Review: Bulls&Bears Board Game

At the 2016 NY Toy Fair I had the absolute honor of interviewing the creator of the Bulls & Bears board game. Out of everything that was on this display at Toy Fair, it was this game the really stood out for me. This isn’t another Monopoly game copy; Bulls & Bears is a unique game that teaches you about the economy, investment, and managing your money. It’s a game that once you start things off, you slowly but surely get the hang of it. It especially helps if you or one of your friends is good with numbers; pen and paper are also handy to keep track of investment payouts, etc.

The game plays simple enough, allowing the player to understand terms that only those who normally pay attention the stock market or watch business news would understand. I count myself lucky that all there is to watch at my current job is financial news, so most of it I got right away, but for one of my other friends it was all Greek to him. In a sense it was a good thing because it tested the games playability with people who may not even be familiar with the concept of the game at all. The game can definitely drag on since you have to meet certain conditions to be declared the winner. The conditions that allow you to win the game are to acquire a net worth of $200,000+ and owning key assets in the game: Retirement Plan, Home, and Insurance (Health & Property). Sounds easy enough, but of course nothing is ever that easy. Each player starts the game with $100,000 given to them by the banker. To determine the order of each player players roll the dice and in order of highest to lowest roll determines the order in which each person goes.

There are a number of spots a player can land on; the more common spots are: Knowledge, News Flash, and Wild. Landing on “News Flash” will allow all players to buy or sell investments based on the headline read. After the headline has been read, the back of the card contains the market response. So depending on how you invested you can stand to make money or lose money. Landing on “Knowledge” requires the player to pick up a Knowledge card and answer a multiple choice question which they bet anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 and if they guessed the right answer they win according to their bet. But should a player cheat, they will be accused of Insider Trading and pay a hefty fine. Landing on “Wild Card” is exactly as the name implies; Just the most random unexpected events that happen to the player(s) that can be either very negative or somewhat positive. 

The rarest spots on the board that can really help determine the winner of the game: Insurance, Housing, Bonds, and Retirement. Landing on spots like Hospital or Vacation will require to skip a turn. Not having health insurance will cost you a fee of $2000 multiplied by the number rolled on the dice and that vacation will cost you $2,500. If you were lucky enough to get health insurance then you pay nothing and skip turn. You do collect money whenever your past go, but instead of $200, you collect based on your investments, salary, and even collect more money based on your education degree.

It does a great job of getting players to engage with one another about the topics that come up when you draw certain cards or land on certain spaces. It’s a game that players will play for hours without realizing how much time has passed; which in my book is always a great thing. Their website also acts as a guidebook to the game. I found it a plus if you have your TV tuned into financial/business news networks like Bloomberg or CNBC while playing, just because it can put certain things about the game into a clearer perspective. The Newsflash cards while fun, were kind of difficult to determine which investments or industries they affected until you turned the card over.

When you have a game that encourages people to actually think about their real life finances and about investing, whether it’s for retirement or profit while still being fun, I think you got a great game on your hands. I give it 4 stars for it's creativity, but it can drag on a bit trying to achieve every goal.


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