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I'm The Boss!
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I'm The Boss!

English language edition of Kohle, Kie$ & Knete

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 60 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Sid Sackson

Manufacturer(s): Face 2 Face Games

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Product Description

I'm the Boss is a game of deal making and negotiation, where you are an investor just trying to make a deal. Through intelligent negotiations, temporary alliances, and cutthroat bargaining you will rake in millions. But watch out for the other investors at your bargaining table who meddle in your affairs and try to take over your deals. As the boss, you stand to gain the most, but you can find yourself quickly cut out of a deal. In the end, the winner is the investor with the most money.

Sid Sackson is famous in the gaming world for creating a myriad of brilliant game designs and 'I'm the Boss' is certainly one of his very best. This popular classic was first published in German as 'Kohle, Kies & Knete' back in 1994 and was nominated for game of the year (Spiel des Jahres Nominee 1994). 'I'm the Boss' has been out of print for nearly a decade but is now available for the first time in English. This English reprinting includes all new art, rule translations for German, Spanish and French languages and additional 'house rules' created by loyal Sackson fans over the years. If you enjoy a free wheeling game full of turbulent negotiations and fast-paced deals, this game is for you.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Game Nominee, 2005
Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game, 2004
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1994

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Sid Sackson

  • Manufacturer(s): Face 2 Face Games

  • Artist(s): William O'Conner

  • Year: 2003

  • Players: 3 - 6

  • Time: 60 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 1,457 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).


  • 1 game board
  • 6 investor cards
  • 98 influence cards
  • 15 deal tiles
  • 1 dollar marker
  • 1 die
  • 110 cash cards
  • 1 rulebook

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.7 in 12 reviews

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This is a must own game.
October 27, 2004

This game was designed by the same Designer who created Acquire. Acquire is a classic and so is this game. But, they are very different games... Both fun.

Here is how the game works. On your turn you have two options you can: Draw three cards or Make a deal.

Draw three cards - Gives you more opportunities to make money on future deals

Make a deal - Your task is simple. You are responsible for dividing up a predetermined amount of money (say $10M) any way you want. This is the fun-negotiating- backstabbing part.

At this moment each player is either "In" or "out" of the deal. Everyone who is "In" the deal, must agree on the apporionment of the $10M. Everyone who is "Out" of the deal is sidelined and recieves no money. Your goal, is, therefore, to be "In" as many deals as possible. You want a cut of every $ distribution.

And, thats where your cards come in to play. Your cards allow you to cut other people out of the deal, and to cut yourself into the deal. Playing cards is done simultaneously, so, its quite chaotic. Only after everyone has played their cards, can you finally determine "Who's really in and who's really out?"

If you're "In" you make money. If you're "Out" you don't. It's that simple. And, lots of fun.

Highly recommended for fun, though, its not a typical strategy game, like Acquire is.

Best Negotiation Game I've played.
August 18, 2004

Slowly but surely, Im going to try to play most of Sid Sacksons games. Face 2 Face games is helping me accomplish that goal with their reprints of many of the Sackson classics. Im the Boss (Face 2 Face Games, 2004 - Sid Sackson) is a reprint of Kohle, Kies & Knete, and is yet another reason Sid Sackson was a true game designer. Im a big fan of negotiation games, especially ones that are fast, furious, and allow a lot of people to get involved.

Im the Boss is a great game, as long as five or six players are playing. Negotiation games seem to by necessity require many players, and this isnt an exception. With a full complement of six players, however, especially those of tenacious spirits, the game can hit a high of excitement that Ive not seen in too many other games. Until I played Im the Boss, Dragons Gold was my favorite game. I still love that game, but I think Im the Boss has been more fun for me. I could see how hot-blooded people could lose their cool over a heated exchange; and a bit of luck can slightly affect the game; but boy oh boy, was it ever fun!

