Dan Fielding
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Suppose you want the value of numerous resources to be variable in a "realistic" economics sense. How can you do this?

One way is for all the players to secretly choose the types & quantities of resources they are putting on the market, and then the quantity of each on the market will be referred to a table showing the value of each.

But tables are rather dry, and require a finite upper quantity.

Another way might be to use an equation; such as a "base" price when N are on the market, changing by some percent or increment for every item away from the baseline quantity. You could then vary the baseline each turn by using the previous turn's quantity as the new baseline. This would work well when the quantity cannot get too far from the baseline.

The change could also be expressed as a percentage of the baseline; this could account for change in the size of the market for a resource.

I'd also like to incorporate market in/elasticity, where a small change may not change the price. So then you might have to go back to a table showing a non-linear change from the baseline for each increment.

***

After the price has been set for the turn, I suppose players might be allowed to sell a limited quantity "at the market."

***

I intend that each resource be unique in its relative value, quantities, and production/consumption behavior. So the mechanic needs to cover a broad scope. Consider wheat versus 120 foot sailing yachts.

***

I want the mechanic be usable in reverse, so that one rule mechanism can cover both selling and buying.

The flow of resources through production, sale/purchase, consumption/resale needs to be highlighted.

***

Players will probably have imperfect information about the potential market -- they might know that a lot of one resource exists, but not how much is owned by each player. Or that one player has a quantity of some resource which is far above average.

A player might draw a Silver Mine card, and everyone knows another source of production exists, but not how much it produces (just the amount offered for sale).

***

I'm thinking about a game where the players can try to "corner the market" because there is more than one market, and players try to gain information that is less imperfect than the others in order to shift between the markets.




 
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Russ Williams
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Some older games I played and enjoyed years ago that seemed to have interesting believable supply-and-demand systems for varying market prices based on seemingly "real" serious economic math and the players' buying/selling decisions:
Trailblazer (science fiction space trading; some random variation in the prices in addition to the underlying economic math, as I recall)
Executive Decision (real world business theme; purely deterministic price variation, as I recall)

Of course there are also very playable simple models like in Power Grid where the more resources get bought, the higher their price goes, and then they get replenished at the end of the turn.
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Steven Metzger
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There's a Knizia game I have from years ago called Quandary (although it is known as Wildlife Safari now)...player action dictated the value of each piece, but a player could also kill the value of a color...it's an interesting mechanic but it might not be real-life representative.

I created a d6 for market fluctuations that has the following sides: +3, +2, +1, 0, -2, and -4. While this also doesn't have the interaction component that I think you are looking for, it's an idea :)

I made a board game in school about 8 years ago that dictated that the more stock of a particular commodity is out there, the more you would get for each deed that you had of it.
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benji
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I find that Settler of Catan has this nicely natural price setting by supply and demand. A naturally rich board in producing a commodity will let the players starve for another. Some imbalanced boards can lead players to use a corner (and port trading) strategy. Inelasticity is naturally present. This supply and demand is somewhat washed out towards the end of the game.


I'd love to play a game in which such a mechanism is the highlight. I think for that to be interesting, the players have to struggle between themselves to find the fair value : the game mechanism determining the supply and/or demand - and then the players finding their own supply/demand equilibrium.
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alan beaumont
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Player action to determine "market price" for resources?
Gronak wrote:
Suppose you want the value of numerous resources to be variable in a "realistic" economics sense. How can you do this?

That's easy; make the players the only producers and consumers (as with Settlers, noted elsewhere) then voila! they are the market and it takes care of itself (if you forbit exotica like Futures).
Of course if this isn't what you mean it would help to know what exactly you are trying to simulate.
 
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James Casey
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The difficulty is making something realistic, yet simple enough to keep track of on the board.

Some random thoughts:

Let say Google shares are listed with a price of $100. That does not mean you can go out and buy a share of Google for $100, it just means that the last time Google shares changed hands, it was for a price of $100. You will have various people bidding less (i.e. who want to buy but don't want to pay $100), and various people offering shares at a higher value. Traders gradually adjust their bid and offer prices until they agree on a price. If there are more buyers than sellers, then it is more likely that one of the buyers will increase their bid to match the offer of one of the sellers, and the next trade might be at $101.

Since prices are rising, some people will jump on the bandwagon and this adds more momentum, and prices continue rising until they reach a value which people consider to be higher than their true worth, at which point they start selling, prices start to fall and the cycle goes on and on.

So supply and demand do drive prices, but supply and demand themselves are driven by the "true" value of a stock. This is an incredibly difficult thing to calculate, since you are trying to hit a moving target.

