Top 100: #44 Ponzi Scheme

With a serious subject matter I was initially a little skeptical of Ponzi Scheme. However, the game does a great job of illustrating just how hard it can be to maintain one without making light of anyone who has suffered at the hands of someone running a Ponzi scheme. You are trying to be the richest person when the game ends but we all know that if the game was played out infinitely everyone would lose in the end. There is just no way to keep the chain alive indefinitely.

On your turn you will take one of the money cards and an industry of your choosing assuming that industry doesn’t push you over the cap. Once you have two tiles from an industry the only way to get more is to buy them from other people. When  you grab a money card you get the large number on the card in cash. This is symbolizing someone buying into your scheme adding the very needed capital to keep you going. Eventually you will need to make a return on that investment though so be careful how much money you take!

Once everyone has done that then you move to the clandestine trading part of the round. When it is your turn you can choose to make a trade with someone. They have to have to have at least one similar industry to you in order to make the trade. This is because of the rather ingenious trading mechanism that Ponzi Scheme has. You will say what industry you are interested in an put a secret amount of money in the envelope and hand it over. Now your opponent has two choices. They can take your money and sell you their copy of the industry or they can buy you copy for the price you put in the envelope. They do this by adding their own money to the envelope until it is double what was originally handed to them. So depending if you want to try to get money or their industry you are trying to find just the right sweet spot to get what you want for the best amount of money.

After that segment of the game though you check to see if the market crashes as it sometimes does - you check in the game by looking at the number of bear cards to see if there are too many. After that times passes and some of your investors might come calling for their returns. You do this by rotating the time wheel and anything that shows up in present you need to pay the small number to the bank. Early in the game this amount might actually be less than you originally got from the card leading you to believe you can keep this under control. But as you get later into the game some people are going to want double the money they invested. That can be hard to afford - unless you take on more investors!

As one of our board members is a economist this scratches a few of the itches they really like in a board game. It is some trading and figuring out how best to keep this scheme a float. It has some player interaction but generally not any mean interaction as you are just trading for the industries (which give you points at the end). It can seem pretty mean though if they find out you are short on cash and make offers you can’t afford to match. Overall it is a great game with some unique mechanics. Those mechanics paying back the interest and the fun way you do trades is what got it on this top 100. We are eagerly looking forward to what Jesse Li (the designer) will bring next to the board gaming world!