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QE: An auction board game with unlimited money. project video thumbnail
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QE takes place during the 2008 recession. Each player acts as a central bank. You are enacting "Quantitive Easing" (QE) measures to stimulate the economy.

That just means you'll be spending money to bail out companies. Since you represent a nation, there is no limit to what you can spend. You get a marker and a blank check. Write any number you want.

Bid $1 and laugh at your competitors for overpaying. Or just keep writing zeros until you get tired. Maybe $1,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Every time you win the bid, you'll get more victory points.

But there is a catch.

At the end of the game, you will total up all your winning bids. Whoever paid the most total during the game loses. They are out. Then, the rest of the players score points based on collecting sets of companies, and the player with the most points wins. (Scoring is actually just a hair more complicated than that, and it is explained in detail all the way at the end.)

You'll complete 16 auctions in this fashion. The role of the auctioneer passes to the left after each turn. After the last auction, eliminate the player who paid the most and then tally up your scores using your dry erase player score board.

To win the game, you'll need to play the table.

  • You thought your bid of 85 was going to win for sure, but it didn't. Should you go even higher?
  • The auctioneer put out a face up of 20,000, is that an attempt to bait you into bidding too high, or have other people been making similar bids?
  • There is tension because you don't want to overbid. But you can't play scared or you won't score any points.
  • Often times the game will have runaway inflation until the end. I saw a game where the final bid was for $10 quadrillion. 
  • But sometimes an inflationary run will start, and then the group will pull it back in because it looks like one player went too far.
  • Other times the bids will dance around in range for the whole game as players can get a good read on how much people have spent and no one wants to risk bidding too high.

It's all about the players ... and a little about the companies you are bidding on.

QE can play like a classic euro-style auction game with players evaluating the value of each company. Or it can play like a social deduction game with big bluffs, stare downs, and unexpected twists where players hardly concern themselves with the assets they are bidding on. Normally it is somewhere between those extremes.

How will it play in your group? Will it change over time?

10 3/4" x 6 7/8" x 1 7/8" box (same size as On Tour, but half as tall)

Click to view high resolution image.
Click to view high resolution image.

Each player is given one face-down industry tile at the start of the game. This counts toward your set collection at the end of the game and gives you a little direction at the start.

Click to view high resolution image.
Click to view high resolution image.

Each turn, players bid on one of these tiles, representing companies they are "bailing out".

Each company shows a country, an industry type, and some victory points. At the end of the game, you will score points for companies that match your country, and for collecting sets of same/different industries.

16 tiles are used in the three and four player game. 15 tiles are used in a five player game. The mix of tiles for that player count will guarantees that each country and industry in play are equally represented.

2mm thick dry erasable cardboard. 3 1/8" diameter. Almost as tall as a playing card. 

View high resolution USA tile, China tile, Japan tile, EU tile, UK tile.

2mm thick dry erasable cardboard. 6 3/4" x  2 7/8". A little bigger than a US dollar bill.

Click to view high resolution image.
Click to view high resolution image.

Mark off tiles as you collect them to track your sets. The dry erase board makes it easy to remember what is worth points and makes it easy to tally them at the end of the game.

Dry erasable cardstock (stretch goal to upgrade to 2mm cardboard) 10 1/8" x 5 1/8". Almost 2/3 of the size of a 8.5x11 sheet of paper.

The front side is for 3/4 players. Back side for 5 players. UK is only used in a 5 player game. The front of UK player board is a quick start guide.

QE was released in a VERY limited release a year ago (the components were different, but the gameplay was basically the same). So quite a few people have already had a chance to play it.

It is loved by many.

These quotes are all from Twitter or BoardGameGeek and were not prompted by me in any way.

Stretch goals will be included at no extra cost to games ordered during the Kickstarter, but the drawstring bag will be an add-on item for copies ordered after the campaign. 

Gavin Birnbaum combos his two hobbies, woodworking and game design. He designs games, and then makes them himself in his wood shop. Typically, he'll design a new game each year, make a few copies by hand, and then sells them at Spiel. He's been doing this for over a decade.

In 2016, he designed QE and sold a few at Spiel. It got good reviews. So he ran a Kickstarter to sell some more handmade copies. 

Thanks in large part to a teach-and-play-through stream by Heavy Cardboard, word spread even further. Gavin ran another Kickstarter for more handmade copies. He had to put the breaks on that one once it got to the point where it was going to take him a year to make them all.

