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  • Funding Board
  • 72 Fund Cards
  • 9 Starting Fund Cards
  • 45 Fund Card
  • 18 "Bear" fund cards
  • 60 Industry Tiles
  • 4 Luxuries
  • Start Player Marker
  • 5 Player Screen
  • 5 Time Wheels/Markers
  • Cash
  • Trading Envelope

Object of the Game

In Ponzi Scheme, players are financial frauds who are attempting to raise funds by claiming to invest in various bogus industries. Upon due day, players must pay the promised dividends to their investors.

In addition, players may trade stakes in these bogus industries with each other through Clandestine Trading . Whenever a player fails to pay the interest due, the game ends immediately. All "surviving" players score points according to the scale of their virtual industries.


  1. Place the Funding Board in the middle of the table. There are three rows of Funding Rows on the Funding Board. The cards from steps (2)-(5) will form the market.

  2. Place and arrange the 9 Starting Fund Cards on the Funding Board according to their value, with the lowest three cards in the first row, and the highest three cards in the third row. Order within the same row does not matter.

  3. Shuffle the other 63 Fund Cards to form a Fund Deck. Place it face down next to the funding board.

  4. Separate the Industry Tiles by type into four piles. Place them next to the Funding Board.

  5. Place the Luxury Tiles next to the Funding Board.

  6. Separate the cash bills by denomination to form the bank. Place them near the board within easy reach of all players. A player may also be appointed to act as the banker to pass and sort the cash.

  7. Each player takes 1 Time Wheel, 1 Time Marker and 1 Player Screen. Place the time wheels in front of each player, with generous space around the wheel. Place the time marker next to wheel by the arrow space. It will not be moved during the game. Players could use the screen to hide the money received later, but never cover anything else.

  8. The player who is best at keeping their word will be the starting player. Pass the Start Player Marker to that player. Player turns will go in clockwise order for this game.

  9. The Game begins!

The players do not have any money or industry cards at the beginning of the game. They have to obtain them from the market or through trade with other players.

Game Play

The game will consist of several rounds. Each round proceeds in the following phases.

  1. Funding: Each player may choose an industry tile & a fund card in player order.

  2. Clandestine Trade : Each player may choose to participate in clandestine trading.

  3. Pass the Marker: Pass the start player marker and remove a fund card from the board.

  4. Market Crash: If the number of bears on the board is equal or more than the number of players, the market crashes.

  5. Turn the Wheel: Everyone turns their wheels clockwise by one space; if the market crashes, turn them by two spaces instead.

  6. Pay the Interest: Pay all due interests.

A. Funding

Beginning clockwise from the starting player, each player may choose to "Fund" from the market. Passing is allowed.

  1. When you "Fund", take 1 industry tiles & 1 funding card from the market. You must either take both or choose to pass.

  2. First, pick an industry tile from the market and place it in front of you. Sort tiles of the same industry into a single pile. Display them so that other players can easily identify the type & number of Industry Tiles you have. You CANNOT choose an industry tile if it will be the 4th tile of this type you have.

  3. Then, you take a fund card from the market depending on the industry tile you just took.

    1. If it is the 1st tile of that industry, you MUST take a fund card from the 1st funding row.
    2. If it is the 2nd tile of that industry, you MUST take a fund card from the 2nd funding row.
    3. If it is the 3rd tile of that industry, you MUST take a fund card from the 3rd funding row.
  4. Check the payment period of the fund card. Put the fund card next to the corresponding number of your time wheel. If you have multiple cards in a single space, you may stack them together, but do not cover the period and interest of the fund cards.

  5. Take money from the bank equal to the amount specified on the fund card. Hide the cash behind your screen.

Whenever there are less than 9 funding cards in the market, immediately draw new fund cards to restock the funding board back to 9 cards.

Rearrange the fund cards according to their value, with the lowest three numbers on the first row, and the highest three numbers on the third row.

Order within the same row does not matter.

Whenever the deck is empty, shuffle the discard pile to form a new deck.

Funding Example:

Grace has 2 transportation & 1 real estate industry tiles in front of her. When it's her turn to choose a fund, she decides to take a transport tile. Since this is her third tile of this industry, she must take a fund card from the third funding row, and she receives money equal to the value of the fund card from the bank.

On the next turn Grace already has 3 transportation tiles, so she cannot take another transportation tile. She decides to choose a second real estate tile, thus she takes a fund card and receive money from the second funding row.

B. Clandestine Trading

Beginning clockwise from the start player, each player may choose to offer a clandestine trade to another player. Passing is allowed.

To offer an inside trade, the other player must have at least one common industry with you. Choose a common industry to trade with that player, they cannot refuse.

