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Market Meltdown is set in a time of financial chaos, when the general public have lost faith in the Bank's ability to safely house their deposits and are withdrawing their money and transferring it to their mattresses. The players represent the traders investing the money on behalf of the Bank. As the game progresses players are faced with ever increasing pressure to generate bigger returns to pay back deposits and stay afloat.
The winner is the player who remains afloat when his opponents have gone bust. To begin, each player takes 900 million from the Bank and places their private jet on the Market Opens square. The Bank’s depositors are represented by a red sterling currency piece that also starts on the board, one square in front of the jets.
Players pay back their depositors at the start of every trading day. 25 million is due from each player on the first trading day, and the amount due doubles every day. Each player rolls the dice on his turn, and then moves both his private jet and the Depositors piece in a clockwise direction around the board for the number of squares indicated by the dice. A new trading day starts when the Depositors piece lands on or passes the Market Opens square.
The stock market is represented by a roulette wheel, and the roulette board is printed on the middle of the game board. Players go to market by playing roulette, with the returns on their bets being the same as those in traditional roulette. When the players land on a Data square, they collect market data, represented by stoppers. When going to market, players can place the stoppers in the roulette wheel, reducing the amount of open numbers and thus improving the odds of winning. Players still get the same return as in traditional roulette if they win. Players must contend with a number of other squares in the course of a trading day, including Data Wipe, Go Rogue, Arbitrage, Financial Regulator, Luck, and Banker’s Bonus squares.