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Startup Fever (tm)

Concept of the Box


The players are company founders in Silicon Valley and manage money and employees (engineers, sales, executives) and allocate them to the right products. Investing in engineers creates better products, who attract more users, who in turn generate money. Investing in sales generates more money, which can be used to hire more engineers, but doesn't directly improve the products. At the end of every year the best products steals users from the other products in a product showdown.

After an initial phase of frantic hiring, all available people are hired, and players need to hire employees away from other employees. Many play testers consider this "poaching" the most fun element of the game. The best strategy can fail due to bad luck, or unforseen events and playing events are another favorite element of play testers.

To win, a players needs to obtain the largest number of users across all her products.

More information and updated rules can be found at


Box Design Thoughts

Wow, making the box is a whole new fun challenge. And I am not even talking about the box insert yet... Here is what I currently have.

Thoughts? (These are not for commercial use but it's fun to think about what else would need to on on the box)

Looking good.

Looking good.


This was approved by kickstarter. So getting an artist has become high priority. Any pointers (beyond deviantart - which is just a joy to browse for hours and hours...)

Re-theming to Asteroid Mining?

I am thinking of re-theming the game to a SciFi environment for two reasons

1.) More people are interested in SciFi than in running companies (at least in a game setting)
2.) The potential for great art seems so much bigger - and I am a sucker for great art

Does anyone have thoughts on this? Retheming in general? SciFi vs. contemporary economics?

I could probably fit the game mechanics into a Fantasy setup, too, but haven't though of that yet.

Below are more details. The following may make only limited sense unless you read the rules on

So here is the plan

Replace in rules

company -> conglomerate (one per player)
12 products -> 12 space-ship (need better name: frigate? Miner?)
engineers (yellow cubes) -> scientists
sales (green cubes) -> mercenaries (black cubes)
users -> claims (on asteroids)
product areas (Media, etc) -> stellar systems (Alpha Centauri, etc...)
money -> money
marketing money -> bribes
vesting of shares -> vesting of mining shares


It's 2335, the national states have been replaced by a few conglomerates. Mining the asteroid belts of inhabited systems has become a major source of wealth, and is fought over by all means.

Each player sends out multiple space ships to identify and mine asteroids. The crew is promised a part of the wealth, and they only get it while they are on board. But as the years go on, they may be looking for more wealth on board other ships...

The Quick Reference would look like this


Decide which systems you want to mine (product areas)

Product Turns
Exploration - Find new Asteroids. The more scientists you have, the more you can find

Earn Money - You make revenue based on what the engineers found, plus incremental revenue from mercenaries

Manage Crew

Hire new employees

Poach employees

Retain employees

Blow up other people's asteroids

End Of Year

Showdown. Mercenaries help you gain asteroids (only change in game mechanics here..)

Artwork copyrighted?

It looks like your board art is an XKCD comic - do you have permission to use that?


Yes, it's from XKCD. XKCD uses Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial which means I can use it for non-commercial. At this point, we have basically one prototype, and it's not really commercial. explicitly states

If you're not sure whether your use is noncommercial, feel free to email me and ask (if you're not sure, it's probably okay).


Note: You are welcome to reprint occasional comics pretty much anywhere (presentations, papers, blogs with ads, etc). If you're not outright merchandizing, you're probably fine. Just be sure to attribute the comic to

I have asked xkcd about licensing for commercial use but haven't heard back. I guess he'll get a lot of e-mail... It's an alternative to getting new artwork, and most playtesters recognized it, and thought it was "cool"


Thinking about it, I probably need play testers who don't recognize it to get a more representative sample of the population...

Cool - sounds like you're on

Cool - sounds like you're on top of it. I would guess that explicit permission will be difficult to get, so it might be a good idea to have a backup plan.

Backup-plan, and a new twist...

The backup-plan is to find an artist and get original artwork. This turns out to be more difficult than I thought... The theme seems not to completely align with most artists interests...

While looking at lots of art, including at - a wonderful site - I am finding that a lot more artists seem to prefer Sci-Fi... Thinking of re-theming my game, and I think I have found a way...

Nice work

This looks really interesting and fairly unique for an economic game. Does each player have their own company or do the players all work together on one company? From the look of your prototype I'm guessing that each player has their own company?

I'll try to take a look at your rules.

Matthew Kiehl

It's quite a competitive game

Thanks, Matthew for the kind works. Each player has her own company. Competition with each other is actually most of the fun of the game. Not only is there a yearly competition phase, where users switch loyalties from one company to another, but players can hire away employees from the other players. (My description above was not specific enough on this subject, so I made it clearer now)

Updated Rules

I uploaded a revised version of the rules. Cutting some obscure and rarely used features got rid of 2 pages. Yeah! I think it's much more digestible now, got to go rules testing again.

if you are still considering

if you are still considering art for a space themed game- I just want to let you know that you can use Hubble Space telescope images - and at least in my case - I was given permission to freely use them for commercial use. The pictures are just fantastically gorgeous, and no artistic talent required (a tiny bit helps though).


This is a wonderful suggestions. I saw some pieces that were based on NASA pictures, and wondered about the licensing situation.

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