9/11/2015

Frugal GM Review: Middle Management (IT) Card Game

Frugal GM Review: Middle Management (IT) Card Game
I'm going a bit off my normal beaten path with the review this week, and there is a big reason why...which I'll try to explain briefly.

My wife and I were part of an ever-increasing club of folks who have been scammed by Ken Whitman on Kickstarter. I've done my best to keep the negativity off of this blog, and will continue to do so, but if you want the sordid details you can read them over at Tenkar's Tavern (specifically here, here, and finally here.)

So after my wife spent $450 on an "experience" for both of us and I-don't-want-to-think-about-how-much on actually travelling to GenCon for said "experience", we were pretty much left high and dry by Mr. Whitman. We weren't the only ones and the guys over at Zombie Orpheus Entertainment stepped in, not to help out Ken Whitman in any way, but to do something for the fans that were screwed over. A couple of their actors were in the projects that Ken Whitman had bilked people money for. When news of the bilking and dare I say general fuckery, spread a few other folks pitched in as well.

One of the ways some publishers/exhibitors pitched is was to donate product as some sort of "door prize" for the last-minute ZOE after-party. I picked up a copy of Management Material, and even though it isn't really an RPG product I wanted to do a review as some measure of thanks. I'm sure some would think of I wanted to send a real thank you I'd automatically give it 5 stars.....

.....but I don't play that way.

Right off the bat, there are two different Management Material games, one is specifically focused on Information Technology (IT) and the other on General Office Management. These two games are completely compatible and you could easily just mix up the two sets to form a larger set.

Middle Management Project Card
I had the IT set of 110 cards. The cards are roughly divided 60/40 between Resource and Assignment cards, but there are actually four main types of cards, five if you want to get picky and count the one card used to mark which person's turn it is.

Right off the bat I loved reading the rules, which are pretty much up verbatim on the website links I have above. The game itself is simple enough that I think a simple paragraph or two would suffice, but the designers had the room on the sheet and had fun with it. The basic gist of the game is you are trying to avoid completing projects by having good excuses to cover why you can work on the project and why someone else much more capable should be doing the project instead. This mechanic is a simple point system were the projects and excuses have point values assigned to them.

Although it seems that the idea is to be avoiding work, in reality it is far from that. The excuses detail the crappy minutia of work details that the IT folks have to deal with all the time. Completing the big projects basically earns you some level of respect/recognition and it seems if you are too good at your job you get promoted to middle management, which is considered "losing" in this game.

Middle Management Excuse Card
The cards are pretty cool and funny....I've experienced some of the lesser annoyances on some of these IT cards. While I thought the game mechanics were a bit overly simplistic, the fun in the game is reading the cards themselves and laughing. I suspect there are also a few insider jokes in there as well. I think I caught at least one, but I don't have that big of an IT background.

This bit is the games strongest and weakest point. Management Material's strength is the source material and would probably work quite well with the right audience. My group would play this once and get a laugh or two out of it, but if instead of IT it was focused on retail (most of my group has worked at the same multi-department store, but all of us have worked retail for years), we'd probably play this a few times and enjoy ourselves much more. Hell, we'd probably work a drinking game into the scheme somehow (You can bump up the excuse by +1 if you've had to do this. Take a shot and tell us the story...)

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: Middle Management (IT) Card Game
Management Material is a bit on the simple side, but with the right group the game content would make it funny enough that the enjoyment comes from the memories the cards bring up for the players. The expand-ability of the game is good for larger groups and this can be a quick filler game that shouldn't take nearly as much time as many cards games seem to do. This definitely much better than the only other IT-based card game I've played....*shudders at the thought of even mentioning that blight on card games*