revised English language edition of Tycoon
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You are a reputable merchant in the 15th century, sailing to strategically important cities of the Mediterranean, building warehouses in these cities and fortresses to protect them. It is your ambition to become the most mighty and successful merchant of all. But you will succeed only if you manage to establish your warehouses in as many cities as possible and if you build your warehouses and fortresses in the most flourishing cities. The player owning the most money at the end of the game is the most renowned merchant and winner of the game.
This game also comes with an expansion pack of 3 cities and a pirate ship.
What can I say? I ordered Tycoon from Funagain the *moment* it was available, spent five hours and practically went blind translating the rules myself (with the help of a German/English dictionary; got it about 95% right, too), played it the next day and it still comes out practically every session. For some reason, no one's quite as wild about this one to the degree I am, but for me Tycoon is practically perfect. Every game seems different and it's impossible to tell how you'll finish 'til the third and final round. Sometimes everyone takes two (or more!) loans and flies all over the place; other times players try to conserve funds by buying the bare mininum of plane tickets. Almost every game has been close between the top three players, and no perfect strategy has emerged. Good players (i.e., those who look ahead) are usually rewarded, but you can play 'on instinct' and do quite well, especially against weak or new opponents. It's tough to catch the leader, but your position between rounds is more important than dollars in hand. The theme is great, components nice (wish the pieces were wood, not plastic, however), and the way the cities develop is always interesting. How can anyone not like this game!? If you've never played it, buy it!
Imagine Manhattan with money. Instead of nine boroughs, you've got nine international cities that players jet to, building their empires by establishing hotels and factories. Randomness is kept to a minimum as players buy tickets to fly to the various locations on the board versus being dealt a hand. Players make money on several fronts (Dominance per city, Factories, # of cities established in). Players must also maintain their 'holdings' as opponents can knock them out of a city.
Tycoon is a very 'testosterone' money game. The lady players in our group did not find this game as appealing as the men did. Something Freudian about building and possessing the biggest companies, we all decided.
The winning strategy of Tycoon is knowing when to fly home and take out a loan. Being overly thrifty in this game WILL FAIL! You have got to be aggressive with your money and be willing to spend it. Hold off establishing Factories until the development of a city's Hotel chain gives you at least a 2.5:1 or greater return on your investment. Being the first to establish in any city gives you an edge financially, but also makes you vulnerable to be knocked out first. Buying several 'plane tickets' early keeps you on the board, establishing and managing your holdings. Later in the game, taper off on 'plane tickets' and focus on specific cities to build factories in for a third round financial scoring knockout.
Colorful game board, money and plane tickets outweigh the 'lightweight' Hotel and Factory pieces. An excellent game, but only if you're in it for the 'money'!
Tycoon is the eagerly awaited game from Wolfgang Kramer, the designer of the highly acclaimed El Grande, a Spiel das Jahres winner from a few years ago. Kramer has made a bit of a departure in theme, as Tycoon has a decidedly business flavor to it as opposed to a colonization theme. However, one of the main objectives remains the same--that of acquiring a majority in as many territories as possible. So, in spite of the change of theme, Kramer has kept some of the mechanics similar. Unfortunately, this game pales in comparison to El Grande.
The idea of the game is to establish hotels and factories in as many of the nine cities represented on the board (New York, Mexico City, Rio De Janeiro, Monaco, Cairo, Cape Town, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney) as possible. In order to accomplish this, one must carefully manage his money and make optimum use of the flight tickets which are available. Each turn, there are six charter flights available and two scheduled flights. On a player's turn, he can purchase flight tickets (which give routes he can travel) and fly from city to city. He is allowed one build at the end of his turn, which he can use to either construct a hotel or a factory. Construction, however, can only take place in the city where he is currently located. Hotels generate money at the end of a round based on whether the player has the majority or secondary position in a particular city (based on number of hotels there). Factories will pay an additional secondary position to its owner.
