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Family Business
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Store:  Card Games, Family Games
Edition:  Family Business
Theme:  Crime
Genre:  Beer & Pretzels
Format:  Card Games

Family Business

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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 30 minutes 2-6

Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games

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Product Description

This fast paced card game of gangster warfare, intrigue and suspense puts the emphasis on fun. Each player is a mob boss competing to survive the murder and mayhem of the Prohibition era. The last player to have a mobster alive wins. The functional sorting tray and players' mat combine with the easy-to-learn rules make Family Business a high quality game the whole family will love. The play is fast and the competition fierce because when these families get down to business, the goal is to survive!

Product Information

  • Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games

  • Year: 1982

  • Players: 2 - 6

  • Time: 30 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 360 grams

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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.9 in 18 reviews

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June 27, 2003

it was one of the best, most interesting games i have played. it's even more fun when you talk in a gansta or italian voice. i played it with all my friends on a houseboat in sacramento, ca. it kept us awake all night because we couldnt stop playing. it's the best!

The Greatest Game Ever!
July 06, 2002

this strategy filled game, is a blast to play with as little as two and up to eight people, although you may get mad at people for trying to kill you, it's just a game. And you may be able to get some revenge the next game. My family went on vacation on a nice lake to go jet skiing and tubin, and wake boarding, and we played this 45 to an hour long game about three times a day every day for a week.

by Rocco
A Quick, Fun Game!
June 03, 2001

I found this game to be an easy, quick, fun game to play to get the gaming night started. I don't believe it was meant to be played for hours on end, but it is great fun to 'rub out' your friends on the 'hit list.' Doesn't have the deep strategy of a game like Acquire, but it wasn't designed to be a heavy strategy game. This game is well worth the price I paid for it, and we play it often. Lots of fun!

December 08, 2000

It's a very fun and exciting game that you can play with all your friends. I had never heard of the game until I went over to my friend's house and he taught us how to play, and now as I want a copy for myself it's very hard to find.

If you get too good at the game other mobs will team up and make sure that you don't win. It's a great game for the entire family.

by Andre
A near perfect game!
June 29, 2000

I originally played this nearly a decade ago, and have been looking for it ever since. The game is based on 20s mob families. The object is to 'rub out' the other families. After recently purchasing the game and comparing it to a friend's original the biggest difference is the playing board--a brick wall with 'Family Business' written at one end in the original--the board was a higher quality. The rest of the game has changed little, especially the hours of enjoyment.

I will agree with one of the other people that have reviewed this game, the game does rely fairly heavily on chance--but don't most boardgames? Any game that depends on the drawing of cards (like Family Business) or the roll of dice is a game of chance. I do disagree about there being no strategy to the game. With its combination of attack cards and counter & rescue cards there is a definite need to use strategy. Is the game as deep as Axis and Allies or any other game from Avalon Hill game--NO!, but is it trying to be--NO!. Moreover, because of the simplicity and sheer enjoyment of the game I think this may be the perfect family/party game.

While a game like Family Business with its violent overtones my not seem like an ideal family game; because of the incredible simplicity of the game and the fact that it is just a static boardgame, unlike PC or console games, I whole heartily recommend this game for anyone looking for a game to play with their children or even grandma or grandpa (The game is recommended for players 8 and up) and because of the violent overtones your teens will enjoy it like I did nearly a decade ago.

Hours and Hours of Cut-Throat Fun
January 09, 2000

This is our favorite game. Every time we have a party this game comes out sooner or later, even when we have planned not to play it. Several friends have borrowed it for when their families have come into town--it's FANTASTIC.

Our house rule is that Hymie must die first, always. It's completely unfair to the person who drew his gang, but that's the way we play it. Everyone loves the game.

Revenge Rules!
June 18, 2003

Don't you just love a game where you can exact senseless violence on someone who pisses you off without actually hurting anyone? This is a great game to play with bigger groups and family (if you don't mind the violence aspect)...We may not play this one all the time, but Family Business is one game that I will never get rid of.

I will get my revenge!!!

by HL
Family Fun but Lady Luck is involved
January 19, 2003

Very fast and usually very much fun. It's barely playable with 3 players but opens up at 4 and a lot better with more than 4. It's difficult to win consistently because of

a) quite a bit of luck is involved

b) if people pick on the leading person in the game it's almost impossible to win

Nevertheless I would recommend it as I've had (and will have in the future) a lot of fun from this cheap card game.

