With what has become a tradition with my side of the family around the holidays, the 3 brothers and dad try to fit in a game of Stock Market. This game is quite old (1964 from looking for pictures online), but it is still enjoyable for us. Admittedly it is hard to find the board game now, so the review might not be all that relevant, but I felt like reviewing it anyway.
From modern day standards, I would have to say that the outside of the box is a bit lackluster. There is no preview of the contents for a would-be buyer, so you have no clue as to what the game is like. The interior of the box is much nicer. The tray inserts accommodate all of the pieces (except for the slider) very well.
As might be expected from an older game, and one that is all about just money, the pieces are nothing fancy. The money, shares, board and player pieces are all effective for representing what they need to.
The objective of the game is to accumulate the most money. I think that the actual rules of the game call for it to end when one player’s net worth has reached $1 million. However, our family generally just plays as long as we can, eventually tracking cash and shares on the computer (“as long as we can” used to be much longer before we were all married and had kids…).
In the center of the board, is a slider that tracks the values of the different stocks. There are 8 different stocks in the game, with 4 on each side of the slider. The different sides have an inverse relationship. As the value of the shares on the right side go up, the value of the shares on the left side go down, and vice versa. The adjustment of the slider occurs as players move around the board.
You can start the game in two different ways. The option that we always use is that each player starts with $1,200. The second option starts everybody with $0 and you get to pick an occupation. Each occupation has 2 die rolls associated with it and a dollar amount. Each player rolls, and if one of your numbers is rolled, you collect the specified amount. You can switch occupations on your turn, if you would like. I think that you can jump onto the stock part of the board at any time, but are required to once you have accumulated $1,000. At that point, some players might still be “working” while others are on the board, buying shares. We prefer, the quicker option.
Once on the board, each player ‘s turn consists of the following:
- Sell Stock
- Roll the Dice
- Move the Player’s Piece
- Carry out effects of movement
Before a player rolls the dice, they must complete all selling transactions that they wish. It is important to take note of where you are on the board, as well as the market value of your shares so that you can make the best decision in this step
Roll the Dice
I hope that this step is rather self-explanatory :).
Move the Player’s Piece
There are times when a player will only have one option of where their piece ends up, but in other scenarios, there can be up to 4 different locations. Each square on the outer track of the board has an arrow printed on it (right or left). After rolling, you continue along the path in the direction of the arrow that you started the turn on. The main exception to the direction that you move is that when you pass the entrance to a Stockholder’s Entry that you own shares in, you have the option of entering the market. There are some bad squares on the board, so often it can be an effective strategy to own at least one of each stock so that you can save yourself from hitting the bad squares.
Carry out effects of movement
Once the player’s piece has been moved, the player has different actions based upon the type of square that he has landed on.
Stock – When the player lands on a stock square, the market tracker is moved the amount specified on the square (e.g. Down 1, Up 3, etc). After the market has been adjusted, the player can then purchase as many shares of that stock as he would like (and can afford). Also, if he already owns the stock, he can collect dividends.
Market – When the player lands on a market square, they receive more stock (like a stock split). For example, if you owned 5 shares and landed on a “2 for 1” square, you would receive 10 more shares, bringing you up to 15 total. This is the primary way that you accrue more stock in the game, and also how you generally make the most money.
Sell All – For each stock in the game, there is a “Sell All’ square. This is located (inconveniently) on your way out of the market. When you hit one of these squares, you shave too sell all of your shares of that stock at the lowest price possible (regardless of the stock’s current market position). This can lead to some massive losses for players, since there is the potential to lose up to $200/share for the top end stocks.
Corner – Whenever a player hits one of the corners on the board, they have to pay a broker’s fee of $10/share. When you are first starting out, this can be quite trivial, but once you are hauling around large quantities of stock, these fees can be quite large. Each of these squares also has either a Down 20 or Up 20, which almost always massively shifts the market and generally causes massive swings in share prices (potentially $80/share for the top end stocks)
I think that this is a fun game, which is probably helped by the fond memories that I have from playing it. It can be lots of fun to catch the big break where you buy tons of shares for cheap and then the market swings quickly to make you huge amounts of cash. However, there is also the flip-side of that, where you can’t seem to catch a break. We generally play this with 4 players, and there is usually one person who has a terrible game, hitting all of the Sell All squares or each corner and one or two people that are catching the breaks and running away with the game.
With that being said, the game is hugely luck dependent. Even if you do make a good purchase, due to poor rolls, it can become a slog to get around the board to the market that you need to make the big money. Also, you can finally make it there, only for the share price to plummet. There are things that you can try to do to mitigate some of the risks, like buying shares of all stocks, but even those require the luck of landing on the square to provide you the opportunity.
As I was playing it over the holiday, I was realizing that now with kids and wives, we don’t get time to play the long sessions, and I think that I would rather spend the time playing another game that is less dependent upon how I roll. Regardless, the time spent together is enjoyable.