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Raccoon Tycoon

Industry is booming and towns are growing. Will you be a wily raccoon tycoon and take advantage of the boom to make your fortune and help the cities expand?

Raccoon Tycoon is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. It has players collecting commodities, manipulating the market, supporting towns, extending railroads, and constructing buildings, all while keeping the rules easy to learn and the gameplay uncomplicated.

Gameplay

The game board is laid out in the center of the table. It has six columns, one for each of the six commodities in the game: wheat, wood, iron, coal, goods, and luxuries. These columns each have a number of spaces to keep track of the current value of these commodities. When the game starts, the commodities all start at the lowest space in their respective columns. The board also has four spaces for buildings available to buy, and two spaces for railroad cards. Each time one of these spaces becomes empty, it is immediately refilled. The final space on the board is for a town card which is also replenished when bought.

Each player starts the game with a certain number of commodities, three production cards, and ten dollars. On your turn you may do one of five actions: play a production card, sell a commodity, have a railroad auction, purchase a building, or purchase a town.

When you play a production card, you also draw a new one. The bottom half of these cards show a handful of commodities. You may take three of the commodities shown (though there is a limit of how many commodities each player can have at one time). The top half of the production card also shows which commodities increase in value on the game board.

Selling a commodity allows you to sell as many of one type as you have. You earn the value shown on the game board for each item, then lower its value on the board, moving it one space down its value column for each unit that you sold.

When you select a railroad auction, you choose one of the two railroad cards on the board and make a bid on it (each railroad card has a minimum bid). Players take turns bidding on it until all but one player has passed. The winning player then takes the railroad card. If the player whose turn it is did not win the auction, he gets to take another action.

Building tiles all have their price listed on them and all give different special abilities, such as earning you extra commodities, earning more for selling them, or scoring you extra points at the end of the game.

Town cards are worth victory points at the end of the game, and to buy one you must either spend a certain number of a particular commodity listed on the card, or spend extra of any commodity to buy it.

The game ends when either the town card or railroad deck runs out. Players earn points for railroad cards (collecting sets of a single type of railroad earns you extra), for town cards, for creating pairs of town and railroad cards, and for buildings. The player with the most points wins the game.

Raccoon Tycoon components

Review

Raccoon Tycoon manages to hit that sweet spot between casual game and something heftier that fans of more complex board games can enjoy as well. It has certain similarities with some board game classics while also feeling like its own game.

There are a lot of strategic decisions to be made, and the way the commodities market fluctuates is particularly intriguing, as you make choices not just of which commodities to collect but also which ones you’re making more valuable. You need to keep an eye on what your opponents are collecting as much as deciding what to go after yourself. But while the game packs a nicely strategic punch, the rules are still easy to learn. You have a lot of choices on your turn, but nothing overly complicated.

The game also has a very satisfying sense of progression as you play along, collect more buildings and build up various abilities, and it is fun to imagine your business growing. Aesthetically, the game is also appealing, and the animal theme is adorable.

While player count varies the game length, a game of Raccoon Tycoon is over an hour which may be a little long for some players. But there is minimal downtime as player turns are fairly fast. You only do one action, and those actions don't usually take a great deal of time.

A clever and strategic board game, Raccoon Tycoon offers many thoughtful choices and intriguing dilemmas. Well worth checking out on Kickstarter, the game has a lot to offer and we had a ton of fun with it.

Pros: Fun strategic choices, fast player turns

Cons: Game length may run a bit long for some players

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.