12 September 2018
Share and shares alike
In most cultures people follow creators and artists, not labels and publishers. In games it’s often the companies that have fans, and boutique Japanese publisher Oink is high among them. The elegance and economy of its designs have built a strong following, packing beautiful components and clever gameplay into boxes not much larger than a deck of cards.
Startups is a redesign of an earlier Oink game, Rights. It’s now about stock-trading, trying to control six companies by having the most shares in them, but with twists. Each company has a different number of shares, from Giraffe Beer (five) to Elephant Mars Travel (ten). If you have the most declared shares in a business, you cannot buy any more. At the end the majority shareholder gets paid by the other shareholders. So you want to control a company, or have nothing to do with it.
Play is simple and fast: you draw a card from the deck or the face-up market, and then play one in front of you or back to the market. It doesn’t sound like much. But one of the traits of a good Oink game is the way each run-through reveals new ways to think about how to play. Startups comes on like a filler, but it demands so many replays it may fill the evening.
I wasn’t taken with Rights, but the little rules changes and graphical overhaul make Startups a better game: lighter in tone, more approachable, more filled with the indefinable effervescence that makes people froth about Oink’s output. The company’s reputation is built on big games in little boxes, and while Startups lacks the mad originality of Deep Sea Adventure or A Fake Artist Goes to New York, it’s a lovely addition nevertheless.
Designer: Jun Sasaki
Artist: Kentaro ‘ANI’ Fujimoto
Time: 20 minutes
This review originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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