A large board is placed in the middle of the table, with a track of sixteen large spaces surrounding it. Each space stands for a big deal and has listed a number of required investors for that deal, as well as the amount of shares that deal lists as a dividend. Sometimes specific investors are required, which are listed on the space or possibly a choice between other investors. A pile of deal cards, numbered from one to fifteen, is placed face up in numerical order in the middle of the board. Six investor cards are randomly dealt, one to each player, with the remainder (if any) placed to the side of the board. Each investor has a name starting with a different letter, and a specific color denoting their family. Piles of money, with denominations in the millions, are sorted and placed near the table. A stack of ninety-eight Influence cards are shuffled, with five cards dealt to each player, forming their hand; and the remainder forming a draw pile in the middle of the table. The player whose investor comes first in alphabetical order goes first, and the player to their right takes a dollar token, placing on any space of their choice. The player who goes first is the Boss for a turn, after which play passes clockwise around the table.

On a players turn, they can either make a deal on the space the token is on or roll a single six-sided die. After rolling the die, they can either make a deal on the new space, or draw three cards from the deck (maximum hand size of twelve cards). Either way, after the deal or taking cards, play passes to the next player. When a player decides to make a deal, negotiations begin! The top card of the deal cards shows how much each share is worth, from $2 million a share to $5 million a share. Each deal has a prerequisite number of investors (and possibly specific ones needed) to complete the deal.

The Boss (current player) is in charge of the deal and will get the total amount of money the shares are worth, if the deal is successfully concluded. To do so, he must have the required investors in play. The players own investor(s) are automatically in play, and he can elicit the help of other players to let him use their investors. The Boss (or other players) can also play Clan cards - family members of the investors who can take the place of that investor to meet the requirements needed for the deal - in front of himself. When making deals with the other players to get the cards he needs, the Boss can only promise them money from the completed deal (which he MUST give), nothing else. Players can also play other Influence cards during a deal to affect the proceedings.

- Recruitment cards: These must be played in groups of threes, or are worthless. When playing a triplet of them, a player can permanently steal another players Investor card.

- Travel cards: A travel card can be played on an Investor or Clan card, putting it out of play for that deal (Clan cards are discarded, the Investor card is only temporarily set aside for the deal; either way, the travel card is discarded). Most travel cards target a specific Investor family, but a few are wild cards.

- Boss cards: A player can play an Im the Boss card, taking over the deal. They are now in charge (all previous negotiations made this deal are negated), and everyone must now deal with the new boss. Multiple cards of this type can be played, causing the position of the Boss to change several times over a deal. The playing of this card also changes the turn order, as the next turn will start with the person who is to the left of the current boss.

- Stop cards: These cards cancel recruitment triples, travel cards, and boss cards.

When playing a card, a player can affect their own deal, or any deal; even one they have no stake in.

After all negotiations are finished, if the Boss can successfully complete the deal, they announce that the deal is closed and receive the amount of money that deal is worth. They must then give to other players the amounts promised during negotiations. The deal card is flipped over and placed on top of the space the dollar sign is on, showing that the deal is closed for the remainder of the game. (The space is skipped when rolling the die). If the deal is unsuccessful, none of this happens; and play passes to the next player. Either way, all players take back into their hand any Clan cards they have played, with all other cards discarded. After the tenth deal up to the fourteenth deal, a die is rolled immediately. If the number rolled matches the number(s) on the back of the deal card, the game ends. The game automatically ends after the fifteenth deal. When the game ends, whoever has the most money wins!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The game comes in a very large square box; perhaps larger than it needs to be, but the huge, colorful board is very nice. The fonts on the board are a bit smaller than Id like, but at least the investor names are color-coded, which makes identifying them a bit easier. The cards are very nice, with easy to read symbols (the letters identifying the Investors are plastered all over the Investor and Clan cards). The colors and art are also nice, producing an atmosphere not too dissimilar to that invoked by a detective novel. All of the cards are of good quality, and I enjoyed how the backing of the cards showed a marionette being pulled by the strings - nice invocative theming. I really liked using cards for money over paper money; and even though game play wouldnt be affected as much if the denominations were thousands rather than millions, theres just something enjoyable about playing with millions of dollars every once in a while. The deal cards were made of thick cardboard, and each was a variant shade of blue, depending on the value of the shares - not necessary, but a subtle nicety that I enjoyed.

