Silent clacking echoes through the night and seems to be gradually approaching. A truck jumps on highway full of holes and its body jingles as this movement goes back and forth. If some inspector stopped it now, he would discover bottles of alcohol and driver would have big problems. Prohibition rules this country and whoever breaks the law, must immediately be put behind bars. Or..?
Period of prohibition is long behind us, but that does not mean, that players could not return to this era. With help of card game Prohis from Marc Brunnenkant, this is all very simple. His creation was illustrated by Tony Rochon and complete work published under company Blackrock Editions and introduced to audience of game fair Spiel 2014 in Essen.
Small box with three inspectors standing in front of confiscated truck clearly indicates nature of this game. In two compartments, there is a total of 110 cards. Only twenty of them are really those controllers (sergeants, captains and inspectors), while remaining 88 represent goods. But smugglers conceal their efforts, as they are transportint illegal goods. These are only thirty cards, but players get paid also for transportation of common goods (58 cards), only considerably less, than when taking the risk. Cards are wearing printed value, when player succeeds in reaching the destination warehouse with them.
At the beginning of the game, gamers are dealt four cards from shuffled deck. Each will get one captain and sergeant also. Remaining cards create a drawing pile, from which now top four cards have to be revealed and show starting offer for each participant.
In his turn, each of the rivals has a choice of two actions – either he draws one card (in various combinations allowed from open supply and deck). Whenever he wants, he may decide instead to hit the road with existing goods towards warehouse. This option must be selected in the event, that he holds eight cards in his hand. He may not store more, because he has only a small store, where sniffing police will find liquor everywhere, when they come looking for it.
He loads two to four cards from his hand into the truck and hits the road. Now, each of the opponents has chance to play one of controllers and view contents cars. But he can only look in some of them, according to level of his played officer. Players are trying to uncover illegal contraband transported by their rival. But only one of the players, who played the highest value (inspector is more than the captain, while sergeant is lowest in hierarchy), can do this. In case of the same rank, it will be the player, who attempted to search truck first.
When nobody has checked convoy or failed to find anything illegal there, transporting player can lay cards into his warehouse, where he gains cash for them in the end. But even, when someone wins chance to control truck, it may not happen, since acting player has option to bribe controller. He offers him card(s) from his hand, rival looks at them and can decide to accept bribe or not. Such acquired cards can immediately be placed in the warehouse to transform them to money in the end.
Player may also be unlucky and run into a fair policeman. In this case, cards are returned back and controller can turn as many convoy cards as him officer rank allows him to do (one to three). When illegal goods are discovered, he seizes the whole convoy for himself. If not, on the contrary, enemy gets officer card. And one more thing: there may be an officer escorting the convoy (sent secretly as part of four cards). Whenever such policemen is found, control stops immediately.
Smuggling is carried out until players run out of cards in drawing pile. At that point, it´s time to add up all money for imported goods. Legal stuff has a value of one thousand dollars, while smuggled cards equal four thousand. High amounts are also for officers from unsuccessful checks and not just ones in the warehouse, but also unused in hand. Conversely, any illegal goods, that player did not manage to drive away, is deducted from his total. Winner is player with highest amount on his account.
If you carefully read our recent article, then Prohis definitely reminds us of Adéla ještě nevečeřela (review only in Czech) game. And is it really so as both games have a very similar mechanisms. And as such, it is very easy to learn and fun, because its main focus is bluffing and trying to outsmart the other participants in the game. But back to the question: we believe, that Prohis was here first, so Czech game only copied the original.
Players try to see into each other heads and find about their plans. They have different ways to earn money and move closer to victory. It is not enough merely to successfully send their cars, but they are also forced to control other convoys. This creates an interesting dynamic game, which is further enriched by opportunity to bribe. This is new for us and it gives game another unprecedented level.
Same applies to three levels of controllers. Players are gradually applying for check of actual convoy and this is actually a kind of auction. It´s always a risk to do so, because failure means, that players have to give up their card and help their rivals by adding few thousand dollars to his coffer (three to five depending on the officer).
Such card games usually do not last long and it is also case of Prohis. Twenty minutes is enough to use the whole drawing package. Short game time is also undeniable advantage of the game, because any good impression would be lost, if it took longer. Game is all about bluffing, it is better to play with multiple players. But even with a minimum of three, it is still fun.
Processing is good and it starts from with thick cardboard box. Cards have not exactly wide range of illustrations, so you could not expect any visual feast. But they fulfill their purpose as well as rules to help to quickly and easily explain the game.
Prohis is due to number of allowed players and bluffing a little party game. You will enjoy it also as ordinary relaxing entertainment, that does not need any extreme thinking. This time, it is not about tactics, but a poker face. Can you convince opponents, that this is the wrong time to conduct search? Then be sad, that you did not live at the time of prohibition, because you could have earned a fortune. Prohis is nice and fun card game.
+ good bluffing fun
+ excellent multiplayer
+ players trump each other for a chance to check convoy
+ fast game time
+ pleasant relaxation party game
- little variability of illustrations