Imagine the Forbidden Games meeting room. A group of people sat around the table brainstorming. “So what are we going to call this game about becoming rich and powerful in the anthropomorphic fantasy setting Astoria?” the chair turns to the white board and readies his marker… “Lizard Wizard” gets shouted out. It’s good, let’s bank that idea, but are there any more businessy names… Then follows a barrage of suggestions: Mongoose Magnates, Toadstool Moguls, Badger Barons, Ferret Financiers, and Cat Chiefs. Then finally the immortal words: “How about Raccoon Tycoon?” was vocalized and the decision was made.
Perhaps that’s how the meeting went, perhaps not. All I know is Raccoon Tycoon has always interested me for the name and box art alone, so I was pleased when a copy arrived at the door.
Place the board central. Shuffle and distribute cards and building tiles as per the rulebook. Place the tokens on the market tracks and you’re set up and good to go. It doesn’t take long.
Wealthiest magnate in Victory Points wins Raccoon Tycoon. To make your fortune you will need to be savvy in the stock market, astute at auction and an intrepid investor.
On their turn, player’s will take one action of a possible five:
- Production: play a card from your hand of three, these cards have two actions, one to increase the price of commodities and the second to gather resources from the supply. You start with a commodity limit of ten.
- Sell a commodity: when the market gets to a certain price you might want to release some stock and cash in on it. You get cash equal to the current stock value but unloading the commodities decreases the value of it. So other players may have to wait for Production cards to inflate the price again. Selling commodities helps cashflow.
- Purchase a town: instead of selling commodities they can be used to buy locations which grant end game victory points.
- Purchase a building: with all that money you’ve made you can enter the construction market to give yourself ongoing bonuses.
- Auction: if you’re feeling flush you can also start an auction to gain Railroad cards, set collecting the same types for victory points at the end of the game. Interestingly if you don’t win the auction you start, you can take another action, including starting another auction.
The game continues until either pile of cards runs out.
What it’s like
Raccoon Tycoon offers a nice amount to think about. Each action is straight forward but when to utilise them is an interesting quandary. There is a fair amount that can be planned ahead of your turn, so play moves around fairly quickly. You do also need to be able to react and adapt at the right moment.
Although you can plan your turns, only having one action can make Raccoon Tycoon feels like it drags ever so slightly in the early to mid-game. It ramps up once people have money and commodities are flowing, which creates a satisfying crescendo to the game. I think the pace at the start of the game has hindered Max’s and to a lesser degree his brothers love of the game. Me on the other hand, well I have enjoyed every game.
Keeping an eye on other players’ around the table is vital. While cash can be secret, resources are open handed, so you can always work out what people are stockpiling. Manipulating the market accordingly, where possible, reaps rewards.
The auctions start off as modest affairs, but end up being ridiculous. As money has surprisingly little worth at the end of the game, people will end up bidding ludicrous amounts for the railroad cards. You will also know you are often being bid up, just so that the player can start another auction and secure a more affordable card as your money stockpiles have been depleted. You don’t know how much other players have so pushing up prices is also pushing your luck. Auctions are therefore thrilling events in the game.
The artwork on the Raccoon Tycoon cards is beautiful, the locations especially are majestic. Unfortunately this jolts somewhat with the art on the building cards that feel like they have been produced in Microsoft Word in the 1990s. That may be overly harsh but every time I’ve played it, I am amazed how the art style contrasts so .
The artwork of the buildings continues with the commodities but this is a bit more forgiving. I do lust after the wooden components and first player marker in the Kickstarter edition of 2018. These would’ve been lovely to have and I wish I was blissfully unaware of their existence.
The rulebook is clear and concise. My first play I wish I had a player aid with all the actions on it, but actually it clicked and gelled much quicker than I gave it credit for. The paper money has a lovely nostalgic feel to it. It works and is certainly fit for purpose. Overall the production is really good.
Final thoughts on Raccoon Tycoon
Raccoon Tycoon brings nothing unique to the board game marketplace, but it stitches together familiar mechanics to create an enjoyable experience. The auction action and manipulating the market are the most strategically interesting elements of the game. They are also the things you remember and reminisce on after playing. Only using one of five actions ensures play is smooth and familiar.
I think the majority of people will enjoy playing Raccoon Tycoon, it is after all a really good game. However, I think the lack of anything new and exciting does hinders it from being excellent.
I’m still pleased Raccoon Tycoon landed through the door as I have enjoyed my time in Astoria.
Number of players: 2 to 5
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 10+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 8+
Playing Time: 70 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 2 minutes
Designers: Glen Drover
Publisher: Forbidden Games
Raccoon Tycoon is a thoroughly enjoyable board game. The gameplay is good and everything flows well. While it may meld popular mechanics together in a fun way there is equally nothing new or revolutionary here. That means it sits comfortably in the ‘really good’ game category.
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Beautiful card art
- Auctions are fun
- Adjusting the market prices
- Plays up to five people
- Inconsistent art on building tiles
- Slower pace at the start
For clarity: we don’t get paid for our reviews. However, we were kindly gifted this game by University Games. We have tried not to let this affect our review in any way.