2.) Rules: The rules were written well, although I had to jump back and forth in the booklet (seven pages) a couple times to clarify things. There were a few rules that I thought were underneath the wrong heading in the book. I found that while the game is not too difficult, that it was extremely easier to teach the game by playing it, rather than a lengthy dissertation on the rules. Once people saw an example of a deal in action, suddenly everything just clicked! The types of cards were few and the options small, which helped simplify the game; as people didnt have to constantly refer to what each card did.

3.) Negotiations: This is the core of the game, and the part that made it so enjoyable for me. Determining how much money to ask for the use of your Investors or Clan cards was a lot of fun and underbidding others got fairly nasty (in a fun way) several times. Sometimes people would ask for the lowest cut, and the deal would be close to completion, when suddenly there was a new boss who changed everything! Having everything you need, and suddenly having some of your Investors and Clan members take trips can frustrate the most carefully orchestrated deals! And deal remembrances could last the entire game. I saw some people get screwed out of deals, because of the way they acted in prior deals, or because they didnt let that person help them, or because they played the Im the Boss card, taking a large chunk of the money. One thing I did find interesting, however, was that most deals DID finish. Maybe it was just those that I played with, but somehow, in some way, the deals were made. Often the deals were hard fought battles, and people accepted terms that they werent totally happy with, but that seemed more acceptable to folks than a busted deal.

4.) Strategy: The rules suggest building up a hand of cards at the beginning of the game, and I heartily agree. A small hand full of cards that you dont need can really kill you, and an Im the Boss card played at the correct time can win you the game. Some have complained that people with better memories can do better, as they can remember how much money everyone has (money amounts of players is secret), but I dont see how that is a problem any more than it is in other games, such as Acquire. The later negotiations are usually much more important, as the money starts to get really big. At this point, the negotiations can get frenzied, and Ive seen people who started the game in a sedate way go totally berserk by game finale.

5.) Fun Factor: All of this frenzied negotiation just screams fun, and it is! I can see how, with a couple of sore losers or people who take games too seriously, how the cutthroat negotiations could go over like a wet blanket. But with most folk, the game can really get intense, especially when there are multiple domineering personalities. But even the introverts can get quietly stubborn, demanding a huge chunk of the profits because they have the only available card of an investing family that you need. Im the Boss is a noisy game, and noisy games almost always scream fun. One thing I liked was how that it was never very easy to pinpoint who was winning, and sometimes (except for those with perfect memory) the winner can be a complete surprise!

6.) Players: There are variants for playing the game with only two players, but I havent and probably wont try them. The game was made for six players, and I recommend that as the best way to play the game. The deals are more intense, and no two players can set themselves up as an aristocracy. I played the game with two other couples, and the family ties were gone for that game; every spouse was conspiring against the other!

I highly recommend Im the Boss, as it is my current favorite negotiation game. With a full compliment of six players, it can be a very intense, fun experience. The game doesnt last long; the mechanics force it to conclude after a reasonable sixty to ninety minutes; and during that time, each player will find themselves fixated on the game, as there is virtually no downtime. Rarely is a player in such a bad position that they cannot participate in a deal, and no player can get a runaway lead. Everyone involved will have a good time, and you will find yourself talking about the game long after it has been put back on the shelf; and that, my friends, is the mark of a great game.

Tom Vasel

Real men play board games.

This game changed my life
July 18, 2004

This is a very simple review. This game has changed my life forever. My friends and I play this game every week and we have even created a database to determine the ram=nkings of the investors.

There is no better feeling than saying 'Take it down' to another deal being done.

