Review – Ladies and Gentlemen

Think about a time where you had at least ten players playing a game. Chances are you were either:

  1. Playing a party game where you had to split up into teams, like Dixit, Cranium, Pictionary, Taboo or any trivia game out there. You know, the usual; games where you try to get everybody involved, and most of the time it involves people drawing, acting, or answering trivia questions.
  2. Playing Werewolf or Mafia, the game where must rely on your conversation skills to lie, or deduce who among your group are liars.

That’s pretty much it…

Let’s face it, ten player games are limited in their selection. Most games are suited towards 3 – 5 players. Some designers will go as far as 6 – 8 players in a single game. But when you have 10 players, you are limited to either party games or werewolf, which doesn’t give you much variety.

Well there’s a game that successfully seats ten players. It is definitely not a party game or Werewolf, but generates much conversation and laughter as these games.

IMG_7211Ladies and Gentlemen is a game made by Loic Lamy and Melanie Fuentes. This game takes players into the world of fashion and glamour. Players work in teams of two, one acting as the lady and the other acting as the gentleman. The gentleman’s job is to make as much money as they can in the stock market. The lady’s job is to use the money of the gentleman and purchase the most lavish garments and accessories in order to dress up for a ball that is happening in six days.

Each gender has their own tasks. For the ladies, they first set up shops to determine which items will be available to buy. Then they decide which store they want to shop in that day, and which items they want to buy. Hopefully at the end of the day, their gentleman partner can earn enough money to afford these items.

IMG_7212The gentlemen have something completely unrelated on their end. The gentlemen first lay out stock market cards as well as a pricing card for resources. On each stock market card there are specific symbols. Then the gentlemen distribute tokens randomly on a playing surface face down. Each token has the various symbols of cotton, gems, coal, tea, sugar, and gold, or has a value on it ranging from 1 – 5, depending on the number of teams. When all the tokens have been placed, the gentlemen will simultaneously look through the tokens, finding specific symbols that match the stock market cards, but they also need to look for a turn order number token, which determines who gets to buy stocks first, and also decides the turn order for the ladies. Once they have grabbed their tokens, they can trade tokens for cash, or use the tokens to buy stocks which results in more money, or special abilities.

At the end of the day, both lady and gentleman will partner up again. The gentleman, with the amount of money they have, can purchase the garments, put them on layaway for a small fee, or not purchase the item at all. Each item has a level of “glamour points” represented as stars on the bottom of the card. At the end of six days, the team who has the most glamour points wins the game. In addition, hiring certain maids will give teams more opportunities to earn points provided that they fulfill the requirements found on the maid cards.

I’ve played this game a few times already, and one of the reasons why I keep bringing this game to game nights is because of the weird role each player begins to embody. This is one of the few games where players want to act like their roles. For example, I brought this game to a party (the same party where we played “Battle Sheep“), and two guys teamed up for this game. I’ve never seen a more hilarious pairing before; the guy kept wondering why his “lady” was wearing the most ugly stuff to the ball while this “lady” kept saying that he looked pretty and even asked the guy “Why don’t you think I look beautiful?”. Yes, these were two grown men saying this. When Phuong and I played that night, I bought her the fanciest red dress, but we only had enough money to buy her a dress…she went to the ball barefoot and the other gentlemen were commenting on how I can’t afford my own lady a pair of shoes. I’ll admit, if this game is taken seriously it will send feminism back a few decades or so. Aside from that, the game is hilarious when people act out their roles. Ladies, or guys that want to act as ladies, become flirtatious and become somewhat obsessed about how they look at the ball, while the gentlemen become pretentious, and want to ensure that their lady looks beautiful by the end of six days.

I appreciate this game also because it gives players constant participation and interactivity. All players in the game are actively doing something. There are some games out there where you usually have one person acting as a “game master”. That person usually is the one who acts as the bank for the game and manages all resources, or deals the cards at the beginning of the game. But with Ladies and Gentleman, the game functions better when you have everybody dealing out cards in the shops, or setting up the next day in the stock market. And due to its fairly straightforward setup during turns, players are encouraged to help out in order to make the game run more smoothly.

IMG_7213However, even though the setup during turns is fairly straight forward, the initial setup is somewhat time consuming. You have to set up the buildings, separate the cards, ensure that there is the correct number of tokens and that you have the right numbered tokens, set up the stock market both the goods and the stocks, and deal the money out. Hopefully after all of that set up and explaining the rules, your friends are still interested in playing the game.

Another potential issue with this game is if you have an odd number of players in your group. This game relies on partnerships. So if you’ve got that extra player, that player is pretty much going to be a spectator or will create an awkward threesome with another partnership.

Overall, this game puts diversity in the large-group-games realm. If you have the appropriate number of players, you will definitely have an awesome time acting the roles that the game puts out. This game provides active participation for every player and the conversations that you create hopefully will be as hysterical as when I played the game. Avid gamers will love how different it is in relation to the other large group games out there and casual gamers will appreciate the simplicity of the rules after you get over the initial setup.

Pros:

  • Natural Role Playing; now matter how hard you try to fight it, you will eventually start to act out your role.
  • Straight forward game play
  • Constant participation for all players involved.
  • One of the few ten-player games out there.

Cons:

  • Only works with groups with an even number of people. Otherwise someone gets left out.
  • Initial setup is time consuming

Edit: So my friend Bennett posted on Facebook that there is a variant where you have a courtesan in the event of an odd number of players. In this variant, you purchase garments and accessories for the courtesan provided that you purchase the same number of goods for your own lady. If the courtesan is the most glamorous, the courtesan and the gentleman who gave her the most glamour points win (which provides a very scandalous ending). If the courtesan is in last place, the team who gave her the least amount of glamour points will automatically lose. I’m curious as to how this variant works in a future game, so I’m retracting my statement that it only works with an even number of people because it looks really fun playing now with an odd number of people.

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