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Subject: Oh Jenny! (short review) rss

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Chris Oldgeorge
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I've been itching to play Arkwright ever since I read about it being available in Essen, doubly so when it came back in my bag of loot. However, reading the manual put a small damper in my plans, because I realised that it would take some time to digest the whole thing, and inevitably it trickled down to the bottom of the new games pile.

Finally, after making another full pass at the rules, I managed to give Spinning Jenny (that's the basic game) a spin. And it was really worth it!

While the advanced version seems to be a more elaborate and deep economic game (hazarding a guess I'd rate it as an equivalent of most one-evening 18XX games in terms of brain cell stress), Spinning Jenny is actually a very tight, medium-heavy euro with no chance involved.

In sharp contrast to most of the things I've read recently (Kanban: Driver's Edition being the worst offender) the rules were very crisp, organised and to the point. Very few things needed extra attention and the majority of the examples illustrated the situation perfectly. I won't go into much detail about the game, every player is an industrialist in mid 18th century and tries to manipulate the economy (by hiring workers, building factories and selling goods) in order to boost the value of his portfolio, which is the ultimate decider of victory.

There are three rounds to the basic game, each round consisting of four turns(cycles) each one focusing in one of the four major industries. Every turn, some market reset takes place (importers mess up the local market, fired workers return to the workforce), the players take their actions and then every factory produces goods, sells them and the workforce is paid.

All in all, it may seem complex, but it really isn't. It plays out like an entry-level EC101 textbook, with an added twist of labor economics. It's all pretty tight as well, my main concern when reading the rules would be that the numbers would not make sense (i.e. some part of the ecosystem would produce evident imbalanced) but actually there always seemed to be pressure and victory wasn't clear until a deft chain of moves in the last three cycles.

Overall, playing the game made me feel very nostalgic of my college days of yore (I did study Economics so maybe that's why I didn't find the rules or the game that daunting) since there's a lot of basic economic theory and a constant application of the prisoner's dillema when it comes down to fudging with your product prices (which in turn affects your product appeal, which in turn is your main means of competing with your rivals). Yup, playing the game took me back to the classroom, even for a bit. Happy times.

For the record, the game had it's ups and downs, mostly because it was our first time playing it and we weren't aware of the possible pitfalls that may appear by careless hiring (the player that was clearly ahead of the curve in the midgame actually ended up bankrupt), and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. I realise that I come off as rather enthusiastic, but apart from the nostalgia, it was one of the most entertaining sessions I've had the last couple of months.

My only gripe with Jenny is that it's a tad too short and a tad too predictable. I don't forsee playing the base game more than a couple times more, and moving to the advance will require a larger investment of time for sure, something that might not be that readily available.

But if you are into this sort of thing, I can only heartilly reccommend it.
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Scott Nelson
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Thanks for the review. It makes looking for a copy even harder to ignore.
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Jörg Schröder
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Thank you for your review.
It also slipped to the bottom of my Essen pile for the same reason, but I hope I can get it to the table this weekend!
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Jorge Blazquez Garcia
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Thanks for the review indeed!

I have the game looking at me from the shelves and I will finally play it this friday! I have the rules read and re-read and we're gonna play Waterframe version directly. Yeah!
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Klaus Knechtskern
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I am sure the Designer will jump in here also, but just to inform you the designer has worked out an intermediate version "Spinning Mule" which is more challenging than Spinning Jenny but not as daunting as the full Waterframe version. The rules are right now only available in German but for sure an English version will follow...
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Bruno Valerio
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Can't wait to get mine to the table

no spinning Jenny though
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Kurt R
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Thanks for the report; I hope you keep us apprised of your experience with the game. I'm intrigued by it, but not sure I have the group for a 4 hour game. This medium-length game option mentioned above sounds interesting.
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David Jones
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Vexation wrote:
All in all, it may seem complex, but it really isn't. It plays out like an entry-level EC101 textbook, with an added twist of labor economics.


Perhaps a complex question (or not) but the Econ I took ten years ago is not the same Econ I am taking right now. My professor does not hide his preference for heterodox economics. We've spent a fair amount of time learning about managerial economics, how mass production has led to the dominance of oligopolies, and how consumerism has changed the way markets work. So when you say it plays out like textbook, are you referring only to neoclassic economics or are there hints of modern economic theory embedded in the game as well?
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Jorge Blazquez Garcia
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davypi wrote:


Perhaps a complex question (or not) but the Econ I took ten years ago is not the same Econ I am taking right now. My professor does not hide his preference for heterodox economics. We've spent a fair amount of time learning about managerial economics, how mass production has led to the dominance of oligopolies, and how consumerism has changed the way markets work. So when you say it plays out like textbook, are you referring only to neoclassic economics or are there hints of modern economic theory embedded in the game as well?


