GTM #216 - The Mansky Caper - An Offer You Can't De-Fuse!
by Ken Franklin

It's the middle of the Roaring Twenties.  You and your "associates" have decided to gain notoriety by looting the mansion of Al Mansky, the richest mobster in town.  You’re working as a team; but in your heart, you know you deserve a bit more than the others.  After all, you’re a natural leader.

Al trusts no one!  So, whenever he's out of town, he relies on a very specialized security system: a complex arrangement of explosive booby-traps, dynamite surprises, and danger-filled TNT charges!  Fortunately, each member of your crew has a special ability that helps in the heist, and everyone owes you at least one favor.  So, if your timing is right, you can use others to give you the edge to succeed and - dare we say - make you the next head of the Family.

The Mansky Caper is an exciting heist game for 2-6 players, ages 8+, that takes 40-60 minutes to play.  The game evokes the 1920's with beautiful scenes of the various rooms in the mansion. Even the rulebook uses the style of a classic comic book to introduce your gang while providing a quick-start introduction to the rules.

Published by Calliope Games, The Mansky Caper has become more than just another game release — it’s a labor of love for the company.  Every aspect of the game has been designed to maximize the Prohibition-era theme and provide the greatest experience possible.  The game comes with shiny plastic gems, drawstring cloth bags, and phenomenal 3D safes to open — all, of which, are pre-built, pre-punched, and ready to go when you open the box!

The first nationally-published tabletop title by retired Army physician Ken Franklin, of Vicksburg, Michigan, The Mansky Caper began as a 1990 shareware game called Plunder! on the venerable AppleIIgs computer, and was reborn as a tabletop game in 2011. When it came time to hire an artist for the project, the perfect candidate was Matt Franklin, son of the designer; Matt is not only someone who understood the vision and importance of the project, but he’s an amazing artist in his own right, with numerous art credits in the game industry.  Matt’s vibrant style and fun characters bring The Mansky Caper to life.

Each turn, players in The Mansky Caper may choose an unlocked room and open its safe.  If they discover gems and coins, they must share them with all other players in the room.  Of note is that coins are worth 1, and gems 5. Coins and gems must be shared, without making change. So, if two gems are found in a room with three players, the gems stay in the room until someone leaves, more gems are found, or they’re lost in an explosion! For their turn, players may run to the getaway car and stash away their collected coins and gems, protecting them.  Watch out, though — while you're at the car, others don't have to share with you!

Beyond shiny loot, each safe contains “Gasp!” tokens, which trigger plot twists from a deck of special cards, as well as the dreaded "Danger-Danger!” tokens, signaling that one of the Al’s diabolical traps has been triggered!  The 12-sided “Danger-Danger!” die is then rolled, showing the outcome — perhaps it will disarm the trap, destroy loot for one or more players, or even cause an explosion that removes the room from the game!  As the game progresses, the tension mounts, and it only ends when the Mansky mansion is completely destroyed.  At that point, players empty their loot bags and the highest score wins.

One unique mechanic of The Mansky Caper is the “Call In A Favor” marker.  Though each player has a unique ability, they may not use that ability for themselves.  Everyone starts out with one “Favor” marker, which is used to force cooperation from another player. However, Favors are leverage, so players must take care not to let someone accumulate too many.  If you get too far ahead, another player may confront you at the car with a loaded “Hey, Buddy!” and force you to evenly divide your loot by destroying a Favor marker!

The game is endlessly replayable, because only five out of ten different Room cards are used each game.  There are eight different characters, and combining them with the personalities of the players creates a different, delightful, interactive experience every game.  The winning score may be 130 - or it may be 4.

"Each game of The Mansky Caper tells a story," Franklin explains.  "At the start, players are fanning out, discovering the mansion and feeling out the other players and their strategies. Next comes a free-for-all grab for loot while manipulating others through Favors.  Finally, the house starts to crumble, and everyone realizes that their next turn may be their last."

Work together — to help yourself — and don't get blown up!

More information on Calliope Games and The Mansky Caper is available at calliopegames.com and at facebook.com/CalliopeGames.