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Subject: One idiot's review: For Sale rss

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Chris Reynolds
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For Sale, designed by Stefan Dorra, is a fun little filler about buying and selling property. Basically, you take out mortgages with a great introductory rate and no money down, buy properties that are otherwise out of your price range (and a new hummer while you're at it) and then assume that the housing market always goes up.

Just kidding.

Keep reading to hear one idiot's view.

What's in the box?

When you open the box, you may be underwhelmed, especially if you just spent $25 bucks. You get two decks of cards--one of properties numbered 1-30, and one of dollar values between $0 and $15 (thousand, million, whatever). You also get a bunch of $1 and $2 chips. That's it. It wouldn't take a box larger than the one you get with No Thanks! to hold everything you get in this game.

How do you play?

To set up the game, you remove an equal number of cards from both decks (depending on the number of players), shuffle them, and then pass out $14-18 in chips (again, depending on number of players) to each player. The game is novel in that there are two distinct phases.

In the first phase you buy properties. A number of cards equal to the number of players is flipped over from the shuffled property deck, and one player begins by bidding from his stack of chips, or passing and taking the lowest value property card available for free. The next player either raises the bid (if there was one) by at least one or passes and takes the lowest value property card available. The bidding proceeds to the next player who either ups the bid or takes the lowest property card. The bidding continues until no one is willing to up the prior bid, or everyone has passed. The high bidder then pays her entire bid to the bank and takes the highest value card. The next highest bidder pays HALF of his bid to the bank (rounded up) and takes the next-highest value property, and so on. After all of the face-up properties have been purchased or taken, the winner turns up another set of properties and begins the bidding again. This continues until all property cards have been distributed among the players.

In the second phase, the money cards are shuffled, and then the same number of money cards as players is turned face up. Each player secretly selects a property card from his hand, and then all players turn their selected car face up. Whoever played the highest card takes the biggest money card, whoever played the next highest card takes the next largest money card, and so on. New money cards are turned up, and players again secretly select new properties from their hand to play as before. This continues until all money cards have been played.

The winner is, big surprise, the player with the most money. This includes any remaining chips from the first phase.

Strategy

The game sounds simple enough, but requires a keen ability to read your opponents and read the situation, and of course a great ability to perform snap valuations. These are just a few tips I've picked up to help you beat the crap out of noobs:

1. Don't be afraid to bid high right away. A starting bid of $1 dissuades no one from raising, so if you bid $1 with a good property on the board in a four player game, assuming everyone just adds one to your bid, the next time it comes around it will cost you $5 to stay in. Start with a higher bid and you have a chance to knock some people out right away.

2. Consider bids that will allow you to take the second best card. Consider this scenario: It's a three player game and the cards on the table are 27, 24 and 5. 27 is great, but 24 is no stinker. You start the bidding. Consider placing a bid that the person to your left is likely to increase (usually by 1) but that the person to your right will not raise once it comes around to her. Let's say that you decide that a starting bid of 5 is the number. The player to the left bids 6, and the player to your right passes. The left player takes the 27 and pays 6, you take the 24 and pay only 3, and the player to the right pays nothing for a terrible card. You didn't get the 27, but you got a great card for a great price.

3. Don't forget that when win second or third or whatever place other than first in bidding, you pay half your bid rounded UP. For that reason, if you expect at least one player to bid you up, consider bidding an even number over the next lowest odd number. You'll pay the same number of chips if you bid 5 or 6, so might as well bid the higher number. Again, this only works if the player to your left outbids you.

4. The last round of bidding is often the time when players blow their load, bidding up the last properties with the chips they saved throughout the round.

5. The last round of bidding is a great time to knock out players who have no chips. If you know your opponents are limited at a certain number of chips, then you can use that to your advantage.

6. As for the second round, watch out for the high value property cards as they come out. Remember who bought the high value cards to your best ability, and when they come out, knock them off of your mental list of cards to worry about.

7. If someone else has the 30, then they will often wait for a $15 card to come, which may or may not be in the deck. If you see a $12 or $13 (especially early or before a $15), you might find it worthwhile to play your highest card to claim it, especially if your highest card is relatively low. This way, you'll probably avoid other players' very high cards.

8. If a round of money cards come out that are very similar in value, it could be worthwhile to play one of your worst cards. You're guaranteed to get a card similar in value to everyone else, and you'll pay relatively little for it.

Will you like this game?

Yes.

Why? Because it plays in 10-15 minutes and offers a great element of risk and reward, and rewards players who know what they are doing. It's incredibly easy to teach because it is so intuitive, and I love the way that the game has two distinct phases. Tom Vasel even said that he sometimes doesn't teach the second phase until the first phase is over.

In summary, the game is great and I'm glad to see it reprinted in the cool Gryphon Games bookshelf series. The biggest downside? I paid $25 plus tax. But over time, I think this one will yield some good returns. If not, I'll hope for a government bailout.
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J. Brinks
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Re: One idiot's review.
creynolds6 wrote:
The biggest downside? I paid $25 plus tax. But over time, I think this one will yield some good returns. If not, I'll hope for a government bailout.


