Five-Player Variant

The original 5-Player game rules are poorly designed and give the Police Player almost no chance whatsoever to win. The Cop Player also has very few choices to make throughout the game and little in the way of strategic planning -- resulting in an unenjoyable game experience for that player and making it unsuitable for tournament play.

After extensive discussion, thought, and playtesting, my local gaming group came up with the following substitute 5-player game for those who'd like to have a Police Player. The game is still about 50% longer than a four player game but now it's a really fun game for all five players! Additional feedback is always welcome.

Five-Player Game

Use the original 5-player rules, modified as follows:

1. During a gang turn, the active Gang may use a bribe in order to move the associated cop using the blue die. The gang player must either purchase a bribe, play a bribe to move a cop, or defer the cop move to the Police Player. If the crime level permits it and the bribed cop is off the board, the gang player may play the bribe to bring the bribed officer onto the board. If the active Gang defers, the Cop Player may purchase a bribe based on that roll or move/introduce a cop. Gang players may, as usual, use a bribe to prevent the move of the associated Cop.

2. Cops receive cash in four ways:

  • Raiding a joint (Payoff: Face value of the joint times its level)
  • Gangster player bribes (See #3)
  • Salary bonuses (See #4)
  • Shootouts with criminals (Payoff: Value of the gangsters lost). For example, inflicting a loss of 4 out of 6 Criminal Racketeers scores $1,800 ($600 + $500 + $400 + $300) for the Police Player. The cop player receives payment for cop shootouts even when the officer is moved by a gangster player using a bribe (see 2b); however, the player moving the cop can still assign hits in the shootout as if the cop were a piece of his/her color.

    a) Whenever a Cop raids a joint or engages criminals in a shootout, the Police Player may DOUBLE his payoff if he plays the bribe marker associated with that Cop. Such a bribe must be played prior to rolling shootout dice.

    b) Whenever a Cop raids a joint or engages criminals in a shootout, the Police Player must share HALF (rounded up to the nearest $100) of his normal payoff with any gang player that plays the bribe marker associated with that Cop. Gang players may wait to see the result of the shootout before producing and collecting on this type of bribe. Note: A gang player moving a Cop using a bribe automatically collects this premium for any raid/shootout made by that Cop.

3. Gangster Player bribes are paid to the Police Player. The police player's bribes to keep officers loyal are paid to the bank. As usual, bribes are returned to the cup when used/played.

4. When the crime level is below four, the Police Player receives a "salary bonus" during the payoff phase of that player move. This bonus is 4 minus the crime level times $100 (e.g., a crime level of 3 pays a bonus of $100 while a zero crime level pays $400). This payment does not apply until the Police Player's first turn.

5. The Cop Turn: Once the movement pawn cup is empty, the cop player takes a special turn.

a) Buy Phase: The Police Commissioner can purchase a precinct headquarters (i.e., joint) if in an unowned building where there is no criminal activity (See #7.3) and/or, if the unowned building is gray, purchase wheels or heaters (see #8.1).

b) Dice Phase: Roll the green, white, and blue dice. Start the 1:30 clock.

c) Move Public Informants (See #6).

d) Move or Recruit Pieces: The Cop Player may move a number of cop and commissioner pieces equal to half his Police Commissioner's strength (just as a Gang Player does with his Racketeer). The Cop Player may recruit for the Police Commissioner as the commissioner's move. Resolve raids and associated payoffs.

e) Hire or Move Public: If no public informant was moved (5.c), the Cop Player may either hire an informant (See #6.1) or move any or all of the Public pieces which are on the board using the white die.  The Cop Player may not bring a new Public marker onto the board.

f) Timed portion ends. Halt steps c, d, & e immediately when the timer expires.

g) Pay for recruits.

h) Resolve shootouts (remove Public in the same space with criminals).

i) Payoffs: Collect salary bonus and shootout payoffs. Gang players collect any Organized Crime due.

6. Informants: The Police Player can hire public informants on his turn instead of moving any public pieces.

6.1 To hire an informant, the police player draws one of three chits (x1, x2, or x3) at random after paying $100 times the roll of the white die.

6.2 On a future turn, the Cop Player may display the drawn chit(s), return them to the cup, and substitute Informant markers for the associated Public piece(s) on the board.  Note that the x1 marker allows both x1 Public pieces to be exchanged for Informant markers!

6.3 Informants act like normal Public pieces in all respects except as follows.  Informants may move prior to the cops and commissioner during the Police Player turn; however, during any Cop Turn when Informants use this early movement ability, the Police Player may not hire additional Informants nor move any normal Public markers (i.e., skip 5.e).

6.4 The Informant has two principle uses:

1) Establish a crime scene in a joint (by flipping to its criminal side) such that the joint can then be raided by the police. The Informant is returned to the cup as per normal raid consequences (11.6).

