A review of Greed Incorporated after one play with four players.
This is my first review. It is part of the series of challenges that my Secret Santa issued to me.
Greed Incorporated is a game for 3 to 5 players.
The game elements consist of a thick main board, ten thin company boards, various double-sided player tokens (striped tie, red sports car, high heels, whisky tumbler and comfy chair, probably a homage to Monopoly), various wooden markers (black cubes for marking the price of goods, red boots to identify “failing” companies and dollar markers; a green one for the first player and ten black ones to separate the companies’ last year’s income from other cash piles), various cards (for Assets, Goods, Status Symbols and Companies), five player aids and lots of paper money.
Design is average (considering the appearance of other Splotter Spellen games, it is quite nice) and quality is good (the elements seem quite sturdy).
The main board is a series of tracks used to indicate the market price of goods and the corresponding trends in price fluctuation.
The goods featured in Greed Incorporated are: Land, Sand, Coal, Steel, Cotton, Microchips, Houses, Railroad, Textiles, Loans and Blah-blah. Each good has nine possible prices (e.g. Land scales from 15 to 60 million and Loans from 150 to 310 million), except for Blah-blah, the price of which can go from 15 million (the lowest) to 330 million (the highest) per unit.
The price of each good fluctuates each turn according to a track featured on the main board. The price can thus: go down 3, go down 2, remain as it is, increase 1 or increase 2.
During the game, whenever an Asset, Company or Status Symbol card enters play, the trend is adjusted according to the icon at the bottom of the card.
The bottom part of the main board consists of two slots and scales, one for each type of status symbol (gold and silver, there are nine cards of each).
Acquiring Status Symbols is the aim of the game, as they are the only source of Victory Points. The two piles of Status Symbol cards are each in a fixed order. Gold Status Symbols (GSS) are worth from 7 to 15 VPs (one card for each value) and Silver Status Symbols (SSS) are worth from 4 to 8 VPs (two for each value up to 7and only one for 8).
The tracks next to each category of Status Symbols are used to indicate the current minimal bid required to acquire the corresponding Status Symbol (The price for GSS starts at 50 million and the one for SSS at 30 million).
Company boards have one slot for the Company card (this card features a witty pun and an icon affecting price trends but has no other effects on the game), four slots for Asset cards (each slot has a “used”/”available” position), three slots for cash piles (“new income”, “last year’s income” and “free cash”), six small square slots for player tokens (used to represent members of the board, the three slots named CEO, CFO and COO being the most important) and four slots running along the right-hand side of the Company board (used to store a maximum of four goods, storage being free for the first good and increasingly expensive for each subsequent good stored).
The Game as such:
At the start of the game each player is given a Company to run. A starting company has no Assets, its Company card, a CEO (a token of the player managing it) and 100 million in its free cash slot (for its manager to dispose of as he/she pleases).
Each player also gets dealt two Assets (the Asset cards come in four different background colours, during set-up these are separated into four decks, shuffled and piled up on each other with the cruder Assets on top and the more elaborate at the bottom, very much like age or period decks in other games).
Each player then gets diddly–squat for starting personal money and sets out on his quest to become fabulously well-to-do.
A game turn runs thusly (ten phases):
- Phase one: the players play an Asset card, face down, put a token of theirs on top of it, wait until everyone is done, flip all Assets face-up and put their token back on the card. The price trend track is adjusted according to the icons features at the bottom of the newly revealed Assets(price trends must remain within the limits of their scale). Everyone draws a new Asset card from the pile.
- Phase two: The market price for each type of good is adjusted according to the corresponding price trend track (market prices must remain within the limits of their scale).
- Phase three: Companies (it is always important to distinguish between players and Companies, a player can have more than one Company, and the Company’s money may feel like his, but it is not) may bid for Assets with money from its free cash pile. The minimum bid for Assets is 10 million. Bids are placed unbeknownst to the general public and are not related to specific Assets. Once the bids are placed, the Companies announce how much was bid and the Company with the highest bid takes the first pick. The money is spent (buying the Asset offered by the CEO requires to pay twice the bid) and given to the Bank. The player token on the Asset that has been acquired is placed in the next available slot on the board of directors of the Company that made the acquisition. Thus players become involved in each other’s Companies.
- Phase four: Each Asset that is a Primary Producer (meaning that it does not transform one good into another), produces said good in the quantities depicted on the card and is slid so as to reveal the “used” status of the slot it is contained in.
- Phase five: One of the main phases of the turn, this is when Companies trade goods and cash (at the whim of their CEO). Almost anything goes except: if goods or money change hands there must be a trade (however ridiculously fraudulent it may be), the only available money is the free cash pile and any cash exchange goes to the new income pile. Promises for future services and trades do not bind, goods can be transformed (after processing, the corresponding Assets are set to “used”) and goods can change hands multiple times.
- Phase six: Companies now sell their goods at the market price. It is possible for a Company to store some of its goods in the slots intended for that purpose (max. four, payment from the free cash pile). Everything else must be sold. Any money made from sales goes, once again, to the new income pile.
- Phase seven: Companies compare their new income to last year’s income. If there was a drop or lack of progress in revenue someone will have to take the blame for the poor results and a red boot marker is placed on the Company card. After that last year’s income is added to the free cash pile and the new income becomes last year’s income.
