Men at Work is a brilliantly fun, action dexterity game for 2-6 players set on a building site. It's designed by Rita Model and published by Pretzel Games.
If you've not played a dexterity game, they are infuriatingly joyous and have you twitching with excitement and trepidation. You must try and place the next piece onto the construction without it toppling. Can you balance girders and workers as your construction grows throughout the game?
Playing Men at Work
In Men at Work you are attempting to construct a building by adding different coloured wooden girders to the base structure. To help you there are a team of wooden meeple builders in their overalls, complete with plastic hard hats. You must balance workers on the girders and, to make things even more nerve racking, your builders may have to carry little wooden bricks or wooden beams on their shoulders. The component quality is perfect for the game. The bright colours add to the fun, family feel of the game.
So, how do you decide what to add and where to place it? At the start of each turn, you turn over the card on the top of the pile to reveal the instructions. This is so simple, but it's genius as the random generation increases the replay-ability. The revealed card explains how to place the object.
On the top of the draw pile is either a picture of a builder’s hat with coloured gloves or a picture of coloured girders. This tells you what to place. The colour of the gloves explains what colour girder to place your meeple builder on. The colour girder describes which colour girder you will be placing.
The way you place your next object has so many different possibilities. From simply placing a Meeple on a specific coloured girder to balancing a girder on just one other girder. You might be asked to balance a girder on a strong worker’s shoulder or move a worker onto a girder whilst they are carrying a brick on their shoulder. These, and many more options, mean that the game has peaks and troughs of difficulty depending on the order the cards are drawn in.
Like all modern workplaces, productivity is rewarded and Men at Work is no exception. When you reveal the foreman(woman) card, a new rule is introduced, and any player taking the highest point on the building site, during their turn, receives an employee of the month award. Once the right number of employee awards have been obtained, dependent on player count, that player wins.
However, as with all building sites, health and safety must be considered. You start the game with three safety certificates. Every time you have an accident on site and a piece of equipment falls to the table, you lose a safety certificate. Once you lose all three you are eliminated. The last builder standing is declared the winner. This means there are two potential ways to win the game increasing fun, risk levels and replay-ability.
Men at Work comes with a number of different set-up options and a cardboard crane that can be used to balance girders on. You can increase the difficulty at the start of the game by positioning some of the support blocks that act as foundations to your building vertically rather than horizontally. This provides a whole load of extra angles for your girders and balancing becomes far more difficult on a sloping surface.
As the structure builds, placing your pieces becomes increasingly difficult. Your nerves will be tested, as will the steadiness of your hand.
Final Thoughts on Men at Work
Men at work is simple, unadulterated fun and a great addition to a family gaming session. At the same time, it's challenging enough to make a great filler as part of a hobbyist's game night. So, lay the foundations, turnover the cards and take orders. Begin building the structure, brick by brick, girder by girder.
Ensure your workers' safety, but still get them as high as you possibly can. If you do, you can become the safest and most successful employee of the month!