Raccoon Tycoon is a light economic game that was very well received by my group. In this game, players become capitalists in Astoria, trying to make as much money as possible by producing commodities and manipulating the ever-changing market in order to profit from the area’s growth. You’ll obtain commodities and convert them into cash, which you’ll need to buy the profitable railways and cities that are available for purchase. All the while, you’re populating your own town with structures that best fit your requirements.
How to play Raccoon Tycoon
On your turn, you may perform one of the following actions: play a card from your hand to receive commodities and raise the market price of other products, sell a product from your supply, buy a Town card with your resources, buy a building with money earned, or start a Railroad auction with money. Each of these has an effect on your opponents, such as modifying market prices or forcing them to drain their resources.
Once you’ve got used to the various actions, you can start strategizing and preparing ahead of time depending on what your competitors are doing and how the market is shaping up. You can prevent your opponents from monopolizing Railways of the same kind, thus preventing them from racking up points. You can also focus on selling products for maximum profit. All of this can be accomplished with only one action every turn, and it keeps you interested in what your opponents are up to.
The game ends when all Railroads or Towns have been bought, and the winner is the player with the most Victory Points. Since cash gives you no VPs at the end of the game, Railroads and Towns are the two main sources for VPs. There are six different Railroads that depict animals, and the more you have of one kind, the more VPs your set is worth, while Cities each give you a fixed number of points, depicted on the card. You can also end the game and win instantly if you manage to save up $1000 in your hand.
Thoughts on Raccoon Tycoon
We found the market mechanic very interesting. It was the first time when we played a game where the product prices can fluctuate like this. Manipulating the market in your favor all the time is pretty tough, but you should always try and get the most out of your market transactions. If the prices are low, stocking up on resources and waiting for the prices to increase may be a better idea. Buying a Warehouse can help you a lot with this, as it increases your resource limit. Buying Towns is also a good idea if you’re close to the storage limit (10 or 13 with a Warehouse) and the prices seem too low to sell.
Due to its dynamic, the market can be a really good tool to trick your opponents. If you notice that one of your opponents is pilling on a resource that you have a couple pieces of in your storage and the resource is already sitting at a decent price on the market, selling some of it may be a good idea. This will result in a market crash for your opponent and he will find himself in the situation of having to sell at a lower price point, gaining less money than he initially expected. Don’t worry if they don’t sell, though, forcing them to hold on to their resources and delaying their transaction is also a good result.
I really like that the set collection mechanic has a little twist on it. Having more than one of a particular Railroad gives that player more Victory Points. You also get points for the Towns you own. But the twist is that you get points for having pairs of Railroads and Towns. It incentivizes you to invest in a more balanced way and it sometimes proved to be the winning factor in our games.
One of my group’s favorite mechanics is auctioning (found in games such as Irish Gauge or Luzon Rails), so it gave us a lot of joy to watch one Railroad sell for $15 and then watch another sell for almost $100. Because the actual outcomes of the auction will vary greatly depending on when it occurs in the game, there is no precise method to weigh the points offered by the Railways. This creates an interesting dynamic as you try to figure out how much money each participant has and how much they’re ready to give up.
Some buildings have some very interesting bonuses or abilities. They allow you to accomplish everything from gaining extra resources, improving your production, and even getting $1 whenever someone sells a resource. This last one has seemed a bit overpowered when we first played the game and I got it. That specific tile costs $10, and if you get the one that pays you $1 for every Wood or Wheat commodity sold early enough in the game, you’ll make a lot of money. Now, I wouldn’t consider this a problem. It’s possible that such OP buildings will not be available in your game only until the end-game. It’s also possible that the other players will be hesitant to sell resources so as not to help you if you have such a building.
Raccoon Tycoon is a fast-paced game where timing is crucial. If you purchase or sell commodities at the correct time in this game, you may severely affect your opponents. The game’s gameplay and flow are also unlike anything else I’ve tried before, and it really works well. In addition, the quality of all the cards, the game board, and all the other components is really great, giving the game a pleasant feel. If you have the chance, I strongly advise you to add Raccoon Tycoon to your collection.
Designer: Glenn Drover
Publisher: Forbidden Games
Time: 60-90 min
Times played: 8
Full disclosure: A copy of Raccoon Tycoon was provided by the game publisher.
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