Time the market, exploit insider information, and trade your way to the top of the stock market!
Android & iOS
# of Players
Stockpile is the game of stock manipulation, spectating, and timing from Digidiced. The game features aspects of set collection, auctioning, and hidden information. One to five players take the role as investors attempting to play the market to earn the most money and rule the Stockpile. A game usually takes about fifteen minutes if you play with fast animations turn on.
Stockpile has a few different layers. There is the full base game, then a few variants included in the base physical game, and then a few more additions/variants added by the wonderful Continuing Corruption expansion. All of the above are available with the initial purchase of the Stockpile app which is, of course, fantastic. It does make our game description section a little more difficult to navigate, however. I will primarily explain the base game with no frills attached, and later go briefly into the other variants. I will leave the explanation of Continuing Corruption for a later section.
Stockpile is played around a stock board consisting of six stocks, each color-coded and representing some generic corporate entity (big banks, automotive, steel, etc…). All of the stocks start with a set price of 5 and that price will fluctuate between 1 and 10 throughout the game. In game terms, 5 is equivalent to $5,000, 10 is $10,000, and so on.
A round in Stockpile is broken up into six phases, which gives the impression that things are a bit more complicated than they actually are. First, players are all provided the information on what one of the six stocks is going to do on that turn via forecasts. This is usually a gain or a loss of some amount (varying from 1 to 4 on the stock track), but each turn one stock will pay dividends to anybody who owns it. Each player is then individually given one forecast about one of the other five stocks. The supply phase gives each player two cards which are placed onto any of the given piles, there is one pile per player. The cards represent things from shares of a particular stock to an instant penalty in the form of lost money or even the ability to manipulate a stock of your choosing up or down. Each player places one card face up on a pile and one card face down on a pile. Once all of the piles are set, players begin bidding on which pile they want to take, gaining any benefits (or penalties) from the cards on that pile. Since only half of the cards are known to all players, there is a lot of bluffing involved in this stage and it provides much of the fun of the game.
Next, players act out all of the cards received from their stockpile. Then players get the chance to sell any of their owned stocks before the market moves for the round. Again, the earlier hidden information will come into play here as players may try to sell off any stock headed for a big drop. Finally, once sales have been completed, the forecasts are revealed and the stocks are moved appropriately. Play continues over a certain number of rounds, determined by the number of players, until the game ends. At the end of the game some bonuses are given out for owning the most of different types of stocks, and all held stocks are sold for profits to calculate the final scores. The player with the most money wins the game.
Should a stock move below 1 in value on the board, it will go into bankruptcy and any player who owned that stock loses all of their shares. The stock resets to the initial value afterwards so it remains in the game. Any stock which moves above 10 on the board will split and any player owning any shares will instantly double their shares with the price reverting back to 5 as well.
The two additional rules/variants offered with the base game are an advanced market board and investors. The advanced board changes the values of each of the six stocks so they aren’t all simply 1 through 10, along with a few other tricks, adding a significant change from the basic scoring track. Investors are separate cards which are given out at the start of the game. The chosen investor determines each player’s starting money amount and also provides some special ability throughout the game. These abilities involve manipulating stocks, looking at hidden information, or many other options which bend the normal rules of the game. Overall, the additional board and investors add a lot to the game.
Stockpile is all about timing, using hidden information to capitalize on that timing, and bluffing opponents. The bluffing is the hardest part to get across in any digital game and it is always a bit fuzzy just how AI opponents will react to your bluffs versus trying to make their own bluffs or simply taking the most obvious best play. Maybe the biggest takeaway after spending time with this app is that this would make for a really fun game to play in physical form if you have a group who would enjoy the bluffing aspect.
That isn’t to say the digital version is bad, far from it, in fact. The app offers a great experience to those who enjoy the game. There is a lot more going on in Stockpile than just the bluffing aspect, and it all shines in this strong port.
Barrier to Entry
Stockpile is taught through a series of tutorials staring a couple of wealthy gentlemen who might bare a striking resemblance to villains from a certain ‘80s Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd comedy. The first three tutorials step you through the base game rules, adding complexities as it moves along, exactly what you’d expect. The fourth tutorial attempts to drop the entire expansion, investors, and the advanced board on you in one quick pass. Ultimately, you will learn the game as you play it, and the tutorial is really well done for the base game, so this isn’t a big deal.
