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Speculate is a game of playing the markets, of company management and business decisions. There are two types of player positions. There are "traders" who buy and sell shares and commodities, and "tycoons" who do the same things AND play for control of the companies themselves.

Everyone starts the game with control of one "player company" plus cash in the bank and a friendly bank manager who'll lend you more when you ask. Tycoons also start with a majority shareholding in one of the "trading companies".

For the Tycoons the game is about where you invest your money, what deals you make with the other players, and how you run the companies you control. The idea is to make money, lots of it, and then some more. If you make more than everyone else then you'll win. Your target is a million, and you've got to get there first (it normally takes around thirty turns). Honest dealing and fair trading are optional.

For the Traders the game is simply about making as much money as possible from buying and selling shares and commodities on the markets and in deals with the other players. A Trader can't control trading companies, but that's the only restriction. They can still vote their shares in the normal way when a company is up for grabs - but they can't vote for themselves. The Top Trader is the one with the most money when the game ends (which is when the first Tycoon has banked his first million).

PLAYER COMPANIES

There are fifteen player companies and up to fifteen players to run them. Your player company is who you are in the game. There are no shares in the player companies, which are always 100% controlled by their owners.

The player companies mainly deal in shares, but they can also deal in commodities. They can't manufacture anything, but they can do everything else.

The player companies that belong to any dropouts or "dummy" players continue to operate in a sensible way. The non-player companies are an important part of the game, as they take the place of the "market" and "bank" simulations in the old version.

TRADING COMPANIES

There are fifteen trading companies. These vote to select a managing director from among the players, and the MD writes the business plan for the company, so the control of the trading companies can change from turn to turn.

The trading companies mainly deal in commodities. Each has one to three production lines. Each production line can produce a single commodity, and consumes various other commodities in the process. The stuff you need for one company will be the same stuff that's manufactured by another. If you can put the two together then you can dodge the costs and uncertainties of

trading on the open market, which is a big advantage.

Companies pay wages to the staff that operate the production lines, and pay extra for hiring and firing to change their staff levels or for temporary staff  when they're needed.
On top of production costs are finance (bank loans and overdrafts), advertising and storage costs, plus the cost of setting up import and export deals.

Company profits can be retained for investment or paid out to the shareholders as dividends.

SERVICE COMPANIES

There are ten service companies whose shares can be bought and sold by the rest. No-one controls the service companies, and they can't deal in either shares or commodities themselves. They make their money from the services they provide to everyone else, as the costs paid by the player companies and trading companies provide the income of the service companies.
One company deals with hiring and firing staff, and another with supplying temporary staff. Others handle imports and exports, advertising, construction and the storage of surplus stocks.

The stock broker and commodities broker take their profits from the difference between the buy and sell prices in their respective markets, while the bank makes money from interest payments.

All of which are about as difficult as falling off a log, so the service companies all make money and pay good dividends, and their shares are good value. Different companies are more or less profitable at different stages of the game.

SHARE DEALING

Shares are traded direct between the companies on the open market. Priority between buyers and sellers is decided by the prices offered (the lowest price among the sellers is matched with the highest price among the buyers).

Share prices rise and fall with supply and demand as well as with the bid prices offered by the players.

Orders to buy and sell remain in place from turn to turn, except when you change your instructions. This means that potential trading partners can see what you're offering and decide whether to offer something in response.
Each turn the shareholders in each company can combine their votes to force a change in the managing director for next turn.

Share issues can be used to create extra shares, which the company sells to raise money. Unsold shares (held by the company itself) always support the current MD in votes for control, so share issues can be critical during takeovers, but once these shares are issued they're always offered for sale - so to maintain control of a popular company you'll need to keep buying the shares .

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HOW TO JOIN   -   To join you'll need to send your name and address along with 5.00 (payable to Software Simulations).
This covers the cost of your rulebook, setup and first three turns (or five turns if starting in a standby position).
If you want to know how to play for free, then visit our website at
www.sidetracks.co.uk .