I love dexterity games and I’m always up for playing one. I think the reason being is I feel like I have my own fate in my hands, and that I have a sense of control. My sense of control usually fades when things don’t go as planned, but when it does, it does feel rewarding. In either case, I usually have lots of fun with them, even if I don’t win which happens more times than not.
This brings us to today’s review, Men at Work from Pretzel Games. In this dexterity game, players are construction workers at a job site stacking building materials, trying to avoid accidents, and attempting to become employee of the month.
Games of Men at Work begin with the active player drawing the top card of the Instruction deck. Instruction cards are two-sided, with one side showing the piece to be placed and the other showing special rules. Once the active player places their building material or worker from the supply, they pass the Rescue Hook to the next player.
Play continues and only stops if any building materials fall off the Job Site and hits the table. That player has caused an accident and they lose 1 of their Safety Certificates. The player who has caused the accident is required to clean-up the Job Site and return materials to the supply. A player can be eliminated if they lose all their Safety Certificates.
Once the Boss Rita card is revealed from the Instruction deck, active players can now gain Employee of the Month Certificates by placing their building material at the highest point of the Job Site.
The player who first gains the required number of Employee of the Month certificates wins, or if they are the only player remaining with Safety Certificates.
I hope from the overview that it’s easy to see that the rules are straightforward and easy to pick-up and learn. The hardest thing for most players to remember is the revealed Instruction Card text—some of it is short-hand to fit on the card, but the rules have a thorough reference section. Aside from that, the rules are solid and allow you to get Men at Work to the table fast.
What shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with Pretzel Games is that the components are excellent. But what surprised me is how well they all tied into the theme of Men at Work. Some dexterity games can be all action and thin themes, but Men at Work does an excellent job supporting the construction site in theme and pieces that you will interact with. Each worker wears a yellow hard hat, and bricks and beams look realistic just in game form.
Men at Work base rules are solid but, but my group and I had a blast with two of the variant rules. What surprised us was that these really changed the game and upped the replay value. The Crane variant has players place the crane punch out in the middle of the job site and you can use any part of the crane when placing (see the image at the top of the review). The Skyscraper has players use the packaging insert of the box (which looks almost like a poured sub-level foundation of a building) as the set-up surface instead of the table. Again, these might seem minor but really change the base game and can increase the replay value as well.
My only real issue with Men at Work is the player elimination mechanic. For the 2-player game, player elimination is not an issue but at the 3-5-player count, having someone sit out seems like a mistake to me. This does tend to speed up the game, but I’ve never been a fan having players sit out. Games are a communal experience for my group and player elimination goes against that.
Again, I enjoy dexterity games of all types and Men at Work is easy to learn and fast to the table. The components included are not only aesthetically pleasing and detailed but really do an excellent job of supporting the construction theme. My group and I were big fans of the variant rules which really help enhance the base rules but also add to the replay value.
The main thing holding back Men at Work from a higher rating is the player elimination at the 3-5 player count. Games are social and interactive experiences and having players sit out and not able to contribute goes against that philosophy for us.
Final Score: 4.0 Stars – An excellent stacking game that’s fun for all and will challenge your manual and dexterity skills.
• Player elimination