Mob Sitters: Can you turn a profit babysitting for The Mob? Or will you be sleeping with the fishes?
Players: 3-6 Ages: 14+ Game Time: 15-30mins
We met the crew from East Street Games at the UK Games Expo 2021, but sadly had no time left in the streaming lineup to bring them to you. However, I did manage to hand over my cameraman duties long enough to have a quick demo game and a chat.
East Street Games are rather new to the gaming table, having launched their first game Robot Royal on Kickstarter in 2018. Based in South England, the core team of the independent games design company comprises of Paul Brook and Liam Kirkman. Their goal is to bring fun and innovative games for all player types to your gaming tables. Their first game has been well received having been awarded a family and education seal of approval by Imagination Gaming in 2020.
However, it was their newest game that caught my eye at the Expo, the intriguingly named Mob Sitters. As the name suggests, the story here is that players are babysitting for the mob families of the city. The problem however is that even sitting for wealthy mob bosses, the pay sucks. But unlike regular nanny duties, there is also plenty of opportunities to make money and/or get into a lot of trouble. Can you provide extra services to your employer without being caught by Johnny Law? Or can you steal valuables from under the family’s noses? It’s the player’s job to try. However, there is little honour amongst thieves, and players will try to rat each other out to either the cops or the mob, whilst attempting to get away with their own misdemeanours.
The game components are kept sweet and simple, comprising of no more than six mini character mats and a deck of 20 cards each. Characters decks are comprised of job and steal cards that can earn you money, accusation cards that you use to hamper opponents, and reaction cards that counter accusations against you.
The game uses a mechanic where you play cards face up or face down and involves a degree of bluffing. If you manage to get away with a job or steal, your earnings go to your vault. However, if you are caught they become evidence against you. Reaction cards are a way of surviving accusations either by talking your way out of it or passing the blame to another player.
At the end of the game, players first figure out who is in the most trouble with the mob and ‘remove’ them. Then the player most wanted by the cops is arrested and also out. It is then up to the remaining players to see who has been the most profitable.
So what do we think of Mob Sitters? At the end of the day, this game is good clean fun. It has an amusing theme and fairly sound mechanics/game play. While there is some bluffing/strategy and social deduction here, it’s not a deeply tactical game (such as Avalon, Salem or poker), so don’t overthink it. This game is definitely suited to the family-friendly and small light-hearted gathering end of the spectrum. For serious and big-box gamers, this would be ok to ease into a game day or a short break between two larger and complex games.
Since the Expo, we’ve played Mob Sitters with a few different groupings, and while it was enjoyable each time it wasn’t a hit for everyone. Some audiences felt that during the first and last rounds (where play is slightly different) certain players seem to have an advantage, whilst others found it too simple. This I think reinforces the don’t overthink it message for older or hard-core gamers. For me, personally I love the game's theme and find it to be good fun (with the right crowd). But BECAUSE I love the theme I want to really immerse myself into it and there just isn’t quite enough depth and refinement to do this. However, I suspect that some house rules could fix this. For now, though, I’m going to give Mob Sitters a solid four on the dice scale. I look forward to seeing what East Street Games come up with next.