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Subject: Quick Review of Tulipmania rss

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Darrell Perrins
United Kingdom
Benson
Oxfordshire
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I had a chance to play Tulipmania for the first time at Manorcon (Games convention, Leicester, UK) last weekend. I've been waiting for this for a while. I noticed there were no reviews posted, so thought a quick review might be appreciated.

The bits
The production quality is nice. The whole thing fits in a small box, so the board is quite small, but plenty big enough for the requirements of the game. There are a set of 'tulip' cards (several in the colour of each tulip) and five action cards for each player. Production quality is nice and the theme comes through. JKLM have printed the game in multiple languages, so you get rules, and action cards in two languages (English and German in my set). I discarded the German rules, but will keep the cards as spares, there is little text, mostly graphics). Next the wooden tulip pieces, in five colours, nicely made, pleasant to hold. These act as price markers on the board and as player inventory. Finally paper money. I know a lot of people don't like paper money, I don't mind it myself, at least it can be 'in theme' unlike poker chips which ruins the look of a game for me. The paper money in Tulipmania isn't great, the paper is thin and it can be hard to pick up when handing out the cash. I expect the paper money haters will hate it, for me it is functional and certainly the best place to make production economies if some had to be made. So mainly thumbs up for the components other than the paper money.

Playing
The game is remarkably short, may be as short as 30 minutes (time flies when I'm gaming, so hard to be sure, but certainly not a long game). But it also packs in quite a bit of tactical thought into that short time. Play consists of the active player selling a tulip from his stock, other players lay action cards to either purchase it with their own money or by proxy (using the banks money). Alternatively they can speculate on the tulip (more expensive) or speculate by proxy (banks money). The final option is to pass. The effect of buying / speculating in tulips is to push up their prices, so it is good to back those you have in inventory, in the hope of making a quick buck. You also need the matching colour of tulip card and you get to choose one to pick up from a limited choice each time it's your turn, so you can manage your hand to suit your tulip stocks. It is easiest to think of it as a share (US = stock) trading game, where the shares are tulips. Prices rise with purchases but can also fall if you try and push your favoured tulip too hard before the market is ready. Over time the prices rise until they reach the 'burst' point. The player who pushes the tulip price over the edge gets a small advantage (keeps back a tulip card, all others discard one), then combinations of tulips and the correctly coloured card pay out as the price of the tulip plunges back down the price scale. After all card/tulip combos pay out, tulips only are paid. When 4 of the 5 tulips have bust it's game over and count up the money to find a winner.

Opinion
I though it would be too light at first, but there is great depth to manipulating the prices. You might want to push a tulip's price up by offering one for sale when you think it is under priced. But in doing so you are cutting your own stocks of that colour. Many at Manorcon agreed that this was a little gem. I think it will take quite some time to master. There is a random element where other people's plans can scupper yours, but that just requires some quick re-adjustment to compensate. I wouldn't say there is any strategy in the game, it's not long enough, but plenty of tactics. The price mechanism is elegant and once you have sorted out the who pays and who get the sold tulip mechanics, the game is simple to learn and play. There could be a problem that the game is lacking a niche. It is too heavy for an end of evening quickie, but too short for a solid main event game, but I think it's a good opener and you could happily play it multiple times honing your market management skills each time. I brought a copy home with me.

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Wade Broadhead
United States
Pueblo
Colorado
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The cover and title are enough to get my wife and her game group to play it. Nice review.
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mojo shivers
United States
San Pedro
California
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I've been interested in this title for awhile now. However, I think your review pushed it over into the "definite buy" category.

Great job.
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