'Best of Bourse' are three different card games by 'The Guild of Good Games': 'Bourse & Build', 'Bribe the Bourseholders' and 'Great Work!' All three games use the same deck of cards which is designed primarily for playing games in the Live Role Playing (LRP) world of 'Empire' which is run by Profound Decisions. But you do not need to know anything about The Empire or LRP to enjoy playing the games.
Overview of the games
Each game is designed to be quick to learn and play with a small number of players. Time is a precious resource, especially at LRP events, so a key design intent is that the owner can bring out their deck to play a quick game or two in just a few minutes with people who have never played before. Players may also want to play Best of Bourse for a whole evening so, whilst simple to learn, the games are designed to be hard to master and thoroughly replayable. Best of Bourse comes in a small portable wooden box, and the deck will fit in a pouch, making it easy to carry around. Each of the games takes little space to play, so they can be played almost anywhere on a small surface or the ground.
The games share themes based on The Bourse, Imperial Resources (known as White Granite, Mithril, Weirwood and Ilium), and building wonders of the world known as Great Works. The Bourse is the Empire's centre of economic power run by Bourseholders who have won auctions to hold imperial titles that control imperial resource production.
The game comes in a small wooden box containing the rules for 3 different games which each use the same deck of 54 unique playing cards consisting of:
- 12 Bourseholder cards (three for each type of imperial resource; these cards feature prominent bourseholders from 'The League Trading Company').
- 4 Primary Resource cards (with a large Mithril, White Granite, Weirwood or Ilium symbol);
- 36 Resource cards (nine for each type of imperial resource showing 2 to 10 resource symbols);
- 2 Master of the Mint cards (featuring two former Masters of the Imperial Mint)
Stretch goals unlocked:
- 3 Rules Summary cards, one for each game (first unlocked stretch goal)
- Box lid decorated with Blood Red Rubies (second unlocked stretch goal)
- Casino quality 310gsm linen cards with black core (third unlocked stretch goal)
- An additional Master of the Mint card, featuring Lieselotte von Holberg, the current (382 Y.E.) Master of the Imperial Mint (fourth unlocked stretch goal)
- An additional Hand of The Chancellor card, featuring Imperatrix Lisabetta von Holberg, Empress of Flowers and The Twentieth Throne.
- An additional game, 'Dicey Bourse, together with 5 wooden dice.
'Bourse and Build'
This game of Prosperity, Wisdom and Vigilance is for 1-3 players and takes 5-10 minutes to play. It's a push-your-luck game of fast-playing rounds in which you try to outwit your opponents and the game itself. You need to judge carefully when to collect the building resources you need as you have just 4 chances to do so.
Players are Merchant Princes building Great Works for the glory of The Empire. Each player controls a consortium of four Bourseholders whom they use to acquire consignments of Imperial Resources from The Bourse before other players or before a Master of The Mint arrives and acquires them for The Imperial Mint. The Imperial Resources are used to build four Great Works, one each of White Granite, Weirwood, Ilium or Mithril. Whoever, including The Imperial Mint, contributes the most resources to each Great Work is entitled to name it; whoever names the most Great Works wins the game. (Rules for 'Bourse & Build')
'Bribe the Bourseholders'
This game of Loyalty, Ambition and Prosperity is for 2-4 players and takes 10-20 minutes to play. It's a game of secret bidding to gain cards that give influence for the final scoring. Hidden bids are made incrementally over 4 rounds. This allows you to try bluffing your opponents while seeking to tactically husband your resources to gain cards that appear later.
The game is played over four seasonal summits during which players use imperial resources to offer bribes to members of The Bourse. Different Bourseholders vary in their influence. Whoever controls the most influence at the end of the game dominates the imperial economy and wins. (Rules for 'Bribe the Bourseholders')
This game of Pride, Prosperity and Ambition is for 2 players and takes 10-15 minutes to play. It's a game of tactical card play in which you take calculated risks in placing or discarding and then replacing cards, trying to invest more successfully than your opponent.
Players are Merchant Princes building Great Works for the glory of The Empire. Each aims to become more prosperous than their rival by allocating resources wisely, while being vigilant to avoid over-stretching themselves. Four Great Works to be built, one for each Imperial Resource: White Granite, Weirwood, Ilium or Mithril. Players receive a steady supply of imperial resource consignments of varying sizes to contribute to the Great Works.
Players may use Bourseholder cards to invest, which can increase both risks and profits. Each player has a Master of the Mint card to play at an opportune moment. When the consignments run out, whoever has made the most profit is the winner. (Rules for 'Great Work!')
