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At the Office Game Review

Trefl’s Latest Trifle

Let’s punch out and grab some drinks to talk about our day At the Office in this Meeple Mountain review.

There’s something about the cover for At the Office, a new release from designer Reiner Knizia and Polish publisher Trefl, that’s deeply evocative. Artist Michał Ambrzykowski perfectly captures the essence of an anonymous mug from a workplace break room. Look at the cover for more than a moment, and you realize that mug is inside a coffee dispenser. I can hear the sound the machine makes when you press the button to brew and dispense the coffee. I can smell it. I’m there, in my khakis, spacing out while I wait for the process to finish.

When you open the box, you find the standard accoutrement for a roll & write. There’s a manual, of course, four pencils, five dice, and a pad of double-sided player sheets. Each side shows the same pyramid of office employees. They appear to have coordinated for portrait day, as each group is wearing a uniquely colored t-shirt. There’s a fifth group, a multicolored cohort of five bespectacled workers, that overlaps the color groups.

The photo shows one of the player sheets.

On your turn, roll the five dice. Four of them correspond to the colors of the employee shirts. The fifth, a white die, knows no master. You take any colored die you want, then write a corresponding value on the shirt of any one employee whose shirt matches the color of your chosen die. You write one of three values: add the white die to your chosen die, write the value of your chosen die alone, or you can use the naked value of the white die. The other players now get to make the same series of choices regarding any of the dice left in the middle of the table. You repeat this 19 more times, with the starting player rotating every turn, until your sheets are filled in.

Like most Roll & Writes, you score for a variety of criteria. Row totals and being the first player to assign a number to all five employees in any given color/spectacles group are both important. You’re also trying to maintain the office hierarchy. You want all of your employees in the second row or higher to outrank both of the people directly below them. Nature abhors a power imbalance.

Come the end of the game, about ten or fifteen minutes later, you add together your points for each section. The winner, naturally, is the player with the highest score.

The five dice used for the game, each of which is a different color.

Back to Basics

There’s not a whole lot here. This is the MTV Unplugged of roll & writes, a stripped down throwback to a time when the genre wasn’t swimming in combos. You write your numbers, you do some math, and you move on.

A number of BGG reviews say that’s to At the Office’s detriment. I find it refreshing. It’s quick, pleasant, and straightforward enough that nearly anyone can play. That’s maybe the best thing At the Office has going for it: my mom would enjoy it. My first game of it was the most fun I’ve had playing a roll & write in some time, but I also knew immediately that I would never feel the need to play again.

So then, perfectly okay. You don’t resent having played it, you’re not likely to be effusive. At the Office is a job you’re constantly trying to leave, but it’s one of those days when that coworker who’s really good at baking brings in pumpkin crumb cake for everyone to enjoy. Would you rather be somewhere else? Absolutely. You only have so long to live. But hey, there’s cake. And there’s always coffee.

  • Mediocre - I probably won’t remember playing this in a year.

At the Office details

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

1 Comment

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  • I have quite a few roll-and-writes. I have a few that stretch the meaning of the term (i.e., Welcome To has no dice).

    Reiner Knizia is amazing! I have enjoyed many of his titles. Some, as they say, are highly creative scoring systems with a theme lightly drapes over the top. Most of the time, I do not mind. Hit games keep me engaged and thinking while I am playing.

    That said, based on your review, I will pass on this one. Nothing here says it does anything I cannot already do (and perhaps better) with the games I already have.

    Thanks for a great review.

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