A Game for Money-Grubbing Swindlers
and Honest Businessmen
Speculate is a game of company management and business decisions. You start the game with control of one “player company” and a majority shareholding in one of the “trading companies” plus cash in the bank and a friendly bank manager who’ll lend you more when you ask.
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. Honest dealing and fair trading are optional.
Making a million in Speculate take around thirty turns. If only real life was so easy!
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.
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.
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 buying and selling 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.
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 under attack you’ll need to put up your own money (and lots of it).
Commodities are also traded direct between the companies on the open market, with priorities decided by the prices offered by the buyers and sellers. Prices change with supply and demand as well as bid prices.
Consumer demand varies with the economy and works through the market in the normal way.
Companies buy and sell commodities by setting the stock levels they want to maintain and the prices they’re willing to trade at. Each turn the company tries to buy or sell to bring their actual stocks to the level ordered.
You can also import commodities from outside the market. Imports cost extra to set up and the prices are fixed (they don’t rise and fall with market prices). Exports can be used to sell commodities outside the market in the same way (with the same extra costs).
Each commodity has a production cost, which is the wages of the staff that operate the production line. Companies can recruit permanent staff, who are cheaper but need to be paid whether you’ve got work for them or not.
Any companies can trade any commodity they hold direct to another company (these are called “gives” and “gets” as these are the actions ordered by the two companies and matched in order to make the trade). These are critical to setting up a reliable network of suppliers and trading partners.
Normally reports are sent to you by email, so you'll have your result within minutes of the game being played, but players can receive their results by post if they wish. For more details on play-by-email click here.
Your instructions are normally sent through our active website, but can also be sent by post or fax if required. Click here for more details on play by email
Games and Turnfees
You start by waiting for a new game, or by taking over an existing “standby” position where the previous player has dropped out. You may have to wait a while for a new game to start, but standby positions and “short handed” games are normally available very quickly. One option is to take one of these to learn your way around the game while you wait for the list to fill. Once started, games normally run with two-weekly deadlines (so you've fourteen days between turns).
Turnfees in Speculate are £2.50 for one, £10.00 for four, £20.00 for ten and £36.00 for twenty. Click here for more details of turnfees.
We welcome players from outside the UK. Click here for more details of overseas players.
New in this Version
This version is a complete rewrite of the game and software. It’s based on Speculate I, and at first sight it will look quite similar, but it works in completely different ways. We think it should work a lot better, and be a lot more responsive. We’ve added lots of responses that tell you why things happened as they did, rather than expecting you to guess.
The game is a lot bigger. We’ve expanded it from fifteen companies to forty. Thirty of the companies can deal in shares (previously there were ten) and thirty can deal in commodities (up from fifteen). Twenty-five have shares that can be traded (instead of fifteen).
The trading companies are the same fifteen as in the old version, but in this game they can also buy and sell shares. The same limit on buying shares applies (twenty per company per turn) so the more companies you control the greater your buying power on the stock market.
Competing bids are resolved by price, which you decide for yourself. Trades are direct between buyers and sellers instead of being limited by the contents of the market pool or the expected demand in the market simulation.
An essential change in this version is in the order things happen in the turn. The buys and sells of commodities are done together, late in the turn after production. If you’re going to obtain your supplies on the open market then you need to do so the turn before you need them.
That’s important, so the point in the sequence where you get to stare at your game report and decide what to do is after the most critical and variable part of the process.
In this version, when you don’t get what you want from the commodities market, as you often don’t, you get to do something about it (because gives and gets, and imports, are still at the start if the turn order). In the old version you’d see the rest of your turn in chaos and your production disrupted due to the lack of supplies.
Under the new system you can search for alternative supplies from other companies, and talk to other players to see if they’ve got some to spare. If that fails, then you can still get what you need (expensively) from imports.
How to Join
To join Speculate II you'll need to send your name and address along with £5.00 (payable to Ab Initio Games). This covers the cost of your rulebook, setup and first three turns (or five turns if starting in a standby position).
To join the game you need to print out and send us the completed printout of the form below along with your payment. Click here to pay your startup fee by credit card via our secure server website.
Speculate II run by Peter Calcraft of Software Simulations. Click here for details of waiting lists.
Please print, complete and return the details below:
YES, I’d like to join a game of Speculate II.
I’ve enclosed a cheque/postal order for £5.00 (payable to Ab Initio Games).
Email Address if you're happy to be contacted this way:
Tick here if you'd like to take a standby position (and receive two extra turn credits):
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