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Unveiling 'Puppets in High Places' a Prohibition Era Mobster Game Preview

Today we are going to dive deep into the undergound world of prohibition gangsters making deals in backrooms and influencing those in power. Puppets in High Places is Amanda Vallerand's 3 game design and second one in this setting. Puppets in High Places is the follow up game to the 2021 game With a Smile and a Gun. So without furthe adieu lets hit the street level and see where Puppets in High Places will take us.

Puppets in High Places
Puppets in High Places


To setup Puppets in High Places players need to create the city that the game is played in by placing a downtown tile flanked by 2 location tiles on each side in the middle of the play area. Then there are 2 speak easys place at each end. This forms a row of 7 tiles. Each of the location tiles have two spaces one on each end, the middle downton tile is a single space but players cannot cross over when go through this space. Imaginge a very flat clock. Players will move a car token clockwise around the bottom then the top. The speak easy tiles at the end complete the loop (they only have one space).

Each player starts with two goons, three gifts (one of each color) and a key. The gifts will be used to convince VIPs to side with the player keys and goons will be used to manipulate the city and activate turff tokens.

Game Play

Players will take turns moving the car token through the city tiles and activating the action on the side of the card they are on. Players may move the car token one or two spaces then prepare the turff and activate the location in any order. Activating the location the player preforms the actions listed on the city tile. This usually results in gaining more resources. The other action players take is to prepare the the turff.To prepare the turffplayes may take a goon from supply, place a goon on the turff occupied by the caror if there were already enough goons to activate the tile then the player may use the turff action by removeing the goons and preforming the action. The turff tokens have a number of goons that need to be expended to activate the effect.

Mid Game
Game in Progress

Players will keep preforming the street round actions until a player moved the car token onto either of the speak easy locations. When the car is moved to the speakeasy location the player who moved it is the first player to take the speakeasy round.

The speakeasy round consists of players manipulating the pool of 6 dice on the speakeasy track. Players can use matching colored gifts to move dice towards their handshake bar. If a player moves a die and it crosses over their handshake bar they have scored that die. Players can use smiles and guns to convince the VIPs to move too. the difference is that twhen a player uses a smile it increases the die by one and guns will decrease the die by one. Players score the die value when they move it over the hand shake bar. Players in the street rounds can move the handshake bars to close the distance to score. Each player takes turns moving one die at a time. Once a player passes rather than moving a die they then can move their handshake bar one space and then its right back into the street rounds.


Puppets in High Places really puts players into the mean streets trying to get VIPs to side with them. The mechanics really fit the theme here. I really enjoiyed how players were moving through the streets to gain resources to bribe the VIPs to their side. The play felt very natural and made a lot of snese to me while playing it.

There is a solo player veiant of the game that is also fun if you dont have someone to play with. Its also a great way to learn the rules so you can have a better teach with that new player.

Speakeasy VIPs (dice)
Speakeasy VIPs (dice)

Puppest in High Places is a well crafted two player game that has a very fun theme (Proibition era Ganagsters). If you are looking for a great two player game from a seasoned designer then look no further than Puppets in High Places by Amanda Vallerand. Subsurface Games will be crowdfunding this on Kickstarter soon so hit that notify me buttonto get the details.

Players: 1-2

Year Published: 2025

Recommended Ages: 12+

Time to Play: 30 minutes

A pre production review copy of Puppets in High Places was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games for this preview by Dina Said So Studios. The final product may differ than what is shown here this is a preview.



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