A to Z Gaming: Chez Geek

We became the roommates in Chez Geek, our next game in the A to Z game-shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Chez Geek
Players: 2-5
Time: 60 Minutes
Designer: Jon Darbro
Artist: Alain H. Dawson, Jack Elmy, John Kovalic, Philip Reed
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games


In Chez Geek, the players are roommates in an apartment, each attempting to accumulate Slack. This is done by playing cards into their room – their tableau – while also attempting to interrupt the Slack of their geeky flatmates.

Each player starts with a job, which defines their income and free time each turn.  The job also sets the Slack goal for each particular player – the number of Slack points they need to win.

There are four main types of cards – visitors (people and pets), activities, things, and whenever cards. People can either be positive or negative or some combination of both – for example, the Frat Man is worth -1 slack for booze in the room he visits while the Broke S. O. gives 1 Slack to the room they’re visiting and the option of a set number of Slack for any nookie cards played, but reduces that person’s income by one. Pets are always good, unless the “Allergies” card is in play.

Activities are ways to spend free time and are either free or cost income. Free activities include things like watching TV, sleeping, or nookie, while the activities costing income include things like going to a concert and getting piercings. Another way to spend free time is to go on a shopping trip, where you can buy as many Thing cards as you can afford.

Finally, Whenever cards are actions that mess up the game in various ways. This can include introducing Allergies to the apartment, giving yourself a raise, or interrupting a roommate’s sleep with a siren.

On each turn, the active player:

  • Draws cards until they have 6 in their hand.
  • Rolls the die for any variable income or free time their job may entail.
  • Determines if they want to call someone to their room (or out of their room). To call someone from your hand into your room who gives you Slack requires a roll of 3-6, otherwise they aren’t home and are discarded. To call someone who gives negative Slack does not require a die-roll, and they can go to anyone’s room.  Cats never require a die-roll – they always come. In addition, they can try to oust someone from their room by rolling a 4-6.
  • Play activities or go on a shopping trip to spend their free time and income.
  • Discard down to a max of 5 cards or a minimum of 1 card.

The first person to reach their Slack goal wins.

We were introduced to this game by long-time friends when we visited them years ago. The theme was a natural fit – techies playing a game about geeks playing RPGs, computer games, buying The Church of the Sub-genius and Origin of the Species books for fun. The theme is what makes this game, and I highly recommend reading the “flavor text” on the various cards for the full experience.

We discovered early that there are a couple of jobs that should never be played – the Slacker and Drummer. They are frustrating to play with, and set that player up for failure from the very beginning. Beyond that, though, we’ve enjoyed all of the cards. There’s some element of take-that, where you can mess with other players, but it’s not too bad, and usually only ramps up when its clear someone is about to win.

There are some thematic elements that are not appropriate for all audiences – booze, drugs, and nookie (sex) – so, I wouldn’t pull this game out with, say, my family or if I’m gaming at a house with kids. However, for my main game group, this is not an issue.

I have three expansions for Chez Geek. The first two – Slack Attack and Slack to the Future – are simply additional cards including jobs, items, people, and actions. The last one I picked up – Spring Break – also has a new type of card, oversized Event cards. I have yet to play with the Event cards because they are a pain to deal with – they don’t fit in the box, and I end up storing them away from the rest of my card games.

How is it as a 2-player game?  Chez Geek isn’t a great 2-player game. It works, but the game is much better with far more player interaction than happens with just two players. I’m unlikely to suggest this as a game for just me and Andrew to play on one of our game nights.

How about the art and component quality? The cards are good quality, and I love the style of the art. This game is 90% about the theme and art – without it, the game wouldn’t be nearly as fun to pull out. The box isn’t great, and we’ll probably need to move them into a deck box soon, but I’m trying to avoid that because once card games are in a deck box, I tend to forget about them.

Will this stay in my collection?  Yes – this is a great game for a variety of players, including new gamers and veterans. We’ve pulled this out several times on our monthly game nights. (The possible exception is the Spring Break expansion cards – those may disappear before too long.)



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