To take a more concrete example, I might want to buy aluminium to make aircraft. I know how much I can sell an aircraft for at todays prices, and how much it costs to manufacture, so I can calculate how much the aluminium is worth to me. However, values change over time. If the price of fuel drops, airline companies can offer lower prices, and they may need more aircraft to fulfil public demand for air travel. To fulfil this need for aircraft you will need more aluminium, so you buy more, which drives the price up. Then the credit crunch means people cant afford to take holidays, the demand for aircraft decreases, the orders you expected to get disappear. You are left with aircraft you are desperate to sell, let alone make more - the price of aluminium drops.

These are the "obvious" connections, but in reality everything is interconnected in subtle ways. New technologies and fads push prices in unforeseen directions, global situations can affect broad spectrums of trading.

One thing you should think about is whether the players represent the entire universe of trade within the game. Take for example Acquire, where presumably other smaller investors own stock in the companies, but they are ignored and it is as if the players are the only people in the world. This is a marked difference to a game in which their is outside influence - Settlers of Catan for example has the ports, and any player can trade 4:1 if they need to. These outside influences place caps on the value of things, and prevent total monopolies from occuring.

There was an old Atari computer game called M.U.L.E. which handled trading very well, and was very boardgame like. The players used robot M.U.L.E.s to harvest resources on a newly colonised planet. Each player needed food and energy - if short of food they would get less time to play their turn, if short of energy the would not be able to power all their M.U.L.E.s. There was also a colony store, which needed iron ore in order to manufacture M.U.L.E.s. Some players would end up with a surplus of a commodity, others a deficit, so there was an interface to allow trade - sellers placed themselves at the top of the screen, buyers at the bottom. Then the buyers ran up the screen to represent the price at which they were willing to sell, the sellers ran down, and when they met, a trade took place - this is a very good representation of the "bid and offer" mechanic of share trading. There were also lines at the bottom and the top, representing the price at which the store would buy and sell, so there was a cap to prices - whilst they had stock.

It was incredibly clever because it allowed some cutthroat business practice - if you were the only one mining ore, you could deliberately withhold it from the store, which would drive the price of M.U.L.E.s up. However, if you were making it hard for people to buy M.U.L.E.s, the farmers and energy generators might not have any surplus left to sell, and you might end up hurting yourself. Similarly you could abuse being the only one with food or energy spare by not selling it to the store, letting it go to waste instead to force players to pay your premium prices, but again take it too far and their lack of productivity will hurt you in turn. You could protect yourself either by diversifying and becoming self sufficient, or by buying a surplus when it was available (even though some would go to waste), or simply by negotiating with your fellow players.

(Side note: In real life people protect themselves from price changes using futures contracts, where you agree a price in advance for an exchange of good in the future.)

M.U.L.E. is the best example I can think of for a game which really models the interconnectedness of the different markets, and it pulled it off by being relatively simple - there were only 4 markets: food, energy, iron ore and cystite, a gemstone with no practical use in the colony but which was valuable off planet. Even with a computer to do the calculations, it was best to keep things simple. If you are planning to do something similar in a board game, it will need to be just as simple.

Apologies for the long and rambling nature of this post, I hope someone gets something out of it!
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William Hostman
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There's always the Supremacy method...

have a track for each of the goods on the "open market". Each unit sold moves one step down the price tree. Each bought raises it one. Inter-player sales don't affect the open market.

If you want to vary it somewhat, roll some dice each turn to reflect market random-walk functions. Perhaps weighted by the end of the track, so that at the low-price end, the price is more likely to go up as purchase-resistence declines as price does, and more likely to go down at the high end, since people are motivated to sell.
 
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Mark Wright
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I think a possible answer to your problem is within the current games Power Grid, McMulti and 18xx.

In power grid the resource track moves through varuious price sections so the more you buy, the more it costs and if less is bought then the price will get cheaaper.
In Power Grid the resources are resupplied each turn creating a market.

If more resources are bought than are supplied the price goes up.
If as many resources as supplied are bought the price stays the same
If the number of resources bought are less than supply the price will go down.

So an example price track for coal (Just an example )

1,1,1 | 2,2,2 | 3,3,3 | 4,4,4 | etc.

When buying you buy up the market (left to right) and when resupplying you fill from the right to the left.
So buy and selling to this market in small numbers may not adjust the price.

How would this work with production, the players secretly decide on their production and when it is revealed the market is filled up. this creates a price.

However it is worth looking at Mcmulti, the example above is a single market, where as in mcmulti there are two markets, home and international.
Here the markets are for petroleum and crude oil. In the game you produce crude, refine it and sell petrol. You can buy and sell petrol and crude to the spot markets. The changing economic conditions will randomly appear either addding or removing petroleum and crude from the markets.

The markets are a single line of numbers and you buy and sell at the number price, You sell at the highest number not covered by a barrel and buy the barrel on the lowest price.Selling involes placing the barrels on the market directly to track the price.

E,g International Crude could be

4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20 etc.

