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A day in public service--the usual horror. The colleagues in the town office are desperately trying to keep everyone working, in the tax office the civil servants are trying to avoid giving money to anybody and the ecologists in the environmental office can hardly accept the job office's plans to build even more plants.
Of course everybody works as quickly as possible, and the messengers are running for their life. That's no surprise, as all files have to be transported strictly through the official channels--all files?
Well, maybe one player or another will manage to speed up some files through less official channels. A telephone call here, a special delivery there, and in cases of emergency the consumption of energy-giving sugar pills increases rapidly. The main thing is to file things ("ad acta") at the right time. But be cautious: Delayed files might go into the shredder....
Players lead the town hall, the tax-, environment-, or job-office and try to file their own dossiers at the time promising the highest score.
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 45 - 60 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 424 grams
Language Requirements: Game components contain some foreign text, possibly requiring occasional reference to rules translation. An English translation of the rules is provided.
- Four desks (with in- and out-box)
- 66 cards, among these:
- 28 dossiers (7 to each office)
- 24 action cards
- 6 "Finished" cards
- 4 game summaries (only in German)
- 4 blank actions
- A bag of paper clips (references)
- One stamp (first-player marker)
- 12 wood-colored chips (sugar pills)
- 8 markers for scoring and for pencil sharpening in four colors
- one messenger's-cart marker (for the two-player game)
- rules of the game
- overview "The Administrative Jungle" (only in German)
You're a by-the-book bureaucrat, and you start your day with a pile of dossiers in your inbox. Your goal is to earn the most points by having dossiers in your color end up in high-scoring file cabinets.
Use your three action points to have dossiers from other players' inboxes processed, indicated by attaching a paper clip. When the processing is done, the player who is currently the messenger takes all processed dossiers and delivers them to the next department. Typically, a dossier must be processed by two or three offices to be completed. The messenger puts completed dossiers into the next available drawer(s) in a row of file cabinets. All actions are performed in strict order, so you must cunningly calculate where your dossiers will end up. Play action cards to tamper with the order and to ruin others' calculations.
This eerily realistic spoof will appeal to the Dilbert in you.
While attending the big Spiel game show in Essen in October, the Great Dane Mik Svellov grabbed me and asked if I would play a new game by designer Andrea Meyer. My only previous experience with her designs was the quick, simple and enjoyable Stimmvieh, so I was happy to accept Mik's invitation. However, once he described the theme to me, I was a bit dubious. Still, I couldn't turn down the chance to play a game with Mik, so I accepted. Boy, am I glad I did!
In Ad Acta, players represent clerks toiling at their public service office jobs. The idea is to finish the files that have been assigned to you as quickly as possible, trying to get as many of your dossiers completed and filed away at the right times as you can. Doesn't sound like a terribly exciting theme, does it? Well, it may not sound exciting, but the game itself is very good and the theme does fit nicely.
Each player is given a player mat which depicts his desk and color. The most important features of the desk are the inbox and outbox, where dossiers will be placed and moved during the course of the game, as well as a chart which lists the values of the dossiers depending upon when they are filed. Further, there is one central mat (or board) that depicts six file cabinets, the messenger cart, pencil sharpener track and the scoring track. These components are heavy paper stock and not mounted, so lamination might be a good idea for preservation purposes.
Each player possesses seven dossiers (cards) that they are attempting to complete and file away in the cabinets at the optimum time. For instance, if a player's dossier 'C' is completed and filed in round 2, it will be worth 7 points. If, however, he doesn't complete and file that dossier until round 4, it is worth only 4 points. Points vary from 1-7 for each dossier depending upon the round it is filed, so one major aspect of the game is attempting to manipulate various factors in your favor so that dossiers are filed during the round that yields optimum points. This can prove quite tricky, as there are lots of factors to consider and your opponents will attempt to foil your efforts at accomplishing this task.
In order for a dossier to be completed, 2 or 3 different players must work on the document. Each card lists not only its letter (A-G), but also the offices (players) that must complete work on the dossier. At the beginning of the game, the cards are mixed, then dealt to the players who begin with them in their starting box. The player each document begins with is noted on the back of the card. As in Bohnanza, it is extremely important to keep the cards in the exact order in which they are dealt. Likewise, documents are attended to in order and this order must be as they move from a player's inbox to his outbox.
