Review: Startup Fever – learn to manage web projects

Startup Fever - packaging

Web site starts its life at the moment of its launch. But its birth is usually accompanied by complex preparation and lots of labor. Technique is not flawless, computers sometimes do, what they want, and on top of it all, sometimes a human error can happen also. Given these circumstances, even a thoroughly tested system can crash at day of its start.

And when the system is starting up, all programmers and engineers are lined up, paying attention and waiting, if everything gets going according to plan. This starting would maybe be called since now, thanks to a new board game of this game. But once the project is born, and everything runs like clockwork, the users continue to pile up every day. Or not? And what should you do to lure them into your web? And that all is, what the Startup Fever is about.

The author of the original business board game is the and artwork is the work of . The game was created in 2011 as a child of American company and is distributed by Game Salute. The whole creation would probably never be born, if there was no server and support of board games fans. They helped to bring Startup Fever for the finish line and into the box, which lies now on our table.

Startup Fever - game is ready

The box itself has no extra attractive design and its filled with strange yellow color. On the lid, there are some dark feet in shoes drawn (probably authors), and a title. But all the disappointment of this will vanish, when you see the entire contents of package.

The best and most interesting in the whole box are bowls to hide wooden components in. This time, they are not petri dishes as in Pandemic: On the Brink (review available only in Czech), but instead they are nice low metal trays with a transparent lid and the words describing, what exactly can be found inside. Wooden cubes are used to represent employees in the game, but they are also easily distinguishable by color, not only by bowl they are in.

Along with them, there is game board hiding in there. When you unfold it, board will remind you for a fraction of a second of a game of Monopoly, but only for a little moment, before you notice the whole design of the board. Then you realize, that this game will be about something else entirely. In its center, there is an image of clock pointing to 17:05 (used to monitor turn order), around there clocks, there are twelve colored circles and further outside are pyramids with numbers from four to zero. Around the whole board, there is a scale, where players will mark number of users of their Internet projects.

Startup Fever - game is ready

But before we get to stage, where we start laying stuff on the board, we still have to see, what is hidden deeper in the box. In particular, it is precisely ninety cards. Six of them servers as a reference and also a reminder of the basic game rules. The remaining 84 cards are events, which you can use to your advantage, but also to harm opponents.

Among the components, you will find also letter tokens marked from A to L and slightly larger chips, which will players use to secretly plan types of their projects. On top of all that, we are still missing wooden cubes in three colors – green for nerds, blue for suits and yellow, which can be nothing else than money. In colors blue and green, there are also six miniatures hidden beneath the cubes. They represent a bigger nerd, which indicates a big nerds and big suits. You can imagine, that they are more powerful, than the regular ones.

At the beginning of the match, you must prepare a game board. But players must first get their components, which are color coded – in particular reference card, and four chips indicating types of products. You will find media, social networking, communication and online stores. Player is also dealt four event cards from randomly shuffled deck and two money cubes.

Startup Fever - game is ready

Now players choose four, three or two pyramids on the board (depending on the number of players). They should select the ones lying closest to them, so they can easily manipulate with cubes, which will be laying there. They also get to assign their letters, which they receive based on selected pyramid letters. They will therefore have twice as much tokens as products, which will they launch (depending on the number of players). These tokens have also their given place – players will put one on a user scale, while second will be mixed with others and randomly placed on hours to determine the order for the first year of playing time.

You lay rest of shuffled event cards next to the board. Likewise, you put all the cubes into prepared round boxes, so they wont run everywhere on the table, as in many other games. Importantly, the number of large pieces (big nerds and big suits) of blue and green should correspond to the number of players minus one.

Before we begin, we need to criticize a minor rules shortcomings. Regarding the game itself, everything is describe accurately and clearly. However, the preparation is not clear about chips placed on a order scale in a random fashion. This information is located on earlier page in the general description of the individual parts of the board, where you would not search for it. It may take some some time before you figure it out.

Startup Fever - game in progress

Startup Fever tells the story not only about start of your project, but especially the story of labor market. Cubes will quickly run out and you’ll have to release employees or pull them from other opponent projects. Then you should consider to do it from your direct rivals, as there are more types of projects and they compete only between themselves. You can also move your work force along your projects freely – we will soon learn how.

The whole game consists of four to six years of project development (regarding more project launches). These years represent individual rounds. During one year, each product gets its specific turn according to the turn order track. That means each player gets more than one chance to act during one year. While the turn order is random in first round, later always acts project, who has the least users on the users track.

This means a total of twelve turns for one year (round) in each game. Each player plays more products, based on the number of competitors in match – in two and three player games everybody has four projects, then the number begins to decline in a way, that the resulting sum is always twelve.

Startup Fever - game in progress

Each product turn consists of four phases, which owner must do. The first of them is the users growth, which is partly result of chance and partly of your previous tactics. You throw a six-sided dice to determine the basic user addition. Even the behavior of users on the Internet often seems random, so you simply must accept this procedure.

But fortunately, you can affect the number of growth with nerds, who work on this project. For each blue cube, you add one and for each big nerd you add three. You then move project token (with according letter) so many steps forward on user track. With the shift it may happen, that you jump out of light blue boxes, and exceed the limit of 100 users. In this moment you have reached the official launch of the project. This is the moment, when you reveal your project to public and the competition discovers also the main focus of your project, which you have marked at the beginning of the game with your token.

Now you will count the profits from your project, which flow into your account. This time you are interested in position of the same chip, which you have just moved up. On the field, where this letter token is located, there are two numbers printed – one small and one large. Small marks victory points and will become interesting only at the end of the game. Your attention now turns to the second, large number.

Startup Fever - cards

It shows your basic income in yellow cubes. And of course also this number can be increased. This addition is decided by number of manager cubes, that you assigned to given product during previous rounds. For everyone, who works in the promotion, you get a penny extra. But for a big suit two.

Now that you have money, you can return and hire some new employees. At the beginning of the match, you will probably look for them at the labor market, until it becomes completely empty. Such a purchase is simple – employee cubes costs one cube of money, big nerds and suits are equal to six such blocks and will take a while, before you get investment back.

Any such purchased cube (or pawn) you put on position four under your product – that is, at the very bottom step of the pyramid. How time flies and turns go by, the employees will become more and more vested and work began to be more and more routine for them. This project, after several years they work on it, simply could not provide any professional growth for them anymore.

Startup Fever - game in progress

And this is, what you will be interested in, when there is no longer unemployment in the whole game. Now you must be taking moves to insure your employees (raise their salary) and also poach new forces (and fresh ideas) from other players teams. In one round of product you can poach up to two employees. Their price is higher – the base price remains, but is increased by a number of years, that remain to be fully vested inside the company. The number is listed directly on every step of the pyramid for each product. His home company can make a counter-offer worth one cube more, which the worker will always take instead of moving elsewhere. People are lazy, when they are satisfied. Otherwise, he was sucessfully poached by the competition.

In addition, you can also insure your nerds and suits (raise their poach cost) by paying money – you can move them back along the pyramid one step for every single cube payed. This grant them new and fresh challenges and staff are once again a little happier.

At the end of each round, you will also lose a random number of users. It is decided again by rolling of a dice. One year can be divided arbitrarily among all its products. So all projects turns will come until the end of the year happens. Now you need to know, how the products compete on the market with their direct opposition and put up a fight for the end-user. But the battle always takes place only between the products in one category – e-commerce cannot compete with social networks, when it comes to users. Only those products, which have already reached launch, participate in the competition.

Startup Fever - cards

Each of players must determine strength of his product. Current strength is obtained for the number of cubes and big pawns, who are working on it. It can also be increased by any amount of marketing money and one roll of the dice. According to the results, the products sort from highest to lowest and according to their order, they will gain or lose some users once again.

Now the turn is concluded by regular maintenance only – you move all your cubes and pieces to a higher vesting position inside product pyramid. You can move employees from one project to another, you can now draw event cards, so that you have four in hand. Now you have to adjust turn order for the next round, according to number of users from the weakest product (acting first) to strongest.

The game ends, when the last product reveals its direction – that is, when it exceeds limit of 100 users. Players play actual year till the end . The advantage is, that it is relatively easy to predict, when the end of the game will occur. Despite the fact, that the product may be revealed not only by gaining users, but also by information leak due to an event card. Players now sum up the victory points and the highest total points determine the winner.

