Design Review: Stockpile

Welcome to the first installation of our Design Review series, where we will be taking a deep dive into various aspects of game design for a specific board game that we enjoy. Today, we will be looking at Stockpile by Nauvoo Games

Stockpile

Info

Title – Stockpile
Publisher – Nauvoo Games
Designers – Seth Van Orden, Brett Sobol
Players – 2 to 5
Ages – 13+
Duration – 45 minutes

Board Game Geek (Link)

Rating – 7.7
Weight – 2.08
Type – Strategy
Category – Economic
Mechanisms – Auction / Bidding, Stock Holding, Variable Player Powers

Description

Stockpile is a stock-trading game where players bid on stockpiles of company stocks, trading fees, and actions to influence stock prices. Players attempt to outwit each other by buying low, selling high, and playing the market with insider information.

Theme

Stockpile has a light stock market theme highlighted with bright colors, fairly realistic artwork and components, somewhat cartoony investor characters, and a hint of humor – the “Mayknow Martha” investor card (aka Martha Stewart) can see another player’s hidden information (aka insider trading, haha)

This theme matches well with the fairly light gameplay (2.08 out of 5 on Board Game Geek) and is congruent with the experience that players have while playing the game

Mechanics

Download the rulebook here for your reference

Auction / Bidding
During the Demand Phase, players bid on stockpiles comprised of company stocks, trading fees, etc. There are a couple interesting twists to the bidding: firstly, the bid increments are predefined at $0, $1k, $3k, $6k, $10k, $15k, $20k, and $25k. This forces a somewhat exponential escalation of bids that is capped on the high end. Secondly, one player will always win a stockpile with a bid of $0

Stock Holding
Over the course of the game, players accumulate stocks of six different companies. They can sell their stocks during the Selling Phase, or hold on to them – in hopes of their value increasing and the stock splitting, and at the risk of the stock going bust (forcing them to discard their shares of the busted stock.) At the end of the game, the player who holds a plurality of shares in each stock is rewarded with $10k

Variable Player Powers
The optional investor cards introduce variable player powers to Stockpile. Players can play as one of ten investors, each of which have a special ability or trait that provides them a unique advantage during the game. One example is “Wise Warren” who can look at all the hidden face-down cards in a stockpile before the bidding begins

Other Design Concepts

Skill vs Luck
There are several elements in Stockpile that balance both skill and luck, though skill seems to far outweigh luck

Skill
Stockpiles: players must strategically choose which stockpiles to place their cards
Demand: players have to skillfully bid on stockpiles in order to gain an advantage over their competitors
Selling: players must carefully choose when to sell their stocks

Luck
Investor cards: according to the standard rules, players are given two random investor cards and choose one to play as
Company / forecast cards: each round, players are given one company card and one forecast card. These allow players to have inside knowledge on what will happen to the value of a company’s stock at the end of the round

Hidden Information
Stockpile uses hidden information as a good thematic element. Each round, every player has knowledge of what will happen to the value of one company’s stock at the end of the round. This can lead to some interesting bluffing and panic when selling stocks. Additionally, when creating stockpiles in the Supply Phase, players place one card face up and one card face down. This can also lead to bluffing and mystery when bidding during the Demand Phase.

Components

1x box with plastic organizer
1x rulebook (12 pages)
1x dual-sided folding board (dimensions)
1x turn marker
6x stock tickers
6x company cards
6x forecast cards
100x currency cards
5x player boards
7x bidding meeples
1x first player token
10x investor cards
60x stock cards
12x trading fee cards
8x action cards

Stockpile Contents