) the sum of the Doctor's rank and the Drugs' cost (including R&D) in any combination of the Doctor's suits. (You can't take tokens from an empty pile.) Then return all R&D tokens used that turn (even on drugs which weren't prescribed) to the supply, discard all Drugs played, set aside the Doctor for the rest of the game, and deal everyone back up to three cards in hand. If the Drug deck runs out, shuffle the discards. Now begin a new round, led by the winner of this round.
Game End and Scoring: The game ends after all Doctors have been played. Whoever has the most tokens wins!
Lauren, Ibsen, Dolores and Ahmed are in the fourth round of a game. Lauren won the last round, so she leads. This time the Doctor is The Painter (3 of Suns and Knots).
Lauren begins by playing The Window (The Court of Suns-Leaves-Knots; like Windex, it cures a lot of things). It's pretty expensive, but she's got four Knot tokens already from selling to The Soldier last round, and the overlap between suits is pretty good. She has no Leaves, but probably wouldn't spend money on R&D anyway since the risk is already so small.
Ibsen plays the Ace of Knots, and kicks in a Sun token for R&D. He's looking pretty good—his Drugs only cost 2, and the DoJ can't possibly find fault with him! He also has one more Sun token in his supply.
Dolores has an awful hand of two Courts and one Crown, and she's sick of getting skipped for cheaper Drugs! She dumps all three of them at once, hoping to get better cards with the next deal.
Ahmed plays The Excuse. He has three Sun tokens from earlier rounds, but decides not to use them.
Next, the Line of Treatment:
- Lauren rolls a 1 and a 3, for a total of 1+3+11-4=11.
- Ibsen rolls a 1 and a 4, for a total of 1+4+1+1-1=6.
- Dolores rolls a 5 and a 6, and with the other cards she's played nobody blames her for not wanting to do the math. (42, for those of you playing at home.)
- Ahmed rolls a 2 and a 5, for a total of 2+5+0-2=1, so the Doctor prescribes his drug!
Unfortunately, Ahmed then rolls a 6 (Knots) in the Investigation phase, and so catches the watchful eye of the DoJ (because Knots are on the Doctor card but not his Drugs). On the bright side, he has no Knot tokens to lose, so play just passes to Ibsen, next in line.
Now Ibsen rolls for Investigation and gets a 2 (Suns). That's one of the Doctor's suits, but fortunately those are covered by his R&D, so he's okay! Ibsen then gets paid floor((3+1+1)/2) = 2 tokens, chosen between Suns and Knots. He takes two of the latter because he knows the Decktet card distribution so well, and in particular that there are more chiropractors than oncologists left in the Doctor deck. Then everyone discards his or her drugs from that turn and draws back up to 3 cards, and Ibsen leads the next round.
The designer writes:
I came up with this last summer  after a conversation about jobs that are underrepresented in board game themes. It's mostly a filler push-your-luck game and has some kinks to be worked out, but it's short and sweet and utilizes most of the properties of the Decktet in an interesting way.
Hey, I warned you it was light. There's a ton of luck here, and a bit of a runaway winner phenomenon, but the game is also short enough that it's not a huge problem. Some reasonable changes would be a more interesting final scoring system and a less swingy way of determining the Line of Treatment, but for now I'm pretty happy with the simplicity. And it's, like, the third game I've ever designed, so I've got to get a few more under my belt before I expect anything that's particularly good.
Rules and design: Jonah O.
Rules have been reformatted for the wiki by P.D. Magnus.