You load from the top and buy from the bottom. So If the current price was 15 and you sold three barrels you would receive 15, 14 and 13. The price of sale is now 12 for futher sales and the purchase price is 13.
Buying 2 would cost you 13 and 14 respectively.


So where does 18xx come into this, well the stockmarket in 18XX is a grid of values rising as you step upwards and to the right. The rise in stock price is part of the calculation in end capital.

there are two separate movement values for stocks, there is left to right and up and down.

When shares in a company are solfd the share price moves down.
When all of the shares in a company are in private ownership the price moves up.
when a company pays out dividends to its share holders the price moves to the right
when a company withholds revenue the share price moves to the left.

Its worth looking at an example stock market grid.fore reference.

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

also of note some versions do not drop the share price if only one share (out of a total available of 10) is sold, it requires two to move the price down.

There are also rules to say you cannot sell stock to lower the price and then buy it back on the same round.

So where does that leave this dicussion.

there are three aspects I think that would implement you market.

1) The power grid resources market, with its goods at a price, similar to the mcmulti comoodity price.
2) the two markets from mcmulti
3) the 2 dimensional price fromt he 18xx stockmarket.with its two different movements.

Thus I would suggest that you produce a general market grid for each market (local and international etc)
Track commodity prices on the market with a counter.
Use hidden production and have that change the market price.
(Perhaps there is a target range number for production, say 10 to 20 wheat, for over production the price goes down one level and for shortage in production the price goes up one level. Even up and down 2 levels for excessive production or extreme shortage.)
When wheat is bought the price moves to the right for each transaction of more than 3 wheat to prevent small purchases making the price move.
Similarly when wheat is sold the market only moves with larger transactions.

The rules for speed boats would deal with smaller quantities because the market is smaller.It could appear on the same grid just higher up.

If you want to control the market on a single grid I would suggest different coloured numbers such as columns of black red blue, and then certain commodities count every colur like wheat where as more luxury ones only use the black and make bigger jumps.(See movement on the merchant of venus as an example)

I hope some of this provides some ideas.

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Ken K
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Check out Knizia's Buy Low Sell High.

Stocks are represented by a sort of conga line on a money track. The low end represents the current price and the high end is its potential. As players buy stocks they remove tokens from the bottom of the line thus automatically raising the price for the next purchase. The entire line moves in a leap-frog manner through card play.

I've always thought this was a clever, elegant system that could be tweaked into something more complex.

Perhaps you could link the high/low ends of different stocks so that a movement of one type forced movement in another. I'm picturing several cribbage-style boards that can be moved next to each other to "link' their value.

Cheers!

 
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Richard Irving
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No mention of Silverton, yet?

In this game as the commodities are shipped to and sold at markets, the price using a chart based on how many of each commodity were sold (coal & wood have separate charts for each market city--allowing player who have built to multiple markets, the ability to ship to the one with the better price.) and a dice roll (just to spice things up a bit.)
 
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alan beaumont
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Professor Plum wrote:

Check out Knizia's Buy Low Sell High.
Stocks are represented by a sort of conga line on a money track. The low end represents the current price and the high end is its potential. As players buy stocks they remove tokens from the bottom of the line thus automatically raising the price for the next purchase. The entire line moves in a leap-frog manner through card play.
I've always thought this was a clever, elegant system that could be tweaked into something more complex.
I don't know about more complex, but how about using it with a purchase order interrupt? In reverse of current order a player can offer to buy at a higher point determined by the number of players they would leapfrog in the phase. If they are then leapfrogged themselves the price is raised again. This is a single round, or you are effectively starting an auction. Wiser heads and development can determine the preference.
This assumes limited supply of maguffins per turn, or an ability to preempt an opportunity later in the round (final purchase order determines build order?). Again it would help if we knew if this is pure dealing, or if we are building some kind of industry to win.
If the latter I can offer a games club for playtesting.
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Jeff Hinrickson
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Wealth of Nations has a superb economic system.
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jjloc wrote:
Wealth of Nations has a superb economic system.


Yep. It's brilliant and realistic. Over produce and the price plummets. Horde and the price soars. The way it happens is that players produce commodities and then trade between themselves or buy and sell directly from/to the market.
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Dan Fielding
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WoN might be doing what I'm thinking about...
 
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alan beaumont
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Build a better mousetrap
Gronak wrote:
WoN might be doing what I'm thinking about...

Then be heartened by the mixed reviews!
 
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Kenny Jenkins
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Container
 
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Dan Fielding
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WoN is a one player at a time market.

I want to start from "all players secretly create a basket of what they are going to sell at this moment..." and then determine the price.
 
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Jeff Hinrickson
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Gronak wrote:
WoN is a one player at a time market.

I want to start from "all players secretly create a basket of what they are going to sell at this moment..." and then determine the price.


Container is a good example for this type of market, as someone mentioned above.
 
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