You have risen to be the CEO of a multinational consumer electronics company and are ready for the new generation of mobile technologies. But you are not the only company working in this market and competition is fierce. Now is your time to develop and execute your strategy for success. Do you want to flood the market with cheap phones but sell plenty or specialise in high end, expensive phones and not sell as many. The choice is yours. Mobile Markets is played over five rounds (or years) and each round is made up of eight phases. These phases include Preparation, Planning, Pricing, Technology, Marketing, Production. Sales and Profit.
The preparation phase essentially acts as a round reset. Price markets are reset, turn order determined, an event is revealed displays are refreshed and customers are displayed. In the planning phase each player, in secret, arranges their two “planning pads” which will dictate how many of each symbol (product price, technology, marketing and goods) they will have for the next phases. Phase 3 is pricing and each player adjusts their products' price up or down based on the symbols displayed on their planning pads. Phase 4 is technology in which players can purchase one technology card and any number of feature cards they have based on the number of technology symbols on their planning pads. Phase 5 is marketing and each player can purchase one marketing card if they have enough marketing points displayed.
Phase 6 is production and players will manufacture a set number of goods based on symbols displayed on their planning pad, plus any goods symbols on the event cards, plus one extra for each overlapping space on their planning pads. This gives the number of phones the player has available to sell this round. The next phase, phase 7, is Sales. In this phase you first create a product by selecting feature cards that your phone wants to have. Based on the manufacturing costs and number of features and their respective cost, you work out much net profit per sale you have. Then you sell your phones to the customers on display for each customer that you meet the requirement for and goods you have available. In the final phase - Profit - the player who sells the most goods gets a bonus eight money, technology and marketing campaign cards trigger and gain additional bonuses/benefits and the players receive profit based on the number of goods sold and the net price per good.
The above is a brief overview of how the game plays and is not a full rules explanation but hopefully gives you a good idea of the game.
Mobile Markets is a standalone game in the Smartphone Inc. line of games. I have not played the original Smartphone Inc so no comparisons will be made. But how does Mobile Markets play? What are my thoughts on it as a standalone game? Let's find out.
At first glance it appears Mobile Markets is a simple(ish) card game but there is so much more to this game than just that. It is deep and thinky, there is a lot of planning and strategy and you have to be watching what your opponents are doing to come out on top.
The arrangement of the planning pads dictate your actions for the rest of the round. I love the puzzle of flipping the pads, moving them and positioning them to get to a point where you have all the icons that you require. This is probably one of the most important steps in the round structure as it sets you up for the rest of the round. You only have two pads so the options are not endless and this keeps down time shorter than it could have been. It can still take some time, especially if you have an analysis paralysis kind of gamer. Me, I am more gut feel and wing it kind of player. Either way, this mechanism works well and is a very exciting and fun aspect of the game.
Of course, all your best laid plans can be undone when your opponent undercuts you and is before you in turn order, but it is all part of the game and there is an element of interaction here that does not feel mean but does feel very competitive.
You can acquire technology cards and marketing cards to give players added abilities and bonuses for performing various actions. Utilising these cards effectively gives you an added boost to give you the upper hand on your opponents. In addition to this you can acquire feature cards that you can add to your phones to increase their star rating and satisfy the demands of the customers. You only have limited space for these so choosing which features to add to your phones allows you some flexibility in targeting certain customers.
There is a lot to think about in Mobile Markets and it all stems from the arranging of the pads. This feeds into most things you do, it determines turn order, who sells first, market price, etc and I love the puzzle of working this out as best you can. There is the “reveal” of what everyone has done and then working out if your plan is still going to be a success. There are many ways to score points and there is a sense of competitiveness without it being overly mean.
There is also a very compelling solo mode, which is all driven by a deck of AI cards to determine their actions. They will remove cards from the market, set their market prices, add features to their phone and it works really well. At first I thought it looked quite complicated, but in practice it plays rather smoothly. It works well and replicates another player brilliantly.
Overall, Mobile Markets is an excellent game both solo and multiplayer. There is interaction but it is not aggressive. There is planning but with the ability to pivot and there are some very cool and interesting choices to be made. Highly recommend this game.