Dilbert, Office Space, and The IT Crowd. I’m a big fan of corporate workspace parodies, considering I work in one myself that might as well be a parody for all the shenanigans that take place. So, when Macho Zero Productions asked us to take their game Zer0 Inbox for a swivel-chair spin, of course we agreed.
The set-up of the game reminded me of Monopoly, as you choose a peculiarly shaped token and go around the board until you get to Refresh Inbox again and along the way you draw different cards, as well as discard them. The goal of Zer0 Inbox, unlike Monopoly, is to actually empty your hand of cards by matching up card “email” types where you can and discarding them when you get to appropriate spaces. There’s additional cards that you can use to screw over your fellow players that don’t count towards emptying your inbox, things like Forward Email and Meeting Request.
When we got to sit down with the dev and play, it actually took me a little while to fully understand the rules of the game. My playing token was a wireless mouse, in case anyone was curious. There was also things like a stapler and coffee cup, typical office necessities. The different cards that you get to play as you move around the board are fun, with some having stories on them if you match them up together, like Bagel Bash, in which a co-worker is upset about stale bagels being taken before she had the chance to grab one. I have it on good authority that this was based on a shocking true story.
Zer0 Inbox in total took about 10 minutes to play through a complete round, and we were told that rounds usually only last up to 15 minutes, with some lasting as long as 25. While this is great if you’re looking for a quick game to play and not have to drag out the whole DnD board and associated accoutrements, I found it passed by really quickly.
The one thing that I found I outright disliked about Zer0 Inbox is that it relied very heavily on the luck of the draw. There is an element of strategy involved, but when the cards or the dice are stacked against you there’s no way to play yourself out of a tight corner. For example, I had a hand full of Attach cards that I had drawn at the beginning and kept landing instead on Reply or Schedule spaces. With such a short playtime, it’s harder to bide your time and know that you’ll be able to offload your cards when your “co-worker” beside you is already down to two cards and both or either of them could be cards that don’t count towards your hand total when you hit Refresh Inbox.
Personally, I also felt the game hit a little too close to home for me, working in a corporate environment. While the stories on the cards were fun, they weren’t on every card and individually the pieces weren’t as funny as they could be. I don’t count this against the game, as I’m sure people who don’t work in settings like mine probably find it wildly funny imagining the sort of corporate schlubs who do.
Overall, Zer0 Inbox was a good game. While the strategy aspect of the game could use some more polish and the overall setting and execution was a little too on the nose for me, there was still quite a bit of fun to be had, backed by solid gameplay and fun friends.
Would you want to try out Zer0 Inbox? What sort of corporate settings would you want a board game themed to? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our <a href="https://techraptor.net/content/play-nyc-2019-coverage-hub">Play NYC 2019 Coverage Hub</a>