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JKLM Interactive - Tulipmania 1637

Historical Background

The tulip, a flower native to east Africa, created quite a ruckus upon reaching the shores of Europe in the mid-1500s. When a virus attacks a tulip, the resulting colour patterns can be stunning, but the same virus weakens the tulip and makes reproduction a challenge. These rare tulips have always been quite expensive, even to this day. Many associate Tulipmania with these rare, high-priced tulips, but scholars report that this first bubble market, where buyers pay far more than something is physically worth because of the resale value, actually stemmed from the common tulip market over December 1636 and January 1637.

The Dutch, well-known for their trading prowess, were the centre of the tulip trade. During this time, the bubonic plague was killing off 1 out of every 7 people per year, so the common man saw little reason not to invest foolishly with a good chance of making a substantial profit. These conditions created a situation where the prices of tulips skyrocketed by the day, until the prices hit a point that could not be sustained. The wily investors knew when to sell off, so those that profited most are those who sold just as the market started to turn sour.

You are playing one of those wily investors. You have a network of buyers and colleagues, all of whom are also trying to become wealthy. Your goal is to make smart investments, artificially raise prices, fleece your network at the best time, and then make your escape from Tulipmania with the most money.

Screen Layout

The left hand side of the screen shows the game board.

White spaces on the board show the possible current values of the different colour tulips. A tulip of each colour can be found on one of these spaces, to show the current price. Grey spaces show the transition prices for the tulips when the price changes rapidly. And Yellow spaces show burst prices - the price at which the market becomes unsustainable and the bubble bursts.

The top right of the screen shows each player's holdings. Within each player's area, the top row contains the player's username and current cash in hand. The bottom row contains the tulips currently owned by the player on the left, and the buyers held by the player, coloured according to the tulips they are interested in (these are the buyers they have lined up to buy a tulip when they tell them the time is right) on the right. You cannot see what colour buyers the other players hold (this is shown by the rainbow colouring).

The top row may also contain the current player marker and/or the priority player marker.

Players are listed in player order. That is, the top player will play first, then the player below the top player, etc.

Below the player area are two more panels. The left area is the stock area, and shows the tulips which are available to purchase, and the buyer deck with the two revealed buyers. The right area is the control area. This is where you make your choices to control the game.

At the bottom of the right hand side is the chat area.

Playing the game

Players take turns to play. Each player performs the following three actions on their turn.

1. Sell a Tulip

The current player selects a tulip they wish to sell.

All other players secretly select their level of interest in the selected tulip, and then all selections are revealed simultaneously. Their options are:

  • 4 - Speculate. The player wishes to pay over-the-odds for the tulip.
  • 3 - Speculate by Proxy. The player wishes to recommend that two of their buyers team up and pay over-the-odds for the tulip.
  • 2 - Purchase. The player wishes to pay the current price for the tulp.
  • 1 - Purchase by Proxy. The player wishes to recommend that one of their buyers pays the current price for the tulip.
  • Pass. The player is not interested in the tulip.

In the case of multiple players expressing an interest in the tulip, the player expressing the higher numbered option wins the right to act. If this is tied, then the player with the priority marker wins the right to act, or if he is not in the tie, then in reverse-player order from him. If the player with the priority marker wins the right to act, then the priority marker is moved one place in the opposite direction to player order.

If all players pass, then the seller may elect to Speculate by Proxy, Purchase by Proxy or Pass.

Depending on the winning action, the following occurs:

4 - Speculate. The winner pays the seller the transition price above the current price. The price rises up the blue arrow to the new price directly above the current price.
3 - Speculate by Proxy. The winner discards two buyers. The seller receives the transition price above the current price from the bank and discards the tulip into stock. The price rises up the blue arrow to the new price directly above the current price.
2 - Purchase. The winner pays the seller the current price. The price rises along the green arrow to the new price to the right of the current price.
1 - Purchase by Proxy. The winner discards one buyer. The seller receives the current price from the bank, and discards the tulip into stock. The price rises along the green arrow to the new price to the right of the current price.
All players pass. The player discards the tulip into stock and receives the transition price below the current price from the bank. The price drops along the purple arrow to the price directly below the current price.

The current player must sell a tulip unless he has less than two tulips in hand, in which case he may choose to pass

2. Pick up a buyer card

The player selects either one of the face up buyer cards, or the top face-down buyer card. If the player selects a face-up buyer card, then it is shown face-up to all players for a short period of time, so that they can see what is taken.

This action is only available for the first three turns of the game. Hence each player can only have a maximum of six buyer cards (three from the start of the game plus three which are picked up on their first three turns).

3. Buy a tulip.

The player buys a new tulip from stock. They pay the current price of the tulip to the bank, and the price rises along the green arrow to the right.

The player can decline to buy a tulip.

The player cannot buy the colour of tulip that they sold earlier in the turn.

The tulip bought is indicated with a *.

End of the turn

At the end of their turn, the current player moves forward one player. If the new current player also has the priority marker, then the priority marker moves backwards one player.

The Bubble Bursts

Whenever a tulip reaches a burst price (the yellow spaces on the board), the price of that colour of tulip immediately bursts.

If the price bursts because a player played a "4 - Speculate" or "3 - Speculate by Proxy" card, then all other players must immediately discard one buyer (the buyer is scared off by the prices becoming too high).

Each player who then has a tulip and a buyer of the burst colour may sell that tulip to the buyer at the burst price. The price then drops down the purple arrow to the transition price below the burst price.

Each player who then has a second tulip and buyer may sell that tulip to the buyer at the transition price. The price then drops down the purple arrow to the next price down.

This process of selling to buyers and dropping the price continues until no player has a tulip and a buyer in that colour remaining.

This process is then continued, selling tulips which don't have buyers to the market. As before, one tulip is sold by each player, then the price drops, then another is sold, then the price drops, etc.

Once this process is completed, the colour of tulip is removed from the game. All buyer cards of this colour are discarded. Any buyer cards of this colour remaining in the buyer deck are replaced.

Example of a Bubble burst

David has

3 tulips and 3 buyers
Peter has

3 tulips and 1 buyer
Markus has

2 tulips and 4 buyers

End of the game

When the last-but-one colour of tulip has burst, the last colour bursts immediately. This follows exactly the same method as above, except that the initial price will be lower (as the tulip had not reached a burst price when the burst happens).

The game is then over. The player with the most money wins.

Additional Help

You can right-click on any button, and it will display more information about exactly what it will do in the current context.

Copyright (c) 2009, JKLM Games Ltd