Dale Yu: Review of World Exchangers

World Exchangers

  • Designers: Romain Caterdijan, Smoox Chen
  • Publisher: EmperorS4
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by the publisher

world exchangers

After the Incident “El Dorado” in 2082, the world was divided and dominated by 4 notorious oligarchs. They maintain peace on earth but have a bizarre tradition every 50 years – they redistribute the lands and resources by selling and buying all the major cities in the world. Will you maximize your fortune in this once-in-a-lifetime chance, or vanish in the dust of the cities that never stop changing hands in this world?  In this game, you will buy and sell cities at the right moment to earn the most profits and gain a variety of rewards. Become the richest oligarch to win the game!

Umm, yeah – so like many futuristic games, the one paragraph dystopia story sets the stage for the game.  Each player is given the player board (a grid with income on one axis and months of the year on the other) and a hand of 3 starting city cards.  The city cards have a base value in the middle, a background color, and then underneath that is an area for certain months of the year when they are worth more.  Players start with 1300 money, but subtract the sum of their starting cards from that total.  The remaining sum is marked on the “0” month line of the chart.


Each player then gets a random Character card (which determines player color), places their cube on the Propaganda board (everyone starts at 0 except for the red player who starts at 1).  Finally, the Trend cards for month 6 and 12 are selected and placed near the board.  I’d also recommend placing the scoring dry erase sheet out so that everyone can see it and refer to it as needed during the game.  A display of 5 city cards is dealt face up on the table.

The game lasts for 12 rounds, and in each round players must either buy or sell city cards.

To buy cards – choose one of the faceup cards in the market that you can afford, and add it to your player area.  Calculate your new income level, and draw a straight line from your position in the previous month to the new total in the current month.  Note that you have a one-time special ability that allows you to buy two cards in the same round.  If there are 2 or fewer cards in the market after you buy, replenish the market to 5 cards after your turn.

To sell cards – choose one of the city cards in front of you, and sell it back to the market.  Normally a city card will sell for its base value, but many of the cities have certain months when they are worth more (highlighted in blue) or cause a celebration (marked in red).  You will get the higher value if you sell in one of these highlighted months AND if you sold in a red month, you’ll also get a bonus on your board.  Calculate your new money total and draw a straight line from your previous income position to your current position.

world exchangers city cards

Whether you buy or sell, you’ll be drawing a line on your chart.  If your pen line goes through any icons on the chart, you’ll gain those things.  If you touch a propaganda marker, you’ll move your cube up one space on the propaganda chart.  If you go through a green, yellow or blue investment icon, you’ll gain this icon for the final scoring.  The board also has a few starred vertices on it; if your line directly crosses thru that Credit Zone vertex, you will get bonus points at the end of the game.  Finally, if you sold a celebrating city (in a Red month), you draw a circle around your ending income space so that it touches the midpoints of the four squares around it – you get credit for any of the icons in those four boxes.  

At the end of the 6th and 12th rounds, look at the corresponding trend card and, if you meet the requirements, take the bonus listed on the card (though at least one of the cards gives a penalty instead if  you meet the criteria).

After the 12th round is complete, now you get to the final reckoning.  There is an included scoreboard which makes it easy to remember the multiple steps in scoring.  Score points for:

  • Points for the 12th month Trend card
  • Face value of remaining city cards
  • Final number on your cash flow line
  • Points for the number of credit zone stars your line directly goes thru
  • Investments – for each of the 3 colors, multiply the number of investment icons with the number of city cards of matching color and add 2 zeroes.
  • Points for your relative standing on the Propaganda chart

The player with the most points wins. Ties broken in favor of the player with the most cities left at the end of the game.


My thoughts on the game

So, as the story goes, this game arose from a challenge of trying to make a game around a chart.  And while that doesn’t sound like an overly fun idea, it actually turns out to provide a pretty neat game.  

Though the game is small in size, there is a lot going on here; much more than the small box would lead you to believe.  The main way to manipulate the income line on your track is the simple buying and selling of city cards.  Unlike many economic games, the goal here isn’t to always try to turn a profit – heck, in fact sometimes you are happy to sell for the same amount that you bought at – because what you’re really trying to do is manipulate your income line on your chart to hit specific places on the chart.

As the line wavers up and down, you’ll pass through the scoring multiplier icons as well as credit zone stars and propaganda boosters.  Each of these helps you in the endgame, though the relative value can vary based on what else you are doing in the game as well as possibly based on the special ability of your character.


The important thing to remember about the City Cards is that they will not score anything unless you have at least one multiplier icon for them. So, a lot of the strategy during the game is collecting the icons you need to score, and then figuring out how to have the associated colored cards in your hand at the end of the game. It can be harder than it looks because you have to buy or sell a card each round, and sometimes you  end up selling cards of the color you are trying to collect because it is the only card that gets you to a certain spot on your sheet that you want to be at. 

You will have to do a fair amount of advance planning in this game to figure out when is the best time to buy or sell your cities. You should always keep track of the special month for each City to be sold, it can be helpful sometimes to have the extra income, and if you have timed things correctly, it can be very beneficial to be able to draw the circle around the 4 adjacent cells to your ending spot if you are able to sell in a celebration month. 

I have found in most of my games that I either strongly compete for the propaganda standings or I end up completely ignoring it. the payoff is quite good if you managed to win the race for first place, but the payouts for all other positions are not very good in my opinion, and for me, it is not worth while to spend any energy 2 words that if I do not think I can reasonably compete for the top prize. Of course, ymmv. 

This is a joint design, and I must say that Mr. Caterdijan has a number of new releases that are coming out at SPIEL 2022; and I’m definitely now on the lookout for more of them to see what they might offer as well!  (And, not to sell Smoox short – another co-design, The Three Little Wolves, will also be available at SPIEL this year).

I look forward to many more plays of World Exchangers.  For a 20-30 minute game, there are so many decisions to make, and you have to stay on your toes to get your line to go where you want it to go.  It looks to be another great game in a small box from EmperorS4!

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y
  • I like it. John P
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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