Raccoon Tycoon is a board game usually played with between 2 and 4 players. The Fat Cat expansion provides all of the materials needed to play with 6 players. I this post, I’m going to talk about the game’s randomness and how it is overcome, not by providing a lot of strategic and tactical options, but rather by providing more randomness.
The game works like this: A player can produce resources and at the same time increase market prices for those resources. The player can also sell their resources at the current market price, buy a building, exchange resources for a town card, or bid on a railroad card. The town cards get progressively more expensive as they are taken off the deck. The railroad cards and the cards that allow players to produce resources and raise prices are both random. A typical player will probably first buy a building that will let them get an extra resource when they produce resources. Then on their next few turns, they might produce resources in order to obtain whatever resource has a high price. If they end up with the resources needed for a town card, they might buy one with those resources. Otherwise, they’ll sell what they have to get some cash and then upgrade their starting building or buy another to get some other benefit. This goes on until all of the towns, railroad cards, or buildings, are used up and the game ends.
Raccoon Tycoon is a fun game. It feels balanced where being “beat to the punch” by another player who get the building you wanted, just leaves you with some other fairly profitable move. it does take some attention to do well at the game but things can and do land in your lap all the time. here are soe examples:
- All available buildings are expensive and someone buys one just before your turn. The random building that replaces it is cheap and also happens to give you points for something you are already trying to collect. Maybe you have the +3 points per town card and you are snatching up town cards. And maybe the next building is the +1 point per town card building. It’s cheap and you suddenly have +1 points for something you were already focused on. It is an obvious choice. You might have the +1 or +2 wine production building and that next building is the +1 dollar per wine sold building. These are easy choices to make since they leverage work you are already going to do.
- You have been collecting resources to sell them al at a good price and someone else 2 turns earlier sells some of that resource dropping the price a bit. But the player before you buys a town card and the next one costs that same resource you were holding. Grab that town card that was just “given” to you.
- You have 3 Fat Cat railroad cards and the 4th is worth a lot more points. There is no Fat Cat railroad to bid on, on your turn, so you start a bid on something else. Someone else wins the bid. You start another bid and someone else wins that. Then the last Fat Cat railroad card comes up and no one else has money to bid on it and you can get it for cheap. It would have been in the other player’s best interests to let you get the first railroad you bid on so that this didn’t happen. In this case, the luck is not solely guilty for letting you score more – the other players need to take some of the blame.
There are not too many other luck-based situations. And it is fair to say that if you don’t save some cash for the lucky move, you won’t be able to make it. But there is a lot of randomness during a game of RT.
Now to be fair, it is a fun game. There is enough of that randomness to go around and everyone will probably get a chance to snatch up some town, building, or railroad, with ease. I think that some of the challenge of the game is in managing money to be able to take the advantages when they come while still spending money along the way to get what you need.
In the game I played with three other players last night, we played with the Deluxe Fat Cat expansion and I did very well. In fact, I did so well that I missed two items during scoring and initially scored myself about 15 points lower than the winner. Someone else pointed out a building I bought that I missed during scoring; the score +3 for each railroad card gave me a pretty good bump in score and I ended up just 3 points behind. Interestingly, I got points from a few railroad cards paired up with railroad meeples (a new item from the expansion) and then from a bunch of buildings. I had 12 buildings if I recall correctly. The winner had taken town cards and also had the +3 per town card building but little else to score with. Oh, and I also had tycoon meeples and the building that game me a bonus tycoon giving me 25 points for those. In this game, everyone can do well without too much competition since I scored on meeples and buildings while the winner scored on the sheer number of town cards and railroad cards.
If you play this game, don’t hate on the random nature of things; Try to take advantage of random beneficial events as they come up. It will be very rewarding to get a good score from paying attention. It’s also rewarding to try to make sure others can’t get the thing they want in the game.