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Subject: Brief overview and first impressions rss

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Francis Lee
Canada
Mississauga
Ontario
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I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this game at the Kobe Game Market during a recent trip to Japan, and wanted to share my limited experience.

This is actually the first time I have played a game published by Oink Games, though Deep Sea Adventure is popular at my game group and I've heard good reviews of Insider, which was also illustrated by Jun Sasaki.

The components for Startups consists of 45 Company Cards (belonging to 6 different companies), the Anti-Monopoly Chips for each of those companies, 70 Capital Chips (10 per player), and Point Chips which are only used when playing the multi-round variant.

Setup consists of shuffling the Company Cards and removing 5 randomly from the deck, then dealing 3 cards to each player. The remaining cards form the draw pile in the centre. Everyone will start with 10 Capital Chips, with the side showing 1 face up (the back shows 3).

The company cards each show a different colored logo (designed by notable Japanese typographer Kentaro "ANI" Fujimoto, according to the Oink Games website) and a number. These represent shares of startup companies, with the number indicating the maximum number of shares (ie. there are 5 copies of the number 5 card Giraffe Beer).

Players will then take turns drawing a card (either blind draw from the deck or from the face up cards in the market) and playing a card (either to one's tableau or to the market), until the deck is exhausted which triggers final scoring. Players will then add their hand to their tableau and score each of the 6 companies, with minority share holders paying the majority share holder 1 chip for each share they own, but flipped so the payoff value is 3 instead of 1. If there is no single majority share holder, then no payoff occurs for that company.

Immediately you can see the gears that drive player decisions. Unlike most set collection/stock manipulation games, there is no inherent value to the shares - you only get a payoff if others also invest in companies that you have a majority stake in, but having too commanding a lead will discourage others from getting their feet in the game. Furthermore, 5 cards are removed at random so the exact distribution is unclear - are 2 shares enough to win you the 5 card Giraffe Beer? If you get another share, do you add it to your tableau to cement your lead, or toss it out to try and create minority share holders? What 3 cards are people holding onto? There is a surprising amount of decisions and guesswork for such a simple rule set.

Speaking of the rules, there are a few others that further increase the strategic depth. First, if you play a card to the market (common area), players now have to put chips on each card (in No Thanks fashion) if they want to blind draw from the deck. They also have the option of taking a card from the market (along with any chips placed there previously), but that could mean they are stuck with a share that they have no hope of winning on, and was that your plan all along...?

Second, to prevent a run away leader problem, the person with the most shares of a company must take the corresponding Anti-Monopoly chip, which prevents them from taking additional cards of that company from the market. It's not all bad though, as you no longer place chips on market cards of that company should you want to blind draw; this forces others to choose between just taking a card in the market, or spending their precious chips to fish for that ONE card that will win them a controlling interest.

The game plays between 3-7 players and uses the same size deck regardless (no messy setup!), making for a more tactical game at lower player counts or a more chaotic experience with 7 players. Either way, it is a quick and often times groan-inducing experience, which I always enjoy, win or lose

If you have a chance to play the game, I highly recommend giving it a go to see if it's something you will enjoy.
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James C
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Thanks, this sounds like great fun.
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Deep Fish
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Quote:
There is a surprising amount of decisions and guesswork for such a simple rule set.

Speaking of the rules, there are a few others that further increase the strategic depth.

Thanks for the details. This sounds like a very fun game and interesting player interactions.
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Nick Knack
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Forgive me if I'm wrong, but this sounds a bit like it's got a bit of Arboretum's style of information reveal. From the sound of your rules description, at the beginning of the game it would be unclear who's really doing what... but as the shuffled deck gets drawn, and cards are put face up in tableaus or the market, near perfect information about the end game board state becomes increasingly available.
Is that right?
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Paul Mason
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Great review, I was going to write one myself but you have hit all the points I was going to make.
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Kevin Jonas

Oakdale
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I finally got to play this but at 7 players. It is too many players for the game. 4 or 5 is probably the sweet spot. With 7 players you are only going to get 3 cards so it is mostly luck on if you get majority or not. Interestingly a couple of us played Arboretum afterwards. Startups does have a slight Arboretum feel to it where you have to think about what you put down versus discarding to make available to other players and what hold to prevent other players from what they need.
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