Ransom, a cutthroat real estate game, is an interesting game but, to my mind, leaves several central problems with its mechanics unsolved. Here are few variants that attempt to improve (though they may at best confuse) the situation.
Cash is distributed as usual at the start of the game. Then turn up the top four cards and display them for all to see. On their turn, players choose one of the four cards and it is put up for bidding. Bidding starts with the choosing player and continues clockwise. Once a player has dropped out of the bidding they cannot reenter. The card is awarded to the top bidder. A new card is turned up then the current player completes their turn by optionally offering to buy cards from other players, make deals to build, or by offering any of their cards for sale. When these actions are completed, play passes to the left. As in the basic rules, players are still allowed to build or take loans at any time.
Seperate the labor, bricks, land, and contracts into four piles. The labor and bricks are stacked face up. The land and contracts are stacked face down but the top card is turned face up.
On their turn, players may either buy up to a total of $12,000 worth of land and bricks OR place either the top land or contract card up for bidding. Any bidding and the remainder of the player's turn proceeds as in the Metropolis variant.
For three to six players.
Players start with no cash but may take out loans. Set aside the following number of cards:
Players Cards 3 8 4 6 5 7 6 8
Deal all of the remaining cards out to the players. Play proceeds immediately to building and deal making. Note that some deals may be impossible due to the cards set aside.
Copyright 1995, Ken Tidwell
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell