Game invented by ?.
Published by Heidelburger Spielverlag.
Copyright 1993, Heidelburger Spielverlag.
Translated by John Webley.

What's in the Game?

We are looking for the ideal Prime Minister.

The first task for the players is to decide on a person whose picture they will try to put together. This should be someone who best fits a particular job or position. For example the players could agree to try to put together a picture of their ideal Prime Minister, or the ideal star for "Rambo 27: The Grandson Returns" or an ideal girlfriend/boyfriend for someone known to all the players, or the ideal picture of the man in the income tax office who keeps sending you all those nice letters. Let your imagination run wild, there are no limits. If the person you decide on is male then use the male portraits, if female, the female ones.

Firstly, the five portraits, male or female as you wish, are laid out on the table, on top of the five popularity columns, as shown in Diagram 1.

Each player now notes secretly the numbers of the three portrait pieces which best go together to make up their idea of the perfect fit with the person chosen. Obviously their choice must be made up of one head piece, one eye piece and one mouth/chin piece. The three pieces may however be chosen from three different portraits, for example the head from "II", the eyes from "I" and the chin from "V"

And who wins?

During the game, the various parts of the portraits are mixed up together. The aim of the players is to get the pieces that they have chosen onto the tallest popularity columns.

OK, let's go!

Deal out the star chips.

5 Red, 5 Green and 5 Blue Star chips are shuffled face down, one placed at random on each piece of portrait and then turned over. Now each player takes 3 star chips of each colour.

How do you move the pieces about?

The most famous player starts. A turn consists of 2 phases. First the player places a star chip onto one of the pieces of portrait. Secondly, they have a choice: they may either place a second chip, either onto the same piece or another, or they may swap over two pieces of portrait. Naturally enough, they may only swap a head with a head, or eyes with eyes. Also, the two pieces in the exchange must have on them exactly the same combination of star chips, ie a piece with two red chips on it may only be exchanged with another piece carrying two red chips. It makes no difference when the chips were laid, and it is in fact quite normal for a player to lay a chip on a piece as his first phase and then to exchange that piece as the second part of his turn.

Once the two pieces have been swapped over, the star chips on them are removed from those pieces and laid to one side. The two pieces now have no star chips on them.

Pieces with no star chips on them may not be swapped.

Both phases of a turn must be carried out. If a player is unable to swap two pieces, perhaps there are none bearing star chips that match with one another, then they must place another star chip.

Once a player has carried out both phases of their turn, play passes to the player on their left.

Anybody moving a piece of portrait onto the tallest popularity column must justify their play by saying something like, "A Prime Minister needs a strong chin". Given that we all have to live with the result, the player should say from which column the piece has come.

There's got to be an end to this!

A player who carries out lots of exchanges will naturally enough use fewer star chips than a player who regularly lays two chips per turn. Once a player has used up all their chips, they have finished. The game continues however until all players have used all their chips.

And once finished, there's the scoring to do.

The players now reveal which pieces of portrait they have chosen. Each piece brings a number of star points depending on which column it is on, and how many players have chosen it.

In general, the taller the column, the greater the number of points, however, if several people have chosen the same piece then each gets fewer points for it. Players get extra points for any chips still on that portrait piece, regardless of who may have put them there.

The player with the most star points wins the game.

The portrait on the tallest column is the general impression of the ideal man/woman for the job.

How do you work out your star points?

Each player should take 3 star chips from the box and place them, black side uppermost, onto the three pieces which they have chosen. In this way it is easy to see how many players have chosen each piece.

On each column there is a simple table showing the number of points received for each portrait piece on that column. The fists are the number of players who have chosen that piece, the number is the number of points received and the circle represents the bonus points gained for each chip, coloured side up, that was left on the piece at the end of the game. If the basic point value of a piece is 0, then no bonus points are scored.

Example (Diagram 2).

Player A has chosen I/IV/V, the head from portrait I, the eyes from Portrait IV and the mouth/chin from portrait V. They get 20 Star points for I on the tallest column, 5 points for IV on the 4th column and 10 points for V, (Although V is on the tallest column, two other players have chosen the same piece.). They also receive two bonus points for the two chips remaining from the game on the Head piece I

Their score is therefore 20+5+10+2= 37 points

Finally the smile test.

After all that hard work it's time to relax a bit. Each player in turn, beginning with the winner (if two players drew then the player with the longest nose starts) now puts together their three chosen pieces to make up the face that they chose for their ideal. The player now chooses another player as a controller for the originality and humour of their choice. The controller carefully examines the portrait, and the degree to which it makes them smile is measured using the "Smileometer" printed in the rules (measuring between the two corners of the mouth). Then the next player in turn chooses a controller to be measured and so on. No player may serve more than once as a controller since cheek muscle fatigue quickly degrades the accuracy of the measurement. The Controllers are required to provide an objective, unbiased and considered response to the portrait, and must on no account try to pull or wrinkle their lips in an attempt to influence the results. The player who manages to get the best smile out of a controller gets a special prize. As a measure of their originality and humour, they are allowed to put the game back into the box.

Tactical advice.

It is a great advantage if you can remember who has laid which chips. Then, if you know that a player has run out of a particular colour, by laying chips in that colour, you can "block them out" of a piece. If you think that you know which pieces other players have chosen, then it is often a good idea to lay chips on them so as to make it harder for the player to move that piece onto a taller column.

As a two player game, VIPs is a very tactical game. One can follow distinct strategies. With more players, then it becomes more important to seek alliances with other players, and the choice of pieces at the beginning of the game, becomes more critical.

The portraits in the game are naturally not based on any person living or dead. Any resemblance to real VIPs is entirely coincidental, and must have sprung from the deep dark unconscious of our cartoonist,

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell