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Subject: Before You Buy... rss

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Colonel Mustard
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This is written to offer an overview of this game. The rules are posted elsewhere on this site to download, if you want to read them in detail. My hope here, is to give an overall sense of gameplay and perhaps introduce you to this fine game.

(Picture by Endersgame)
Pictured is the contents of the box: checks, coins and cards.

Overview...
For Sale is a lighter card game that is played in two distinct parts. During the first half of the game players are given the opportunity to purchase houses (cards), using an auction mechanic...highest bidder wins. After this phase, players take their newly purchased homes in hand and sell their houses (back to the bank) in hopes of making a large profit. The fun of the game comes from that tension of all players needing to buy at the lowest price possible and sell for the most money possible.

The cards are numbered 1 through 30 – strategically each player wants to purchase the highest cards they can. (The artwork is great – the lower cards are homes of a cardboard box, an outhouse, and a sewer. The higher cards are mansions, and finally a space station.)

(Picture by Kittyangel)
(Picture by Kittyangel)
Pictured are the lowest ranked card and one of the higher end ones.

It is simple to learn...
The rule book is full colour and the instructions are excellent. If you are brand new to the game, you will be playing in about 15 minutes. If someone is teaching you the game, you will be playing in less time.

It is quick...
A game of For Sale can be played in about 15 minutes. It can take slightly longer if every player lingers over their decision to raise the bid at auction. But it is still short enough that we often play at least three times. We usually keep track of our scores and then add the three games together to see who the overall winner is.

It is not all luck...
Cards are drawn at random from the top of the deck and placed face up on the table...one card per number of players. This ‘luck of the draw’ will determine which houses are sold during this round. Each player will purchase one of these houses.

(Picture by Peach)
One card per players is placed face up...and the auction begins.

But since they are sold at auction, there is skill in playing the odds and pushing your luck. Players take turns increasing the bid but may withdraw at any time. Any player who folds during the auction receives half their money back. (Not bidding at all lets a player take the lowest card for free.) The winner, on the other hand, pays everything he bid. Players can drive the bid up, not wanting to win, but hoping to bleed others out of their money. But push too far and everyone will withdraw leaving you to pay your entire bid.

(Picture by Jormi_Boced.)
Pictured is a typical hand of cards.

When cards are sold, during the second half of the game, a second deck of cards is used. This deck consists of 30 checks that range from 2 to 15 thousand dollars. There are also Void checks worth zero dollars. Again, cards are drawn at random from the top of the deck and placed face up on the table...one card per player. Players then choose one house card from their hand and place it face down.

(Picture by Peach)
Pictured is a typical scenario or checks offered and cards face down ready to be turned over.

Everyone then simultaneously flips their cards. The player who has played the highest numbered house card, takes the check with the highest value. This scales down through all players...leaving the lowest valued card receiving the lowest valued check. This process is repeated until all houses from the players' hands are sold. Players then add up their checks. The person with the highest total is the winner.

Although this may sound like a dry exercise, there is a good measure of thinking involved. Players all vie for the highest check and try to guess what others will play. And watching everyone try and avoid claiming a Void check can be very entertaining. (It can also be difficult to do.)

(Picture by Endersgame.)
One of the two dreaded Void Checks - worth nothing.

Who can play...
The game is listed at three to six players. With other games, more players can increase play time as well as add significant down time. Not so with For Sale. The game scales seamlessly. And each level of play has a slightly different feel. When playing with 3 or 4 players, some of the houses/cards are randomly removed from the deck. This provides a somewhat different dynamic, as players do not know which houses have been removed and therefore are left wondering if money should be saved or spent at auction...were the cards removed ones that I have been wanting to buy?! With five or six players all 30 house cards are used but there are far more people trying to purchase the more valuable ones. This makes the auction a little more interesting.

(Picture by Endersgame.)
The money a player begins with during a four player game.

It is non-gamer friendly...
Practically everyone can play For Sale. It is listed at ages 8 and up, but clearly younger children could grasp the rules and join the fun. (There is an element of simple math which also makes for a good practical learning experience.) And it is not complicated - which appeals to the non-gamer who is only playing to be polite. But at the same time it offers the gamer some tense decisions that are often filled with wonderful turn angst.

Overall...
One of the things that I find most interesting about For Sale is the fact that there is so much game packed into a simple set of rules. Granted, it is not rocket science...and this is not a heavy strategy game. But what appears on the surface to be a simple game can be surprisingly challenging to win. There are interesting decisions throughout the game that keep everyone engaged.