The value of the payoff usually increases with each hotel built in a city, regardless of who the owning player is. Eventually, however, the market becomes over-built, and the value of the hotels begin to decline. Further, there are spaces on each city's hotel track which require the oldest hotel, which has served its usefulness, to be removed. This, of course, can alter the majority and/or secondary status quickly and must constantly be watched for. Each city has a limited number of hotels which can be built there, and can only hold two factories total.
The price for constructing a hotel varies from city to city. Each city has two airports. The first player to land at that city occupies the first airport, which allows construction of hotels at a lower price. If the first airport is currently occupied, a player must land at the second airport if he wishes to land at that city, and, thus, pay a higher price to construct there. The same principle is applied to factory construction--the first factory is cheaper to build than the second one.
A round ends when a player constructs six hotels. All other players then get one more turn. Three rounds are played in total.
At the conclusion of each round, players earn income. Cities pay revenue to players who have the majority or secondary position in each city, while players who have factories in a city receive an additional secondary bonus. In addition, the city which has the largest number of hotels (called the longest chain) pays any player who has a factory there a majority bonus. Finally, players earn income based on how many cities in which they have constructed at least one hotel--the more cities they are present in, the better.
In the early going, money is very scarce. Each player begins with only 15 million and it is highly unlikely that a player will be able to make it through the first round without finding it necessary to take out a loan. Loans can be taken out of either 16 million (which must be paid back at the end of a round at 20 million) or 10 million (requiring a 12 million pay back). However, in order to take out a loan, a player must spend a turn flying back to his home (off board) and pay to fly back on his next turn. If a player decides not to pay back a loan at the end of a round, he must do so at the conclusion of the following round and at a drastically higher rate (30 million for a 16 million loan and 20 million for a 10 million loan). At the conclusion of the final round, all loans must be paid off.
One of the apparent design flaws in the game is that there doesn't seem to be any reason not to remain at home on your first turn and take out a loan. A player will not be able to make it through the first round without being forced to take a loan (or, if he does, will likely have constructed too few hotels and/or factories and be virtually out of contention). So, in order to avoid the time and expense of having to fly back home to secure a loan, then purchase another ticket to return to the board, it seems logical to simply remain at home on the very first turn and secure a loan. One wonders why the designer simply did not give the players more than the 15 million starting money at the beginning of the game.
The game is one of managing one's money, taking advantage of the flight tickets available that round, and trying to keep in a majority or secondary position in as many of the nine cities as possible. One must also keep an eye on the hotel tracks in the nine cities to take advantage of situations which would allow a player to usurp control of majority or secondary positions. Opponents, however, are always messing with your grand designs.
I've played a few games of Tycoon, and... I don't know... it lacks something. It seems to have all of the elements of a very good game, but somehow misses the mark for me. I get the sensation that I am performing the same action every turn and my turn is over very quickly. It has a feeling to it that is too rigid and mechanical. I know that this opinion is not shared by many who feel this is a masterful game. I do think it plays much better with four than three players, but it still doesn't move into the category of a really good game. Maybe, though, I am just expecting too much from Kramer as his El Grande ranks as my favorite game.
Tycoon is, I must sadly say, one of the games that is sitting unplayed on the shelves of our house. My son asked for this game for his birthday, probably expecting something of a Monopoly type of game. The game is however strategic, with not much luck involved. I played a few games with him, but could not really see what was the way to play this game--several options, like building a factory or building a hotel, seemed equally good unless I would really go and make calculations of the precise financial consequences.
Possibly, this game may be suited for more than two players, but it seems not nice enough for a 'family type' of game when played with two players.
Jumbo are pretty well known for producing games with chunky bits and solid boards and Tycoon is no exception. Increasingly now the rules are distributed in a booklet which covers rules in several languages and this (fortunately) includes English. If we are to complain about companies not producing rules in English, perhaps UK and US manufacturers should consider producing rules in German. Enough of the campaigning point.