Looking for a really fun card game, check out Bohnanza

by Ben
An OK game
May 25, 2002

Family Business is a fun game no matter how many players you play with. This game is more fun when you play with teams. It might not seem so but this game takes a little strategy. It is not a very deep game but the theme makes it fun. It's always fun to kill an opponent that has tried to put you on the hit list. The only down side of this game is that there are a lot of things to remember and sometimes it will get a little confusing.

I'm gunna make you an offer...
June 25, 2001

If you take away the theme of this game, it really would not be a very good game at all. But thankfully, there is nothing better than whacking your friend's family members in this terrific card game. To be clear, this game is not very deep, and it is all the luck of the draw, but it's great light fun with the right crowd. This game comes recommended. Worth the asking price.

by Anson
Fun attract game
May 13, 2001

It is a good idea that can affect the real face of people. If you dislike your opperent, you can kill him. Each players take a mob and kill each other. But it also depend on luck and coordination. Sometimes, you will be killed by several people together. It is a fast and good games for six person, it is because more people can make some laugh in this game.

by Rob Eno
Comes out of the box on 4 out of 5 game nights!!!!!
January 08, 2000

This is a great game to play before, between, or after other longer games. It almost always comes out of the box whenever my group gets together to play games. We have found however that in order to minimize shuffling it is very appropriate to buy two sets of cards and shuffle them together. Also if you play with more than 6 you may then mark a second set of gang cards in order to be able to play with up to 12 people if need be.

Easy to learn, fast paced, revenge filled crowd pleaser.
November 18, 1999

My core gaming group sat down to try out this card game as a prequel to our 'real' game. Well, we never got to the other game after this addictive card game took hold. We even enlisted a notorious 'non-gamer' to join us and it played even better with 5 players. It is easy to learn, but it still contains some nice opportunities for strategy. I disagree with the earlier reviewer from the midwest who said it was all luck. That is just not true.

While it is true that the cards you draw play a large part, there is a balance to the cards that makes playing the really powerful cards dangerous. That balance is the low number of cards in the game. With 4 or 5 players (the game supports up to 6 rival gangs) the cards are shuffled rather frequently. This was somewhat bothersome, but in afterthought it became clear that the decision to play a powerful card (like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre or Hit!) could backfire since another player would soon re-draw the card and use it against you. Our group also adopted the standard practice of attacking the leader. The beauty of this in Family Business is that the leader changes constantly. If you have a good group that plays together often, you'll find the table talk exceptional in this game. The bartering/begging can be hilarious as players debate and make their arguments for the merits of taking out 'Bugsy' instead of their beloved 'Capone' character.

We ended up playing around a dozen hands of this game over a two day stretch and everyone was wanting more. Family Business is not a complex card game. But then again it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be fun and easy to learn, and on both counts, I think it succeeds.

Quick, light, cutthroat gang warfare card game.
February 02, 1999

Play a gang of mobsters in this gang-eat-gang cardgame classic from Mayfair. It's a great filler game for making enemies or getting well-deserved revenge from the last game played.

Each player has a gang of mobster cards, and takes turns playing cards that will either put other players' mobsters on the wall or save his own cude-n-cuddly criminals. When a mob war breaks out, mobsters on the wall get nailed every turn until all targets are gone or special cards are played.

There is no remaining neutral in this game; you will be attacking other players. Make temporary alliances to gang up on the player who won the last game, or just randomly sow death and mayhem... your choice!

The game ends when only one player remains. Games go by quickly (15 minutes) and it's fun to play again immediately (as everyone wants revenge on the winner).

This is like Nuclear War, except everyone starts out at the same level. Guillotine players who want something more cutthroat will enjoy this game.

Recommended as a quick filler for gaming groups who can take the 'last man alive wins' ending.

So lightweight it almost floats away, but...
November 16, 2000

I'm not crazy about this game as a game--nothing wrong with it, but there's not a heck of a lot of strategy or thought involved beyond the usual psychological wrangling that occurs in any 5+ player game. However, I have managed to turn this into a fine party game, by the simple expedient of chucking all of the 'gang cards' (whose members are all functionally identical and contain no rules text or anything) and replacing them with gangs constructed out of the box of 'Rock Superstar' (by all appearances, printed precisely one week before 'Nevermind' hit the stores) cards that I picked up at the all for a dollar store.