In addition to the three 'Best of Bourse' games, the cards may also be used as a deck of traditional playing cards which use imperial resources as suits. The Great Works cards represent Aces, the Bourseholder cards are used as court cards (treat those with 3 crowns as Kings, those with 2 crowns as Queens and those with one crown as Jacks), and the Masters of the Mint are not used (unless the game requires jokers).
Customising the cards
The 'Proud Backer' pledge entitles you to have your own portrait in your game - or a friend's face if preferred. The 'Loyal Backer' pledge entitles you to 4 customised cards, these might for instance be used to feature friends' characters with one for each of the 4 resource types. I will provide 4 sets of the customised cards, as well as one copy of the standard game, so you could chose to keep one set for yourself to use in your own game, and give sets to 3 friends, either as momentoes, or to go with their own games if they have backed the project.
The 'Ambitious Backer' pledge entitles you to customise the entire deck, including the backs of all the cards (ie replacing The League Trading Company image on the backs of the standard deck). This pledge is aimed primarily at those who wish to possess a deck of playing cards where all 14 Bourseholder and Master of the Mint cards (or court cards and jokers) feature members of your own guild, carta, family or group - they need not necessarily be associated with the world of Empire. Or, if you're very Proud, you could even feature yourself in 14 different guises...
This pledge comes with high quality 310gsm linen cards with black core card stock. You will also receive an extra set of the 14 customised cards so that you can give copies to friends if you wish.
Production and Delivery
I plan to use the same specialist playing card manufacturer that I used to produce the final prototype for the standard deck. The cards are 300gsm professional card stock with blue core: that makes them high quality and robust [Update, following passing the third stretch goal, the cards will now be 310gsm Linen professional card stock with black core]. I will use the same supplier of wooden boxes that I already use for other games by The Guild of Good Games.
The final version of the standard deck of cards is almost finalised and ready to send to the manufacturer for printing. They have a reasonably prompt turn-around time, so I hope to have copies ready for personal delivery in-character (when appropriate) to Empire players attending the Autumn Equinox event in September. I plan to send copies to other backers shortly afterwards.
International delivery: I'll be posting from the UK so backers in the EU should have no import taxes to pay. Given the game's small size and low cost, international shipping elsewhere should also be customs friendly, although I can't guarantee this. I'm afraid that, based on advice from experienced game publishers using kickstarter, I won't ship to Brazil, Russia, Iran or South Africa due to frequent delivery problems with those countries' postal services. Nor will the game be delivered to barbarian orc nations... ;)
The first stretch goal was to include 3 rule summary cards, one for each game, in addition to the rules booklet. This was unlocked at £700 (which represents the original funding target multiplied by the Seven Virtues).
The second stretch goal was to decorate the wooden box lids with gems. This was unlocked at £800. If pennies were 'Rings', then this would be equivalent to 500 'Thrones' - the same amount as a loan that the League Trading Company and the Butchers Bank lent to The Empire two years ago. [For the benefit of non-Empire players, coinage in the world of Empire consists of 'Rings', 'Crowns' and 'Thrones': there are 20 Rings in a Crown, and 8 Crowns in a Throne. The largest denomination coin is 100 Thrones, which is known colloquially as a 'Lorenzo'].
The third stretch goal was to upgrade the quality of the card stock to 310gsm Linen card stock. This is a professional casino paper card stock with air pockets embossed onto the card surface to make them more durable and provide better handling. It comes with a black-core center layer to prevent light shining through. Whilst the original 300gsm stock with blue-core was already high quality, the Linen finish will give an even more in-character feel to the cards. This stretch goal was unlocked at £1000.
The fourth stretch goal to be unlocked added an additional Master of The Mint card to the deck. This has brought the game up-to-date in-character to the Year of Empire 382, and thus allows players to use Lieselotte von Holberg instead of Duke Ferrero or Lorenzo should they wish.
The fifth stretch goal added another card to the deck for The Imperatrix Lisabetta, Empress of Flowers. This card may also be used as an additional Master of The Mint card (representing The Throne's power as 'Hand of The Chancellor' in The Empire), and thus allow players to use the Imperatrix instead of Duke Ferrero or Lorenzo should they wish. This stretch goal was unlocked at £1600. If pennies were 'Rings', then this would be equivalent to 1000 'Thrones'.
The sixth and final stretch goal is to add another game: 'Dicey Bourse' and five wooden dice to the deck. The dice fit neatly between central dividers in the wooden box.
