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Stock Ticker Mathemathology OR Mental arithmetic training

Page: DesignArticle.Article-StockTickerMathemathology - Last Modified : Sat, 12 Oct 13 - 1106 Visits

Author : Eric Pietrocupo

I have heard that the Y generation of people has trouble doing simple math in their heads like calculating a 10% tip. That is actually horrible. It reminds me of a Buck Roger episode where Buck could win all the time at the casino because he could do mental calculations, but all other people could not without a calculator which were restricted. We are eventually going to get there.

Now I said to myself what is the best way to train for mental math in a fun way, the answer: Stock Ticker. It's an old game made in 1937 that could probably be done as print and play since the components are very simple. There are just a shitload of paper bills. The game is very random but one of the challenge of the game is to do math calculations in your head. Now I'll briefly explain the rules and give you some tricks to do the calculation in your head. Only for the end of the game do we calculate by hand using the supplied table.

Rules of the game

Here is the BGG entry:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2680/stock-ticker

The rules of the game are pretty simple, there are 6 stocks which will move randomly on a track rated from 0 to 2$. Each step is an increment of 0.05$. So there is a total of 40 steps. Dividends will get paid if the pawn is located in the higher half of the board. There are 3 dice which are rolled at the same time:

  • Value: Contains : 5, 10 and 20. Represents % or cents, so 20 is either 20% or 0.20$ depending on the situation.
  • Share: Contains the name of the shares (varies from an edition to another)
  • Action: Contains either: UP, DOWN or DIV (Dividend)

UP and DOWN makes the rolled share move by the value on the die. While DIV makes the rolled share give a dividend as a % of the share value. So for example:

Grain UP 10: Means that grain increases by 10 cents. Silver DIV 20: Means that a 20% dividend is paid to those who own silver shares.

Each player received 5000$ in shares which all starts at 1$. Then in clockwise order, a player can buy or sell shares then roll the dice. Change the values of the shares and pass to the next player. The game has no ending, normally a time limit or bill limit is set.

If a share bust, the shares value is reset to 1$ and all the players share are doubled. If the share reach 0, all players lose their shares, and the share value is set to 1$.

To add some spice, we used a variant that dividend also raise the shares making it easier for the share to bust. Another variant to complement it is that when the same share bust twice the game is over. Else when using the regular rules, some suggest rolling the dice 3 times per player.

So this is all the rules. As you can see, very simple and random game.

Mathemathology

Here are all the mathematical operation that you would be required to do in your head.

Buying / Selling Stocks

Stock can be bought in denomination of 500 shares. If a share value is 1.35$, then if you buy 1000 shares, it will cost you 1350$. How do you do that, simply add a zero and move the dot 3 spaces on the side.

1.35
1.350
1350

When you want to buy 500 shares, do the above then split by 2. First separate your number, 1350 is equal to 1200 + 150. So 1200 could easily be split by 2 at 600 leaving you with 150 splitted by 2 giving 75, 600+75 = 675.

1350
1200 + 150
1200 / 2 = 600
150 / 2 = 75
600 + 75 = 675

If 150 / 2 is too hard, divide the number again as 100 + 50. So 100 / 2 = 50 and 50 / 2 = 25, 50+25 = 75.

150
100 + 50
100 / 2 = 50
50 / 2 = 25
50 + 25 = 75

Calculating Dividends

Dividends can either be 5%, 10% or 20% of the number of shares, not the value of the share. This is what makes them easier to calculate. Let you have 3500 shares, 10 % of 3500 shares is 350$. You simply need to remove one zero from the number of shares

3500 shares
350 $

If the dividend was 5%, you divide the value by half. In our example above, that would be 175$

3500 Shares
350 $ (10%)
350 / 2 = 175 $

350 / 2 can be calculated as:

300 / 2 = 150
50 / 2 = 25
150 + 25 = 175

If the dividend was 20%, you would multiply by 2 instead. In our example above, that would be 700$

3500 Shares
350 $ (10%)
350 x 2 = 700 $

350 x 2 is calculated as

300 x 2 = 600 (3x2=6 + 2 zeros)
50 / 2 = 100
600 + 100 = 700

Transactions

This is what seems to be the most complex calculation, but you can use the board as a tool for the calculation. During the game, you will want to exchange one share to another and pay or collect the difference. You don't want to sell your share then buy another one because that would be simply too long and annoying to manage. So you need to know what is the difference between 2 shares. Let say that:

Silver is at 1.35$
Gold is at 1.50$

You want to exchange 1000 silver as 1000 gold. So silver is worth 1350$ and gold is worth 1500$, the difference is 150$. The way I calculate the difference is that I see it like if 1350 points were used to fill up an 1500 container. I add 50, to put the 5 digit to 0 and then add 100 to set the digit 4 to 0.

1350 + 50 = 1400
1400 + 100 = 1500
100 + 50 = 150

But let say we have a more complex situation like 4000 silver changed to gold. Now it might not be easy to multiply 1350 by 4. One way to do it is count the number of steps on the board. There are 3 steps between 1.35 and 1.50. When the number of share is 1000, each step is worth 50$ (0.05$ x 1000) x 3 steps = 150$ which is the value calculated before. Since we have 4000, the value of each step is multiplied by 4, 50$ x 4 = 200$ x 3 steps = 600$ difference.

4000 is 4 x 1000
each step = 50 x 4 = 200$
3 steps x 200$ = 600$

What happens if you need to exchange 500 share, you simply divide the value of each step by 2. So each step is now worth 25$ x 3 steps = 75$ difference.

Conclusion

So this is it, I think stock ticker could be considered as a educational game even if very random due to the amount of mental calculations that can be implied in the game. It's a fun way to learn math and the game looks more interesting than it looks like. Somebody said on BGG that the game is "Inexplicably Fun" and I think it's completely true.


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