Theme and What is It?

When I opened this box, I read the history of the Tulip Bubble, without having an inclination of what it really was. I found it fascinating. We have all lived to see housing bubbles, and market bubbles, and telecom bubbles, and as bubbles do, they burst. I felt like I was the very first person with this information that in 1636, there was a Tulip Bubble, I was excited to share this with my gaming buddies, it just made the content of the game sound so much more interesting. 

As is the case many, or most of the times that I think I have “new” information, my gaming friends feel the need to let me know that this TULIPOMANIA is common knowledge. My bubble was burst.

The game is about being on the forefront of a bubble market, and choosing to get out of it, JUST in time, to reap the greatest profits. Sounds rather simple at first glance, as Moaideas games do… The complexity of the game is based on the market shifts based out of the bidding system. 

All in all, the theme of being in a bubble economy, just feels so 2017.

Gameplay Mechanics

The game at it’s base is a market manipulation game. You will follow the Round overview very closely. Once you have done it once, you will recycle back to beginning for 7-9 rounds. Our scores differed drastically! 

  1. Event
    1. Draw market event
      1. This will either raise a flower,
      2. crash a flower,
      3. raise market,
      4. or burst the bubble
    2. Shipment arrives
      1. This will show you what flowers are available in next round,
      2. and will affect economy during cleanup
    3. Pass starting token
      1. Game comes with three, choose one.
  2. Selling
    1. This is where you sell what you have in your hand to the market, 
    2. or keep in the hand, to push your luck that it will rise again in the next market correction
  3. Buying
    1. You bid by playing a bid marker in turn order
      1. you may bid two, one, or zero markers in first round
      2. in second round of bidding, you may bid one, or zero
      3. Auction
        1. if more than one player “bids” on a tulip, the tulip then goes to auction
        2. in auction, you start bidding at one $ above market value, if tulip is 5$, you must start bidding at 0$ or 6$
        3. winner is whoever bid most, and all other players have dropped out of auction
        4. bank takes market value of auction, and surplus is divided into even number between other bidding players
        5. extra chips that would be uneven go back to the bank
    2. You may buy tulips on the new arrival, or just sold portion of market
    3. you can do this with cash in hand
    4. or you can take a loan from bank
    5. remember, at end of game a loan counts negatively
    6. and cash is 1:1 for victory points
  4. Cleanup
    1. adjust price levels
      1. All flowers remaining in market, are counted
      2. highest amount left on board, goes down by one value point
      3. lowest amount left on board, goes up by one value
      4. no value space can be occupied by two tulips, thus they would move up/down one, two, or possibly even three spaces, depending on where other tulips are situated.

This game is HIGHLY dependant on the round overview. If you mess up a step, it can cause entire game to get wonky.

Normally in a review, I would not get into mechanics in such detail. However, when this game is played properly, I very much like it. When you are not understanding rules, it can be a bit of a bear.

Initial Impressions

The Taiwanese company of Moaideas has games that have understated art, and ideas. That is until you start playing. 

So many companies get their ideas out, by simply having the loudest art, or heaviest feeling box. I like the idea that Moaideas wants their games to stand on their own merits. And they do. Looking at the box, you may not get overly excited, but that is the point I think. They want the box opened, and played.

Quality of Components and Insert

Tulip Bubble is understated at every turn. The tulip “meeples” are reasonably nice, the cards are crisp and clean, the player screens are nice, and the box has a protective plastic cover inside. It all just screams understated quality. 

Art and components do not need to scream $$$ to be high quality, and worth your time. Moaideas regularly depends on fantastic games, and the art is just that, ART! It is beautiful, and is the type of art, I would not be ashamed to hang on a wall. The quality of the game is the actual components and the ideas that support them. This is not a critique, but rather they have sold me on the idea that a game should be great on it’s own merits.

Artistic Direction

Discussing the components cannot be done without discussing the art. I will not go into the art again, but rather say simply, the art is beautiful, and would be at home in a museum of modern art. 

As said, it is understated, and even melancholic, and that is a good thing.

Fun Factor

Ponzi scheme. The game is fun and frustrating, because NO ONE WINS!

This is not unlike that, except done in a more real world scenario. We are all familiar with the idea of bubble economics, some of us enjoy that idea, I do. Others will get that deer in the headlights look when they find out it is a market based game.

If you enjoy market based games, Tulip Bubble has done the idea of a bubble economy, quite well. I got thoroughly destroyed, but enjoyed it nonetheless. I want to win sometime, but I will play it regardless.

Difficulty and Age Range Suggestion

If you follow the turn order chart, the agre range of 15+ is likely accurate. 

If you mess up the turn order at all, the game has a habit of confusing even the most seasoned players. Make sure you are following the turn order chart to a T, and you will like it, if you like market based games, and the idea of a bubble economy is fun to you.

Conclusions

I think Moaideas has found an itch that needed scratched with the bubble economy based game. It is relevant in our current markets, and feels as if it is teaching about the dangers of bubbles, without doing so in a heavy handed manner. 

One of the issues we had with the game is that the turn order was on the play board, but we all agreed it should have also been printed out on 5 cards as well. We were all looking at the player board far too much. The game is not complicated, but due to the fiddly nature of markets, a player cheat sheet would be highly useful in this game. In lieu of that, please feel free to print it from this MeepleGamers article, 5 times. 

I am becoming a fan of Moaideas, and am interested in seeing what they do with Liberatores.

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