'Dicey Bourse' is for 2 or more players and takes around 10-20 minutes to play. Its played using combinations of dice rolls to acquire imperial resource cards. These cards can later be traded to roll extra dice in attempts to recruit Bourseholders and gain a resource monopoly within The Bourse. This stretch goal will be unlocked at £1700.
Reviews from The Empire's in-character press
"Clear rules make each of these games quick and simple to play, with a good balance of tactics, skills and luck. We played several games in an hour, bought a copy, went home and played until dawn. Good fun. Play it!" (Full review)
"Spanning the entire history of the Bourse since the death of Britta in just 54 cards ... the deck is excellent value for money and a work of art in itself ... All three games are simple to pick up, even whilst inebriated" (Full Review)
"What we really like is that you can ask the Guild of Good Games to produce a uniquely customised copy featuring portraits of your choice for your own deck of cards. We will be asking our captain to commission a special Bold Bravos edition featuring different members of our mercenary company" (Full Review)
"More good games from The Guild of Good Games. Easy to learn, fun to play, and, exquisitely presented in an elegantly decorated box. Well worth playing." (Full Review)
"Bloody good games. Bloody great work!"
"If you thought The Bourse was boring, then think again. These games are far more fun than Anvil. We lost each game we played but came back for more and more."
I enjoy live roleplaying and designing games as a hobby. I combine these interests with my Empire character, Lorenzo, who designs, makes and sells games for the Guild of Good Games. Normally I make these games by hand, but the Best of Bourse cards will be professionally manufactured to create high quality cards whilst being packaged in hand-finished wooden boxes. This will be my second Kickstarter project for the Guild of Good Games, having successfully delivered 'Butchers vs Orcs!' last year.
'Bourse and Build' is a re-skin of my 'Martian Expansion' (a game I designed for an LRP event in space); 'Bribe The Bourseholders' is a re-skin of 'Pirate Crew' (a game I designed for an LRP event on a pirate ship) which developed from my 'Power and Influence' by The Guild of Good Games; 'Great Work' is inspired by Reiner Knizia's 'Lost Cities', although the number of cards and game mechanics are different.
I'm not a member of The Empire design team, but I have Profound Decisions' full support in running this project.
About Lorenzo 'La Volpe' von Temeschwar
Lorenzo is the founder and Grandmaster of the 'Guild of Good Games', Master of the 'Butchers Bank', and Treasurer of 'The League Trading Company'. He loves designing and playing games and, as a complete and utter banker, thinks that prosperously making and spending money is the greatest game of all.
Lorenzo has held several Bourse positions and is famous for building multiple Great Works across the Empire, including 'The Colossus of Sarvos', The Lorenzo Legacies of Virtue, and the 'The Blood Red Roads'.
He's overbearingly proud of himself... (That's because Pride is a Virtue in the world of Empire - if he were a kickstarter backer, then he'd go for the 'Ambitious Backer' pledge and include 14 different portraits of himself!)
Many thanks to Profound Decisions and all those who have made Empire such a rich world. I'm grateful to members of 'The Butchers Guild' and 'The League Trading Company' whose images I've used in the game and with whom I've had great fun playing games and rolepaying.
Particular thanks to the artists who have allowed me to use their artwork including Kirsty March (portrait of Rodrigo), Melissa Gary Trender (portraits of Marko and of Lorenzo as Master of Mint), Oliver Facey (photos used for portraits of Lorenzo as Bourseholder of Fortress of Salt, Issebel and Lieselotte), Beth Dooner (photo used for portrait of Ferrero), Tom Garnett (photo used for The Imperatrix Lisabetta) and to Simon English for the imperial resource icons.
Thanks also to all who helped playtest the games - both in and out-of-character.
Risks and challenges
The Best of Bourse games have been extensively and successfully playtested, both in and out-of-character, including by many other game designers with whom I regularly playtest games through PlaytestUK. The artwork for the standard deck is virtually complete and the rules are written.
This will be my second Kickstarter project. I kept my first project deliberately small to produce an exclusive number of hand-crafted copies of 'Butchers vs Orcs!' The project funded successfully and I delivered the games well before they were due. This will be a larger project although still aimed primarily at Empire players. I have been building up to run a different Kickstarter project (KaleidoCards) aimed at a much wider audience, but I have paused work on that whilst I focus on delivering this project.
The pledge levels that involve customised cards will add to the project's complexity. I am aware of this and have built in contingency for time and costs.
My Ambition is to deliver the games before or during the Empire's 'Autumn Equinox' event in September 2018. However, unforeseen events can occur so I have chosen the path of Wisdom in committing to a later delivery deadline.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)