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Too Big To Fail

A second version of the character cards, easier to understand and a bit prettier, same poor artwork though
A character card from the first protoype, pretty it aint...
A bond card from the first prototype, these cards are still the ones in use but are undergoing a radical redesign to better refl

Too Big To Fail is a card / board game originally conceived in early 2012 with my initial design and prototype being tested with friends and game buddies late that year. It was initially conceived as a two stage victory game, make piles of money to hire staff then make those staff rich and retire them to score but as an initial design was too heavy for fun game play. I worked on several other designs while this one stewed in my mind until a moment of inspiration gave me a new way to make money in the game and I redeveloped it without the characters to test the game in as raw a state as possible. I still plan to add the character stage to the game as an optional way to play, extending the strategy and play time accordingly.

The theme of the game is the financial crisis of 2007 / 8 and the events that led to it. Players act as investment brokers taking any opportunity they can to make money as quickly and in as big a quantity they can before the table breaks the banks and ruins the economy.

The basic principle of the game is laying out tricks, or investments from your hand. These can be in three forms, runs (tranches) or matched number sets (hedge funds). Cards run from 1 to 5 with high cards being less risky but low payout and low cards paying out much more but with more risk. Originally there was a mass scoring for all players at the end of each phase but I changed this recently so that each player cashes in the top card from each investment in front of them at the start of their turn. At the end of their turn, each player discards a card, playing it into one of the spaces on the banks in the centre of the table, this affects the risk / payout meter on the bank for all players and adds an extra twist to each player's turn.

Playing a card into an investment adds cash to the relevant bank and payouts are made from that bank so it is possible for a bank to run out of cash when a player goes to take their payout. If this happens, the cards on the banks are used to determine whether the bank is really in trouble or just in cashflow problems. Banks that are determined ok will pay the player from the general pot but if they are shown to be too risky, they can fail, removing them from the game.

The third method of investing is a bit more complex and involves the player(s) who are most behind in terms of cash and is called a 'Credit Default Swap' or just 'Swap'. They can place two cards from different banks in front of them and must put the amount of cash equal to the number of the top card. Each round upon payout they must put one of these tokens onto the bank of the top card. Once they have done this, if there as any card from the bank of the lower card with a high risk symbol at the top of any player's stack, they take from the top bank the amount of cash multiplied by the number of the high risk card. It is a high risk strategy as they can lose all of their cash but if it works out, they can win big sums from few cards. If they take the last token from their bet without any payout, the deal has expired and they must discard the cards in the normal way.

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gamejournal | by Dr. Radut