2) Establish the criminal nature of any single Gang member in its location. This is done by flipping any one Gang member (Racketeer, Vamp, or Thug) to its criminal side. The Public Informant is returned to the cup immediately after flipping a Gang member over. This is the only case where a piece can change from non-criminal to criminal without moving. Obviously, this permits an arrest (i.e., shootout) by police officers until the Gang piece moves and returns to non-criminal status.

7. The Police Commissioner (Commish): This new piece acts like the Police Player's Racketeer -- allowing the Cops to acquire buildings (precinct headquarters), obtain multiple moves, and enter shootouts with a vulnerable piece.

7.1 The Police Commissioner moves just like a Gang member -- he may use subways (without going off duty) and enter buildings (even if no criminal activity is occurring). The Commissioner moves only on the Cop Turn, never on the cop portion of a Gang Turn. The Commissioner uses the Green die to move and to recruit. Recruiting is handled exactly the same way as a Gang Player would recruit a Racketeer.

7.2 Setup: The Police Player starts the game with $1,700. The Police Player starts with no precinct headquarters.  The Police Player recruits and places his Commissioner at the same time as the Gang Players purchase and place their gang members.. The strength and purchasing of a Commissioner is handled the same way as a Gang Player's Racketeer (in fact, the commissioner strength marker should be placed on a nearby Racketeer Gang Track). The Commissioner is placed on a subway determined by a die roll with the facing determined after all Gang pieces have been placed.  The Police Player must start with a Commissioner of at least strength one.

7.21 If the Police Player should ever find the Commissioner eliminated (strength reduced to zero), his sole action during the next Cop Turn must be to recruit a new Commissioner -- regardless of the cost multiplier imposed by the Green die. Precinct Headquarters must be sold to pay for the shortfall if insufficient cash is on hand. If, ultimately, the Cop Player cannot pay for a Commissioner even after selling all Precinct Headquarters, the Cop Player is given a new Commissioner (Strength 1) for whatever cash and precincts he may have on hand. The Cop Player cannot be eliminated. The new Commissioner is placed at the Subway (or Precinct Headquarters 7.31-7.32) indicated by the Green die.

7.3 If the Police Commissioner starts his turn in an unowned building which is not a crime scene, he may purchase it for use as a Precinct Headquarters. Gray buildings may be purchased for $100.

7.31 In the future, cops may enter the board through a precinct headquarters when the blue die matches the first digit in the purchase price of the building (e.g., on a blue 4 a cop could enter the board at the Ambassadors' Club Precinct Headquarters just as if that building were Subway #4).  Cops may enter at Gray Building Precinct Headquarters on a roll of 1 on the blue die.

7.32 Precinct Headquarters are marked with level one blue joint markers. They may not be upgraded. In a shootout, a Precinct Headquarters rolls two dice, each of which hits on 4-6.

7.33 Cops normally cannot be inside a joint at the end of a player move nor move through a joint; this is no longer true with respect to precinct headquarters. It remains true in all other cases and with respect to all other joints. Cops which enter or pass through a precinct headquarters are returned to the cup and replaced with another (just as when the cops "change duty shifts" using a subway).

7.4 The Police Commissioner functions like a normal cop of its current strength in any shootout/crime scene. After engaging in a shootout and taking any damage, the Commissioner is removed from the board (though the off-board Commissioner retains his remaining strength). The Commissioner is immune to vamps.

7.41 If the Commissioner is not on the board at the start of any Cop Turn, one of the Cop Player's moves must be to bring the Commissioner onto the board at the Subway (or Precinct Headquarters 7.31-7.32) indicated by the Green die.

8. Random Movement Order (16.5) is used. The Donuts option (16.4) is not. The squirt gun (12.8) and all other advanced options (16.1-3) are still optional.

8.1 If the Wheels option (16.2) is used, the Police Player may purchase wheels for $1,000 whenever the Police Commissioner starts his turn in any unowned Gray Building. Thereafter, the Police Commissioner may move using the green die or the combination of the green, white, and blue dice. Regular cops and the public may not use wheels. Otherwise, the Wheels option works exactly the same for the Police as for Gangs.

8.2 If the Heaters option (16.1) is used, the Police Player may purchase heaters for $1,000 whenever the Police Commissioner starts his turn in any unowned Gray Building (possibly at the same time as purchasing wheels 8.1). Thereafter, the Police Commissioner hits on 4-6. Otherwise, the Heaters option works the same for the Police as for Gangs.

8.3 No, the Police Commissioner may not buy a new dress!

9. Time Limits: All players (including the Cop Player) are limited to 1:30 during the timed portion of their move. The Gang Player and Cop Player are limited to fifteen seconds each during the Cop portion of the Gang Turns.

10. Objective: The Police Player wins, at the end of his move, if the police commissioner is on the board, he holds the bribe of any loyal officer on the board, and either:

  • Owns seven precinct offices OR
  • Has $10,000.

Many thanks to the following for many hours of playtesting, suggestions, and comments: Ed Sivils, Nathan Slawson, Damon Hogan, David Pack, Kevin Price, and Sharee Pack!

Gangsters® is a registered trademark of The Avalon Hill Game Company.