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$tinky Busines$


Piotr Jesionek

G3 / ST Games

No. of Players:
2 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Although we all know that money does not stink, the Polish publisher G3 and its brand ST Games tells us something else. $tinky Busines$ is the name of the game that takes the waste management as its subject. Admittedly waste is not comparable with perfume when it comes to odour, but when you see the business behind, it is all about money. Depending on the region, a German household may have 3 to 5 different dustbins that are collected by different companies, and every few years the collection must be advertised for bids again. If you know that only very few submissions are carried out without a claim you can conclude that there waits a high profit span, and that's probably the reason why the game has an additional subtitle: "clean money". Now, that makes sense....

I was quite interested about the way how Piotr Jesionek, the designer of the game, has managed to find mechanics to set up an interesting board game around this theme, although - or maybe precisely because - waste is not what you would call a popular theme for a board game. The game addresses five different kinds of waste processing and each player chairs a company that covers the whole process, beginning with the collection and ending with the recycling and the incineration. Of course not all waste is alike, and so we find valuable things like aluminum and glass as well as garbage in the dustbins. For all of these different kinds of waste different waste processes are necessary. Only if a player possesses the appropriate processing facilities he will be able to completely commercialize his collected waste.


But let us take one thing at a time. $tinky Busines$ uses a general board with three different sections, in which the players can place recycling plants during the game. Each of these sectors has its own deck of waste cards from which players draw, depending on their number of recycling plants in the corresponding sector each round of the game. The revealed waste cards are placed in the corresponding sectors, and most valuable in gaming terms are recycling plants in Sector I, because each round the decks of cards are moved one sector further. So after a round we find only cards that were left in Sector I in the deck of Sector II and so on. Cards left over in Sector III after the collection phase are sent to incineration. For this, we find spaces in another area next to Sector III where players can build incineration plants to burn all the waste that was not collected for recycling in one of the three sectors before. Next to the general board, each player also has its own player area where he builds processing facilities to recycle all different kinds of waste and sends his waste cards for processing matters.

Each round begins with a littering phase, in which players choose a waste card from four randomly drawn new cards of the draw pile. This card can instantly be sent to a waste processing facility of the player (if he possesses the adequate processing facility), or it can be taken to the player's hand (up to hand limit of two cards) for later rounds. As an alternative, the card can also be placed in the landfill of the player, where all cards which a player cannot use (or hold in his hands for later recycling matters) are collected. But beware: only toxic waste cards are good in the landfill, as they will give positive victory points at the end of the game. All other cards in the landfill count as negative victory points.

All cards that have not been chosen by the players go to the draw pile of Sector I on the main board. The pile of cards in this sector is then refilled with cards from the general drawing pile up to 12 cards plus a special golden waste card (one of the most valuable cards in the game). Waste cards range from simple garbage cards that cannot be recycled (and thus are worthless for a player with the exception of incineration) to bio waste, paper, glass and aluminum that will contribute a lot to the player's income if he has the adequate waste processing facility in his player area.

In the following investment phase, players can buy the already described recycling and incineration plants that are placed on the different areas on the main board. As said, these recycling plants determine the number of cards a player may draw from the sector's drawing pile of waste cards in the next phase of the game. But to recycle the waste a player must also have the appropriate processing facilities on his own player board. So, these tokens can be bought in this phase, too.


After all cards from the three sectors were distributed to the players depending on the players' recycling plants in the respective sector (and have been sent to appropriate processing facilities in the player areas or taken to the hand for later rounds), left over waste cards in Sector III are sent to incineration. Every incineration plant can be used to incinerate two cards and earn money for this. This is quite lucrative, especially at the beginning of the game, but in later rounds there may be only few cards left for incineration, because a lot of cards were taken for recycling. So, if there are not enough cards left in Sector III for all the incineration plants, the incineration follows a strict order. All plants are arranged in rows, and so the incineration plant in the first row may start to incinerate earlier than a plant of row two or three. Of course a plant in the top row is more expensive than in a lower row. The same principle also applies to the recycling plants, and so the player with a plant in row one may draw first from the drawing pile and choose from the drawn cards. The number of cards a player may draw varies from two to seven, depending on the row and the number of plants a player has placed there. Cards that have not been chosen go back to the draw pile of the sector. Before the next player (with recycling plants in a lower row) draws his cards, the draw pile is shuffled and so the chances for a player in a low row to find good cards are definitely much worse.

After all these investments, collections and incineration, it is finally time for recycling. In this phase all cards that were placed on the players' processing facility boards are recycled, and of course all this contributes to the player's income.


The game ends after ten rounds. In the final tally victory points are awarded not only for the money, but also for the number of processing facilities a player has opened during the game, for recycling and incineration plants and for collected toxic waste cards in the landfill area.

Piotr Jesionek certainly did not choose one of the usual gaming themes for $tinky Busines$. Waste is not fantasy, not science fiction, not the Middle Ages nor the Roman Empire. It is just waste, but I think the author has made a very good fist of it. At the beginning all these different plants, facilities, incinerations and kinds of waste may seem a little bit confusing, but essentially it is a very easy game. All my fellow players had problems to understand the game flow after explaining the rules (although Ishould have become quite good in explaining games by now), but it took them only one round to get into the game. Basically it is a light weight resource management game with a significant factor of luck, but that works fine. It is not too complex with an average playing duration of about an hour, but it gives even serious gamers enough to start thinking about finetuning their waste industry. However, it is certainly not designed to be a gamer's game, and so it is more a game for the whole family with an interesting theme, a moderate game duration and some interesting game decisions.


Although simplistic, the game roughly shows the players how the waste business works in detail. So, for example glass and aluminum cards are discarded before incineration because they are not burned. Further information about the time of decomposition and the possible recycling product on each waste card as well as information what belongs to which dustbin and what not are included for educational reasons. I made the experience that especially children were quite interested in this information and discovered a lot during the game. So, you can see that $tinky Busines$ also has some elements of an educational game.

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