Smartphone Inc (2018)
Designer – Ivan Lashin
Art - Viktor Miller Gausa
Publisher – Cosmodrome Games, Arcane Wonders, BoardM Factory, Broadway Toys LTD, Maldito Games, Portal Games
Smart plays, smart game...
Have you ever wanted to be the CEO of your very own smart phone company, develop the latest technologies and dominate the global market? Well if you answered yes to any of those things the Smartphone Inc. may just be the game you are looking for!
How to Play?
The game plays over five rounds, each consisting of eight phases.
Phase 1. Planning – In this phase players will secretly arrange their tablets by overlapping 1-6 spaces, once you have decided how you want to do it the symbols left visible will be the actions you can take in later phases and at the end of this phase each player will reveal what decisions they have decided to take.
Phase 2. Pricing – players will then set their prices up or down depending on what symbols they have showing on their tablets, this is important because the player with the lowest price is going to be able to go first in turn order this round and potentially steal sales away from the ones who have set a higher price.
Phase 3. Production – Players will then take a number of cubes which represent their stock according to the number of production symbols they have showing on their tablets (do you notice a pattern here?) players will also get extra produce for the amount of spaces they have overlapped in phase one as well as any unused improvements which I will come on to next.
Phase 4. Production Improvement – In turn order now ,from the cheapest price first, players will either take a two space production improvement tile from the supply which will have more symbols on it related to phase one, these tiles can be placed on top of the tablets as well or if not needed can be used for extra production in phase three, or take a single space production tile if they don’t have the Production Improvement symbol showing.
Phase 5. Studying Technologies – In the phase, again in turn order, players will take turns to place the amount of research cubes they have on to any of the listed improvements such as Wi-Fi, 4G, GPS to name a few, each one will come with a required research cost which will need to be fulfilled by each player, you can for example place two cubes in a technology that requires four cubes and leave them there for a later turn but unlocking a new technology first will allow you to take the bonus VP tile for extra points at the end of the game. When a player has enough cubes they replace them with a tower to show they have unlocked that tech and can take the corresponding benefit for the rest of the game and most importantly it shows that you are able to sell to the customers who want that technology.
Phase 6. Logistics – Using the same cubes that players use to do research you then place cubes in an adjoining location to where you already have a office block on the map, when you gain enough cubes to unlock an office in a location you may take an office an place it in the next available spot, this will let you sell phones in this location for the rest of the game which is important to stop other players selling there first.
Phase 7. Sale – This phase lets players, in turn order still, take the phones they produced earlier in phase three and start to sell with a few conditions, firstly to sell in any location you need to have an office there, secondly you must work from left to right and sell to every customer you are able to and lastly you can only sell to customers who either are willing to pay the price that you set on phase two or will buy a phone at any cost if you have the required technology unlocked.
Phase 8. Receiving VP – this is as simple as it sounds you gain the amount of VP equal to the amount of production cubes you sold times the price you set in phase two, you also get points for the locations that you sold the majority of phones in, point value is printed on each location.
Reset and start again for another four rounds and at the end the person with the highest amount of points wins!
So now we know how to play what do I think about it? Firstly I want to say that I really like this game I have only played it at a two and three player count but I can imagine that it would scale really well to the maximum of five players which would make every choice have much more brutal effects to your rivals.
I like how thematic it is the whole game feels very corporate and makes me feel like I am in the board room of a top smartphone company making important decisions and then once I make those decisions they can all go completely wrong when another player reveals that they have set their prices to rock bottom for the turn which means they will be going before me and unlocking the tech I wanted first for the VP or selling to all the customers I was going to taking sales away from me.
The game itself is super easy to teach and understand for gamers at most levels, we have a very mixed game group and so far the people I have introduced it to have picked it up after the first turn or two
The components are nothing special, it is nice how each player gets their own tray with all the resources etc in their colour and the dual layered game board is amazing there is something satisfying about placing a cube in a space that was made for it, although that may just be me but apart from that you are just getting coloured cubes, don’t get me wrong it works fine but personally I like to see a lot of jazz on a board I am the guy who is constantly searching Etsy for upgraded components and inserts and if you are as well then don’t expect to be getting miniature phones as resources or office block minis to the standard of Tapestry but on the up side this game comes in at around £45 which for the quality of gameplay is a no brainer.
Overall this game is really fun, I like it a lot and when lockdown is over it will see a lot more play time at regular game nights, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone and if you get the chance to play or even own a copy then I urge you to do it.