In May 2018 I played one of those handmade copies. And then I played it again. The next day I watched another group play, and then played my third game. I was completely enamored.

This was a special game and more people needed to be playing it.

Since no one was yet selling a mass produced version of the game, I figured the designer must be some kinda hermit who refused to license it. But I decided to email him anyway, and I couldn't have been more wrong. Gavin and I soon came to an agreement. And it's lucky for you that we did. You're going to have a lot of fun playing QE.

BoardGameTables.com was founded four years ago to make tables for board gamers. In April they ran a Kickstarter for their first board game, On Tour, on July 2018. That game is about to ship from the printer and is on track for a January delivery as estimated during the campaign. BoardGameTables.com is specializing in games that are short and easy to learn, but still strategic with unique elements and an emphasis on high quality components.

Chad DeShon has been playing hobby board games for 14 years since discovering Catan in college. In 2014 he founded BoardGameTables.com. He likes heavy games like Age of Steam, Napoleon's Triumph, and Die Macher, and easier to learn games that have surprising depth, like Haggis and Konig von Siam.

Anca Gavril is the artist and graphic designer for QE and On Tour. She has become obsessed with Gloomhaven and can't think about anything else.  She chose a "liney" style for QE as a merge of a modern currency style and woodcut, a homage to the craftsmanship of Gavin's woodworking.

Katy Adams is the head of customer support at BoardGameTables.com and for this project. She likes Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Terra Mystica, Scythe, and worker placement games.

In 2008, the world went through a economic recession, chiefly caused by a housing bubble.

As economies slow, central banks like to lower short-term interest rates to encourage spending and investment. However, even lowering the rates to near 0% wasn't stimulating the economy enough.

So, central banks (mainly The U.S. Federal Reserve) started a program called Quantitative Easing (QE), where they would add liquidity (cash money) to the markets by buying bonds (government, private, and corporate debt). They would pay for this with money that they basically created out of thin air.

(Please forgive me if there are some holes in my 5 sentence explanation of one of the most complicated economic events in history. But that is the big picture.)

In QE, each player represents one of the five largest central banks in the world. The game isn't a simulation of the 2008 financial crisis. But it does pose some interesting questions that must have been similar to what the big wig economists were talking about in 2008.

1. How much should we spend if we can print more money whenever we need it?

2. How will we know if we are spending too much?

Read the Quantitative easing page on Wikipedia if you want to dive deeper.

View a pdf of the rules.

The rules are still going through the editing process and being shown to playtest groups to make sure they are written clearly.

USA, CAN, EU, and Australia Friendly shipping. Backers in those countries won't be charged GST/VAT. EU VAT and CAN GST are included in these prices and No additional VAT/GST will be collected.

We all know that nothing in life is really free (unless you can print money, even then, there is this whole inflation problem). We are estimating our cost to ship copies inside the US will be $8. Don't worry. We have budgeted for that and shipping to all other countries has been discounted by $8.

Want to buy a case of this game to sell in your brick and mortar store? Email qe@boardgametables.com and we will give you more info and put you on our retailer list.

We do not plan on putting QE into normal distribution.

Turn sequence - each turn there is one open bid and other players bid secretly.
Turn sequence - each turn there is one open bid and other players bid secretly.

 Scoring (for a 4 player game, other player counts are slightly tweaked)

1. Total Bid If you bid the most, you are eliminated. If you bid the least, score 6 points.

2. Company VP Add up the victory point numbers printed on your company tiles.

3. Zero Bid Score 2 points for each round where you bid zero at least once.

4. Nationalization Score points for company tiles that match your country.

5. Monopolization Score points for having multiple companies in the same industry.

6. Diversification Score points for having multiple companies in different industries.

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This campaign is only running 16 days. So don't delay.

Risks and challenges

The art for this game is nearly complete. Previous versions of this game have garnered great reviews of the game play.

Panda Game Manufacturing will be printing the game. They are industry leaders, and that removes a lot of risk.

This exact team has already published a board game before (On Tour). That game is currently being packaged to be shipped here.

The biggest risk is not that the game won't get done, but that there will be delays. This schedule is based on getting final art to Panda in time for them to ship us the initial prototype before Chinese New Year. If we miss that deadline, it could push things back by 6 weeks.

We have tired to put a little extra padding in the schedule for unknowns.

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    The 3-5 player, crazy auction board game QE.

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