Top Hats and Treachery, by Andrew Prowse
Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions
What are the recommendations for this game?
Number of players: 2-6
Time of game: Averages around 20 minutes
Age recommendation: Not stated (should be able to read card text independently)
The back story: It is the Victorian Age, and each player runs a hotel in London. In this hotel you will have Guests, that are from the Lower, Middle, and Upper classes. These guests could be Criminals, Servants, Agents of Wonder, and so on. You will provide lodging for these guests and try to increase the value of the hotel through their social standing and prestige. However, there are rumors circulating, some positive and some negative that will affect your guests value. In addition to the rumors that can increase and decrease value, your guests can also be victims of the Grim Reaper, taking them completely out of the game. You will work on having the highest overall social status versus your opponents (having the highest score) at the end to win.
What comes in the game? (Prototype & Print & Play Copy)
1 Rule Book
48 Rumour Cards
11 Upper Class Cards
13 Middle Class Cards
10 Lower Class Cards
1 Long Game Round Tracker Card
1 Short Game Round Tracker Card
1 Rules Card (Dead Simple/Simply Deadly)
1 Rules of the Game Card
1 Turn Marker
Special Note: I went beyond this to sleeve all the cards, and designed card backs for the cards that were slipped into the sleeves.
What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?
You will want to build up your Guests while backstabbing opponent’s Guests. There will be values at the bottom middle of the Guest cards. These could be negative or positive values. You will then assign to these cards Rumours that will increase or decrease their overall value (you total all the cards with each Guest at the end of the game). You can assign Rumours to your own Guests or your opponents. You will be able to gain more Guests at the start of Phase 2 and Phase 3 (the Game has 3 Phases). The first Phase is Green, and during your turn you will only be able to play Green Rumours. The second Phase is Yellow Phase, and then you will only be able to play Yellow Rumours. The third Phase is Red, and you will only be able to play Red Rumours. When you get to Phase 2 you will roll the D6 and if you have a 1-2 you will gain a Lower Class Guest, 3-4 you will gain a Middle Class Guest, and 5-6 an Upper Class Guest. You will be able to kill off other Guests, including your own, and killing off Guests allows you to spend Rumour Cards to upgrade a replacement Guest. A Lower Class Guest replacement is free, spending one card to the player that dealt the killing blow to make it a Middle Class Guest replacement, and spending two cards to the player that dealt the killing blow to make it an Upper Class Guest replacement (the player who dealt the blow chooses one of the two cards and discards the other). If you are killing one of your own Guests, then the payments go to the discard pile. You will be able to protect and even cancel some of the Rumours being played on Guests, for it will all come down to cycling through the cards in the Rumours Deck. In the end, you will count up all the positives and negatives for a total score, as other players will do the same, and the highest score will win!
How do I set the game up? What all do I need?
Separate the cards into Lower, Middle, and Upper Class Guests. The Rumours will be its own deck. Make sure you have the card for Short Game or Long out for keeping track of the rounds. Make sure you have the rules cards handy as well, so everyone can see. Each player will at random take one Guest of each Class, and 5 Rumour Cards to start the game. Also have a turn marker and a D6 handy. Make sure you have space for each stack, Lower, Middle, Upper, Rumours Deck, and Rumours Discard pile. Also allow players to have space for up to nine Guests. You can have up to 3 Guests of each class. If you ever are to exceed this, then you choose one Guest of the appropriate class to discard, and the new Guest takes its place. Remember, when a Guest leaves or is killed, all Rumours placed on that Guest go with them!
Now to play:
When you use the basic rules, which is called Dead Simple, you will Play one Rumour Card, then draw one Rumour Card, and then the next player goes in clockwise order. The one exception that occurs in this is Counter Cards, because they are allowed to be played immediately from your hand. This is reminiscent of the Counter Spell Cards from Magic The Gathering.
Are there any variations for this game?
There is another set of rules for play, called the Simply Deadly rules. It goes like this, at the start of each Phase you will roll the D6 and depending on your result you will receive the rules by which everyone plays.
Here is the run down:
1: Play 1, Draw 1
2: Play 1, Steal 1 (from the player to your left) that player will then Draw 1
3: Play 1, Steal 1 (from the player to your right) that player will then Draw 1
4: Play 1, Discard 1, Draw 2
5; Play 1, Draw 2, Discard 1
6: Play 2, Discard 2
You could also come up with other variants of this, including having each player roll at the start of their turn.
Some game results:
The games we have played have been close (except for one play being lop-sided). We have had scores like 7 to 4, 14 to 9, and other games have been separated by 2 to 5 points. All in all they have been close games, where the players have been doing everything they can to squeeze out every last point and protect what they are holding that is most valuable.
I have found that I try to balance out my points being distributed (Rumours) so that there is never an easy target for the other players, where I would lose the majority of my points in one strike. Every game has felt quick, easy to jump into, and everyone felt like they could play more. When we play we have a couple sessions of this game before we move on to another game! We have been running around 20 minutes even with the longer game, due to everyone being familiar with how to play. The first game where everyone was learning was the only 30 minute game we had. The Short version can easily be done in 10 to 15 minutes, with players who know what they are doing.
We have placed Top Hats And Treachery (T.H.A.T. game) in our regular rotation, as we like to play games like Lost Cities, Project Dreamscape, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and 7 Wonders Duel. This game falls in line with the themes of playing Marrying Mr. Darcy, or if you enjoy Downton Abby, or Victoriana at large. It is a cheerful game, with lots of ha-ha, got-cha moments. This is a game with a balance of chance and card management, you need to think strategically and plan ahead, but there is chance in what cards you will draw from the Rumour deck. There will be tactics in how you play your Rumours, and on which Guests. There will be randomness in what cards you get along the way. You don’t have to worry about running out of Rumours cards, because you just reshuffle the Discard Deck when it runs empty, so a certain card could come up again.
This is a great game for a quick pick-up or between larger games. It is a great one to travel with, as there are not a lot of components and you can play quickly. This is a 50% Strategy, 50% Randomness game. I think its greatest strengths are:
-It plays really quick
-It is easy to learn
-It is true to its theme
-People who played were laughing
-People agreed that it seemed like a great quick game!
Thanks for reading my review of
Top Hats and Treachery, by Andrew Prowse
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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)