Arkwright rulebook is a hard one, but your post is like chinese to me
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David Jones
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jbsiena wrote:
Arkwright rulebook is a hard one, but your post is like chinese to me


Ok, simple translation: Old economic theory says that prices are set wherever buyers and seller "meet" and agree on a price. (a.k.a. the invisible hand.) New economic theory says that when there are only a few suppliers, sellers can actually control market prices, but doing so has various consequences on how the market will behave. Additionally, the birth of advertising allows suppliers to have influence on buyers in a way previously unavailable to them. This type of market manipulation cannot happen under the strict rules of supply and demand as they are frequently taught in grade school, but these ideas are starting to work their way into modern classrooms.

More complicated translation: Within the context of Arkwright, this is the time period during which mass production starts putting small companies out of businesss and creating markets with few suppliers. These large companies start playing around with their ability to influence the market without realizing what these consequences are. So when the OP says that the game plays straight out of an EC101 textbook, I'm wondering if he is referring to traditional "invisible hand" economics or if he means that the game allows you to push supply and demand curves around per theories which, although new to us, would be relevant during the time frame the game is set in.
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Chris Oldgeorge
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I think that the economic model is more thematically attuned to the era, i.e. Malthusian. I could be wrong in that one, it's been roughly 18 years since that part of my education.

There's definately an "invisible hand" in the game, in the form of product appeal (which is defined as product quality + distribution - price, all factors you can fudge with in the game) which determines who gets to sell and who gets to pile stuff in his warehouse. And to be honest, it's actually a very visible hand that slaps you hard if you haven't anticipated your rivals' moves

The only point where I believe (as far as my foggy memory allows) the game actually diverges from that school of economic thought is in the treatment of mass fired workers, where having herds of people in the fired worker space actually drives consumer good demand up (I'm pretty sure workers didn't get severance pay at that timeframe). But I suppose there must be a point somewhere where it has to stop being a simulation and become a game, ergo some things must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt

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Stefan Risthaus
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Vexation wrote:

The only point where I believe (as far as my foggy memory allows) the game actually diverges from that school of economic thought is in the treatment of mass fired workers, where having herds of people in the fired worker space actually drives consumer good demand up (I'm pretty sure workers didn't get severance pay at that timeframe). But I suppose there must be a point somewhere where it has to stop being a simulation and become a game, ergo some things must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt



Hi,
yes, games need some simplifying and breaking with theme and simulation matters to be fun. But the workers in the "fired worker" area are also representing those workers who have got new jobs in the factories where the machines are built, which replaced them in the players factory.
The "fired worker" area is representing some piece of "real live" outside the players factories.
By the way: some of the mechanics indeed are based on an economic teaching book called "Das Geld reicht nie!" (something like: You never have enough money).
Enjoy playing!
Stefan
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Stefan Risthaus
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KlausKnechtskern wrote:
I am sure the Designer will jump in here also, but just to inform you the designer has worked out an intermediate version "Spinning Mule" which is more challenging than Spinning Jenny but not as daunting as the full Waterframe version. The rules are right now only available in German but for sure an English version will follow...


Thanks for the post. It was on my "To Do List", but you forced me to put it to the top of it. See separate post. I hope you enjoy it and let me have some feedback about it.
Stefan
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REAL TIGRIS wrote:
KlausKnechtskern wrote:
I am sure the Designer will jump in here also, but just to inform you the designer has worked out an intermediate version "Spinning Mule" which is more challenging than Spinning Jenny but not as daunting as the full Waterframe version. The rules are right now only available in German but for sure an English version will follow...
Thanks for the post. It was on my "To Do List", but you forced me to put it to the top of it. See separate post. I hope you enjoy it and let me have some feedback about it.
Stefan
That's exactly why I kept my mouth shut for once For the lazy ones: Spinning Mule
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Chris Montgomery
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Anyone know when/if this will be available on the U.S. side?
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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cmontgo2 wrote:
Anyone know when/if this will be available on the U.S. side?


https://www.funagain.com/control/product?product_id=031922
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Chris Oldgeorge
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enzo622 wrote:
Thanks for the report; I hope you keep us apprised of your experience with the game. I'm intrigued by it, but not sure I have the group for a 4 hour game. This medium-length game option mentioned above sounds interesting.


Minor update, since the time of the original report, I've actually played Waterframe three times as everybody in the group decided it's a much better experience that allows for more variance in play strategies (and is actually more forgiving than Spinning Jenny if you make a gross mistake in the opening rounds - you won't probably catch up with the others, but you can have an enjoyable time rather than rack up debt).

All in all, I was pretty excited playing the basic game, Waterframe has made an even better impression, even if the stock limit proved to be a little troublesome the last game

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