Chicago Express is a railroad operations and investment boardgame with zero luck, for up to six players. It is a simplified and shortened, 60-minute version of the the classic 1830: Railways & Robber Barons (1830) boardgame by Francis Tresham. Like 1830, the stock market model is simplistic, but it simulates supply-and-demand and market-cornering elegantly. The premise of both games is that you play a railroad tycoon financing the western expansion of historical American railroad companies in the 1800s.
The game begins with the auction of single shares of the B&O, C&O, Pennsylvania and New York Central railroad companies. Each player then can choose from three possible actions each turn: Auction (3), Develop (4), and Expand (5). The numbers in parentheses are the quantity of actions available, and depleting two out of three action types triggers the end of the round and a dividend payout (scoring). Thus, if players choose Auction three times and Expand five times, the round ends and players get paid dividends. The auction action offers additional shares of railroad companies; Develop increases the earnings of a company; while Expand builds new railways. When a railroad company expands from the east coast to Chicago, shareholders of that company get a bonus dividend payment. This bonus dividend provides a strong incentive for railroad companies to expand into Chicago.
Chicago Express is a hard game for many players because players do not recognize their roles. Players think that they are the presidents of railroad companies and get emotionally attached to one or more companies. Rather, you are the manager of a holding (investment) company, competing with other holding company managers. Your goal is to have the most cash-rich holding company. Thus you have no loyalty to any particular railroad, expanding companies that you have majority stake in and ignoring or even ruining companies that you have equal or minority stakes in. Furthermore, alliances shift back and forth as new shares are auctioned off, diluting and changing majority stake-holders. Competitors in one round may become partners in the next. It takes a couple of plays before one gets the dynamics of the game.
Although not designed as a serious game, if you organize the data generated, you can create a elaborate stock market model. I use Chicago Express as an exercise for stock market fundamental (accounting) analysis for my investment board game club. Students generate a quarterly earning report at the end each round, after dividend payout. Normally dividends are a tiny fraction of earning in the real the stock market, however in my model, the earning equal dividends for the sake of simplicity. You then can figure out various fundamental indicators. The P/E (price over earnings) ratio is generated by dividing the last closing (auctioned) price of the stock by the earnings (dividends). You can also generate the RSI (relative strength index) by graphing and ranking each stock closing price. Other fundamental indicators like a rail company index, earning-per-share, volume traded and more can be generated via analyzing the game data.
Chicago Express was originally published as Wabash Cannonball. The iPhone app Wabash Cannonball by Moku Games has a strong AI and easy UI, making it a great digital port of Chicago Express.