Wolfgang Kramer has teamed up with Horst-Rainer Rösner to produce a clever business game themed on building hotels and factories in nine cities around the world.
Each player represents the owner of a company with ambitions to build hotels and factories in these cities and not enough cash to do it. You have to buy air tickets from the available stock, choose where to go and then build in the cities you visit.
The winner is the person with the most cash after three rounds. The board is a 3 by 3 grid of cities with each one being surrounded on three sides by a hotel track of 13 spaces, on which you place your hotels. The fourth side has space for two factories and also has two landing ports, which show the cost of hotels built in the city.
The only way to travel is by air but there is a choice of ticket. The scheduled tickets are more valuable as they display a number of red boxes that indicate the number of cities you can fly per turn in an orthogonal direction. Thus a four-block ticket will allow you to travel from one corner to another. Scheduled tickets also have the name of a city and it is possible to use them as a direct route to this destination no matter where you are on the board. Charter flights are much simpler, allowing you to travel only between two named cities. They are also cheaper, on the whole. Each ticket is usable only once.
The game starts with each person receiving 6 hotels and 5 factories. Each round concludes when someone has used (built) their quota of hotels. The round is then scored and 6 more hotels, but no factories, are added to the stock of each player. At any one time, a number of airplane tickets are on display -- two scheduled flights and six chartered.
Each ticket displays the price (in $millions) and on a player's turn you may buy any number of the face-up tickets subject to your cash holdings. Air travel is very expensive in this game. Personally, I'm not bothered because the game works with these prices, but theme-purists will have to use an invention. Whereas the hotel costs between $2m and $10m, an airline ticket costs a similar amount. The only justification for this that I can come up with is that the air ticket incorporates bringing an entourage of business support with you, but even so, it still seems the weakest part of the game's link with reality. But back to the game. The designers have set several problems for the players to solve:
Cash flow problems can easily be resolved by getting a loan. Interest rates are high but you are bound to need a loan, so the question is when and how much? The two loan cards are for $10m and you pay back $12 or $16m and you pay back $20. I like the fact that there are only two types. It aids decision making and speeds the game up. Both are good in my view. If you take a loan this is the only action you may take. Alternatively, you may remain at your corner-starting city or fly to a new one (having bought the right ticket) and buy one hotel or factory.
Hotels are more useful early on, as they will get you some income straight away. Scoring takes place at the end of each round and is based on three factors:
Hotels earn money by having the most or second most hotels in a city and the cash you receive depends on the number of hotels in the city. There are 12 spaces for hotels, each contains two numbers and you look at the next vacant space to see the current values. First place scores the higher value and second place the lower. Factories only score if there are hotels in a city, with the value of each factory being the lower hotel value, except in the city with the most hotels where it is the higher value. Number 3 is particularly important early on, when the hotel values are still low.
Having received your cash payout, you then have to pay off loans. If you have made a mistake, or if one of your opponents has timed the round end to reduce you to tears, you are allowed to extend the loan with no repayment. This is only delaying the inevitable for one round, so you had better have some good scheme to make money by the end of the next round! The lower value loans then need $16m to be repaid, while the higher value loans require $30m. All loans have to be repaid at the game end.
More subtleties are added through the cost of hotels. If you land on a city when both landing ports are vacant, you pay a smaller price for hotels than you do if someone is already there. Also, since there are only two landing ports per city, you have to ensure you make your moves at the right time. The value of hotels rises for three-quarters of the hotel track and then falls. Along each hotel track there are some red coloured squares. When a hotel is built on one of these, the oldest hotel falls down and no longer counts for its owner (although it does still count for the purpose of 'longest chain' when working out the values of the factories.)
I like business games, so this automatically started off as a potential winner. Players have a number (and a reasonable number) of options and the choices they make will affect both them and their opponents. If this is not to your taste, then don't play economic games. The game is well constructed and the mechanics work well. This is one of the best business games I have played in a long while and if you like such games, I highly recommend it to you.