I’ve been testing out a little solo game design lately that’s somewhat inspired by Sackson’s Solitaire Dice. Inspired in the sense that I was looking to come up with something that has that same lack of Yahtzee-esque luck mitigation, instead relying on intuition, probabilities, and risk management. Much like Sackson’s game, this can backfire, and the dice can utterly screw you. But even when that happens, there’s enough going on to where the game is still enjoyable (in my humble opinion).
Full rules are listed after the jump, and will repeat some of this brief overview, but here’s the idea: players have four companies they can buy and sell stock shares from. On every turn, the player rolls dice which influence the current value of a given company’s shares. Buying and selling also affects values. On some turns, the market is closed, but when it is open the player can buy shares of one company and/or sell shares of a different company. The player goes through 12 of these buying/selling turns, and scores based on their final pile of cash.
I have a JS game-in-a-post implementation nearly ready to go, so that will appear shortly, along with a PDF of these rules, and potentially a few more strategic thoughts. Until then…
‘Rolling Market’ is a solitaire1 financial game that requires little more than a die and a piece of paper. Ideally, however, a player will have five unique d6s, four sets of thirteen markers (such as 8mm cubes), and a handful of additional markers for tracking money and turns played. The player has four companies to trade in, and can have up to twelve units of stock in each. Each individual company’s stock can be valued between 1 and 6 (and, in lieu of a marker on a track, I have been tracking this with an additional d6 per company). The game is played over 12 buy/sell turns, with an indeterminate number of closed-market turns among them. On a buy/sell turn, the player can buy any number of shares (assuming she can afford them, and stays under the 12 share limit) from one company, and sell any number of shares from any other company. These actions can be completed in either order, and both the buy and the sell actions are optional. During the last two turns, the player may instead take two sell actions.
All companies’ shares are initially valued at three. The player should initialize whatever she is using to track turns at 12. The player starts with $10. She should decide which dice correspond with which companies, the fifth being her volatility die. The player then begins taking her first turn, playing through the following phases: market fluctuation, turn tracking, and finally buying/selling.
Phase One: Market Fluctuation
The player rolls her five dice. She compares each of the four market fluctuation dice with that company’s value:
- If the fluctuation die is higher than the share value, the value increases (max 6). If the value was one or two, it increases by two; otherwise it increases by one.
- If the fluctuation die is lower than the share value, the value decreases (min 1). If the value was five or six, it decreases by two; otherwise it decreases by one.
- If the fluctuation die is equal to the share value:
- If the values are 1, 3, or 5, nothing happens.
- If the player owns no stock in the corresponding company, nothing happens.
- If, however, the values are 2, 4, or 6, and the player owns stock in this company, a split happens. The company’s share value is halved, and the player’s share count is doubled. If this causes the player’s investment in this company to exceed 12 shares, the excess shares are immediately sold (at the new value), minus a transaction fee equal to two shares’ value. This does not count as the player’s sell action for this turn, and can therefore occur on a closed-market turn.
The player now looks at the volatility die. If the die shows a 1 or a 6, this turn is a closed-market turn. The player skips the turn-tracking and buying/selling phases, and starts a new turn at the market fluctuation phase. Otherwise, her turn moves forward, and the die shows the market’s volatility for this turn’s buying/selling phase.
Phase Two: Turn Tracking
Assuming the current turn is a buying/selling turn, the number of remaining turns is decremented by one.
Phase Three: Buying/Selling
The player may now buy and/or sell shares. She may buy any number of shares _from one company_and/or sell any number of shares_from one other company. Both actions are optional, and can be taken in either order. The main restriction is that only one company’s shares can be bought on a given turn, only one company’s shares can be sold on a given turn, and these cannot be the same company.
Shares are bought and/or sold for the corresponding share value. The player must also mind the volatility die – once the player buys that many shares, the value increases by one (maxing out at six) and likewise once she sells that many shares, the value decreases by one (down to one). For instance, if the player had seven shares of a company valued at 5, with a volatility of 2, and she wanted to sell all of the shares, she’d end up with $26 (selling 2 at $5, decrementing the value to 4, selling 2 at $4, decrementing the value to 3, selling 2 at $3, decrementing the value to 2, and selling this last share at $2). Assuming this was the first action she took on this turn, she can now use this money to buy shares from a different company, if she’d like.
Once the player is down to two turns, she sets the volatility die at 3 and does not roll it for the remaining two turns. These turns have a fixed volatility, and are guaranteed buy/sell turns. Additionally, the player may take two sell actions per turn instead of a buy and a sell action.
The player’s turn is now complete, and she collects her dice to roll for the next turn.
Remember that you always have 12 buy/sell turns. Remember that you can always dump everything during the last two turns, if you must. Remember that these last two turns have a volatility of 3, so offloading twelve shares will be painful. Be mindful of splits. A two splitting down to a one is not a bad thing, and you may be tempted to buy it back up to a two. Which may very well work out, but if it splits again and puts you over twelve shares, you’ll be dealing with that penalty.
- I’m sure it’d be relatively simple to adapt a multiplayer game of this, and I intend to keep playing with the basic mechanics to see what I can coax out of it. ↩︎