First, an observation:
The earlier versions of the game had two dice, but one wasn’t an ordinary dice. It had the six commodities on it, one on each side. When you needed to see if you could sell a commodity, you threw this dice, not an ordinary one and then cross referencing the result with a numbered list as is the case in modern editions. This earlier version is much, much nicer to play with than the system now.
LONG COURS was originally produced in France in 1959 but further editions were made by Miro in France and Parker in Germany. All three versions that I have seen have the same ’fault’, if fault is the right word. There are far too many merchandise cards provided.
I have played about 25 games of LONG COURS in my time, and never have we had to deplete the merchandise piles, or get anywhere near doing so.
The game has two stages of Merchandise buying. In the first stage, players tend to buy in ones or twos. Money is tight, and people like to invest in as many different commodities as possible. Later on, when money is plentiful, people still buy in ones and twos, but they buy the ’Five’ cards instead, that is 5 or 10 of a commodity, maybe even more. Now, to deplete these piles would need one of two possible events. Incredibly strange die rolls, where nobody could sell one particular commodity, or where so much money was made, somebody bought huge amounts of one commodity. The first is mathematically almost impossible. And the second would require a very poor choice of tactical play and is highly unlikely to be chosen as a route to victory.
I suggest two rule changes:
In the game at present the following numbers of merchandise cards apply;
$1,000 cards 20 of each commodity
$5,000 cards 20 of each commodity
I think these could be easily cut down to 12 of each $1,000 and 8 of each $5,000. You can then introduce a supplementary rule saying that if a commodity has run out, or only has large denominations left, then world markets have run out, or only large shipping orders are available for purchase. This would be realistic in logical terms, and game theme terms. I cannot remember 8 of the same large denominations being in play at the same time. By the time that enough money is in the game to achieve this possibility, the game is reduced to two or three participants and is rapidly coming to the end.
Another possibility is to do away with the $5,000 markers completely, leaving 20 of each $1,000 cards in the game.
The card play makes the game to a certain extent, but can be predictable in the endgame if you have been closely following which cards have been played. I suggest that when you deal out the cards, you deal out one extra hand than the number of players present. This extra hand is set to one side face-down, together with any cards left over after an equal deal. These cards remain out of play. The effect means that you don’t know exactly how many Tempests are in play, or Displacements. And your fighting card of Strength 9 might just be the strongest card in this particular game. The game becomes less predictable and more fun as a consequence.