Saturday, January 12, 2008

Game Central Station: Filthy Rich

In some ways, what you're about to read is me acknowledging that I've given up. In other ways, it's a victory of sorts - thanks to the kindness of Rick Heli (whose gaming website, Spotlight On Games, has some nifty stuff on it which you ought to check out), I've been able to unearth the HTML code for the pages from the original Game Central Station site & I'm going to be working to make them available once again.

The "giving up" part is that I'm finally done with battling FTP & the web software I was using to try & update the newest incarnation of Game Central Station. There's lots of good stuff up there - thanks to the kind folks at Game Surplus - so I won't take it down... but I don't plan on putting more new stuff there.

Wizards of the Coast may have perpetrated the CCG addiction on us via Magic & Pokemon (Karl, the grand poobah of Nashville's best game store, calls it "cardboard crack"), but once in a while they get things right.

Sort of.

Filthy Rich is a wonderful little game with an innovative multi-layered "board" (actually a notebook with four CCG card pages in it)... but it's got some problems. The system is innovative & enjoyable enough, however, that a number of folks have put their gamer brains to work and come up with some solutions. Read on and enjoy!

You Must Use This Variant to Enjoy This Game (This is not a Joke)

The venerable game designer Alan Newman is the one who taught me this variant (albeit, via e-mail). In my humble opinion, it's VITAL to playing enjoyable games of Filthy Rich.

Count only the first "tax" die roll. The other "tax" rolls, if any, are ignored. In other words, if you roll more than one "tax" result, only count one.

Since there can only be one tax per turn, asset and business cards that pay off on tax die rolls pay off only once.

Playing With 2-3 Players

In smaller games of Filthy Rich, there is a tendency towards runaway victories. James Campbell suggests the following fix:

Before a 2 or 3 player game, remove the $6 and $8 Luxuries from the Luxury deck. This usually prevents a lucky break from deciding the entire game in the first 3 rounds.

Another suggestion, courtesy of Matthew Hubbard, to reduce runaway wins is the removal of the "No Money Down" asset card.

One more alternative from Mr. Hubbard: remove, at random, seven luxuries (two player) or four luxuries (three player). This leaves six or nine luxuries, enough for each player to purchase two, have one sitting under the "No Money Down" asset, and still have the winning luxury available for purchase. It also changes purchasing strategies each game, based on how many low-cost luxuries there are available. (Here at Game Central Station, we've tried this last one with great success.)

Jeff Goldsmith ( thinks that a two-player game should be played to four luxuries rather than three.

Finally, Aaron Bass recommends removing Tic-Toc Floating Craps game from 2 player games, because "whoever gets the Tic-Toc Floating Craps business early has an unbalancing advantage. In a game with more players, the second business card comes up faster and it then becomes two players splitting control of that business."

Playing With 6 Players

Brooks Hanes & Bryan Dunlap have talked their wives and other friends into playing Filthy Rich... a lot! (One could say they're addicted. Then again, one could look at my 850+ game collection and take a couple of shots at me, so let's not go there.) Anyway, they often find themselves with 6 players. In order to play with six players, they add a $10 luxury with one tax marker on it. (Create your own... come up with something appropriate... perhaps "Huge Boardgame Collection"!) They found that the game could potentially stalemate without one extra luxury. (Warning: playing with 6 players can considerably lengthen game time.)

A Variant to Tighten Up the Game A Bit

Courtesy of Stephanie Kethers... they reduce the number of luxuries available to (players * 2) + 2. Draw randomly to see which luxuries are in play. This forces players out of a waiting game as luxuries may not be available at reasonable prices.

Variants to Offer More Control During the Game

--Better Page Control--

Boyd Bottoroff recommends the following variant for determining the "go to" page number: roll two dice and allow the next player his choice of page.

Dave Arnott suggests a different way to do this... when you roll the d6 to change pages, 1-4 - goes to that page number, 5 - stays on the same page, and a 6 - allows the roller to choose which page they want to go to! (This is the one I've used.)

--Dealing With Tic Toc's $ Printing Factory--

Jeff Goldsmith makes the excellent suggestion that if Tic-Toc's Floating Craps Game is hit twice, it only pays once before boomeranging back into the owner's hand.


Jeff Goldsmith also suggests that players be allowed to declare bankruptcy in place of their normal turn. "As the sole action in a turn, allow any player to declare bankruptcy, getting a new hand, $10, and discarding everything they already have. Luxuries are auctioned. The card Declare Bankruptcy isn't useless; it allows you to take an action (e.g. Mayor's Birthday Party) before declaring."

