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Subject: First impressions rss

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Declan J Fallon
Ireland
Dublin
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Gave this game a 4-hr test with my wife and was pleasently surprised. First things first, I like to be able travel with a game and the game box is small enough so it can be easily packed away, without the risk of damaging the cards (another reason why we like San Juan). The cards are good quality and should survive frequent handling.

The game is quick to set up; you have your market event pile, your share card pile, the five stocks in the center, and the container holding the option chips. We played the 2-player version and each game ran for about an hour (I am one of those annoying take-your-time players, my wife is more fire-and-brimstone ). The game is split into 4 rounds. The rounds pass relatively quickly. If you wanted to rush to the end of a round to bank your score it is possible to do so with the right draw of cards, this would make the game very quick, if not much fun!

I like the game mechanic where you have to do something, you can't simply 'pass' on the round. At its simplest, you start the round drawing a card from the share card pile. This is added to your hand and then either a card is either played to one of the five stocks to raise the price, a discard is used to play a share certificate, or a discard is to play/collect a market event card.

In the first round, the game is a simple (i.e. less combatant laugh ) accumulate shares and bid up your stocks. Market event cards in the early rounds are best stockpiled for the later rounds when they can do some damage. The initial set up also includes the distribution of 4 option chips, these can be converted to share certificates at the end of the round. It is possible to draw for extra option chips - but this doesn't happen often, so treat these 4 starting options with care.

The option chips are a nice touch since claiming a stock certificate means playing it for all to see. You can use the option chips to acquire shares in a stock which may have been overlooked, or unplayable due to the limit restrictions based on the number of share cards played. Players can only convert x number of share cards to share certificates, based on the highest number of share cards played to any one of the five stocks. The rules don't state (or at least - I didn't see it) what happens during a stock crash, when cards are removed from a stock pile leaving a situation when there are fewer cards in a stock pile, than share certificates in play - are share certificates discarded too to comply with the limit rule?

The stock crash, and a number of other events, are triggered by the market event cards. There are two ways to play them - both of which require discarding a card. The initial draw involves a discard from the hand and either drawing 1 card to use later, or 2 cards - one of which is used immediately. The most drastic is the stock market crash which removes a split and/or half of the cards used to bid up the stock price. Other event cards split the stock price, add or take cards from your hand, gain/remove an option, freeze a stock, remove a share card during an "audit", or do nada (which sometimes is the preferred call). The market event cards also contain a Market Close card, which ends the round (and is a necessary addition - explained later).

The other way the round ends is if one of the share prices reaches 11 or 12. Then it is a matter of toting up the score, doing some long multiplication and addition, before moving on to the next round (receiving a gold star in the process ). Previous market event cards collected are held (the fun part), while the remaining share cards are returned to the deck, shuffled and dealt before the next round begins.

The ability to hold on to market event cards is a handy feature and if you find yourself in a position where you can't raise the stock price or play a stock certificate, you end up collecting plenty of event cards. To play an event card requires another discard from your hand (so use wisely). It was not uncommon to find myself with only a few cards in my hand after playing certificates and/or market events. By the fourth round each player usually has an armory of share split, freezes, and stock crash cards in reserve.

The share certificares are part of the same cards used to raise the stock price. The higher stock values also correspond to the higher multiple of stock certificates. This did lead to one of our rounds been painfully long when we both played our high cards which corresponded to the highest number of stock certificates, but as a result, struggled to close the round because those end cards were not available. In the end, we cycled through the market event cards until we got to the Market Halt card in this deck.

There is plenty of room for strategy. In one instance I bid up one of the stocks early, causing my opponent to lay out a couple of stock certificates early, before playing a market event which crashed the stock price. Not only did this reduce the net worth of my opponent, but the stock certificates contributed to her limit of playable cards. It bought me a bit of freedom, but may not have been so successful had I employed this tactic in the last round when there are more market events available to play.

If I had gripes; I would like to have seen a stronger contrast in the card backs of the share cards and market events. It wasn't uncommon to find the two decks mixed together when the market events were drawn into the hand (we kept them seperate with the share cards held in the hand and the market events stored on the table - but there was one or two stragglers). Also, the pastel colors used as a background for the stocks, blended together in our poor light; the Movie Madness and Arctic Oil drilling having similar looking backgrounds and we had to use the icons to distinguish them. Neither are big issues and don't affect gameplay. The only other thing we weren't sure on was whether the share discard pile should be kept face down, or face up????

If I was to score the game, I would give it 8 out of 10. We liked it enough to play it again (it kept us going for 4 hours) and it is a good stocking filler to have around for a quick game.
 
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Simon Hunt
United States
Roseville
California
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fallond wrote:
The rules don't state (or at least - I didn't see it) what happens during a stock crash, when cards are removed from a stock pile leaving a situation when there are fewer cards in a stock pile, than share certificates in play - are share certificates discarded too to comply with the limit rule?

Share certificates are never discarded; once a player has invested in stock, those investments stay on the table for the rest of the round, and contribute to the player's score for that round.

If the market crashes leaving a player with more cards on the table than the 'longest' row, the player is simply blocked from investing until the market recovers -- no cards are removed.

fallond wrote:
The only other thing we weren't sure on was whether the share discard pile should be kept face down, or face up????

The Shares discard pile should be face-up; The Market Events discard pile should be face-down.
 
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Kevin Ellingson
United States
Sacramento
California
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fallond wrote:
The market event cards also contain a Market Close card, which ends the round (and is a necessary addition - explained later).

The other way the round ends is if one of the share prices reaches 11 or 12. Then it is a matter of toting up the score, doing some long multiplication and addition, before moving on to the next round (receiving a gold star in the process ). Previous market event cards collected are held (the fun part), while the remaining share cards are returned to the deck, shuffled and dealt before the next round begins.


I think you missed the third condition which triggers the end of a round; any player saving a certificate and discarding a card so that he or she has no cards left in his or her hand.
 
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Bill Gallagher
United States
Torrance
California
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I agree that there should be more contrast between the two decks (perhaps making the backs of one of the decks a different color).

In the two games I played (one two-player, the other with four), I don't recall any instances in which a player drew one Market Event card to keep for a later round; in every case, they drew two and played one of them. I'll have to think about doing that the next time I play; if done in the first or second round, it looks like a viable strategy (since the cards can be held for use in later rounds).
 
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cvlw Lebron
United States
Baltimore
MD
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We saw this game today and considered grabbing it. How has the shelf life been with this game? So you still pick it up?
 
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