by Jonathan Leistiko
If you’re the gossip, your goal is to slander half of the players in the game without slandering yourself. If you’re a manager, your goal is to uncover the gossip before you lose your credibility (get slandered).
An Office Gossip deck for each player. When you make the decks, ensure that every card in every deck has the same back.
Who’s the Gossip? – Build manager decks equal to the number of players, minus one, and one gossip deck.
The gossip’s deck has the following cards:
In a 7-player game, the gossip has 3 no comment cards and 4 slander cards.
A manager deck has the following cards:
In a 7-player game, you’d have 4 no comment cards and three recommendations cards numbered 1, 2, and 3.
To randomize the decks, put all of the decks face-down on the table. Have all players but one close their eyes. The player with open eyes moves the decks, then closes his or her eyes while the other players open theirs. The open-eyed players pick their decks and give the last deck to the close-eyed player, who then opens his or her eyes.
If your deck has slander cards in it, you’re the gossip. Otherwise, you’re a manager. Refrain from revealing your cards or your role to any other player.
Each round of play has three phases: Whisper in the Boss’ Ear, Pick a Scapegoat, and Consequences / Credit
Whisper in the Boss’ Ear – In no particular order, each player plays one card face-down in the center of the table. Refrain from discussing the game until all players have played cards.
Pick a Scapegoat – Once all players have played a card to the center, you must pick (as a group) a player to take credit for that week’s work. That player gets the pile of cards in the center of the table. During this phase, you may say and do anything you want to except disclose your cards to another player, or cause another player’s cards (or the cards in the center) to be disclosed. As soon as a majority of players simultaneously pick the same scapegoat, this phase ends.
Consequences / Credit – If you’re the scapegoat, take the cards in the center of the table and turn them face-up.
If the game isn’t over, start a new round.
If the game ended because the gossip slandered him- or herself, the un-slandered manager with the most brownie points becomes the new boss and wins. If there are no un-slandered managers with brownie points, the demoted manager with the most brownie points gets his or her job back and wins. Ties go to the player who was the most recent scapegoat.
If the game ended because more than half of the managers were demoted, the gossip gets a big promotion and wins the game.
If the game ended because the gossip became the scapegoat and didn’t slander him- or herself, the gossip manages to get the boss fired, becomes the new boss, and wins a Super Victory. If you’re the gossip, feel free to chortle evilly.
I’d Like To Thank The Little People… – If there’s a tie for winner, all demoted managers can break the tie by giving any brownie points left in their hands to one of the tied potential winners.
Sept. 22’ 06 @ 11:50 AM – There was a discussion over on the Board Game Designer’s Forum about how to make a game with a hidden betrayer. After watching the discussion evolve for a day or two, this variant on the theme popped in my head. It’s a little card-intensive, but I think it gets a good Werewolf/Mafia feel without requiring a Narrator. I suspect that it’d play well with about 11 to 13 players.
Big thanks to Amanda, Glenn, Kathy, Leif, and Mike at Monday Night Games Night for play testing and offering suggestions to improve the game.