Strategically Thematic: Tulip Bubble

August 23, 2018

Strategically Thematic is a segment featured on The Dice Tower's bi-weekly Token Punch Lunch videos about games where the theme and mechanics go together really well.


Hi! This is Ambie from Board Game Blitz, and this is Strategically Thematic, a segment where I talk about theme in different strategic games. This time, I’m talking about Tulip Bubble. The Tulip Mania was a period during the Dutch Golden Age where the prices of tulips reached an all time high, and then suddenly collapsed and were worth basically nothing in 1637. It was one of the first speculative stock market bubbles, and Tulip Bubble is a short stock market game that simulates this tulip craze.

The mechanics in Tulip Bubble are pretty simple, but they follow the theme pretty well. The game lasts over a series of rounds, and each round you can bid on different tulips to try to get them, but if you think that the price of the tulip isn’t worth it, or you think that they’re gonna crash soon, then you don’t have to bid on the tulips.

Each round at the end of the round, the prices of the tulips change. There are three different types of tulips: yellow, red, and white, and the majority type that’s left over - that has a huge demand - the price goes down. So if there’s a lot of yellow tulips left over that weren’t bought, then the price of the yellow tulips will go down and they won’t be worth as much anymore next round.

But there’s also a deck of cards that has random events each round. So each round, you flip over one of the cards, and that tells you if one of the tulip prices goes up, or down, or something else happens, and that can change the price of the tulips and whatever you thought would happen might not happen. So in the game you’re trying to get a lot of money by buying low and selling high like in stocks. But it’s all speculation because you don’t really know if something’s going up. You think it might go up because there’s not much supply left, but there’s also random events so it could go down and then you can get nothing for it.

I think the most thematic part of the game is how the game ends. The deck of cards has one card that just crashes the market and the bubble collapses. And that is mixed in the last three cards, so you don’t actually know when it will happen. When that card comes up, all of the tulips are worthless and no one can sell tulips anymore. So if you have a lot of tulips and you’re able to sell them before the game ends, then you’ll have a lot of money, because they were worth a lot. But if you were saving them to sell and then the game ends before you can sell them, then you have nothing, and you could be in debt.  So I think that’s really thematic because you’re speculating on these tulip prices and then suddenly it crashes and they’re worth nothing, which is just like the tulip craze.

Tulip Bubble is a fun, quick, speculative stock market game where just one round can be the difference between being in last place in debt and being in first place with a bunch of money. Thanks for watching Strategically Thematic! Let me know what you think in the comments!

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