Playing Incorporated can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning with lots of decisions to make, lots of sliders to track and no solid anchor to determine the real value of shares. Don't worry, it is more or less the same in real life investing decisions! Here are few quick tips that can help you:
1) At its core, Incorporated is a bidding game. The game is won or lost during Investments phase. 80% of the strategy is about how much you bid for a share, or when you sell your investments.
2) Overbidding is the WORST move you can make in this game so try to lean on the conservative side at all times. Investing doesn't generate as much income as you think it does.
3) An investment card's value is fundamentally determined by:
- The number of industry squares in that country: US, EU and China have lots of squares and worth more while Russia and Brazil have only 2 squares and worth a lot less.
- The number of connections that country has to minor countries: For instance, Japan shares are much more valuable if South Sea joins NATO, because then you can access to Australia, and then to UK, and then almost to whole world through UK from Japan.
- The probability of flipping: When a major country flips (i.e. changes sides) you lose all your investments there. United States and China are impossible to flip (they auto-win the clash at their home turf) thus are worth more, while Russia and Brazil are very easy to flip (NATO is very powerful at the start of the game) so should be approached with caution.
- The state of payoff cards drawn: For instance, if lots of Energy cards are drawn, Russia shares will be worth a lot more as it will pay itself back at the end of the round.
- The state of global economy: If, the next turn, you expect lots of cards to be revealed, or if the chances of crisis are low, the shares are worth more.
- Interest Rates: When rates are low, you want to borrow, so you have access to more money - thus you can bid more for shares.
- Competition: This is a subjective value. The more competition there is in a country, the more you don't want to own that country. You HATE competition in this game. You want your cubes to occupy squares uncontested, not to fight with other companies cubes. For this reason, try to specialize and dominate some countries shares (especially big ones like US or EU).
4) The most fundamental decision you have to take in this game is to determine how much you want to be invested in stocks. Will you be conservative, not take many loans and bid minimally for shares? Or will you be aggressive, taking on loans and bidding the shares higher?
Obviously you'll want to decide that according to the state of world economy (i.e. Global Growth, Stress and Interest Rates sliders - if growth is high and stress is low, you should be much more aggressive than normal) but you will perform better when you go in the opposite direction of where other players are going. So if your playgroup has a tendency to overbid (which is the case most of the time for starters), sell your shares from these higher prices - and if they are too conservative, grab everything in sight.
5) There is no hard coded catch up mechanism in this game, but if you are already behind, you should always go for all in strategy. Hope for a big event or a huge crisis to happen, make all your plans as if that particular event will happen 100% and play extra conservative or aggressive accordingly. Sell all your shares hoping for a crisis, or pathologically overbid in every auction hoping for a perfect economy for the rest of the game. After all, you got nothing to lose, as you are already behind. If other players are playing logically, they should let you take these risks rather than trying to outbid you (which is fundamentally a very bad move). If they are playing illogically, how the hell did you manage to get behind in the first place?