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The Rich and the Good

Originally published in Germany in 2008 as Hab & Gut, this game is being brought to a new audience by Ares Games. It's a stock market manipulation game for 3-5 players where players are buying and selling stocks. There's an element of insider dealing as players all have sight of cards that are available to push specific stocks up or down. It's a quick game; played over just two rounds of four turns each, and you're just trying to end the game with more money than the other players. Watch out tho' - each turn you have the option to donate shares to charity. These are cashed in at the end of each round, but at the end of the game the player who has donated the least to charity is eliminated, so you might not win even if you otherwise end with the most money!

Turns are super simple. You can buy 1-3 stocks or you can sell 1-3 stocks. You cannot buy one stock and sell another on the same turn. It's at this stage that you have the option of donating a share to charity. Players all have access to a display of cards to their left and to their right, held in the neat wooden card racks that are supplied with the game. The card racks are shared with your neighbouring player in a similar manner to the boards in Between Two Cities (Stonemaier Games). After everyone has bought or sold shares, players take a card from one side and play it for its full value, and they take a card from the other side and play it for half its face value. These will raise or lower the price of the designated stocks.

That's pretty much the entire game in a nutshell, so Carlo A Rossi's design is basic but no less effective for that. Because you have sight of at least some of the cards that are available, you have helpful information before you buy or sell on what stocks you can affect but you have only imperfect information: sight of at best 2/3 of the cards in a three-player game and only 2/5 with five players. You don't know what other information your neighbours have and so how they may choose to make use of the cards you share with them. This means you'll need to make deductions from the actions they take, and there's a push-your-luck element too about when you play cards: if I buy a stock in the knowledge that I have access to a +6 card to boost its value, do I risk playing another card in the expectation of playing the +6 on a later turn? My neighbour might in the meantime play that card for just half its value...

There are certainly more complicated economic games out there but The Rich and the Good plays quickly and doesn't bog players down with a heavy rules overhead. We especially like the charity contribution twist that offers further scope for bluff, misdirection and push-your-luck gambles. You can do very well in this game but lose because you've not been generous enough in giving to charity, but you can win too by enticing rivals to give away too much of their wealth...

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