Prohibitionists is a cooperative game, in which players will work together to take out the Lake City Mob.
By carefully using your limited resources, you can take out the many obstacles that stand between you and the Boss. If you're able to take out the Boss as well, you win, and law returns to Lake City.
But be careful Prohibitionists... if your deck of Tactics ever runs out, then you are out of resources, and you fail your mission!
- 45 Tactics cards
- 15 Intel cards
- 33 Obstacle cards
- 1 Organized Crime Obstacle card
- 5 Boss cards
- 5 Double-sided Job cards
This game is all about two decks of cards: the Obstacle deck, which represents all the tricks and troublemakers that the Mob has to throw at you, and the Tactics deck, which represents all the resources you have to throw right back at them.
Both decks will need a little assembly before you're ready to play.
Making the Obstacle Deck
Start off by picking one of the Bosses: shuffle the five Boss cards, choose one of them without looking at it, and put the other four back in the box.
Unfortunately, all the Prohibition Bureau's research hasn't uncovered just who the Boss of the Lake City Mob actually is, so it's going to be a nasty surprise when you actually find out just who's running the show.
Next, shuffle the 33 standard Obstacle cards. Put the Boss in, still without looking at it, eight cards from the bottom. Finally, put the Organized Crime Obstacle card on the top of the deck with its more powerful "Headline News" side up.
Making the Tactics Deck
All you need to do for the Tactics deck is remove some Intel cards, based on the number of players; use the Intel you've removed to start the discard pile.
Once you've removed the Intel, shuffle the remaining Tactics cards.
Every player gets one of the Job cards. Set it in front of you one the table, with the non-Exhausted side up. Deal each player four cards from the Tactics deck - that's your starting hand.
Alright, now it's time to take on the Mob!
This is a game that takes place over a series of turns. The player who most recently smashed open a cask of bootleg whiskey with an axe goes first. Two things happen on each turn, in order.
You can call them "phases" of the turn if you like gamerly lingo. Basically, first you'll see what the Mob is up to, and then you'll get a chance to fight back.
What's the Mob Up to
Well, they're up to no good, of course. By following leads, shaking down informants, and poking around the city, you can find out just what kind of no good they're up to.
If there are fewer than four Obstacle cards in play, play the card from the top of the Obstacle deck. Put it somewhere in the center of the table where everyone can see. This is one of the troubles that stands in your way... unless it's a Scared Citizen, in which case you just kicked open some innocent bystander's door and can discard the card right away.
If there are already four Obstacles in play, you must to burn a Tactic. That means you take the top card of the Tactics deck and put it straight onto the discard pile, with no chance to recover it. The Mob is putting so much pressure on you that it's costing you resources just to survive.
Some Obstacles may require you to draw more than one Obstacle card; in this case, draw up to four cards and then, if you need to draw more, burn a Tactic (e.g.: if there are three Obstacles out and you are required to draw two, you draw one, then burn a Tactic ).
However, you will only ever burn one Tactic, regardless of how many Obstacles you are unable to draw (e.g.: if there are already four Obstacles in play, and you are required to draw three, you still burn just one Tactic).
The Boss is an Obstacle card like any other. Cards that affect Obstacles also affect the Boss.
The only difference is that the Boss is generally more powerful and has abilities that will make them harder to take down than most other Obstacles
A Big Lunkhead With A Cheap Suit And A Gun.
How to Read an Obstacle Card
How do you Respond
Now's your chance to strike back at the mob! The cards in your hand are the tactics you can take to get the jump on whatever problems are facing you.
Play one card on any Obstacle. Or, if you don't want to or are unable to, you can pass (see the rules on Passing). If the Obstacle doesn't have any cards on it already, then you can play any card from your hand (in most circumstances... some Obstacles are immune to particular suits or create other restrictions).
If the Obstacle already has cards on it, you may only add a new card if the suit matches what's already there, and if the value of the card is greater than the largest card already on the Obstacle.
For instance, if there's already a 4 of Bribery on a given Obstacle, you may only add another card if its suit is Bribery and its value is 5 or higher.
Intel is a special kind of Tactic card - Intel only ever has a value of 1, but it counts as being any suit you want.
"sorry folks, we're gonna have to break up the party".
Taking out Obstacles and Generating Overflow
If the combined value of the Tactics card or cards equals the strength of the Obstacle they're on, the Obstacle is taken out: remove it from the table and discard it, along with all of the Tactics cards used to take it out. The Obstacle is out of your hair, but so are all the resources you used to deal with it.
