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Orconomics (Second Edition) Game Review

Giving new meaning to the term hostile takeover

Being an orc isn’t all about the hack and slash; sometimes you have to give good value to your shareholders. Find out more in our review of Orconomics (Second Edition).

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

I am Thrakk the Unscarred, Clan Chief of the Skull Mask clan, Slayer of Engon the Rotten, Spirit Warrior of the Red Claw Warriors, and recipient of an M.B.A. from Ankuboregad business school (with a minor in Public relations). I’m sure you labeled me as a brute as soon as you saw my 6 inch tusks and razor sharp battle-axe; but I’m more than that. I was Summa Cum Laude in my class and I can work up a business plan with as much ease as I can part the heads from the shoulders of my enemies…metaphorically speaking of course.

What’s that you ask? An Orc in business school? Why not, times are changing and we can’t all aspire to greatness on the battlefield. I’ve got big plans for the Skull Mask clan and it all starts with something I’ve named Orconomics; clever name right?

Orconomics (Second Edition) Overview

Orconomics (Second Edition) is a light economic game in which players act as Orcs trying to start a business in one of 11 different industries (which include Transportation, Tourism, Banking, Communication, and Food Processing). Players attempt to conquer their opponents by being the first to collect 11 points (in a 4-5 player game) or 12 points (in a 2-3 player game), through a combination of starting businesses, completing quests, and clever and ruthless cardplay.

Orconomics (I’ll leave the “Second Edition” part off for the remainder of the review), has a nifty modular board which allows for some welcome setup randomization, along with a deck of quest cards, a deck of industry cards, a set of 10 company tokens in each player’s color, and a pile of gold and silver skulls which act as currency.

Setup is a snap. Randomize the board segments, then connect them to form a circle. Turn over 3 quest cards. Give each player their company tokens, starting capital in the form of 5 gold skulls, 3 industry cards. Each player will place two business tokens onto the board to get things moving.

A Turn of Orconomics

At the beginning of your turn you’ll roll the forecast dice to determine the active industry; the industry which players will be working in that round.

Profits & Losses

Then, looking at the active industry AND the two on either side, each player with a business in any of those three industries will pay out profits & losses: either losing or receiving silver based on the value displayed in the bottom left corner of the industry tile. If the crisis token is on that industry, any business on that industry tile will pay out 2 silver (more on the crisis token later).

The Auction

Next, you initiate an auction for a business to be created in the current industry; starting the bidding by naming an amount of whole gold skulls. Then in clockwise order each player can choose to outbid the previous player. The auction continues until players have passed and only 1 player remains. The winning player places one of their company tokens at the bottom left of the industry tile. Since each company token on the board equals 1 point, this is the main way to earn points in the game. Careful stewardship of your money is critical in Orconomics.


Finally you can play any number of cards from your hand. In Orconomics, cards serve two purposes: each card matches one of the industries on the board, and also has a special ability (matching that industry).

Creating/Promoting a Startup

By playing a card for its industry, you elect to place one of your company tokens onto the topmost part of the banner on either side of the selected industry. This creates a startup that, when promoted all the way to the bottom, becomes a full fledged company (earning you a point). You can also promote an existing startup by a single step.

It’s worth pointing out that if there are already startups in the space your startup could go,  you’re able to leapfrog them, potentially all the way. Paying close attention to other player’s startups can net you easy points.

Use an Industry Ability

Instead of creating a startup, you can choose to use the special ability listed on a card. These abilities include “draw 2 industry cards”, “move any company (yours or not) to another industry”, and even “promote all your startups”. The effects range from personally beneficial to to cutthroat (you are an Orc after all) and can really help swing the balance of the game in your favor when played at the right time.

Completing a Quest

At any point during the game, on your turn or not, you may fulfill the demands of a quest card. If that happens you show the other players, then place the quest card in front of you. Each completed quest card is worth 1 point. Since you don’t have enough company tokens to win the game, you’ll have to complete at least 1 quest to be in the running.

The Crisis Token and Embargos

When the current player rolls to determine the active industry they might occasionally roll the same number as the current active industry. When this occurs an embargo is triggered, which has the following effects.

  • The crisis token moves clockwise to the next industry
  • Every player receives an industry card
  • The current player skips the profit & loss and auction stages, and goes straight to development

Card wealth is hard to come by in this game so any chance you get to earn extra cards is great, even if it might mean you don’t get to pay out your businesses. This could also be a nice chance for the crisis token to move off one of your industry tiles and on to that of another player.

The End of a Turn, The End of the Game

At any point during a turn you or another player may announce that they’ve reached the point limit, at which point the game is over immediately.

If no player has won the game during your turn, you’ll draw 1 industry card for free, and may pay 1 gold skull to draw an additional card. Then you pass the forecast dice to the next player, and another turn begins.

Heads will roll…is something that I used to say

Should you pay the gold price for Orconomics, or the iron price? The good news is that you should pay the gold price, unless you really want to embody your inner Orc and steal a copy from a friend. But in either case you’ll definitely want to play this one.

I’m a big fan of lighter weight games, especially ones that come in between the 30 and 60 minute mark. There’s just enough time to work up a strategy and get good at the game, without feeling like Orconomics is overstaying its welcome.

As I mentioned, setup is really simple, which means more time to play the game. The rulebook is well organized, with helpful illustrations, and an appendix for the industry card abilities. The industry tiles are thick and sturdy, with a nice glossy finish to them. The sturdiness is important because the tiles connect together with puzzle piece-like tabs at the top and left of each tile. You’d likely have to play this game dozens and dozens of times to cause any issues. The rest of the components are equally sturdy, and the gold and silver skulls are just too cool. It would be pretty neat to have a deluxe version of this game, or perhaps a friend with a 3d printer who could print skulls…but I digress.

Orconomics also has a really solid mix of choices in the game. Trying to win auctions is the simplest way to earn points, but money is pretty hard to come by, so you can’t just buy your way to victory. This is further complicated by the fact that you buy businesses in gold skulls, but everything else in the game pays in silver skulls. So you have to earn enough money to trade 4 silvers for 1 gold, but you also want to keep an eye on quests because there are some quests which you can complete for having the fewest gold skulls.

You can also earn money or advantages through clever card play. Creating startups is a great way to earn a number of points all at one time, especially if the industries are crowded with other startups. But you can also be cutthroat and steal businesses, rearrange industries, and generally mess with other players. Thankfully this aspect of the game isn’t as impactful as some other games, but it’s just enough to make it spicy.

All in all Orconomics (Second edition) is a solid game, and one which the Skull Mask clan elders would be proud of. Go pick up a copy for yourself, and embrace your inner Orc.

  • Good - Enjoy playing.

Orconomics (Second Edition) details

About the author

Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor in chief of, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.

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