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math help for stock market game for kids - "Greedy Monkeys"

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ptnatividad
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Hello everyone.

I'm currently developing a game called "Greedy Monkeys". Its core concept is that players take on the role of monkeys who buy and sell fruits from a "market". The main mechanic is that every time a player buys a fruit from the market, the less is its supply thus it commands a higher price. On the other hand, when a player sells a fruit from his hand, that fruit's supply increases in the market hence it has a lower price. On their turn, players buy and sell their fruits according to the current price of the fruit in the market. Each player gets a starting hand of 3 random fruit cards. The goal is to be able to amass the highest points (determined by the price of each fruit in each player's hand) after a certain number of rounds.

My friend and I have already play tested the game and found some kinks in the system. First, the last player to take a turn almost always wins since he has the last opportunity to manipulate the price of the fruits in the market. Second, we need some help in balancing the supply and demand aspect of the game. We started with 4 fruits: watermelon (x9), banana (x8), apple (x7) and pineapple (x6). The price is computed by subtracting the number of fruits from 10 (i.e. if there are 5 apples in the market, 10 - 5 = 5 current price).

Any help to balance this game would be much appreciated.

Hellper
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Joined: 01/31/2016
If there is a clear advantage

If there is a clear advantage for the last player, maybe the first player should have another one, like having more cards at the beginning of the game.
For example each player would be given (3 + the number of player - his position) cards. Thus meaning that for 3 players :
Player 1 has 5 cards, player 2 has 4 and player 3 has 3.

Masacroso
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Joined: 05/05/2014
An idea that can be

An idea that can be interesting (maybe):

Simultaneous play: you can bid secretly or not secretly for some fruit, putting a card faced up or faced down (depending on what you like more for your game) over/close some card on the table to "buy" it.

Obviously this automatically balance the "price" of the fruits, i.e., you have a real market simulator here.

You can bid with some cards that simulate money (some numbered cards, maybe taken randomly or letting the same amount for every player at the start of the game) and/or bid directly with your own fruits, but this fruit is discarded of the game one time is used.

The value of each fruit will depend on the fruits over the table: no one fruit of the kind of fruit is played as a bid means the maximum value, you can assign to this card the 0-value (what means the maximum). To solve bids the minimum number then wins. If there is a draw you can use a dice, declare null this bid, etc...

In this sense you can bid with multiple cards, mixing money and fruits. It depends on the mechanic you are interested. Indeed you can put in the game some rules cards that change these basic rules over the turns, etc... So many ideas here.

One problem in this framework: you need some extra cards/tokens if you really want that the game will be simultaneous, i.e., that nobody knows over what card you are bidding. If not then the game is not simultaneous, it will be just unordered (it is not the same) i.e. people play in any order every turn.

Over the state of your game: there is no problem on manipulate market, this is very real! An moreover: everyone have the opportunity to manipulate if you rotate turns.

One very important point that you dont said (but implicitly I think how they can be, maybe) is how to win, how the point rules works.

Some idea: getting more different amounts of fruits must be better that getting the same kind of fruits, but quantity matters too. Then you can define points from some kind of groups of cards, as in poker, where 3 different cards represent more points that 3 identical cards, but 3 identical cards represent more points than 2 different cards, etc...

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
More info

It sounds like this could be a fun little game once you get the rules/balance right.

To figure out how to improve the balance of the game, can you give some more info about how the game is played (currently)?

Are fruit added to or removed from circulation during the game, or are they all available right from the start?
What does each player have and what is in the market at the start of the game?
On your turn, what action(s) can you take?
What criteria triggers the end of the game?
How is the winner determined?

Regards,
kos

ptnatividad
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tentative rules

As we played the game, each player gets three random fruits for their hand. the rest of the fruits are arranged so that their starting value is determined as well as their supply. On each player's turn, he only has two actions: buy and sell. He discards a fruit from his hand and places it at the market thus increasing its supply. Then using the value of the sold fruit, he can purchase available fruits from the market. Any extra value that is not spent in purchasing a fruit is considered lost (a stand in for broker's fees and taxes). At the end of the player's turn, the price of each fruit in the market is then adjusted according to the current supply.
The tentative rule is that a player cannot sell and buy the same fruit in the same turn.

ptnatividad
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tentative rules

The game is set for a number of rounds which the players decide at the start of the game. The game ends when the last player ends his turn at the last round. To determine the winner, each player totals the value of his fruits in his hands. The player with the highest value of cards in his hands wins.

kos
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Ending condition

ptnatividad wrote:
The game is set for a number of rounds which the players decide at the start of the game. The game ends when the last player ends his turn at the last round. To determine the winner, each player totals the value of his fruits in his hands. The player with the highest value of cards in his hands wins.

You said in the OP that the last player has an advantage because they can manipulate market. I assume that this manipulation you are talking about is at the end of the last round, since he knows the game is going to end and can try to push up prices of fruit that he has lots of.

If this is what is happening, one way to avoid it is to change the ending condition. Games which end at the end of "round X" typically suffer from this problem, because the last player knows that nobody else can interfere or respond after their turn.

For example, you could say the winning condition is to get 5 of the same type of fruit in your hand. Now you don't know for sure who is winning, but by observing what other people buy you could get an idea of what they are collecting. Also, as you accumulate more of the same type the price will go up making it harder to get more (while simultaneously incentivizing others to sell them).

A different kind of ending condition could be to "eat" fruit (discard face up in front of you). After all, why would the monkeys be collecting fruit if not to eat it? Maybe your goal is to eat 2 of each fruit, but you can only eat 1 per turn. So you have to tradeoff between collecting more fruit vs eating them.

Another fairly common ending condition is to trigger a "final round" when some condition happens. E.g. a player can declare "food fight" when they have at least 3 of the same fruit in their hand. Each other player gets one more turn, and then all hands are revealed and the points tallied. So a player is only going to call the end of the game if they think they can win. (Note: If designed badly this type of ending can result in a "hostage situation", where nobody is willing to call the end of the game because it will guarantee that they don't win. Some published games have this problem.)

Regards,
kos

X3M
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Random ending

What if players don't know when the game ends?

You can do this by having a small deck of "empty" cards. And one of the cards says "game ends".

(You can also use this deck if you want to add event cards in the future.)

If you want players to play an average amount of rounds. You can calculate how many "empty cards" you need in your deck.
It could already end in round 1. But to prevent this, you can have players remove for example 6 empty cards. Shuffle the deck. Then add those 6 again on top.

In short, you can have a minimum number of rounds, an average and a maximum number of rounds.

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