Reviewed by Herb Levy

MODERNE ZEITEN (MODERN TIMES) Jumbo International, 3 to 5 players, 45-60 minutes; $39.95)


The rollercoaster ride of stock values in the Roaring 20s sets the stage Moderne Zeiten (Modern Times), the latest game for would-be tycoons from Jumbo.

Moderne Zeiten is a Dan Glimne and Gregorz Rejchtman design and comes in a deep box which holds the mounted board, five sets of player markers, a deck of share cards for the five different industries of the game), play money,Picture of ‘Moderne Zeiten’ instructions and plastic pieces in the shape of zeppelins!modernezbox

Each player begins with a zeppelin (in his color) and 20 matching markers in two sizes (10 large squares and 10 small squares) as well as a hand of 8 share cards and a starting bankroll of 15 million dollars. With zeppelins placed on the start space, the game begins.

Each round starts with the roll of a six-sided die to determine the number of shares (from one to six) to be auctioned. Shares come in five different varieties representing the five industries in the game: aviation, automobiles, construction, shipping and telecommunications. In turn, players bid for these available shares. Once a player passes, he is out of the bidding. The high bidder then collects the shares, adds them to his hand, and pays out his bid to the OTHER players! All money spent is distributed among the other players. No more money is generated. With this done, each player, beginning with the player winning the auction, does one of two things.

One choice is to simply draw two share cards from the shuffled deck. This ends the player’s turn. A generally stronger alternative is to play as many cards from your hand as necessary in order to gain a plurality (not a majority, as the rules state) inPicture of ‘Moderne Zeiten’ one or more industries. Getting these pluralities – and keeping them – is the key to success!

The game board is a circular track with spaces for each of the five industries for the six different cities (New York, London, Paris, Berlin, New Orleans and Chicago) of the game. In the center of the board is a grid with the names of the cities on one axis and the five different industries on the other. Once a player has claimed a plurality in an industry AND has played at least one share in a turn, he may move his zeppelin piece ahead to the first unclaimed large square space depicting his controlled industry. That space is then claimed by that player (by putting one of his large squares on it) and the matching square on the board’s grid is also claimed (with one of his small squares). For each share played, the white zeppelin piece, placed on the scoring track, moves up one space. When the number of shares played exceeds 25 (21 with 3 players), the market crashes!

A market crash results in ALL of the shares in the most widely held industry being lost by all players holding them. For example, if 3 aviation shares, 4 automobile, 5 construction, 6 shipping and 8 telecommunication shares were in play, the telecommunication shares would be lost; recycled and shuffled into the stock share draw deck. With the shares vanishing, the white zeppelin moves DOWN the track to indicate the number of shares still in play. No money is lost in a crash, only a player’s control of an industry.

After each player has had a turn, a new round begins starting with a new auction for shares. Play continues until one player reaches the end of the movement track. At that point, scores are immediately tallied.

The player holding the biggest bankroll at game’s end earns 3 points. Each stock plurality in an industry earns a player 1 point. The player who ends the game earns 1 point. But the key is control of the scoring board which generates points for vertical and horizontal control. The player with the most squares in each modernezpartscolumn (industries) representing industry control receives 3 points for each. The player with the most squares in each horizontal column (cities) representing a formidable presence in the city receives that particular’s city value in points ranging from 1 to a high of 6. (In the case of a tie, all tied players, regardless of the normal value for control, receive just 1 point!) The player with the most points wins!

The art deco style of the board (artwork by Franz Vohwinkel) perfectly captures the 1920s ambiance. The variable auction has drawn a little criticism in that it can be frustrating when only one share is up for grabs but that just means you have to manage your very limited funds much more carefully. As money is contained and continues to circulate as the game progresses, you must be wary of spending too much on too little. Also, although the rules don’t specifically say this, we strongly recommend that movement may only be done by playing at least one share of the company you control. This makes it harder for one player to dominate an industry.

The game plays quickly. Players can zoom around the board if they can obtain a plurality in an industry and hold it. But speed is a double edged sword. By skipping over spaces, a player allows his opposition to claim other industries and possibly outmaneuver the speedy opponent in city control. For a longer game, I suggest the simple solution of playing TWO games of Moderne Zeiten with the player in last place in points being the “first” player in the next game with no redistribution of funds. Winner of the game would be the player with the most COMBINED points from the two games.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the game is the rules which, atypical for Jumbo, lacks clarity. And, the edition we played, came without English rules. (Normally, Jumbo publishes a broad market edition with rules in multiple languages. Hopefully, the English rules will correct any errors or rules “fuzziness”. In the meantime, gamers can make use of the excellent translation by Pitt Crandlemire found on the Boardgame Geek site (

Moderne Zeiten is a very attractive game of stocks and shareholding, auctions and money control, coupled with a race element! In our modern times, the rise and fall of the market can make your pulse pound. In this Moderne Zeiten, you’ll get more than your share of action and fun. – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


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