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Subject: For Sale - Review rss

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Greg Schloesser
United States
Talbott
Tennessee
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Design by: Steffan Dorra
Published by: Gryphon Games
3 - 6 Players, 10 - 20 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser


NOTE: This is an update of a review I wrote years ago. It incorporates some information based on the new Gryphon Games release. As far as I can tell, I have never posted it here.

For Sale was originally published in 1997 by FX Schmid, a firm that has since discontinued its board game line. Since discovering the game, it has remained one of my favorite fillers. It is easy to learn, fast and fun to play, and packed with angst-inducing, quick bidding rounds. I’ve played dozens of times, and it never fails to satisfy. The game has been in-and-out of print over the past dozen years, and has recently found new life with the Gryphon Games edition.

Players represent real estate investors, hoping to purchase various dwellings -- from the lowly cardboard box to the mega-modern space station -- then sell them for a handsome profit. Players begin the game with a meager sum of 14 coins, and must wisely spend these to acquire properties. Properties range in value from 1 - 30, with less being used depending upon the number of players.

Each turn, a number of properties equal to the number of players are revealed. Players bid coins in a clockwise fashion, either raising the bid or folding. The actual coins bid must be placed on the table, visible to all. When a player withdraws from the bidding, he acquires the lowest-valued property still available, and retrieves ½ of the coins he bid, rounded down. Take note: this is ½ the value bid, which is a reversion to the original FX Schmid version. The UberPlay version of the game changed this rule, having players retrieve one-half the NUMBER of coins they bid.

The high bidder gets rewarded with the highest valued property, but must surrender the entire amount bid to the bank. So, the cost for remaining in a bidding round steadily escalates, and for the victor can be quite costly. It is important to consider the spread of properties available, as sometimes it is worth withdrawing early if the low properties still carry a decent value. Additionally, low-valued properties can sometimes be sold for handsome profits if the value of checks available later in the game is appreciable.

Several rounds of bidding are conducted, with new properties revealed each round, until all properties are purchased by the players. At this point, the second phase of the game ensues, wherein players will sell their acquired properties, hopefully for significant profits.

A number of checks equal to the number of players are revealed each round. Checks range in value from 2 - 15, with two blank checks included. There are two of each value, so the spread can be quite large.

Players then play one of their acquired property cards face-down, and simultaneously reveal them. Checks are then distributed to the players based on the value of the property they are selling. The player who played the most valuable property is rewarded with the highest valued check, and so-on down the line, with the player offering the lowest-valued property receiving the most meager check. The same type of decision-making goes into this round as when bidding on properties. This procedure continues until all properties have been sold.

At that point, everyone totals the value of his checks and remaining coins. The player with the greatest total claims the victory and title of 'Real Estate Tycoon'. Players desiring a longer game can play several rounds, with the player having the greatest cumulative total over these rounds emerging victorious.

This new version has maintained some of the controversial changes that were made in the previous UberPlay edition, but reverts back to the original FX Schmid rules on other issues. As mentioned, this new edition reverts back to the original rule rules wherein a player must pay one-half of the dollar amount bid -- rounded UP -- when dropping out of an auction. Some of the changes in the UberPlay edition that were maintained include the increased card mix, and the requirement that players increase the amount bid, not simply match the previous bid.

These are important changes, and in the past, their merits have been the source of heated debates on various internet discussion forums. Some folks steadfastly maintained that the original version was better, while others championed the changes. I honestly enjoyed both versions, and wouldn’t hesitate playing either of those or the new Gryphon Games version.

As mentioned, I consider For Sale to be one of the best fillers on the market, and I am happy to see it once again available. The bidding rounds are usually swift, yet present the players with tough choices. Players must assess the spread of properties or checks available, and then make judgments as to how much they are willing to bid or offer to secure the one desired. Bidding can escalate quickly, and often force players to pay more than planned, or settle for a lower-valued property. For Sale is a game with simple rules, easy to learn, yet filled with a continuous stream of tough choices. All of this is packed into an exciting 10 - 15 minutes. What a value!
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Steve Norton
United Kingdom
Macclesfield
Cheshire
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Nice review. My wishlist has a new entrant thumbsup
 
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Just call me Erik
United States
Waldorf
Maryland
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I have always thought For Sale was one of the best filler games ever made.
 
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Tony Kelly
England
Dartford
Kent
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gschloesser wrote:
For Sale is a game with simple rules, easy to learn, yet filled with a continuous stream of tough choices. All of this is packed into an exciting 10 - 15 minutes. What a value!


Spot on! Great review and a great filler game.
 
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Asa Swain
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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gschloesser wrote:
Take note: this is ½ the value bid, which is a reversion to the original FX Schmid version. The UberPlay version of the game changed this rule, having players retrieve one-half the NUMBER of coins they bid.


I've been playing the UberPlay version for years, and I always assumed you took back 1/2 the value of your bid. How would 1/2 of the coins work? Have I been playing this wrong all along? Can someone back me up on the rules of the UberPlay version? Thanks!
 
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skrebs
United States
Davis
California
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quartex wrote:
gschloesser wrote:
Take note: this is ½ the value bid, which is a reversion to the original FX Schmid version. The UberPlay version of the game changed this rule, having players retrieve one-half the NUMBER of coins they bid.


I've been playing the UberPlay version for years, and I always assumed you took back 1/2 the value of your bid. How would 1/2 of the coins work? Have I been playing this wrong all along? Can someone back me up on the rules of the UberPlay version? Thanks!


I've always played like you.
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Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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Yeah, we've played the Uberplay version and have taken half the value back. Need to check that when I come home.

Great game though, nice to see it more widely available.
 
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Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
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The Schmid rule was "take back half, rounded down", thus you always paid at least 1. Uberplay mistranslated this as "rounded up", though this contradicted the correctly translated example. In the next printing they fixed the example to match the rule. Uberplay deliberately changed allowing a matching bid to requiring a higher bid. I prefer the Uberplay rules. The supply of money seems meagre, but I am getting to like that more and more. People should run out of money, and the auctions should be quick.

Edit: The first printing of the Uberplay rules also had some confusing rule about coins.
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Tomello Visello
United States
Reston
Virginia
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Barticus88 wrote:
The Schmid rule was "take back half, rounded down", thus you always paid at least 1. Uberplay mistranslated this as "rounded up", though this contradicted the correctly translated example.
Ahhh. The seeming source of the confusion is now illuminated for me in a way I had not previously absorbed. It's all in deceptively simple phrasing.

a scrambling of "Take Back half rounded DOWN" and "Pay half rounded UP", which are equivalent in-full but not so interchangeable on a segment-by-segment basis.

 
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Tomello Visello
United States
Reston
Virginia
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gschloesser wrote:
The UberPlay version of the game changed this rule, having players retrieve one-half the NUMBER of coins they bid.
Wow. You sent me back to study my rules more closely, because I never saw anything like that. I think your reading is overly aggressive and the rule never really changed.

My copy sometimes refers to "Money Chips", with a capital "C", and sometimes the simple word "chips" is used uncapitalized. I am quite steady in taking "Money Chips" to mean value, not number of coins. "Money Chips" is simply the name of the currency. Try substituting the word "Dollar(s)" where the capitalized phase is found and see what you think. Surely lowercase "chip" (alone)would have been put in that place if "number of coins" had been intended.

(that plus an expectation that "number" would have been emphasized somehow, since it is so non-intuitive).

 
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Mikael Ölmestig
Sweden
Halmstad
Halland
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I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter much which way to round things as long as the players know which rules apply. The bidding strategy changes some, but not the outcome.
 
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