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Store:  Card Games, Strategy Games
Theme:  Business
Format:  Card Games


Your Price: $21.95
(Worth 2,195 Funagain Points!)

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 30-40 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Andrea Meyer, Friedemann Friese

Manufacturer(s): BeWitched Spiele

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Product Description

Are you always having trouble with your workers? Do you have difficulty in getting your work done because all your workers are unionized? And are you angry that everybody else seems to earn loads of money from "friends' services", while you are paying more and more in taxes?

If so, it's about time you played Schwarzarbeit.

Here's what it's about. Uncle Sam is waiting for you to blacken the names of those committing the crime of tax-evasion. Sure, you too have two or three skeletons in your closet, but there's no need for anyone else to find out about them...

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Andrea Meyer, Friedemann Friese

  • Manufacturer(s): BeWitched Spiele

  • Artist(s): Sebastian Wagner

  • Year: 2003

  • Players: 3 - 5

  • Time: 30 - 40 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 143 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components contain some foreign text, possibly requiring occasional reference to rules translation. An English translation of the rules is provided.


  • 66 cards:
    • 60 employees
    • 5 shops
    • 1 Me Ltd.
  • 10 lawyers in five colors
  • 5 private eyes

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 1 review

An excellent memory and deduction game!
November 10, 2003

Schwarzarbeit is great fun to play! It's a deduction game, but not in the classic sense of, say, Code 777 or Black Vienna. The differences are: this one is shorter, clocking in at about a half-hour; it relies on memory rather than note-taking; and it does require some flat-out guessing in the early parts of the game. While some might complain about the uncertainty, it's exactly that which makes the game so much fun to play.

Each player represents a different employer. There are 20 workers available in the game, each appearing three times in the deck and each represented by a letter of the alphabet. One set of the 20 are designated for weekend shifts, and these are separately shuffled and then two or three (depending on the number of players) are dealt secretly to each player. These represent that players illegal, under-the-table workers. The object of the game is to acquire as many squeaky-clean workers as possible who do not work under the table for anyone, and to denounce as many of the other player's illegal workers (never your own!) as possible, which actually scores more points.

The game begins by turning up two more cards than the number of players. On a turn, a player asks her righthand neighbor how many of the workers/cards she could legally employ. A player cannot legally employ one of her own illegal workers. So for instance, if one of her weekend workers is represented in a set of five, she answers (out loud), Four. Then the active player must either (a) take one of the cards face-up to her playing area as a new and hopefully clean worker or (b) take one, turn it over in her playing area and thus denounce the worker as illegal. A new card is drawn, and the turn passes to the next player. Thus, each player learns something on her own as well as others' turns. As the game goes on, more and more additional clues are available as to which workers on the table are legal and illegal. For example, certain inferences can be drawn simply from the choices made by other players on their turns. Also, because the players' illegal workers come from the weekend shift cards, any time a weekend worker card appears among the choices, players can be confident that the worker is not illegal.

Additionally, each player is given two lawyers that she can deploy once each per game. Lawyers are sent to defend workers unjustly denounced by other players. At games end, lawyers representing innocent parties earn two points, and lawyers representing guilty parties lose two. The trick here is that you not only have to believe the worker was unjustly accused, but remember the workers location since denounced employees are all placed upside down. Also, each player has one detective in the game that allows him one chance to denounce an employee out of turn. The game ends when the card supply cannot be refilled properly. Players lose points for defending guilty parties and for incorrectly denouncing workers.

The theme is comical, and the game is both light and challenging at the same time because it really taxes the memory. Schwarzarbeit has drawn repeated requests for play in our lunchtime group. One small downside is that, with more players, the game becomes more random because it ends sooner and because more cards are placed face-up on a turn, making deductions harder and more guesswork necessary. But while it's best for three, it's still a really good with four or five players.

Other Resources for Schwarzarbeit:

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