Good review, I'd give an extra thumbsup if I could for this comment
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Randall Bart
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Re: One idiot's review.
creynolds6 wrote:
Tom Vasel even said that he sometimes doesn't teach the second phase until the first phase is over.

I did that recently. I felt bad about it, but it's easier to teach the first half and play it. If you teach the second half before they've played the first half, you only confuse them, and you will still need to explain the second half when it starts.
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Donald Cleary
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Re: One idiot's review.
Barticus88 wrote:
creynolds6 wrote:
Tom Vasel even said that he sometimes doesn't teach the second phase until the first phase is over.

I did that recently. I felt bad about it, but it's easier to teach the first half and play it. If you teach the second half before they've played the first half, you only confuse them, and you will still need to explain the second half when it starts.


I would think the first half would be somewhat important to the second half. Heck, I've won a game because I still had hidden money from the first half.
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Randall Bart
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Re: One idiot's review.
BigD145 wrote:
I would think the first half would be somewhat important to the second half. Heck, I've won a game because I still had hidden money from the first half.

I just tell them the goal is to get high numbered houses. I often mumble something about left over coins counting at the end.
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John Small
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Re: One idiot's review.
Nice review, Chris, and good strategy tips I must use the next time I play!

Quote:
3. Don't forget that when in second or third or whatever place other than first in bidding, you pay half your bid rounded UP. For that reason, if you expect at least one player to bid you up, consider bidding an even number over the next lowest odd number. You'll pay the same number of chips if you bid 5 or 6, so might as well bid the higher number. Again, this only works if the player to your left outbids you.


A tiny correction humbly submitted: Your strategy is good but you got the odds and evens mixed up. Players who aren't the final highest bidder are only required to pay half their final bid rounded DOWN. Bidding $4000 and passing is the same as bidding $5000 and passing in that the bank will get $2000 in either case. The difference is that the person next to you might be willing to top your $4000 bid with a $5000 bid, trying to get a better property than you, but they may not be willing to top a $5000 bid with a $6000 bid. Either situation will cost you the same (i.e., $2000) but it may persuade the next bidder to just pass, which will ensure you get a higher house than they got. (Unless everyone suddenly passes and you unwillingly end up being the highest bidder, getting the highest value property, but paying full price! angry)

John
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Larry Rice
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Re: One idiot's review.
rules for rounding differ according to different versions I believe.
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Chris Reynolds
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Re: One idiot's review.
jandks wrote:
A tiny correction humbly submitted: Your strategy is good but you got the odds and evens mixed up. Players who aren't the final highest bidder are only required to pay half their final bid rounded DOWN. Bidding $4000 and passing is the same as bidding $5000 and passing in that the bank will get $2000 in either case. The difference is that the person next to you might be willing to top your $4000 bid with a $5000 bid, trying to get a better property than you, but they may not be willing to top a $5000 bid with a $6000 bid. Either situation will cost you the same (i.e., $2000) but it may persuade the next bidder to just pass, which will ensure you get a higher house than they got. (Unless everyone suddenly passes and you unwillingly end up being the highest bidder, getting the highest value property, but paying full price! angry)

John


Larry is correct, different versions of the rules exist. I am reviewing the most recent printing by Gryphon Games; in this version, if you have bid but do not win, then you take the relevant card and half your bid back, rounded down; that is, the less favorable amount. I know there has been discussion of this elsewhere in the forums, and that other versions have used the reversed version of the rule. I figure that whichever version you use, the point can still stand. If you know that another player will outbid you at at both an odd bid and the next higher even bid (under the current rule) or at an even bid and the next higher odd bid (under the other version), you should bid the higher value and make the other guy really pay for it. Just be sure he'll raise your bid!

I appreciate you mentioning this rule change though, and would suggest that people play it with whichever rule the house prefers.
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Randall Bart
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Re: One idiot's review.
Rounding: In the original German rules, it said the the amount you take back is rounded down ("ab"). In the original Überplay rules, this was mistranslated as rounded up. This was in direct conflict with the correctly translated example. In the next printing, Überplay changed the example to match the rule.

Further complicating matters, the rule is written backwards. It says how to round what you get back, while more common wording would say how to round what you pay. Some people then said "it's round up not round down" (or the opposite) without fixing what was being rounded.

Gryphon has reverted to the original rounding rule. I originally favored the Überplay rounding rule, and wanted more money chips in the game also. After more play, I've decided I like the tightness of the money. I am going with the Gryphon rule from now on.
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John Small
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Re: One idiot's review.
Quote:
different versions of the rules exist. I am reviewing the most recent printing by Gryphon Games; in this version, if you have bid but do not win, then you take the relevant card and half your bid back, rounded down; that is, the less favorable amount.

I...would suggest that people play it with whichever rule the house prefers.


Thanks, Chris, and others. I look forward to trying For Sale with the original rules. (Insert memories of Balloon Cup original (and much better, I think) rules discovery here.)
John
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