In John Company, players assume the roles of ambitious families attempting to use the British East India Company for personal gain. The game begins in the early eighteenth century, when the Company has a weak foothold on the subcontinent. Over the course of the game, the Company might grow into the most powerful and insidious corporation in the world or collapse under the weight of its own ambition.
John Company is a game about state-sponsored trade monopoly. Players will collectively guide the Company by securing positions of power and attempt to steer the Company’s fate in ways that benefit their own interests. However, the Company is an unwieldy thing. Players will often need to negotiate with one another. In John Company, almost everything is up for negotiation.
Ultimately, this game isn’t about wealth; it’s about reputation. Each turn some of your family members may retire from their Company positions, giving them the opportunity establish estates. Critically, players do not have full control over when these retirements happen. You will often need to borrow money from other players for a chance at retirement. Players also gain victory points by competing for prestige and securing fashionable properties.
Note: John Company very seriously engages with its theme. It is meant as a frank portrait of an institution that was as dysfunctional as it was influential. Accordingly, the game wrestles with many of the key themes of imperialism and globalization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and how those developments were felt domestically. As such, this game might not be suitable for all players. Please make sure everyone in your group consents to this exploration before playing.