Preview: Money Maker Blends Auctions, Speculation, and Debt | Casual Game Revolution

Preview: Money Maker Blends Auctions, Speculation, and Debt

Money Maker

It’s the Golden Age in Amsterdam, and players are vying to inherit the family fortune, trading on credit, speculating on goods, and trying to amass wealth.

Currently on Kickstarter, Money Maker is a game for 3-6 players, with a 15 minute-per-player run time.


Each round, every player chooses one of their four action cards to play. These cards are revealed simultaneously and then resolved in order. First, all the auction cards are resolved. Each player who chose to play one of these takes a turn choosing the top card from one of the five investment card piles to auction.

When resolving an auction card, the card’s minimum bid is checked. There are two types of products in the game, services and goods. The fewer there are of each currently in the market, the higher the value of it. The number of specific products required to auction the card is multiplied by that product’s current value to find the minimum bid for that investment card. The products required to auction the card are then removed from the market so that the value of that product will increase.

All players then simultaneously place their bids for the investment card, using credit tokens. The player who wins takes the card and places it in front of himself. There are six levels of credit, with an increasing number of islands on the board associated with each credit level. The player who won the auction places his credit on one or more of the islands associated with his current credit level. However, the player who played the action card that triggered the auction may choose to pay five more credit over the winning bid in order to claim the card, paying his credit to the original winner of the auction. After an auction card has been resolved, the player who played it takes back all his played action cards into his hand.

After all auctions have been resolved, any buy and produce cards are resolved. The player who used this card can pay credit (again placing it on the board as described above) and buy up to four products from the market, for half their value. Then all that player’s investment cards produce the products listed on them, gaining those products from the supply (not the market).

The third action card type allows players to sell products. When a player uses this card, he returns either goods or service cubes to their respective market, receiving coins based on the value of the goods as they are returned to the market (so, the more goods returned, the lower their values become). If multiple players attempt to sell products on the same round, an auction is used to determine the order in which they will act, with the winner of that auction paying his bid to the lowest bidder.

The final action card is the margin call. This action allows a player to pay gold to remove some of their credit from the board.  He may then move the confidence token either one spot forward or back on its tracker. If at any time a player pays off in one move the amount of credit needed to move on to the next credit level, this is called promoting — not only does he move his player token up the credit tracker, he moves any of his credit currently on the board onto the islands associated with his new level.

After all action cards have been resolved the die is rolled. The icon on the die indicates which investment cards produce their products. Then an event card is drawn, which moves the confidence token up a certain number of spaces on its tracker. Event cards will also often trigger special effects.

A few things will force the confidence meter to the end of its track automatically, such as if one of the product supplies is ever empty or if one of the stacks of investment cards runs out.

When the confidence meter reaches the end of its track, there is a run on the banks. First, the die is rolled. The icon it shows determines which islands on the board trigger. Players must attempt to pay off any credit tokens they have on those islands. Turn order changes every round, and players take turns paying off their credit. A player may use any coins they have, as well as any credit they have gained from other players, so long as that player has already paid off all required credit that round. If a player’s credit was used to pay off someone else’s, that credit is then added to the board (although it will not have to be paid off during the current bank run).

If a player is unable to pay off his credit, he may hold up to three auctions, offering any combination of investment cards, goods, and credit, and any player who has already paid off their debts may bid credit. If a player is unable to raise enough funds, he is downgraded. He must pay off as much credit as possible and then his credit level goes down on the board, and he must also pay a penalty based on the amount of credit he couldn’t pay off.

After the bank run is resolved, the confidence meter is reset. The game ends after three bank runs. A player’s score is equal to the amount of coins he has, the value of his investment cards (the product price multiplied by that product’s current value), and any credit he holds of another player’s (assuming that player does not have a negative score and is not in debtor’s prison, which is the lowest level of credit score on the board), minus any credit tokens he has on the board himself and any of his credit another player holds. The player with the most points wins the game.

Money Maker components


The real star of Money Maker is the way players interact with each other, and how each choice someone makes then proceeds to affect the choices of another player. It blends auctions and speculation in a unique way, that comes together in a fascinating whole.

Auctions change the value of products, affecting what they can be sold for. Holding a player’s credit might be valuable and earn you points at the end of the game or allow you to pay off your debts, but only if that player in turn is able to pay his debts. This domino effect of action affecting action leads to a clever, intricate game where a player can never be entirely sure of the state of the board when it comes time to resolve their action card, or of their end points as products constantly change in value, as does the credit on the board.

We were fascinated by the fact that credit from other players can be worth points for you, but only if they in turn have points in the game. It’s a unique scoring condition, and can even affect if you choose to use their credit to pay your debts.

At first glance, the board can appear daunting, but once you get into the meat of the game, you figure out how it all works. While there are a lot of pieces, and it does take a full playthrough to truly understand what’s going on, once you get the hang of it it’s not too complicated. But while the artwork of the board is well-designed and even attractive, some of the other illustrations, especially on the characters, are a little uneven.

The rulebook also needs some refining and perhaps a few more examples. We particularly found the penalty-based payment when downgrading to be unclear and had to just resolve that with our best guess.

It’s also worth keeping in mind, that while the game does say it plays up to six, there’s going to be a good bit of downtime and bookkeeping when playing at a full player count. However, the auctions are going to be really fun at the higher player counts, as will the exchanging of different players’ credit tokens and the effect that can have on the final score.

While Money Maker has one or two points that could be improved, if you like a slightly longer game, it’s well designed, clever, and packed with some seriously challenging, tough choices every single round. Check it out on Kickstarter and see if it’s worth your investment!

Pros: Excellent and clever player interaction, some unique ideas in the scoring

Cons: Rulebook could be clearer, the artwork is a little uneven, run time at higher player counts

Disclosure: This is a paid preview of an unpublished prototype of this game, which is subject to change prior to publication.