A couple of weeks ago, we sat down with Ashley from Capital Gains Studio, creators of Wongamania: Banana Economy, to try our hand at their new financial literacy board game, Debtzilla. Here’s what we think.
Debtzilla is a game that aims to teach people about how the economy works and to strategically plan the allocation of resources, balancing their current and future needs. By learning through play, everyone from young kids to adults can learn about how debt, good and bad kinds, affect the all of us. Winning, therefore, requires careful planning, co-operation, and a dose of luck. Sounds like real-life?
While the concepts might be very realistic, the attractive graphics and wacky game characters transport players into a fun, interesting world. Taking on the roles of financial vigilantes – working class employees by day and debt fighting heroes by night, players of the game protect ordinary citizens from debt and bankruptcy, while to work together to combat financial villains, the biggest of whom is the titular Debtzilla.
How It Works
Designed for 2 to 4 players aged above 14, the game will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
The game is relatively complex. You will need to consider many options and decide how you should best allocate your resources. This is where the cooperative element comes in – its great because it encourages discussions and thinking on resource allocation. It does get easier a few rounds into the game and that’s when the fun really begins.
Heroes vs Villians
Players assume the roles of Heroes inspired by financial titans of our own universe, with their unique powers and strategies.
The financial Villains are, likewise, inspired from our universe, and set out to scam the citizens. If all the citizens are all bankrupt, or if Debtzilla amasses full health, in other words, you chalk up the maximum level of debt, you lose the game.
To defeat the Villains, each player gets a turn to roll dices. Rolling specific numbers that correspond to the Villain’s character card will defeat the Villain. There are tactics you can employ as a team to increase your chances of defeating the Villains, so communicating is key.
Beyond Fun and Games: Learning!
How you build your finances is another thorny issue. Are you amassing good or bad debt? Should you use your money to purchase insurance, save up, or repay your loans? How can you grow your money? These are the kinds of interesting decisions you will be required to make.
The cooperative nature of the game is an important aspect of the game. Even if you are financially stable and can afford the gadgets and defeat the Villains, you will not be able to win the game on your own if you the other players do not take care of their finances and you do not help them.
The option of choosing from a variety of Heroes and the way you wish to allocate your finances gives rise to a vast permutation of the way the game can turn out, which allows you to play it over and over again, with almost infinitely different results.
If you happen to find yourself and your mates mastering the game, there is another whole new game scenario and endgame boss you can introduce: Inflationsaurus. Choosing either Debtzilla or Inflationsaurus substantially changes the game objectives and how each resource works. Debtzilla portrays an economy with overwhelming debt, reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis, whereas Inflationsaurus portrays an economy experiencing hyperinflation.
Overall, there is a good game in Debtzilla. It offers players the opportunity to learn about finance management and economics fundamentals through play and interaction. The initial learning curve is steep, as there are a lot of elements to absorb about the game for it to work. But for those who are patient, the reward is an enjoyable playing experience with plenty of valuable lessons to be gained!