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Marc G•Wiz
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Race to Riches is a fairly straightforward family game. We played it a lot growing up, and it is a fun way to teach financial stock market thinking and understanding to kids.

E Basically, here's how it's played:
___1. Players will roll dice to move around the circular track, buying and selling stock in various industries.
___2. The 30-day calendar in the middle of the board will advance occasionally, and the stock ticker will be spun, changing the high-low prices on the market for the 'day'.
___3. Game will end after 30 'days'.

So, if you land on a spot that says "Buy 2 Bonds", you would look at the market and check out the lowest price. Then, decide if you want to buy, and how much (optional, in this case up to 2 shares). Pay the appropriate amount (num. of shares x lowest current price) to the bank and place the appropriate number of your markers in the spaces in that industry area on the board.

Later, you can sell. You look at the highest price on the market and decide if you want to, and may sell up to as many shares as you have in that industry. If you own all the shares in an industry, you've 'cornered the market' and can sell for triple the highest price. Return the markers to your hand and receive the appropriate amount (num. of shares x highest current price) from the bank.

That's basically it. Rinse and repeat for 30 'days', and the player with the most cash at the end is the winner. Unsold shares have no value.

E Some things:
___1. The market itself is the most interesting component of the game. It's a spinner that changes the high- and low- prices of each of the stocks. It's also designed in such a way that some of the stocks are more volatile than others, but have higher sale prices. An interesting mimic of the risk/reward idea.

___2. You start with 10 pieces. One will be a movement pawn, so you'll only be able to buy up to nine shares at once. Creates some interesting decisions.

___3. There is some reasonable control over the market, and every time it changes, so the 'day' advances as well. Players can, through smart play, have some control over the pace of the game, and can even force the end, or slow it down.

___4. There are cards as well. These let you sell for inflated prices, screw with other players (Audit and Black Monday), change the market, move to any space(!). There are some penalty cards in there too, to keep you from getting too excited.

___5. Play order indicates that you may play a card first, then may sell an investment, then may move (and take effect of space you land on). Backwards from most games, where the die roll is first, but makes sense as you can't (easily) buy and sell in the same turn.

___6. If a player ever spins and any of the markets comes up without any indication of price (this happens usually once or twice per game) then they have spun 'Black Monday' and lose all of their investments on the whole board. There is a card that is a weaker version of this effect as well. Can really hurt.

E Weird stuff:

___1. There is a German version. According to the info posted here, it came out second, which is a bit unusual. It also allows up to 5 players, while the American version maxes out at 4. No reason why the American version couldn't also go to 5, maybe they just didn't think of it.

___2. The game is broken. There is at least 1, if not 2 really good ways to totally dominate. In repeated plays, all players will basically (if they figure it out) try to do the same limited strategy.

___3. There is a ton of paper money here. More than I've seen for any game ever. There are three denominations: I estimate that there are 200 bills: 50x$10,000, 50x$50,000 and 100x$100,000. Even though we've played this well over 30 times in the past, there are so many that some of the bills have never been used.

___4. You can put more pieces/pawns on the board. This is designed to mitigate luck, and it works, but:
______a) You can't take pieces off;
______b) It slows down younger players;
______c) There doesn't seem to be a limit, which gets a bit strange near game end; and
______d) As the movement piece and share indicator pieces are the same, adding another player piece removes one from your pool of purchasing opportunities. It limits how much you can buy.

___5. Missing a lot of rules:
______a) There doesn't seem to be a hand limit. Cards are incredibly useful and very powerful (some are downright broken), we have to house-rule this.
______b) Not enough clarity on movement of additional pieces on the board
______c) Not enough information on stacking and extended card effects.

___6. Black Monday is a pain that can really screw up your game, and the risk of it will hold you back from being too bold or leaving your stocks unsold too long. The card effect version isn't too bad, but easily leads to bashing.

___7. After a few games you may find yourself house-ruling some of this stuff, the game gets much more longevity.

Anyway, it's a neat enough game that's worth a try. Good with a younger set (8-12 years? They need an understanding of money, purchasing, selling) and probably one of the best games at explaining stock markets and getting a feel for buy-and-sell.
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