In The Big Time!, players take the roles of theater owners in Chicago during the Golden Age of vaudeville, from about 1905 to about 1915. The object is to make your theater the most spectacular in the city by booking the greatest and most diverse roster of acts that you can find (and afford!).
The game is won by achieving the highest score on the Success Track, which represents public approbation and goodwill. While money is an important part of running a successful theater, there've gotta be easier ways to make a living than dealing with a never-ending procession of ventriloquists, jugglers, and trained animals! No, you're in this business because greasepaint is in your blood, and you can't imagine a world without limelight.
In each of four turns, players bid on the right to select acts first and place those acts in their theaters. After your theaters are booked, you tally up scores to see who was the most successful. Good shows will drive up the reputation of your theater and influence the popularity of the types of acts that you book, but a flop can always set you back!
In The Big Time!, players take the roles of theater owners during the Golden Age of Vaudeville.
The game is played in four rounds, each representing one week of one month during this halcyon era.
- Assign each player a Theater Playbill Mat according to their wont and place it in front of them, and place the matching Theater Marker beneath the Posterity Point track on the main board.
- Dole out an allotment of Big Time Money to each player, four of each denomination to a total of $24. This is a fixed amount, and will not change throughout the four rounds of play.
- Randomly place the six Act Type Markers on the starred spaces of the Public Opinion Track.
- Lastly, give each player a Review Card at random. During the game, reviews will be assigned according to how well theaters perform, and are used to break ties. To offset the advantage given to unearned reviews during the first round, players receive bonus cash (Big Time Money cleverly marked with “BONUS” in red type) to be used for the first round only. The Smash gets an extra $3, the Boffo show $2, and the So-So show $1.
Setting Up The Booking Agency
- Deal out a number of Headliners equal to the number of players plus one face-down, next to the "Coming Soon" slot in the Booking Agency (i.e., deal out five cards in a four-player game).
- Deal out the same number of face-down Troupers atop each Headliner.
- Lastly, deal a like number of face-up Troupers: one atop each stack next to “Coming Soon”, and in rows next to the "Now Available - P.M." and "Now Available - A.M." slots.
These Acts constitute the pool of talent from which the current week’s Playbills will be constructed. Take a moment before setting your mind to the tasks before you to chortle over the delightful names and descriptions of the acts (...all of which are absolutely authentic, having been culled directly from vaudeville advertisements in vintage newspapers).
Book Your Acts
Each round is broken into seven Phases: In Phases 1 through 3 (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), theater owners (that is to say: you and your fellows) send talent buyers to the Booking Office with fistfuls of cash to secure acts for the weekend's show.
When a Playbill is complete, four of the five acts that comprise it will be Troupers, and the remaining act will be a Headliner. As acts are selected for Playbills, they should be placed from bottom to top, overlapping upwards as new acts are added. In this way, Playbills end up with a vaudeville poster-style display, with a picture of the Headliner on top!
In Phase 4 (Friday night), shows open and Box Office returns are totaled; players total up values of the Playbills they've assembled. The highest scoring Playbill will yield the best Review! Leading to...
The Talk Of The Town
Come Saturday evening after the last curtain falls--that’s Phase 5 to you and I--the heavy hand of Public Opinion falls upon us; acts involved with successful shows rise in popularity and acts that flopped fall in public estimation.
How'd We Do?
Phase 6 is a contemplative phase, a quiet Sunday morning when theater owners reflect upon their achievements and theaters are evaluated for their inclusion of popular act types, securing their reputations in perpetuity. (Read: Victory Points are awarded.)
Theaters will be fondly remembered for booking acts that were popular at the time! Each act type icon on a Theater Mat will score points according to its value on the Public Opinion chart: three points for acts in The Big Time, two points for acts in Hot Time, and one point for acts in Showtime. Small Time acts accrue no points for their bookers. Keep in mind that Headliners have two icons, and thus will always score twice.
That's A Wrap
Alas, Monday morning finds stagehands sweeping aside the detritus of bygone shows, making ready the theaters for another week’s work. Brooms whisk away sequins and broken banjo strings, and shovels are put to use cleaning up after myriad ponies and monkeys and chorus boys. This is Phase 7, Cleanup, where Playbills are cleared in preparation for the coming week.
At the end of the fourth week's Scoring, whomsoever has amassed the most Posterity Points wins! Simplicity itself!
Game Salute Guaranteed is our promise that The Big Time will be produced with quality components and that you will enjoy the time you spend with the game. If you're not satisfied with The Big Time, simply return it to our headquarters within 30 days of receiving it, and we'll refund your pledge. That's our no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
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Thanks as always for your support!
Illustrated By: Adam Koford
Executive Producer: Dan Yarrington
Kickstarter Campaign Video And Graphic Design: R Jay McCarty
And a special thanks to all of our playtesters!
Risks and challenges
Every game project is subject to potential production delays, but we believe we've allowed enough wiggle-room for The Big Time. Should we finish ahead of schedule... we'll ship it right away!
The final challenge is getting the game and rewards out to the backers. Game Salute is well versed in Kickstarter reward fulfillment and is prepared to meet this challenge for The Big Time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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