A few days ago we highlighted a game, Bulls & Bears, that we described as an educational lesson with a game component. It was very comprehensive in its subject matter about all things finance, right down to the need to purchase health and property insurance. But to be honest, it is was a bit dry. Don’t get me wrong, we still recommend it as an authentic teaching tool, but it won’t be the first game we grab on game night.
Our quest for finding games that strike a perfect balance between education and entertainment continues this week with the discovery of WongaMania. Originally a successful Kickstarter campaign last year by Singaporean company Capital Gains Studios, it is now available to the public as they prepare for the next in their line of finance-related games, Debtzilla.
Unlike Bulls & Bears, WongaMania is a tounge-in-cheek game which takes place in the fictional country of Banana Republic (not to be confused with the failing retailer of the same name). You and your opponents are members of the elites who control the economy and manipulate it at your will. Profiting from these market swings are what you will need to do to win WongaMania.
There is a small round board placed in the middle of the play area which keeps track of the current economic cycle. Covering both your income (profits or losses from assets) as well as the current market value (prices), these will change from round to round.
At the start of each round, the Chairman (1st player) rolls the custom productivity die and moves the marker around the track clockwise. This sets both the income and the market prices for that round.
The cards in WongaMania serve two purposes. First, when played face-down under your individual bank card, they serve as your currency (Wonga). During your turn you may draw from the bank and put those cards into your hand to utilize the actions on the other side. These range from purchasing assets or utilizing professionals, to resolving incidents and global cards, each with their own special abilities.
On every turn you gain two Wonga ($) as a salary, along with one Wonga from each bond you own. If you own any stocks or property, the payout is determined by the current economic cycle and might earn you Wonga or force you to pay some. Then you get to perform up to three actions from a total of six available.
You might choose to draw a card from the bank and put it into your hand (mentioned previously) or maybe play one from your hand and take its action. You could also discard and redraw one if you are unhappy with your hand makeup.
Other options are to buy insurance or trust funds, or to sell already-owned assets to raise additional funds. These decisions become critical as the economic cycle moves and forces you to pay for your assets. If you don’t have enough to cover your debts, you’ll enter bankruptcy. This means you basically start the game over while the other players continue on.
The first person to purchase three trust funds signals the end of the game. The current round is completed and scores are tallied for each trust fund, asset, baby (yep, you can have babies in the game!) and extra Wonga you own. The player with the highest total wins, with ties being broken by a roll of the die. We would have preferred to see some other type of tie-breaking mechanism as we hate to have hard work penalized by the bad luck of a roll. We would suggest a house rule of the one with the most free cash being the tiebreaker.
Supporting up to five players, you can expect a game of WongaMania to last around 30 minutes. While the box recommends the game for players aged 14+, this is again a case of a lack of child safety product testing. With an adult present to explain the game, it can be easily enjoyed by children as young as nine or ten. As our girls enter an age where they have to start earning their own money via chores and part-time jobs, it is a perfect time to introduce them to the realities of managing their finances with a game like WongaMania.
There are still a few copies available on Amazon for around $32 or check your local game store to see if they are carrying a couple. As we hinted earlier, be sure to keep an eye out for Capital Gains Studios’ upcoming Kickstarter campaign for WongaMania’s followup, Debtzilla! In the meantime, you can follow them on Facebook to find out exactly when it goes live.
Have you played any other games from Singapore?