What do you get when you combine card drafting, set collection, and Dad Joke level punnery? You get Adventure Capitalist by OOMM (Out of My Mind) Games. This is a rarity, at least in my experience, a tabletop game based on a mobile phone game. In this case, “based on” is loose, very loose. The title, theme, artwork, and characters are the same. The way the game is played is completely different.
In this game, the goal is to collect different investments (business chains), to earn the most money. All investments are worth something, but you have a Manager who specializes in a specific business, which will get you bonuses. Every manager name is a corny pun and/or pop culture reference, from Mama Sean (Papa John’s) to Dawn Cheri (Don Cherry). If, like me, you aren’t very clever, I’ve included a list of all the name references at the end of the review.
Adventure Capitalist is a 2 – 5 player game, with a recommended age of 8 and up and an average game time of 20 minutes. The gameplay is simple, maybe a little bit too simple, but I’ll let you know more about that later. Over 3 rounds, players draft cards to try and earn the most money. Most of your investments disappear between one round and the next, with the exception of Oil Wells. There are a few cards that aren’t worth money, but instead give you special abilities. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the beginning of each round, each player gets one Manager card and a hand of Investment cards. The size of the hand depends on the number of players (2 players = 10 cards each, 3 players = 9 cards, 4 players = 8 cards, 5 players = 7 cards) this means that if you play with a bigger group, each player gets fewer cards, but there are more cards available in total. Once you get your cards, you look at your Manager (which stays hidden until the end of the round) and choose one card to play face down in front of you. When everyone has chosen their card, all cards are revealed at the same time. The card played stays in front of you, and the rest of you hand gets passed to the player beside you. In round 1, cards pass clockwise, round 2 rotation is counter clockwise, and for round three goes back to clockwise. If you play one of the special abilities cards, for example Time Warp, you can use that ability at the start of any turn (but not the same turn you put it down). Time Warp says, if you pick up Time Warp, you can put down two cards instead of one. Bank cards let you keep a card during the End of round discard. A round ends once every card has been played. All cards are scored and then discarded (except Oil Companies and cards saved with the Bank ability).
Scoring for this game is complex, and in my opinion, poorly explained. You start by counting the worth of you investments. Some investments have a worth for each card, others need two or three cards to get money for them. Next you count card bonuses for things like Car Washes and Newspaper Stands. Then you determine who has the most of each swag type (car, boat and helicopter) and award a bonus to whoever has the most of each one. Finally, you calculate the Manager bonus for each player. Scoring takes place at the end of each round, except for Oil, which is only scored at the end of the game.
The rules are about as clear as mud, and I’m not sure why. It’s as if they tried to streamline the rulebook to fit on a single sheet of folded paper, but went too far. Some rules are explained poorly. For example, if an investment card is placed on a News Stand card, its worth is tripled. This was one of the rules issues we had while playing. The text on a Newspaper card says “next set ×3”, and the rules says “get the word out about your new chains. Play your next set on a Newspaper Stand to multiply its value by three.” But if I have 6 movie studios (×3 = $3Billion), but I only had time to put one of these cards on a news stand, do I get $6B or $12B? If I get a Newspaper card on my last turn of the round, is it useless? Other rules aren’t really explained at all. The card Devil and Angel Investor sounds like it should be a Manager card, but is in fact an Investment card. It reads “lose the round: +5 Billion, win the round -5 Billion”; there is no further explanation. In fact, the card isn’t even mentioned in the rulebook. So, if you are playing with 5 players, and you have this card, do you need to come in dead last to get the bonus, or is coming in second enough? Also, this is the only card in the whole game where it isn’t clear whether it applies to the player who holds it, or to everyone. Does the card holder get the one bonus (or penalty) and another player get the opposite? I watched a couple of videos* on YouTube, and even other reviewers found this card confusing.
My final disappointing thing about this game is the Manager called The Dark Lord. Yes, he’s cute with his red suit and horns, but he has no money bonus, and his special ability is the same as a Bank card. If I had the actual Devil as my financial Manager, I would expect more of an advantage than that. Not to mention that this card has a one in three chance of being completely useless.
This is a fun little game, and the tie in with its mobile game parent is an interesting touch. But on the whole, it feels rushed, and I wouldn’t have it on my Go To Games list. If you want a casual game to play from time to time, give it a try. Just keep your expectations low.
As promised above, here’s a list of some of the great Manager names:
Cabe Johnson = Cave Johnson (Portal 2)
Mama Sean = Papa John
Jim Thornton = Tim Horton
Perry Black = Perry White (DC Comics)
W.W. Heisenbird = Walter White/Heisenberg (Breaking Bad)
Forest Trump = Forrest Gump + Donald Trump
Dawn Cheri = Don Cherry
Stefani Speilburger = Stephen Spielberg
Derrick Plainview = Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)
Louis Fittui = Loius Vuitton
Sully H Connor = Sully + Dan Connor (both played by John Goodman)