Secretly place any amount of money inside the trading envelope, and hand it over to the player you are trading with. The other player inspects the money within and declares a response from the following 2 options:

  1. Sold! : The player takes all money inside the envelope and hand over 1 tile from the chosen industry to you.

  2. Counter offer! : The player must add money equal to the amount inside the envelope, and return all money within back to you. Check if the additional amount is correct, the price cannot be changed. Then that player will take 1 tile from the chosen industry from you.

When you choose a player to offer a clandestine trade, the other player cannot refuse. But that player will get to decide whether to "Sell" or "Buy" a tile of the chosen industry, and you cannot refuse!

During the game, the cash you have and the price of clandestine trade are all private information. You should keep all your money hidden behind your player screen at all times.

The price of an clandestine trade should be kept strictly inside the envelope, only the participating players should know the exact amount. They should not disclose the exact price, but the other players are free to discuss and speculate on the transaction.

All other information, such as the type of your industries, fund cards, interest and payment period are all public.

C. Pass the Marker

If you have the start player marker, pass it to the player on your left. The player who receives the marker will choose and remove a fund card from the market. Place all removed cards face up next to the board to form a Discard Pile.

If a starting fund card is removed, put it back into the box instead. It is removed from the game.

Restock the funding board to 9 cards and sort them. Rearrange the fund cards according to their value, with the lowest three numbers on the first row, and the highest three numbers on the third row.

Order within the same row does not matter. Whenever the deck is empty, shuffle the discard pile to form a new deck.

D. Market Crash

If the amount of "Bear" fund cards in the market is equal or greater than the number of players, then the market crashes:

Bear fund card

  1. Remove all "Bear" fund cards from the market.

    Take the removed cards, the discard pile and the fund deck and shuffle them together to form a new fund deck. Restock the market afterwards.

  2. Beginning clockwise from the start player (who just received the start player marker), each player discards an industry tile in front of them. You must discard from the type of industry that you own the most tiles.

    If you have multiple industries tied for the most tiles, you can choose one freely among them to discard. Return all discarded Industry Tiles to their own piles in the market.

E. Turn The Wheel

All players rotate the time wheel one space clockwise. Do not move the fund cards. If the market crashed this turn, rotate two spaces instead.

If any fund card goes over the arrow and lands on "5", move these cards to the arrow. Do not move the time marker. Only turn the wheel.

Wheel Example:

Alice has an $80 fund at "1", a $25 fund at "2" and a $9 at "3" space of her time wheel.

The market crashed this turn, so we have to turn the wheel 2 spaces this turn.

Her $80 fund moves to "5", $25 fund moves to "arrow" and $9 fund moves to "1". Since the $80 fund lands on the "5" space, move it to the "arrow" space.

F. Pay The Interest

All players check if any fund cards are next to the arrow of the time wheel. All players pay the interest listed on these cards to the bank. If anyone fails to pay all interests due for this turn, they are bankrupt and the game ends immediately. If all players have paid off their interests, the game continues.

All players check the payment period of the fund cards they paid off. Put these fund cards next to the corresponding number of their time wheel. They will never be removed from your wheel.

In other words, every fund card you have will simply return to haunt you again in a fixed amount of turns, but you will only take money from the bank once!

4. A new turn begins, starting with the person with the start player marker.


End of the Game

Whenever one or more players fail to pay all their due interest and goes bankrupt, the game ends immediately. All bankrupt players lose immediately. The remaining players tally their scores to determine the winner.

Industry Points: Players score points according to the size of each industry they have.

Wealth Points: Players score points according to the money they hold.

The player with the highest total points wins.

In case of a tie, the player with the most valuable fund card on their time wheel wins.

Scoring Example:

At the end of the game, Grace has successfully paid off her all her due interest this turn and is not bankrupt, so she gets to tally her points.

Grace has 3 transportations, which worth 1+2+3=6 points; 2 media worth 1+2=3 points; and 1 real estate, worth 1 point. In addition, she has 160 in cash, which worth 4 points. Her total score is 6+3+1+4 = 14 points.

Alice also ends up with 14 points. Since the largest fund card on Grace's wheel is "62", which is larger than Alice's "45", Grace wins the game.

Advanced Rules

We recommend all players to have played the game at least once before playing the advanced rules. The advanced rules are the same as the basic rules, with only the following changes.

Clandestine Trade
  1. Instead of offering a clandestine trade, you may choose to buy a luxury tile if there is at least one available luxury tile on the market.

  2. When you buy a luxury tile, choose one on the market and pay its value to the bank. Take the luxury tile and place it in front of you. Bought luxury tiles are public information.

  3. You can only buy Luxury Tiles from the market. You cannot buy, sell or trade Luxury Tiles with other players.

Game End & Scoring

When scoring, players will not score wealth points. You can only score according to your industries and the Luxury Tiles you bought.

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