The stock market can be brutal. You can make your fortune or lose it all in a blink of an eye. I’m not talking about the actual Stock Market, rather I am talking about the small card game, Vegetable Stock, from Taiwan Boardgame Design.
Vegetable Stock is a 2 to 6 player stock manipulation games that plays in just 15 minutes and is finally going to be available in the UK (previously you had to import it or grab it at a convention).
The questions is, does the game play as sweet as the corn on the cover or is it best left on the side of the plate like kale?
How To Play
After you have set up your market with all five vegetables on different prices (from 0 to 4), shuffle the main deck and you are ready to go (note, in a 2 or 3 player game you need to remove all cards which contain one of the vegetables, i.e. all the tomatoes).
The game is played over six rounds with the aim of scoring the most points by collecting cards with the vegetables on them that are the highest of the stock markets. So if you have 7 carrots and the price for carrots are 5, then your carrots would be worth 35 points.
Each round the start player draws and reveals cards equal to the number of players plus one. Then in turn order players will draft a card and keep it face up in front of them so it is visible to all players. The card that is left over then effects the stock market prices for each vegetable that is visible on the card. So if there was 2 broccoli and an eggplant (aubergine) on the card then the value of the broccoli would increase twice whilst the eggplant would increase once.
If ever a price of a vegetable increases beyond 5 (the top) it crashes and falls to the bottom which is 0,nada, nothing, making any cards players have collected with that vegetable worthless.
Once 6 rounds have been completed players compare their vegetables collected with the current value of the market and the player with the highest score wins.
Variants In The Box
The game includes 2 small mini expansions straight out of the box, the first is an alternative market which causes fluctuations much quicker and creates a more chaotic game. The second is two promo cards, the Sun and the Typhoon. When the sun is revealed an extra card is produced this turn and the stock market is effected by 2 cards rather than 1. When the Typhoon is revealed the stock market cannot crash this turn and instead any vegetables that would crash stay at the top.
This game is all about the draft, observing what other players take and deliberately trying to make market prices crash for your opponent’s vegetables and not your own. The game is so quick that this type of drafting (some call it hate, I prefer competitive) is hilarious and fun. There is nothing sweeter than seeing a competitor collect 10 sweetcorn only for the value to fall to 0 in the last round. Because the game is so quick it will often be played 3 or 4 times in a row with grudges being carried over between games.
Vegetable Stock is the perfect small card game that can be taught in seconds, played anywhere by anyone, and is always guaranteed to cause laughter and fun. Every time I introduced this game to a new player they ask to play a second, third or fourth time.
This game shows what can be achieved with a really small rule set and a pack of cards. In 2023 I have played this game as much as any ‘heavy’ game in my collection and that is because of the smiles it brings to everyone’s faces when that precious broccoli hits the top of the market and then crashes to zero.
My rating of this game is reflective of its cost / fun ratio combined with the fact that I genuinely cannot think of anything negative to say about it except maybe the box is a bit flimsy.
Get Vegetable Stock before it sells out, or should that be before it goes rotten.