- Phase eight: The board of directors of Companies that have been marked with a red boot must now single out someone to take the fall (this is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact most of the time it is what the CEO has been aiming for). Starting with the CEO each of the three members of the board of directors states whom they consider responsible and flips that player’s token to its “fired” side (it is also possible, and chivalrous, to take full responsibility and voice the opinion that oneself should be sacked). Players who have been thus denounced get the boot and a severance package according to their position and current free cash (a CEO gets 40% of the current free cash pile, CFO and COO get 20%). This money goes to the fired players’ personal cash. The tokens that came further down the line in the shareholders/members of the board slots are moved up in the same order, and the new CEO gets to pick an Asset that is to be discarded (these discarded Assets will be important for newly founded companies).
- Phase nine: Players now get to wrestle for VPs, given at least one player has enough personal funds to make the minimum bid. Starting with the GSS an auction is held to determine who will take home one of the wittily titled and glamorously illustrated Status Symbols. The starting price for bids is indicated on the Status Symbols’ respective tracks. The catch for this bid is that the price the highest bidder ends up paying becomes next turn’s starting bid, which causes for much rejoicing. Once (if) the GSS has been bought at a horribly overpriced cost, the first player token is given to the player to the left of the lucky buyer and another action ensues for the SSS, under the same terms, except that the player who bought the GSS does not get to participate.
- Phase ten: Players may now enter an auction for a brand new Company (there is only one on offer per turn), the starting bid for which is 50 million. The lucky winner becomes the CEO of said new Company and picks any number of Assets from the discarded Assets pile (0 to 4 obviously). The new Company also receives 100 million for its free cash pile.
This continues until the last Assets are played (12 turns with 3 players, 9 turns with 4 players and 8 with 5 players).
The Winner is determined by comparing VPs, ties are resolved by comparing personal cash.
I very much enjoyed the game we played (4players).
None of us had a clear notion of what we were getting ourselves into. The very open and freeform trading phase (phase 5) was unlike most trading games we have played so far (where the advantage the opponent will get out of the trade is easily apparent): in Greed Incorporated, as everyone tends to be involved in each other’s businesses, true win-win trades are possible and this helps make the trading part of the game interesting for everyone.
As is the case with other games by Splotter Spellen we have played (Antiquity and Great Zimbabwe, both games I like very much), Greed Incorporated is a game that felt very different. It does not have obvious similarities, mechanics-wise, with any other game I have played and that is both unsettling and exciting (when playing it for the first time at least).
There is a little randomness because of card distribution but that is easily compensated by the amount of player-generated chaos that blooms during the game. The consequence of the rules being very open on exchanges and deals make the game less predictable and lighter than other economic games.
It is difficult to assess exactly how much (personal) money will be made in the future with a given company, how much personal cash another player has at the moment, if an investment will truly be profitable and so on.
I think it is a successful representation (exaggerated and caricatured, it goes without saying) of what I would expect modern management to be like. Personal interest is paramount, the traded goods have little interest in itself and are considered solely for their market value, companies come and go, executives come and go regardless of past million dollar “blunders”, etc.
Finally, after this first play, a lot of strategic considerations are still open:
- It is not possible to hope for than a 4 VP SSS on the first turn, at the cost of losing your starting company, could there still be some interest in that?
- Buying your own Assets to milk 60% or even 80% of a Company's free cash can be a good move, but is it worth not being involved in your competitors' businesses (and vice versa)?
- Is it better to leave this turn's GSS to a competitor, so as not to blow the starting bid through the ceiling and hopefully get the one that is worth that one point more next turn (while losing one of the nine/eight opportunities to score, said opponent having another scoring opportunity the following turn)?
- It embodies well my stereotypical representation of modern management.
- Very unique gameplay.
- A lot of player interaction.
- Does not feel as long as it plays.
- The suggestions at the end of the rulebook are very helpful to players who, like ourselves, had no experience in this line of work.
- Long playing time (as above, not that it feels long, but it was three in the morning when I got home).
- High potential AP if one chooses not to play it with the carelessness/incompetence/laid back attitude expected on the part of modern management.
- Slight randomness/unpredictability (for those who find this to be a problem, I don’t).
- Not sure if all Assets are balanced (I would expect them to be, but have not made an in depth study of them).
Greed Incorporated is a fun and clever game, I liked it a lot and I am looking forward to the next time I play it.
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Good review of a difficult game to digest, on the first playing.
It is that difficulty in assessing "real", long-term value for assets that forces the players to make some "inspired" decisions, and I think this is intentional in design, much like the merger calculations in Splotter's Indonesia. If there is a difference, it is that there really aren't any truly "bad" deals in Greed, Inc. - after the first game, you'll likely realize how easy it is to make piles of money, and then the game comes down more to efficiency relative to your opponents (and watching for the best opportunities to "roll over" on a company).
A fun game, that some players do not enjoy because of the ways the system can be "abused", so not to be taken too seriously.
Everything is relative to perception, and your perception is limited.
The Ginger Ninja
Nice review. Greed, Inc from your secret Santa? That's a heckova secret Santa present!
No, I already had the game but had not played it yet. My Santa is on a crusade to get me to be more participative on BGG and that is why he challenged me to a certain number of things, among which playing Greed Incorporated and writing a review for it afterwards.
Reviewing is quite a piece of work and I have all the more respect for the work of my fellow reviewers (btw I remember reading your first impressions of Call of the Wild, which I found very helpful, many thanks).
- Last edited Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:40 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:32 pm