Alternate Start-Up Variant

Thanks to Matthew Hubbard, here's a different way to begin the game that allows for a more equitable distribution of businesses.

Take one deed from every company and go around the table Settlers-style, one clockwise, then counterclockwise starting from the last player, letting every player draft two companies. Then shuffle the unclaimed deeds in with the rest of the deck and deal three more cards to everybody, and you're ready to begin.

Business Deck Variant

Richard Hutnick wondered whether separating the business deeds into a separate pile would make Filthy Rich better? If so, you would include the rule where a player can either draw two cards from the non business pile, or one card from the non-business pile and one card from the business pile.

A Radical Variant (Remove All Business Cards From the Deck)

Richard Heli posted the following suggested variant at his Spotlight On Games website.

  • The businesses should all be removed from the deck and laid out in the open.
  • Reduce the hand size to three
  • On your turn you get 2 actions, which can be any combination of the following except that you may only launch 1 business per turn:

1. Launch a Business:

- You may launch any business that you like so long as it isn't already in use.

2. Play a card.

3. Collect $1.

- After your turn, draw cards to restore your hand to 3 cards.

Rules Clarifications

Selling Businesses:

The rules say that one can sell businesses at any time during one's turn before the dice are rolled. It's not clear if this ought to be allowed before luxuries are purchased. We play that you can NOT sell businesses before buying luxuries.

Action Card Clarifications

Post-Holiday Sale:

Other cards can be used to affect this roll, for example, Unfortunate Fire. Moreover, those cards also affect the other rolls during the turn.

Business Card Clarifications

Stern, Smith & Bubba's:

If Bubba's is hit multiple times during a turn, the owner can choose what to do with each hit successively. He may add a marker then take the new, increased, production.

No Rabbits Here:

A player owning No Rabbits Here does not have to pay taxes on his luxuries even if cards instruct him to.

Shorty's and Swan Song :

The larger production number only occurs if both hits occur during the same roll of the dice. For example, if a Post-Holiday Sale occurs and Shorty's gets hit, then it gets hit again later in the regular roll, each hit is worth $0.

Squat 'N Gobble:

If the Squat 'N Gobble is hit for the fourth time, one may not sell its sign, even if one has to pay taxes; it provides its income and is removed before taxes.

Asset Card Clarifications

Blue-Chip Stock:

This produces $1 at the beginning of the action phase, after luxuries, but before anything else. That is, the dollar can't be used for luxuries.

No Money Down:

This card does NOT allow you to buy two luxuries in one turn. You must pay off No Money Down during the luxury buying phase, which counts as your luxury purchase.

(thanks to Bryan Dunlap, Jeff Goldsmith, Brooks Hanes & Claudia Schlee for their input for the clarifications... none of these are official, as WOTC hasn't seen fit to publish anything official about the game!)


brookshanes said...

Still LOVE Filthy Rich and so does everyone that plays with us!

Thanks again for watching Solomon when Kinsley was born :) Good times...


Anonymous said...

In 2006 I got the chance at Origins to play with Richard Garfield. One of the most interesting aspects is he said that there was a rule miss-communications made in the final print. The "Selling Business' rule was not supposed to limit you to selling your business on JUST your turn. You can sell them on other players turns. I think it's still at the start of the turns.

Anonymous said...

Action Card "Protection Money" says:

You can play this card only if a player covered one of your signs on his or her most recent turn. That player must pay you $2 or sell the business that's covering your signs.

I have a questions about this card.
1) Do you play this when the business is covered during that player's turn or on your own turn?

2) If the answer to 1 is when it's covered, then do you only play 1 card during your next turn?

3) Does it matter if the sign is no longer covered when it becomes your turn? Can you still play it?

4) What if the business has already been sold by the time your turn comes up, if the answer to 1 is you play it during your turn?

5) What if the business it covered has been sold by the time it's your turn?

We play it that you have to play it on your turn, and can only play it if the business is still in play, but doesn't have to be still covering your business, but your business still has to be in play.

So our answers to the questions are
1) During your turn
2) n/a
3) No it doesn't matter
4) Can't play it if it's been sold
5) Yes your business still has to be in play.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

I'd go the other way, because it simplifies implementation

1) when the business is covered on another player's turn
2) you play with one less card in your hand but take a regular turn

With this ruling, questions 3-5 no longer matter.