Startup Fever - game in progress

Startup Fever is a very interesting economic and strategic board game. First year or two will start slowly, but when you begin to compete for employees, game gets much more attractive. It is also supported by an unconventional topic – we dare to say, that there is no board game with a similar theme up there on the market.

We have not yet mentioned event cards, which can be played at any time during the game. You play them not only to support your own products, but also to harm the opponent. We have omitted this principle in rules description, because it would distort the explanation of rules and we are coming back to it now. What they actually do, is already clear from their name – they simulate a random phenomena occurring in business.

It is precisely these cards, that provide tension and drama in the game. Players can attack each other, poach and dismiss workers, block hiring, or deal with audit, which did not turn out just fine. But of course, you can also support your products. Maybe you get some bonus money, hire more workers and so on. Attacks can be prevented by using defense card.

Startup Fever - tokens

However, there is a type of event cards, which is really crutial. We are talking about six leak cards, which lets you uncover any token of your opponents and determine, which type of project is located under a given letter. Its playing makes sense of course only until the product is successfully launched, ie before it reaches the 100 users.

Startup Fever handles its theme very nicely. Number of experts determine the success of a product, which has a real life cycle here. At the beginning of the match, it is necessary to hire a lot of workforce and supply staff. The faster you provide men for your project, the faster it will earn you money.

We like competition for a user at the end of the year, which runs in the project focus groups. Pages logically lose or gain users by the competitive struggle, that is constantly ongoing on the Internet as well as in our reality.

Startup Fever - cards

Unfortunately Startup Fever, as Louise Perrochona debut, did not evade a few minor hiccups. The largest of these problems is, that many things are dependent on chance, which can damage the player a lot, even if they have good plans and strategy. Dice goes from one to the top six and this is a big range. If someone is unlucky, his project can lose even two times six user positions, and may be worse, than the previous year. And that’s a pity, because then all strategy comes to nothing. Tiny ones are represented by some rules, which are hard to find in rulebook.

Processing is really nice. The most interesting addition to the game board, which is nicely divided and is even wearing fingerprints from the bottom of coffee cup, are bowls for wooden components. Thanks to them, Startup Fever looks a lot better, when put on the table. These bowls certainly create a nice bonus, which was secured by the support of users on a Kickstarter server.

But despite a few minor shortcomings, Startup Fever preserves impression of an interesting strategy game with a commercial theme. Finally, it offers some interesting ideas and trite, that is missing in this kind of games (meaning monopoly games). So if you are a fan of financial games or you need to know, how to launch such a web project, then Startup Fever is the first step into this mysterious world ..

DesignerLouis Perrochon
ArtistGary Simpson
PublisherMeetpoint LLC
Year Published
# of Players2 - 6
User Suggested # of Players Best with 6 players
Recommended with 4, 6 players
(7 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages14 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(3 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(5 voters)
CategoryDice, Economic
MechanicArea Majority / Influence, Dice Rolling
ExpansionStartup Fever: BGG Expansion
FamilyCrowdfunding: Kickstarter
Primary NameStartup Fever
Alternate NamesStartup Fever PnP

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Startup Fever – learn to manage web projects
Final word
Startup Fever is a game, which takes web projects and makes it its main theme. It revolves around developing, launching and expanding Internet sites. You pile up employees and because you start several projects at the same time, it is important to split them in a right way. But the Internet is full of competition, so you will have to drag users from other projects. You can also meet some unexpected events and chance, when it comes to the addition or loss of users. Precisely this chance can ruin your mood, if you have everything planned to the last dot. But hey, that is how the Internet market goes - there are no simple patterns for user behaviour. But still - dice is an enemy of a tactical player. You could become a little confused, when learning the rules, but everything seems to fit in few more minutes. What we have to say about Startup Fever now, in the end? It is a nice and surprisingly tactical game influenced a lot by chance.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
nicely designed game board
cube/token boxes
original
emphasized on poaching employees and conflict with others
event cards can change the game
hardcore resource management
Cons
dice have a large influence about gain and lost of users
few unclear stuff in rules
3
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