greatgamegate (greatgamegate) wrote,
greatgamegate
greatgamegate

175. Economic Series - Tulipmania 1637

 It's tax weekend, and that means it's time for an economic series.  A lot of games deal with money issues since it's one of those parts of the human experience that concerns us all.  We may not like dealing with it (I know I don't), but it's there.  The games I'm going to cover in this series are all about some form of economics, and we'll start with Tulipmania 1637.


(BGG image by user DavidNorman99)

Tulipmania 1637 is a game from 2009 for 3-5 players that was designed by Scott Nicholson, game reviewer and academic extraordinaire.  It was published by JKLM.  The theme is pretty unique - it's all about the Dutch tulip market of the 17th century.  More specifically, it's about the first bubble market, where you buy items at high prices based on their projected resale value.  The whole game is about economics, and about knowing when to buy and when to jack up the prices for everyone else.


(BGG image by user mimi2)

This game comes with a board that shows the market track. There are 55 wooden tulips included in the game, 11 each in 5 different colors.  There are 40 action and 25 buyer cards.  There's paper money (sigh) which are valued at 25, 100, 500, and 1000 Florins (abbreviated as ƒ).  In addition, there's a current player card and a priority action card.

 
(BGG image by users mimi2 and thepackrat)

The game is for 3-5 players, with modifications made for 3 and 4 players.  With 4 players, you'll take out all the red buyer cards, tulips, and one tulip of each of the other colors.  These will not be used.  With 3 players, you'll also remove the blue buyer cards, tulips, and one more tulip from each of the remaining three colors.  For all players, each person will begin with one tulip of each color.  Another tulip of each color is placed on the ƒ50 space of the board (the second space on the bottom row).  Each player begins with ƒ700 - 8 ƒ25 notes and 5 ƒ100 notes.  They also get a set of action cards.  This includes one speculate card (labeled with a 4), one speculate by proxy (3), one purchase (2), and purchase by proxy (1), and one pass.  Three buyer cards are dealt to each player.  With the remaining cards, you'll form a buyer deck and a reserve deck: with three players, there will be 11 cards in the buyer deck and 4 in the reserve; with four players, there will be 14 in the buyer deck and 6 in the reserve; with five players, there will be 18 in the buyer deck and 7 in the reserve.  In all cases, the top two cards of the buyer deck are flipped face up.

The player who last planted a tulip gets the current player card.  The priority action card is given to the player on his right.  You're ready to go.

      
(BGG images by user thepackrat)

When you have the current player card, it is your turn.  You have four things to do: sell a tulip, draw a new buyer card, purchase a tulip, pass the current player card.

Sell a tulip - You have to do this is you have more than one tulip.  If you only have one, you can choose to skip this step.  To sell, you simply choose one of your tulips and offer it to the other players.  They then choose one of their action cards and reveal simultaneously.  If all players choose to pass, the current player also plays an action card (not speculate or purchase).  The player who has played the highest numbered card wins.  Ties are broken by the player with the priority action card.  If that player is not involved, the winner is the first player counter-clockwise from the priority action card.

If you win, you have a specific action to take (it's easier if I talk about them out of order):

  • 2 - Purchase: For this action, you are buying the tulip for yourself.  You pay the active player the current price of the tulip, indicated by the white space where that color tulip currently sits.  You get the tulip from the seller, and then you advance that color tulip to the next space, following the green arrows on the board.  If a tulip is at the end of a row, you simply move it to the first space of the next row.
  • 1 - Purchase by proxy: For this action, you are recommending the product to one of your buyers.  Discard one buyer card that is the same color as the tulip up for bid.  The tulip is then placed back in the stockpile, and the current player receives money from the bank equal to the current price.  The tulip is advanced as before.
  • 4 - Speculate: For this action, you are buying a tulip based on its future price.  Before you pay, you push the tulip up to the gray space immediately above its current position.  This is called the transition space.  You pay this price to the current player, then push the tulip up to the next white space.  This is a good way to make the price go up really quickly.
  • 3 - Speculate by proxy: Here, you are recommending speculation to a buyer, making the price go up without paying for it yourself.  Discard two buyer cards of the appropriate color and discard the tulip for sale.  The current player receives the transition price from the bank, and the tulip is advanced as before.
  • Pass: If all players pass, the price of the tulip will fall.  The tulip for sale is discarded, and the corresponding tulip is pushed down to the gray space below it.  The bank pays this transition price to the current player, and the tulip is pushed down to the next white space.

If the winner of the sale held the priority action card, it is passed to the right.  The action card you played is returned to your hand.

If the price of the tulip has reached ƒ3000 or above (the top row), the bubble for that color bursts.  If this happens due to a Speculate or Speculate by Proxy play, all players (except the one who played the card) discard one buyer card of that color if they have one (this represents one buyer bowing out).  You now have to sell off your tulips as quickly as possible.  This process happens as follows:

  • If you have a tulip and a buyer of the burst color, discard them and receive the current price of the tulip.  This is not limited to one player - everyone who can do this will get the full price.
  • Push the burst tulip down to the next space (grey or white).
  • Repeat until no one has a matching buyer card and tulip.
  • Once all matching buyer cards are gone, each player may sell one remaining tulip for the current price.
  • After each sale, push the burst tulip price down.
  • Continue until all tulips have been sold.

Once all sales have been completed, discard the burst tulip from the game.  You won't need it anymore.  If any players still have buyer cards of that color, they are discarded as well.  Face-up buyer cards that match the color are replaced with cards from the reserve deck.

DRAW A NEW BUYER CARD: After selling a tulip, draw a new card.  Take one of the face up cards (replacing it with the top card from the buyer deck), or the top card from the buyer deck.  If there are no more cards in the buyer deck, it is considered to be exhausted, and this phase will be skipped for the rest of the game.  This will always happen after every player has had three turns.
PURCHASE A TULIP: Pick a tulip in the stockpile that is a different color from the one you just sold, and buy it, paying the current price and advancing the marker on the track along the green arrows.  You don't have to do this, and it may be that you can't do it legally.  You can cause the bubble to burst here as well.

PASS THE CURRENT PLAYER CARD: The current player card is passed to the left.  If the priority action card and current player card are now held by the same player, pass the priority action card to the right.


(BGG image by user snicholson)

The game is over when there is only one tulip left on the board.  The final tulip color bursts, and payouts occur as described above.  The winner is the player who ends with the most money.  Read more at BGG, and expect to pay $25 if you can find the game anywhere.  JKLM's own bubble market has burst since the game's publication, so the future of the game is kind of up in the air.  At any rate, there's another economic game coming soon from this blog!  Happy gaming!
-Jesse
Tags: 2009, economic series, scott nicholson
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