Blue Chip, 1958 from Technical Ventures, is a game I
played extensively in my youth. While I admit there is a lot of luck
in the game, there are still some interesting decisions to make.
These are primarily about what chances to take, true, but it's a fun
The game simulates the stock market. It doesn't simulate the stock
market very well, mind you, but it's probably more fun than the real
thing. Things move more quickly in Blue Chip than in real life, which
makes it a more exciting game, and it's kind of fun to drive a company
bankrupt - at least, if your opponent holds more stock in it than you
do. The lesson of the game seems to be that those who take the most
chances in the stock market either win big or lose big. You may be
able to win by sitting back and watching me go bankrupt as I take big
chances, but I'll have more fun on the way to my bankruptcy than
you'll have on your way to your victory, if you're simply playing it
safe every turn.
The board consists of three sliding trays, each with peg holes. Stock
prices are printed next to the trays, ranging from $2 to $80 per
share. Each tray has real-world stocks, at least real as of 1958:
four industrials, four railroads, four utilities. The stocks all
start at $30 (put pegs in the holes at 30), and each player starts
with $300. In addition to the board and play money, there are stock
shares in 1, 5, and 10 denominations for each stock, a deck of event
cards, and three special dice.
Each player takes a turn by buying or selling stock. You may only
make one transaction per turn. When your turn is over, draw an event
card to determine what happens - usually to the stock you just
transacted, though there are some other events. When the event card
pile is empty, the game is over, and whoever has the most money and
stock value at that point wins.
The event cards drive the game. They range from the very good
("collect $30 per share dividend for the stock just transacted" or "2-
for-1 stock split: give each player two additional shares for each
share they hold of the stock just transacted", etc.) to the very bad
("stock is assessed a $20 per share fine", or "BANKRUPT!"). Some are
neutral, others have unknown consequences such as the "Weekly Stock
Averages: roll the dice and slide the trays accordingly." There are
three dice: one red, one blue, one yellow, each corresponding to a
color of a given tray. The values on each die are +6, +4, +2, -2, -4,
-6. So a whole type of stock (say all the industrials) is affected at
once when the dice are rolled. You only roll the dice when called for
by the event cards.
Buying stock raises the price; selling stock lowers the price. How
much it goes up or down depends on how many shares you buy or a sell -
the game includes a simple, easy to remember formula. So one strategy
is to buy a few shares of an opponent's big stock holdings - say five
shares, which raises the price by $2 - then sell them off one at a
time, driving the price down $2 each time. Of course, you'll be
drawing event cards that primarily affect that particular stock, so
you may be doing him a favor, if you draw lots of dividends and stock
splits. Or you may drive the company out of business, a much more
entertaining result, from your point of view.
Certain cards are stock tips: reliable or second-hand. These say so
right on the backs of the cards, and you draw such cards before
you make your transaction. So if you know in advance a stock will
declare a dividend, don't transact one of your opponent's stocks, if
you can help it.
It's a quick game, and one that gets a lot of groans and cheers.
Because the luck element is so high, no one gets too upset when they
lose - it's easy to blame the luck of the draw. Yet I've found that
over many games, those who take the most chances tend to have the most fun
- though they'll have quite a few thundering defeats scattered
throughout. All in all, a very entertaining game I recommend, if you
can ever find a copy.
Late Thought on This Game
After playing recently, I was struck how well this game simulates the
current "dot-com" marketplace! At least four companies will go
bankrupt, and some will probably double in starting price, etc. It
doesn't model the Dow Jones very well at all, but it actually does look
like internet stocks ...
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