Board game idea: Insider Trading
When I was younger, I enjoyed an afternoon playing the board game “Stock Ticker”. It was a new concept to me (no board to travel around), it dealt with money (and getting rich), and I was playing it with some really great friends. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience.
But what stayed with me through the years was the question: “Wouldn’t this game be more interesting if the player had more agency?” As it was, the game was very, very random, with interesting decisions only really happening near the Off Market line – and even those were just betting with higher variance. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about how to do that, and I think I’ve come up with something fun to play.
I’ll definitely try putting together a prototype and guilting my friends into playing it, but for anyone else interested, I’m putting the rules online as well. If you try a game, let me know!
Sometimes being a super-wealthy financial mogul isn’t enough anymore. You have to be the best super-wealthy financial mogul. And that involves proving your worth. You and up to five other players play the part of well-connected and unscrupulous capitalists, attempting to settle a bet: With just $5000 and your own resources, how much money can you make in five years? The winner gets the best table at the country club, while everyone else is forced to eat at the servant’s table. Ugh.
- Game board: A tall board with 5 Price columns and five Quarterly Report squares. Five companies are depicted thereon, with each company having a column and a square all its own. The Price columns go from “BANKRUPT ($0)” at the bottom to “SPLIT ($200)” at the top in $10 increments. The $100 row is specially highlighted.
- 5 Price Markers, one for each company.
- 10 Quarterly Report cards. These cards have the numbers 1-6 on them, alongside a value adjustment, such as +$10 or -$30. When the Quarterly report is resolved by rolling a d6, look up the number rolled, and adjust the stock price by the value adjustment listed.
- 50 Influence cards. These cards have Quarterly Report-altering effects on them, such as “On a 6, +$10”, or “For all rolls less than 3, roll again.” They also have a cost listed, indicating the amount of stock that must be forfeited to activate the Influence card.
- A whole whack of play money.
- Place the game board on the table, with markers for each company in the middle of the board at the $100 level.
- Give each player $5000.
- Shuffle the Influence deck and deal out 3 Influence cards per player.
- Shuffle the Quarterly Report deck and deal one on each company’s Report square.
- Give the First Trader token to the winner of a roll-off (highest wins, ties re-roll).
- Purchase Phase:
- Play starts with the First Trader.
- Choose a single Quarterly Report card to secretly peek at. This card *cannot* be shown to any other player, but the peeking player *may* choose to share the information gained. The information shared does not have to be complete, accurate, or even correct.
- Buy stock from the board, or sell stock you own. Stock is bought and sold to and from the bank, and for the price currently listed on the board.
- Play passes to the next player clockwise, until all players have played.
- Influence Phase:
- Players may play Influence cards face-down on top of company Quarterly Report cards, provided they pay the cost of the Influence card in shares of stock *for* that company.
- Report Phase:
- Reveal each company’s Quarterly Report and Influence cards in turn from top to bottom. Then, roll for each company in turn from top to bottom and resolve their Quarterly Report and Influence cards.
- Any stock that has reached “SPLIT ($200)” has split! Anyone who owns that stock receives an additional amount equivalent to their current amount, doubling the amount they own. The stock’s price is moved back to $100.
- Any stock that has reached “BANKRUPT ($0)” has gone bankrupt! Anyone who owns that stock forfeits it entirely. The stock’s price is moved back to $100.
- Cleanup Phase:
- Quarterly Report cards go back in the deck, which is re-shuffled. Deal out one card on each company’s Report square, as before.
- Influence cards go into the Influence discard pile. Players draw Influence cards to bring their total back up to 3. Players may choose at this time to discard *one* Influence card, though they will have to wait until next turn to refill. If the Influence deck runs out, reshuffle the discard pile as the new Influence deck.
- The First Trader token is passed to the next player, clockwise.
The game progresses for five game years, or twenty game quarters. The winner is the player with the most value in their portfolio, including cash on-hand and stocks at current board value.