Raccoon Tycoon – Buying and Selling to become the Furry Best Tycoon

Last July, Forbidden Games smashed out a fully stretched Kickstarter campaign for their economic game: Raccoon Tycoon. And right meow, that game is getting into the paws of its eagle-y awaiting backers (okay, the eagle pun might have been a bit of a stretch, but I thought it was koala-tea!).

Raccoon Tycoon is an economic game of set collection, market manipulation, and resource management for 2-5 entrepreneurs. The aim of the game is to accrue the most points when the endgame is triggered, earning you the space of Top Dog (or is it Fat Cat?).

In Raccoon Tycoon, you and your opponents take on the role of animal tycoons, eager to claw their way up the market to buy railroads and towns for sweet, sweet victory points. Throughout the game, you play Price & Production cards to manipulate market prices and generate resources (which you will have to manage/sell), buy buildings and towns, and bid in auctions for railroads. Once the last Town is purchased or the last Railroad is auctioned, you finish up the round, everyone tallies up their points from Railroads, Towns and Buildings, and the player with the furry most points is the winner.

Starting set-up, just add money ($10 to each player, to be precise)

Gameplay revolves around playing Price & Production cards to generate resources, then using them to buy towns and /or selling them at opportune times to generate money. That money can then be used to buy Buildings or bid in auctions for Railroads.

To set up the game, place the game board in the centre of your play area, and place one resource token of each type at the lowest price of their corresponding market ladder to represent the moving values of different commodities during the game. Next, shuffle the Price & Production cards and give three of these to each player. Then remove the relevant Railroad cards (depending on number of players) and shuffle the Railroad deck. Shuffle and place four of the six Basic Commodity Bonus Building tiles in the Building locations on the game board (with the ‘+1’ side face-up), and shuffle/place the Building Tiles face-down in a stack next to them. If you’re one of the lucky backers of the Kickstarter version, you also get two Mission cards (keep one, discard the other). Finally, give each player $10. Once you’ve chosen a starting player, you’re ready to play!

Those are some really swish resource components!

Raccoon Tycoon is played over a series of rounds, with each round consisting of each player taking one action on their turn. On your turn, you choose one of five possible actions to carry out:

Production: Play one of your Price & Production cards, then draw another from the deck. Playing these cards has two effects: firstly, you increase the price of commodities shown on the top (Price) section of the card you played (by $1 for each symbol shown); secondly, you take three resources; thirdly, you…hey, there’s no thirdly!

Oh, and when producing resources, you can choose one of the Commodity Bonus Building Tiles you own (marked with a ‘B’) to give you a little something extra as a production bonus (regardless of what Commodities you produce). This bonus is in addition to the number of Commodity Tokens you normally produce. Also, you can choose one of the Production Building Tiles you own (marked with a ‘P’) to increase the number of Commodity Tokens you produce.

Now this is a good time to mention something: you have a storage limit of 10 Commodity tokens at any one time (plus one per Building Tile you own). If you ever have more than your limit, you have to immediately discard tokens of your choice back down to your limit.

Price & Production Tiles, and some Building Tiles

Sell a Commodity: Choose a single type of Commodity you possess, and sell any number of them that you have for the current market value. You gain a number of dollars equal to this value for each Commodity Token you sold. After this, you reduce the market value of the sold Commodity (on the game board) by the number dollars equal to the amount of Commodity Tokens you just sold (down to its minimum possible value).

Start a Railroad Auction: Choose one of the available (face-up) Railroad cards and begin an Auction for that card. Starting with the current player and moving clockwise around the table, players either bid money or pass. If you pass, you cannot re-enter the Auction. When an Auction begins, the first player that bids money must bid at least the minimum bid shown on the Railroad card. If the player that started the Auction doesn’t win, they can take another action immediately (even starting another Auction). An important thing to note here is that you can’t bid more money than you have.

Regardless of who wins the Auction, the new empty spot is then filled with another Railroad card from the deck (if there are any cards left in it).

Markets in motion

Purchase/Upgrade a Building: Choose one of the four face-up Building Tiles available, pay the cost on the tile in money, and take it (placing it in front of you). Then place the top Building Tile from that stack face-up in the space just created. Whenever you purchase a Commodity Building Tile, it is always placed with the ‘+1’ side face-up.

Alternatively, you can upgrade any one of the Commodity Building Tiles you own. To do this, simply pay the amount on the face-down side of the tile and flip it over.

Purchase a Town: Choose the available Town card and pay the number of Commodity Tokens shown on the card (either the bottom-left or bottom-right side). Place the card in front of you, then replace the card from the Town deck (if any cards are left). Note: you don’t have to pay with a single type of Commodity when paying for a Town using the ‘Any Commodity’ side of the card.

Play continues like this until either the last Railroad or Town card has been purchased. Once this occurs, players continue to play until the current round ends (i.e. the player to the right of the first player has a turn). Everyone then totals the victory points from their Railroad cards, Town cards and Buildings (plus bonus points for every Town + Railroad pair), and the player with the most points wins.

Railroad cards (left) and Town cards (not-left)

What I Liked:

  • I really dig the artwork and components. It brings a cute element to the game while balancing the era and feel of the games theme, and does so without coming across as childishly cute or looking like a game just for kiddos
  • I really like that you still get another action if you lose an Auction (on your turn)
  • It’s such a simple and easy game to set up and learn, yet it has just the right balance of moving parts to keep you engaged.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The money you have during the game is secret (as opposed to the Building Tiles, Railroads and Towns), but there are no screens or components to hide this money. It can get a little bit irksome to constantly hold your money out of sight from opponents or search around for 2-5 objects to hide your cash behind.

What I Would Like to See:

  • Screens to hide your money from other players
  • Expansions with moar types of things to buy for points and moar Missions cards
Mission cards: a good way to get some sweet extra points

Recommendations:

  • First Timers: Despite the moving prices in this game, it is totally straightforward enough to be newbie-friendly.
  • Family: This game has a fun and family-friendly theme while being able to teach older kiddos about some basic economics and commerce. Tiny Tycoons from about 12 and up should be able to handle the fluctuating market prices.
  • Friends: Raccoon Tycoon is light, breezy, and easy to learn, but has enough moving parts (I’m looking at you, commodity market prices) to keep your brain engaged while you outbid and out-maneuver your frenemies (ok, they’re only frenemies during the game…)

Conclusion:

Raccoon Tycoon is a strategic economic game of simple choices and good timing, with a deeper engaging strategic feel to it. When I see ‘economic’ in a game category, I often think of something as crunchy as corn chips to grasp, but frankly, Raccoon Tycoon is a breath of fresh air to play. Gameplay is smooth and easy to learn, teach and play. The theme really fits well with the game mechanics, and the components and artwork are just gorgeous, really bringing the theme to life. Raccoon Tycoon makes a great intro into the economic category of board gamery (and even board games in general), but has enough staying power to become a great go-to economic game during board game night.

BTW Disclaimer: I received this Kickstarter Edition copy of Raccoon Tycoon for free from Forbidden Games. Some components pictured in this review are Kickstarter Exclusives and may not be available in standard/retail editions.

View the BoardGameGeek link here.

Liked my review furry much? Thanks! You can view my others here 🙂

Liked it? Take a second to support ATGN on Patreon!