So now, instead of the Gambinos versus the Bambinos versus the Zambonis or whatever, you have the far more intriguing prospect of the Smooth R&B Gang (led by the inimitable Teddy Pendergrass) facing off against the Swedish Metal Gang, the Wack Hip-Hop Posse, or even the terror-inducing, Wu-Tang-esque mystic enclave known only as The Eight Faces of Madonna. In other words, like most decent-but-not-exceptional party games, Family Business is precisely as much fun as you want to put into it. And, I have to admit, there are few things in life more satisfying than executing a mob hit on Trixter.

One of my least favorite games
April 27, 2001

Anyone who has read many of my reviews knows that I enjoy somewhat heavier games, while having a good appreciation of lighter fare. For some reason, 'Family Business' has never appealed to me.

I believe it is lack of two ingredients that makes this one a miss for me. The game is lacking in both strategy and in form, and therefore turns the game into a rather pointless exercise in card drawing.

I 'get' the game, mind you. I know it is intended as light fun, and that players are supposed to have near-carte blanche in executing their executions, but the whole thing is just too amorphous and vague. The cards are incredibly disparate in their values. A player can easily get stuck with a hand of near-useless cards. And since players can easily gang up on one another, it is all too easy (and in my experience, all too common) for certain players to be bumped from the game early on and have to sit out the rest of the game.

Given a choice, I prefer games that allow players to stay involved all the way to the bitter end. I'll take Cosmic Encounter over Family Business, thank you....

This game is pure luck and no strategy
November 14, 1999

This game seems like a lot of fun when you first open it up. You have feuding gangs, they can take each other out. But it rapidly comes down to: I got this card, I play it on that guy because he hosed me last time. It gets old fast, because there is no long term planning, no strategy, nothing. You might as well have a deck of cards and draw one a turn, and then if you draw a diamond play it 'against' someone. Whoever has the most diamonds loses. It is cheaper than Family Business and you will have just as much fun. If you want a fun card game, pick up Mamma Mia.

"What does this card do, again? Check the instructions...."
May 27, 2001

I typically enjoy light 'filler' games with fun themes. I expected Family Business to be in this vein. A bad first experience playing the game, plus some major grievances with the mechanics, theme, and sheer number of types of cards, however, left a sour taste in my mouth.

When I first played Family Business, it was a few months ago during an afternoon/evening game group meeting. A few of us had just finished up some quick games of [page scan/se=0513/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Brawl, and we were waiting on one more person to show up so we could dive into a game of Diplomacy. Someone suggested Family Business as a quick time-filler. So, 5 of us opened up the box and dived in.

Even though I ended up winning the game, I didn't find the experience very enjoyable at all. I'll spare everyone the detailed description of the game and its mechanics (some other reviews on this page have provided good descriptions). Essentially, the gist of the game is that each player represents a different crime family, with several different mob henchmen in their control. During the game, families 'threaten' other families, by placing another player's henchman onto the 'hit list', a central board in the middle of the table that shows the order of execution for men on the list. Players play special cards to put other players' henchmen on the list, save their own men from the list, or rearrange the list to their liking, etc. There are many, many different types of cards, unfortunately.

This was especially a problem because, despite having player aid cards, the two new players (including me) had to constantly swap the instructions back and forth to figure out how the cards in our hands were supposed to be used, and what they were supposed to be used for. Even the 'seasoned' Family Business players had to regularly refer back to the instruction manual to refresh their memories on what their cards meant.

As players gradually had all of their men killed off (and were out of the game), it came down to me and the most seasoned player. A few of the other seasoned players crowded around me, to help me out, and were rather insistent on giving me advice on what cards to play and when to play them. I tried to fight them off, but they were too busy arguing among themselves about the best card for me to use next. I finally won, and, instead of feeling good about it, I was just glad the game was over.

Although my bad first experience with the game has a little to do with my poor rating of the game, it goes further than that. I don't like Family Business because of the large luck factor in getting cards. This wouldn't have been so frustrating if there were fewer types of cards, but since there are so many different types of cards, it's unlikely at times that you'll get the one specific card you need. This large variety of cards also causes a lot of confusion over the function of cards, because people simply don't seem to remember what they do. Constant instructions-referencing turns me off. Also, I didn't really feel the theme in the game. The box and art on the cards initially implies a strong, fun, mob theme, but, in actual gameplay, I hardly felt it at all. All in all, a disappointment.

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