HR: The Toxic Workplace Game (I’ll call it just HR hereafter) is a local Malaysian game by I-van Yee. It is a humourous game which pokes fun at typical corporations and their employees. It is a light card game which targets casual players. Even at the top of the box you start seeing the humourous elements. There is a warning that playing this game may cost you your job.
In this game you play department heads. You have your own team of employees. There are two ways to win the game. Either get all the employees of all your opponents fired, or complete a project. You get employees fired by asking the Human Resources (HR) department to issue warning letters to them. Whenever an employee receives the third warning letter, he or she is terminated.
Completing a project requires having four different project stage cards in play, all at the same time.
You have a hand of 5 cards. Normally you’ll play one card per turn. Instant cards are not subject to this limit. You can play as many of them as you want. When you end your turn, you always draw back to 5 cards. Cards have all sorts of powers, and the most common one is simply issuing a warning letter to an employee.
These are some of the employee cards. You’ll see many familiar characters and I’m sure you can relate to some of them at your workplace. The cards have much text, but this is mostly flavour text. Only the employee names have relevance to gameplay. Some warning letters count as two when issued to certain employees. Employees themselves do not have any unique ability or special power. All they have are weaknesses to specific warning letters.
This is one of the warning letters.
If you manage to have four project phase cards in play like this, you win immediately. This is not easy to do. You need to be lucky enough to draw all the cards you need. You also need to be lucky enough to not have any opponent steal or discard any of these cards before you complete your set.
I played a 2-player game with younger daughter Chen Rui. Both of us were new to the game. She was keen to read through the whole deck of cards. After we finished playing, she didn’t want to pack up yet and wanted to read all the cards. I-van told me that indeed he spent much time and energy thinking up and writing the content for all the cards.
HR is a simple and tactical game. You just try to make the most of what you are dealt. You always draw back up to 5 cards anyway, so just fully utilise your cards. Sometimes you do save certain cards for the right moment when they are most effective. This is an easy game to learn, even for non gamers.
With 2 players it is less interesting, because there is no politicking. It’s either you or me so it’s straight-forward. There are no alliances, ganging up on leaders or betrayals.
Be careful if you are browsing Jobstreet at the office.
The main thing you will struggle with is whether you want to race to fire all your opponents’ employees, or to be the first to complete a project. If you are falling behind in one area, you can try the other option. You best bet is probably to appear weak and let the others beat one another up before you swoop in for the final victory. But then all the buggers in the office are probably thinking the same thing.
Back of the box.
I enjoy the humour in HR. It is an accessible game. It works for party and gathering situations, when you meet up with non-gamers and casual gamers. E.g. Chinese New Year gatherings. The setting is certainly something working age adults can appreciate. This is a rowdy game that works for players who do not want to think too much.