Raccoon Tycoon from Forbidden Games, a division of University Games, combines the fast-moving resource gathering of the Industrial Revolution with adorable animals to create a beautiful aesthetic with gripping gameplay. The eye-catching art by Annie Stegg Gerard stands out first, with painted portraits of elegantly dressed cats, dogs, skunks, and raccoons showing their best selves while representing railroads. But while the art alone is a reason to pick up Raccoon Tycoon, the gameplay will keep players coming back again and again to get the best bids as they build their industries.
Business is booming in ‘Raccoon Tycoon’
Raccoon Tycoon is set in the fantastical land of Astoria, a place booming with business. Players compete to be “top dog” by collecting victory points from their buildings, towns, and railroads. Each round, players must choose whether to produce commodities for more resources, make cash by selling commodities, use that cash to purchase a building, use commodities to build a town, or start a railroad auction.
As in other “euro” style games, there is no dice rolling for randomization, so the main source of chance comes from the cards and tiles coming into play for what is available to purchase. This social dynamic gives Raccoon Tycoon as much of a luck factor as a game of poker, while having engine-building to make each round a little different.
Each game evolves as it goes on based on what players choose to do. Playing production cards pushes up the prices of other commodities. Whenever a player sells a commodity, it floods the market and drives down prices, just as with real-world supply-and-demand. Savvy players will try to chain their turns together to drive up prices and then sell their commodities for maximum profit. At the same time, players paying attention could cash in with their own supplies, perhaps even interrupting the other players’ best-laid plans.
Gaming the Industrial Revolution
Railroads and towns in Raccoon Tycoon produce the most victory points, but buildings give special bonuses as well as a few points. Through clever buying, players can customize their actions by boosting production or gaining extra income. Several buildings, like the Governor’s Mansion or the Bank, even give bonus victory points so that a player who seems behind on ownership ends up winning through bonuses. Each player will have to determine their own strategies for trying to save up for a valuable purchase, spending when a good opportunity appears, or even building up cash for a $1,000 sudden-death victory.
Raccoon Tycoon is a bidding-and-building game for two to five players aged eight and up. It has a fair bit of complexity, with its range of actions for players to choose, but it is not too difficult for those who like moderate gameplay. This gives it a good balance for a wide range of players, with enough decision-making for those who enjoy strategy but also plenty of luck-of-the-draw for those who like social games. Games are fairly long, lasting over an hour, making it a fun gaming session without being exhausting.