Once the cards are dealt, each player receives three tokens, representing dextrose drops (we call this caffeine, I believe). These can be used to execute extra actions during a turn, but once used, they are removed from play. A marker from each player is placed on the pencil sharpener track and on the scoring track. Finally, each player receives four special action cards that they can utilize to modify the rules a bit during the course of the game. These are kept face-up and are turned over once utilized. Play then begins.
On a turn, each player has three actions, except for the last player in the turn sequence, who only receives two. The start player does rotate each turn, so the same player is not always short of an action point. During his turn, a player may use these action points to:
- Work on the top dossier in your inbox. The player takes the top card (the card on the face of the stack) in his inbox, places a paper clip on his icon that appears on the top of the card, and places it into his outbox. His work is now complete on that particular file. This costs one 1 action point.
- Ask a player to work on the top dossier in his inbox. This is accomplished in the same manner as listed above. The other player cannot refuse this request. This costs 1 action point.
- Sharpen pencils. A player may move his marker along the pencil sharpener track one space for each action point he opts to spend for this purpose. On a turn, a player may move his marker backwards two spaces on the sharpener track in exchange for one dextrose drop, which can be used for an extra action. This is a 2 for 1 exchange, but is the only way to gain extra action points for future turns.
- Play special cards. A player may play one or more of his special cards. However, it costs 2 action points to play a card and, once used, they are turned over and are out of the game. Use them wisely and at the optimum times.
What are these special cards?
- Telephone. You can force a player (including yourself) to work on a dossier in their inbox, even if it is
- not on the top of their inbox.
- Wind Draft. The window was left open and it blows a player's documents from his inbox, scattering them across his desk. You take all of the cards from a player's inbox and rearrange them as you see fit, placing them back into his inbox. You can do this with your own inbox, if desired.
- Special Delivery. You can immediately move one document from the outbox of a player to the inbox of the next player who has to work on that document.
- Consultation. You can take one document from the outbox of a player, remove the most recent paper clip, and return that document to the bottom of the player who must deal with it next. This is a clever way to hinder the progress of another player's document.
After a player has used all three of his action points, the next player takes his turn with the same options. Once the final player in the turn order has executed his two action points, it is time for the messenger boy (or girl!) to make his rounds. We do this by chanting, ala Monty Python, "Bring out your Documents!" The start player goes to each player, in turn order, and collects any dossiers located in the players' outboxes. These must be given to the messenger without disturbing the order. For example, player A's dossiers are taken from his outbox and placed into the messenger cart, followed by player B's (which are placed on top of player A's dossiers in the cart), followed by player C's dossiers and, finally, player D's dossiers. Again, it is very important not to disturb the order of these dossiers.
The messenger then must re-distribute the documents to the players, or to the file cabinets if a document is completed. This, too, is done in order, from top to bottom. Any document that is not completed - meaning there are still icons at the top that have not been covered by a paper clip - are given to the player whose icon next appears on the top of the document. The player places this document on top of the documents in his inbox, meaning it will be worked on prior to the other documents in his inbox. If the messenger comes to a document that has been fully completed, he places it into the first open drawer in the first available file cabinet. This process is repeated until the messenger cart is once again empty.
If a file cabinet is completely filled (which takes from 2-4 documents, depending upon the cabinet), it will be closed and marked with an appropriate 'closed' card. Players who managed to get documents filed into that cabinet will then score points, consulting the chart on their player mats to determine the amount of points they earn. These vary from 1-7 points, so, as mentioned, the object is to manipulate the game system so that your documents are filed in the file cabinet that yields the most points. That's certainly easier said than done, though!
At this point, the start player token (a hefty wooden stamp) is moved one space to the left and another round played. This entire process continues until all twenty spaces in the file cabinets have been filled, or until one player exceeds 35 points, in which case he will be declared the winner. Otherwise, players who have documents that were not filed (there will be 8 of these) lose one point for each un-filed document. The player with the most points on the score track is victorious.
If you want to add even more spice to the game, there are 8 additional special action cards that can be utilized to shake things up a bit more. I haven't yet played with these cards as the four games I've played so far have involved players new to the game. However, they do look very interesting and I'm anxious to play the game with them included. However, English paste-ups will be a necessity as there is quite a bit of text on the cards.
I've thoroughly enjoyed my playings so far and see no reason to believe that the game will become stale. There are enough clever moves one can do to keep the game lively and the semi-random distribution of the cards forces players to continually formulate combinations of actions in attempts to maneuver documents in a manner favorable to them and detrimental to their opponents. The inclusion of the additional action cards will undoubtedly add even more options and excitement. Certainly this is one game that transcends its dull theme.