The brain is a pretty amazing thing. I was reading an article yesterday about how a woman smelled Parkinson’s Disease in her husband almost 15 years before he was diagnosed. It was fascinating to read and reminded me how our brains control motor and brain functions, fight and flight, memories and so much more than we ever really think about. It’s funny how the strangest things such as smells, can often stir up memories. Sometimes this happens when we play board games. Maybe it would be something obvious such a game about Germany reminding Scott of living there as a child. Other times, a game may unearth a long forgotten event or lesson. That’s what happened to me when I opened up Men at Work from Pretzel Games. Seeing the beams and meeples wearing hard hats reminded me of the part of my life where I wore a bright pink hard hat and taught construction safety.
In Men at Work, you’re building a structure of supports and girders then sending workers onto it, sometimes carrying bricks and beams. It’s a dexterity game for up to five players and is good for all ages. Don’t mind me when I complain about how hard it is for those of us who don’t have as steady a hand as we used to… it isn’t about winning, it’s about having fun! There are different setups depending on the expertise of the players. The youngest player utilizes three supports, a girder of each color and one worker to create a starting structure. Shuffle the instruction cards then place the Boss Rita card randomly about a quarter of the way through the deck. Make general piles with girders, awards, beams and bricks. Each player takes three safety certificates then the first player takes the rescue hook.
On your turn, flip over the first card to find out what your job orders are. You’ll look at the back of the card on the top of the deck to determine whether your action involves girders or workers. You can tell the difference based on the design in the orange construction sign. You may select one of the two colors shown on the card.
Next, you’ll look at the instructions on either of the top half or the bottom half of the card. Follow the appropriate instruction depending on the action type (girder or worker). These work orders tell you what your responsibility is during your turn. Maybe you’ll have to add girders that touch a couple other colors or you may find yourself needing to send a worker out onto the structure carrying a beam.
Just like on a regular construction site, there are rules that must be followed! Since Men at Work is a dexterity game, what fun would it be if it was easy? You may only use one hand when adding materials or workers. While you may use your existing materials to touch, move or lift things already in place, you may not use your hands at any time.
If you happen to knock something onto the playing surface, you’ve caused an accident and your turn is over immediately. Discard one of your safety certificates for failure to follow safe protocols. Hand the rescue hook to the next player to a retrieve the injured workers and/or materials and remove them from the work area. If the next player causes more accidents, their turn is over immediately and they lose a safety certificate as well! When you lose your last safety certificate, you are out of the game.
One of the goals is to collect Worker of the Month awards by showcasing your good work for Boss Rita. Once her card is revealed in the stack, place her card next to the stack of awards. From here on out, you’ll want to pay attention to where you put your workers and materials. At the end of each of your turns, if what you placed occupies the highest position on the site then you’ll earn an award. The game is over when players collect the required number of Worker of the Month awards, there is only one player remaining or if you run out of materials or workers.
You can get a permit to work at the age of 8 in Men at Work, but you could hire a younger crew if you have someone on hand to explain the rules. Haul away a copy of the game from Amazon or look for it at your local game store. Visit Pretzel Games on Facebook and Twitter to see what else is in the works from the team!
Would you make the safe moves and hope someone else fails or make riskier moves to earn awards?