The physical rulebooks are included as PDFs in the app, not download links which is always nice, and can be used as reference for rule issues. Overall, the app makes learning base Stockpile a fun process, it does try to cram a bit too much into the last tutorial, but after a few games that won’t matter.
Starting a new game
Learning in the tutorial
Selling some stock
Look and Feel
If you’ve played a Digidiced game before, you know what to expect from Stockpile. The same menu system is present. The same “take your move, then confirm” action sequencing. The system works and will be familiar to fans of other Digidiced games, so no complaints here. The game looks great and everything runs as smoothly as you’d hope. The animations are quite slow, but thankfully can be sped up considerably via a setting in the options menu.
Controls work well. Drag-and-drop for some actions, click and pick for others. Nothing fancy, but it certainly doesn’t need to be.
Digidiced has always nailed multiplayer options and Stockpile is no different. The options are the same as their other games and include everything you’d want. The game plays cross-platform with asynchronous and real-time options and allows you to create games with varying numbers of friends and/or AI players. Casual games, those which you invite friends, allow you to choose which game options to use. Stats are kept, system notifications work, and there are leaderboards. We always have to point out how great the “queue me up for a few async games” feature is in Digidiced’s games, the option still exists and remains a favorite. Ranked games use all of the available gameplay variants. Local pass-and-play is featured in Stockpile as well.
The only downside here is that the game itself isn’t necessarily well suited for asynchronous play. The reason being is that there are so many incredibly short moves each player must make on each turn, you end up opening the app dozens of times to complete one play. The is much more of an issue when all of the variants are turned on. Any true bidding system can take a while in an async format, and that certainly comes into play in Stockpile. This is highly subjective, of course, but for me opening an app to make one minor move tends to get a bit cumbersome over time and results in games which play out over many days or weeks.
Single player works as you would hope, there are a handful of bots to play against and you can toggle on/off any of the variants included in the game. The bots range from Easy to Medium to Hard. There are two hard bots and one bot isn’t labeled with a difficulty level, I’m not certain what the differences are there. The bots play an impressive game, at least in the eyes of this newcomer. The easy bots will present a stiff challenge to new players and the move difficult AIs scale appropriately.
Choosing an investor
Building the stockpiles
As mentioned previously, the physical game has a major expansion; Continuing Corruption. This expansion adds a few additional mechanics which provide additional depth to the game. Forecast Dice are rolled to change the market forecast on a round-by-round basis, rather than using the static forecasts in the base game, providing a random set of possibilities. Bonds can be purchased at the beginning of each round and earn players interest at the end of each round, ultimately to be sold back to the bank at the end of the game, a great addition for the more conservative investors in the Stockpile world. Commodities and Taxes add six commodities to Stockpile as well as pesky taxes, both are placed onto the stockpiles during the supply phase with commodities being able to be sold for gain (as well as earning bonuses) and taxes providing an end-game penalty. New investor cards are added with the expansion, but the larger change is the bidding variant which allows players to bid on which investor they want at the start of the game.
The sum of the Continuing Corruption expansion is quite large, it really changes the game in multiple ways. The options added by the expansion can be turned on and off on a game-by-game basis, except in ranked games which always have them on. It is impressive that such a big portion of content was provided in the base app price.
The Wrap Up
Stockpile is a fun game of bluffing and stock timing/manipulation. With each player knowing a different piece of information each turn, the game boils down to how much you can read into opponent’s actions. The more you play, the more was you will pick up on how to suss out tiny details from opponents, and the more fun the game becomes.
The digital port is quite strong. I haven’t experienced any hiccups in my games, outside of one random case of a game temporarily preventing me from ending my turn, which seems like a truly isolated incident for me (I’d like to note how attentive Digidiced was to this concern after I asked about it on Twitter). The AI is strong, the game looks and plays great, and there are a bunch of different variants you can toggle to change the feel of the game. The only downsides for me are that the game relies heavily on bluffing and reading bluffs, and that is always something that is tough to make come across well in a digital setting. Also, the game has a significant amount of actions for each player to take on each turn, which inevitably results in a drawn out async experience. These clearly minor quibbles that many people won’t have any problem with at all, the app is very well made overall and it does a great job translating a fun board game.