For Sale is a great game. It is simple to learn, and fun to play. For the price, it should be in everyone’s game collection. It is versatile in that it appeals to non-gamers; with simple rules and short play time. But it offers some tough decisions to keep gamers happy. It is a perfect filler after an evening of heavier games.
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thomas coe
United States
aubrey
Texas
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i've only played this once, but didn't see the greatness of the game. i don't know...maybe i screwed something up or wasn't in the mood to play, but i just don't see the greatness of the game. guess i need to pull it out again at the next game night!
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Justin Robben
United States
Spring Hill
Florida
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This is absolutely...for me and most in my group, the epitome of "filler".
And it's a good thing...this one truly succeeds in offering up a game that handles up to 6 and pakcs an actual game into a short period of time.
A real winner and my collection will NEVER be without it.
It obviously isn't quite as good as though big-boys, but because of the niche it fills, players it handles and amount of time it takes to play, it is necessary in most every collection.
imho, of course
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Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
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For Sale is certainly one of the best card games around, blending two different types of bidding into one game. I highly recommend it to veteran and novice gamers alike.

Thanks for the review.
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Now a Major General
United States
38.978164N 76.486881W
Maryland
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THORBOY wrote:
i've only played this once, but didn't see the greatness of the game. i don't know...maybe i screwed something up or wasn't in the mood to play, but i just don't see the greatness of the game. guess i need to pull it out again at the next game night!


    Pull this out at the office when there's a bunch of salesmen in the cafeteria, explain the oh-so-simple rules and stand back. Everything else will happen by itself.

             Sag.
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thomas coe
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aubrey
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Sagrilarus wrote:
THORBOY wrote:
i've only played this once, but didn't see the greatness of the game. i don't know...maybe i screwed something up or wasn't in the mood to play, but i just don't see the greatness of the game. guess i need to pull it out again at the next game night!


    Pull this out at the office when there's a bunch of salesmen in the cafeteria, explain the oh-so-simple rules and stand back. Everything else will happen by itself.

             Sag.


our next game night is in two weeks...i'll bring it out...and hope for the best!!
 
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Matthew Jones
United States
Forest Grove
Oregon
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For me the greatness lies in the fact that I pulled it out the day after Christmas with my inlaws (who are not into games the way I am and had just finished a long day of running around after their grandchildren), explained the rules and played a whole game in about 20 minutes. GrandPa finished it up tallied his score, listened to our tallies and promptly picked the cards up to shuffle them again. My eyes met my wife's and she said, "Well, I guess it's a winner!"

It's not Caylus or PowerGrid or AOE III; it does it's job admirably.

MJ
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Tim K
Australia
Colonel Light Gardens
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Thanks for outlining the rules. I never realised you had to remove some of the cards for 3 and 4 players games. No wonder I always found it hard to spread my money for all of the auctions, especially with 3 players!
 
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Big Guy
United States
Cary
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Nice review. I think this is a great filler game; it gets played a lot in my circles.

Fun fact about For Sale: Every house card (except 30) has some sort of animal depicted on it.
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Colonel Mustard
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sbarrera wrote:
Nice review. I think this is a great filler game; it gets played a lot in my circles.

Fun fact about For Sale: Every house card (except 30) has some sort of animal depicted on it.


Interesting you should mention that...we played this over Christmas and after a couple of games, my 14 year old nephew pipes up with "Hey, have you noticed that there is some sort of animal on every card?"

Wow...that is the most observant kid I think I have ever met.
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Boise
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You know what?

That was a great review.

For Sale happens to be a game that I will always play. Always. It doesn't hurt that I have one of my highest win/lose ratios with this little gem either... but I'd play it even if I get snookered more.

I've bought half a dozen copies of this one as gifts and even gave away my last personal copy. Which reminds me... gotta go to the game store and get a couple more of these.
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Vaughn Sandor
United States
Eastlake
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The BBC series is far better than the excellent NBC one. Now go watch it.
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This is not me but I have been known to dance like David Brent on occasion.
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A great review for a great game.
 
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Gene Baker
United States
Ocean Springs
Mississippi
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Games with dragons, spaceships, and bears aren’t wargames. Call them conquest games or strategy games or crap but they aren’t wargames.
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My only complaint about your reviews: I wish you did more of them. I like your format. You don’t waste time describing in detail the rules. I can download most rules and read them if I wanted. Rules descriptions aren’t my idea of a game review.

You keep it simple and cover the basics, is it fun, difficulty, how does it scale, etc

Good work
 
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Gerald McDaniel
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Lakewood
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Excellent review. The photos dress it up nicely, too.

As you said, the game scales very well. In fact, we often play with 7 or 8 players, adjusting the size of the decks appropriately. We have not added additional money to the game, so each player in the larger groups gets a very small amount of cash with which to bid. I think we may add some additional coins, to keep the bidding more interesting.
 
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