Exciting, Exhilarating, Excellent!
March 05, 2004

By far, one of the best games ever released. Lots of player interaction and non-stop play for everyone regardless of whose turn it is. Players need to analyze and think deals through without procrastinating. I recently played a 5-player game and completed a two-investor $20mil deal SOLO because the others were waiting for 'someone else' to stop me.

Easy to learn. Luck and skill play major roles. Very satisfying!

Some general warnings: make sure your friends don't take decisions personally. The 'Boss' makes or breaks a deal to great benefit of some players and detriment to others. That's ok since 'Boss Power' shifts frequently and there's another deal to be made.

Warn the neighbors before playing. This game can get loud!

Communication and game etiquette are essential. For example, 'Boss' should not begin closing the deal and counting the dough before the req'd investors indicate agreement with the terms.

Offense and Defense cards fly wildly. Helpful to 'housekeep' intradeal and an interdeal requirement.

by Matt
January 16, 2004

This is by far one of the best board games I have ever played. It doesn't take long to learn at all and the deals get extremely intense. My friend is quoted as saying, 'This game is ridiculous. It is the best board game I have ever played. Classics like Monopoly don't even come close.' Sid Sackson is a genius and does an extremely good job of balancing luck and strategy to create a truly unique gaming experience. Buy this game now. It is worth every penny and more.

The Bomberman of Boardgames
December 30, 2003

When I saw this game on the shelf and read its description, I thought the game looked like an argument waiting to happen. Games where players negotiate for votes, such as Quo Vadis and Democrazy, have proved to be less fun than our group expected. When I received I'm the Boss! for Christmas, I almost returned it, despite being a Sid Sackson game.

I am glad I kept it.

The game proved immensely fun for three the first time we played it, and only got better when we added more players. When your blockbuster deal is stolen out from under you by someone who has nothing but an "I'm the Boss" card, you have to laugh. The rules are so simple; it took more time to shuffle the cards than to explain the game. Strategy abounds in knowing when to play your cards and when to hold them close, and when to go for a deal or replenish your card supply. The game takes no time to play, and afterwards we all wanted to play some more. The end result was multiplayer mayhem where its hard to remember exactly who is in the lead, and even the losers left smiling.

Zany dealmaking makes for riotous fun!
December 07, 2003

This is a wild game of making deals. Players take turns as 'The Boss', trying to put together deals worth millions of dollars. But each different deal requires the cooperation of a certain key set of investors, controlled by other players. How do you decide how to split the profits? That depends on how convincing you can be, and how stubborn the investors can be.

As the Boss, you might ask for $15 million of a $20 million deal! But as an investor, you might say, "Forget it. I want $10 million or no deal." As another player not involved in the deal, it's no fun getting nothing when the other players are ready to make a deal, so you might break in and try to negotiate a piece of the action -- or send an investor on 'vacation' and make the deal yourself. If the Boss isn't cooperating, play the right cards and announce, "I'm the Boss!" and make the deal happen yourself!

Zany dealmaking makes for riotous fun in this game, and a completely unforgettable gaming experience!

by Paz
Pure Negotiation = Pure Fun!
November 23, 2003

Had read a lot about this one, and didn't know how it would play. Some comments said it was too chaotic, while others said you have to play with the right group. I say no to both. This is a great game, and regardless of who is playing, a great time will be had by all. Easy to explain, and the artwork only adds to the amazing flavor the game. I love negotiation games, and this one is exceptional. Sid Sackson lives!

Sackson classic back in print!
September 03, 2003

In the not too distant past, copies of the Sid Sackson classic Kohle, Kies & Knete have 0old for upwards of a hundred dollars, and I don't even think these were necessarily new copies! Now this game is released in an English edition with classier artwork and an affordable price tag. What more could you ask for?

Make no mistake, Face 2 Face Games has put out a quality piece of merchandise here. While so many American editions of Euro games have suffered due to lower component standards, this game stands up well against the competition from across the pond. If anything, this edition in more attractive than its predecessor, with less cartoonish graphics.

The gameplay remains the same as the prior game, and this is what will make or break the game for you. If you enjoy negotiation games, there is none finer than this. If you do not like negotiating and prefer games that are decided solely on your deductive or strategic skills, steer clear. This game is all about deal-making, and there is plenty of room for back-stabbing, kingmaking, and bad luck.

If you can look past this tendency toward chaotic play, you will find a game that rewards the player for thinking on your feet, for being able to wrangle another million out of a deal, or waiting until the most opportune moment for throwing down an 'I'm The Boss' card and wresting control of the deal away from an opponent and sending the whole game into yet another round of wrangling and wheedling.

Simple to play, easy to learn, and appealing to a wide variety of gamers, this deserves a spot on your game shelf. Highly recommended.

by Ron Olivier
A great Deal of Fun
March 07, 2007

While I’m familiar with the pedigree of this game – a re- release of an German award-winning Sid Sackson game with new artwork – I can’t say that really meant a lot to me. Even the fact that it won the award for Games Magazine 2004 Best Family Game didn’t sell me completely. I’d read reviews about how this game played, and it certainly piqued my interest, though both ‘Power Grid’ and ‘Settlers of Catan’ remained higher on my want list. Alas, I found it deeply discounted at a bookstore, and the discounted price tag was just too hard to resist.

Hence, “I’m the Boss” from Face 2 Face games made an earlier-than expected arrival at our home. And even though the game was quite high on our list, on the way home I wondered whether the low price baited me into buying a game that would not even be worth the discounted price – a fear that was fueled further upon reading through the simple rules of the game. The first night of play, however, proved my fears to be unwarranted, and the experience can only be described by one word - FUN.

The game is built for three to six players, although the manual contains rule modifications for a two-player game. Though we had only three players the first night (and had a blast), it was evident that the fun would multiply with each additional player. This proved to be the case as we’ve grown to 4- and 5- player games.

The first time someone plays, the game seems to start out a bit tepid, but once a couple of deals are made and people are more comfortable with the dealing process, the action can really heat up. What tends to throw some people off at first is the fact that once a deal begins, the game switches from being to turn- based to being opportunity-based, where the negotiations can be chaotic and don’t follow a specific pattern. This makes for a lively and sometime hilarious game.

The game is nicely put together. The board is simply wonderful to look at, featuring great artwork and large movement spaces, although some of the print on it is a bit small to read from across the table. The investors are drawn beautifully and humorously, and are less caricature-like than in the original German game. The influence cards are also well done, as is the dollar sign “board marker” (which really should be green instead of blue). The Deal cards are of a very thick cardboard stock and should stand up well over time. Instead of paper money, there is a separate card deck with denominations of one-, two-, five-, and ten-million dollars. They are much sturdier than paper money, and can be stacked without giving your opponents any idea how much money you have.

The game mechanics are very simple. It actually plays more like a card game than a board game. There are six investors (divvied up among the players) that must try to complete ten to fifteen deals and split the profits of those deals in a manner agreeable to all parties. Each deal lists how many investors are required, and which investors MUST be a part of the deal. Each deal is worth somewhere between $6 million and $30 million. The person with the most money at the end (a undetermined point between the 10th and 15th deal) wins the game.

Ah, but there is a catch. Each player has a hand of “influence cards” which can be played. You start out with five, but can pick up three cards on any turn where you choose not to attempt to make a deal. The rule book gives sound advice to try to build up your hand a bit toward the beginning of the game before trying to make a deal. Once a deal has been proposed, any player (in any order) can interrupt the negotiations by playing (an) influence card(s). These cards fall into one of the following categories:

- Clan cards: These are relatives of the investors who can be used in place of one of the main investors to make a deal. Unlike the investors, though, each clan member can be used to finalize only one deal and is then discarded. A travel card can take them right out of the game.

- Travel cards: Allow you to break up a deal by sending an investor or clan member on vacation.

