Burn Rate

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Cool Studio, 2002

2-4 Players, 30-45 minutes

Rich Koehler

Noun:The rate at which a company burns through cash, implying a negative cash-flow (i.e. more cash goes out than comes in).

Burn Rate's sub-title is "The dot-com card game", and that's exactly what this game is about: controlling the burn rate of your dot-com start-up. Much as the way Scott Adams' cartoon "Dilbert" mimics high-tech life in a cube farm, this game mimics life in a high-tech start-up in the late nineties (at least in the US). I know because I've worked for a couple of them, and indeed am still working for one of the few survivors.

Art imitates life. It's a tired cliche, perhaps, but only because it is often so very true. So too does this game imitate life. The basic premise is that you're running a dot-com startup, and your goal is to go broke last. That you will go broke is pre-destined; it's only a matter of time.

You have a hand of 6 cards, and the basic flow of the game is to play good cards for yourself, and bad cards on your opponents. You may play or discard up to 4 cards each turn, but you may not both play and discard in the same turn. You then pay your expenses and re-fill your hand up to 6, and play passes to the next person.

In this game your only expenditure of money is for employee salaries. As such, almost half of the cards in the game represent employees. Each employee belongs to one of four departments: HR (Human Resources), Finance, Sales and Development. There are no actual workers in any department other than Development, only managers and vice-presidents. (I'm sure there's some subtle comment being made here by the designer, but I'm afraid it escapes me :') Each manager or VP has a skill rating (0 -> 3) with a higher value being better. Each department must have a single department head, which is usually your best manager. If the department has a VP in it, though, then the VP must be made the department head, regardless of their skill rating. A good strategy, therefore, is to force your opponents to hire a lousy VP, especially when they have a really good manager! The manager doesn't leave, so they'll wind up paying for both the bad VP as well as the now-useless manager. Excess managers and VPs are hard to get rid of, too.


Platform : Burn Rate
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Date : 2002
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH17925. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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