We've got a shelf-load of old-school board games that get a regular rotation at our house. Among those is Stock Ticker, which, like Monopoly or Payday is heavily governed by chance.
Still, there is an element of strategy to this game, and teaches those people playing a very important lesson about investing.
In Stock Ticker ,there are six investment categories: grain, industrials, bonds, oil, gold and silver. The movement of the investments are completely random, with one six-sided die determining which of the six investments is affected, one which determines the quantum of the change (5, 10 or 20), and one which determines whether the investment is going up, down, or paying dividends.
Because the movement of the investments is completely random, the player who puts all her money in one investment risks going completely bankrupt, if that particular investment goes bust.
In playing Stock Ticker, I have found very few games are won by players investing heavily in one, or a few investments. It is generally the player who has positions in all of the investments who wins.
This diversification strategy is generally true in the real world of investing, but is a near-absolute truth in the game of Stock Ticker. There is no way, prior to the start of a game of Stock Ticker, to predict which investment will perform better than another. Thus, it is illogical to select a Stock Ticker strategy that heavily favours one investment over another.
Part of the charm, and fun, of Stock Ticker is that the game moves fast, and there are few rules to remember. Roll the dice. Perform the action dictated by the dice. Buy. Sell. Repeat. At one point, to add some complexity to the game, we decided to create random event cards. But they were no less random that the dice-rolls themselves, and needlessly bogged down the game. Does Stock Ticker perfectly model the real world of investing? No, but it does communicate a valuable message about the value of diversification, and is fun to play at the same time.
A lot of game designers want to add verisimilitude and complexity to their games. You could do that with Stock Ticker. You could add features that allow the players to research which investments are likely to outperform others. Perhaps they can hire an investment manager, resulting in one or more re-rolls of an investment result the player dislikes. What about adding bull/bear features to the game, the knowledge of which allows the player to move gold or bonds up, every time stocks go down? You could introduce hedging rules, increase the number of available investments, perhaps even introduce market cycles.
At what point does a game cease to be an enjoyable diversion? I can think of myriad games that collapsed under the weight of their rules additions. Starfire was a great little starship combat game. Squad Leader was a fast and fun WWII combat simulator. Melee allowed you to run some simple man-to-man battles over lunch. All of those games saw their designers add more and more features and rules to the games. But as the level of verisimilitude and complexity went up, the enjoyment I derived from the games went down.
Reality is great. But if I want to play a versimilitudinous game of Stock Ticker, I might as well "make it interesting" and go and buy some real investments.