- I’m the Boss cards: These cards allow you to take over the negotiations that are in progress. You can use your power to re- negotiate the deal to benefit yourself or just flush the whole deal right down the toilet.

- Recruitment cards: Must be played in groups of three, and allow you to steal (er, I mean ‘recruit’) an investor from another player. (Other clan members cannot be recruited).

- Stop card: Can be played directly after a travel card, Boss Card, or Recruitment cards to negate the effects of that card.

Once the negotiations have opened, since any player may lay down a card at any point, you must decide when you feel it’s the right time to jump in. Jump in too early and your best influence cards can be wasted. Jump in too late and the deal will close before you know what hit you.

Despite having a single die to roll, the biggest luck element in the game is the luck of the draw for the influence cards. While everyone would love to stock up on recruitment and Boss cards, you never know what you’ll draw. The strategy comes in how you play the hand you’re dealt. If you hastily react to every deal that happens, you may find yourself ill-prepared to negotiate when the bigger deals start to come along. Likewise, you may pass up a pretty good payday if you’re too timid to get into a deal that you could win with little effort. Timing is everything!

But the dominant element of this game is player interaction. With hardly any guidelines for negotiations, the negotiation process can be a lively give-and-take session filled with straightforward wheeling and dealing, unprovoked backstabbing, outright greed, last-minute desperation, and even some unexpected camaraderie, all in good fun. But be forewarned: Different groups will lead to different characteristics to the negotiating process, and sometimes even just adding or subtracting a player will change the game dramatically. One or two meditative players can slow the game down immensely. Groups will have to decide on their own rules of etiquette concerning time limits on making decisions.

In summary, I can’t say that this is my favorite game, but few other games can match the amount of fun generated by this game. Face 2 Face has done a wonderful job in re-issuing this game. It is unique in its’ design and its’ mechanics. It can be taught and learned very quickly, and is fairly quick to play through. But best of all is how little downtime there is – once the deal making begins, everyone is on their toes and ready to jump in when the right opportunity presents itself. Based on the quality of the components, the player interaction, and the originality of the game mechanics, I’ll give it a very solid four-star- plus rating. (I originally gave this five stars, but lowered it after seeing that the makeup of the group can make a tremendous difference between having a great game or a mediocre one.

I'm Almost The Bomb!
April 06, 2006

I understand that the designer of this game is supposedly famous, but this game was not quite as good as I had gotten the impression it would be from others (including the reviews here). In fact, I was going to give the game 3 stars but then I decided that I was expecting a little too much from the game which explains part of my dissapointment.

To be fair, I have only played this game once, but it seemed very random and chaotic for how involved of a game it is. If the outcome is going to be mostly random, then there should only be 3 or 5 rules to the game.

Anyhow, the game was amusing and entertaining, but it definitely does not pack the punch of a 5 star game.

A cross between Diplomacy and Jungle Ball
March 21, 2004

'I'm the Boss' is a negotiation game with only a few rules. Player interaction is chaotic, there are no rules about turn order, and any offer is valid. The more aggressive the group the more fun it is to play. This is one of the few games that you will hear 'Let's play again!' from a person who got the shaft the entire game. Players compete to be part of 'the deal' in order to gain money to win the game. Quick thinking is rewarded, loudness is an asset, and a timid player will lose.

'I'm the Boss' is a fun game (with the right group), it has lots of replay value (with the right group), I look forward to playing it again, but it does not stand out as a game that I would need to own. My main requirement to give a four star rating is that I would want to own it. Three stars is an average game that is fun, but I would be content to play someone else's copy. 'I'm the Boss' is too close to a mass market-party game for my taste, yet I doubt it will ever appeal to a mass market. I expect to play it again and enjoy it, but I don't see myself suggesting we play it (unless I'm suggesting a game to play with non-gamers).

'I'm the Boss' is more meaty than a party game, but is far from being a light strategy game.

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