If the Tactics exceed the Obstacle's strength, then in addition to taking out the Obstacle you also generate Overflow. Overflow is a special resource generated by extreme success; you beat up a goon so thoroughly that they ratted on their partner, or you investigated a scheme so thoroughly that you found dirt on the crooked DA too.
The Overflow you generate from taking out an Obstacle is equal to the excess value of your Tactics. For instance, if you take out an Obstacle with a strength of 7 by using the 10 of Investigation, you have generated 3 Overflow.
Use this Overflow to boost the Tactics cards on another Obstacle. Unfortunately, you can't use Overflow on an Obstacle that you haven't started working on yet... you gotta have your foot in the door already. However, Overflow can be applied to any stack of Tactics; the suit and value of the cards do not matter.
If the combined value of the Tactics cards and Overflow meet or exceed the obstacle's Strength, then that Obstacle is taken out too. Congratulations, you got a one-two punch! Unfortunately, you can only generate Overflow once on your turn... Obstacles taken out with Overflow don't make their own Overflow.
You might have noticed that there's no cards or tokens to represent Overflow; that's because it doesn't stick around. If you can't use Overflow to take out an Obstacle right when you made it, the excess is wasted. If you want to take down the Boss, you will need to set up situations where you make the most out of your Overflow and waste as little as possible.
Example: In this example, a player has a 5 of Subterfuge to play, and four Obstacles to choose from. They can't play it on the Speakeasy, because it's the wrong suit. Nor can it be played on the Guard Dog, because even though it's the right suit, the Guard Dog would need a Subterfuge card of 8 or above.
The player can take out the Hired Goon, however, by playing the 5 of Subterfuge there; it's the right suit and a high enough value. Doing so brings the stack of Tactics up to 9 (1+3+5), which is 2 more than the Hired Goon's strength. That takes out the Obstacle, and because it was 2 points greater than the strength, generates 2 points of Overflow to be spent immediately.
The Guard Dog's stack of tactics is only worth 9 points; adding 2 to that won't be enough to meet the Obstacle's strength, and the Overflow would be wasted. The Loser only takes 1 point to take out, but because there's no card on it yet, it can't be targeted with Overflow.
However, the Speakeasy has a strength of 6; adding the Overflow to that stack of tactics would result in 7 (2+3+2 ), which takes out the Speakeasy as well. Evidently, not only did you trick that Hired Goon into getting out of your way, you convinced them to shut down the gin joint they were posted at. Nice work.
If you are unable to play a card (because you don't have any playable cards, or in the unlikely situation that there are no Obstacles in play), or if you don't want to play a card, you must instead pass to refresh your hand.
Arrange the cards in your hand in whatever order you'd like, then put them at the bottom of the Tactics deck. This can be used to trade away low-valued cards, but they don't go away forever. Passing too often will mean that the deck is full of Is and 2s by the time you're ready to take down the Boss.
Using your Job
Each player has a job card. That's your background, the reason you got selected to join the Prohibitionists. While unexhausted, this gives you a unique bonus; for instance, the Tax Collector has more resources in their hand, while the sharpshooter is especially skilled at dealing a one-two punch with Overflow.
Additionally, you may Exhaust your job on your turn, instead of playing a card from your hand. Flip the card over, and it turns into a 10 of your job's suit, which you must immediately play on an Obstacle.
If there's no valid place to play the card, you can't exhaust your job. If you exhaust your job, you do not draw a Tactic card at the end of your turn. If you Exhaust your job, you can no longer use its bonus ability.
Ending your Turn
At the end of your turn, draw from the Tactics deck until you have four cards in hand.
Next, the player to your left will take their turn, then the player to their left, and so on until the end of the game.
End of the Game
If a player is able to take out the Boss, you win! The Prohibitionists have brought down the Lake City Mob, congratulations. Go home and have a drink to celebrate.
However. If at any point you are required to draw a card from either the Obstacle or Tactics deck, and the deck is empty, you immediately lose the game.
Your resources have been tapped, but the Boss is still at large. Lake City falls to the Mob, and there's no telling if the corruption will ever get cleaned up.
Hard Mode (Optional)
To make it a little more challenging to clean up Lake City, you can play Prohibitionists on hard mode.
This plays exactly like the standard game, with one major restriction: players are not allowed to reveal the cards in their hands, or even to say the value of any of their cards.
You can hint at the cards you have, by saying things like "I have a lot of Investigation", or "I can do a little bit of Violence", but you cannot say any specific numbers.
This makes it much harder to coordinate attacks without coming up short or wasting excess Overflow. If a player accidentally reveals the exact value of a card in their hand, they must immediately bum that card and draw a replacement.