$10.00
Ender Wiggins
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


Introducing Bazaar

Sid Sackson is one of the most widely respected game designers to have emerged in the late 20th century. Notable designs that are part of his ludology include Acquire, Can't Stop, and the game that is the subject of this review, Bazaar.

Bazaar first appeared in 1967, originally in a much loved 3M edition and later in a less loved Discovery Toys edition, and is a popular design that has been out of print for an extended period of time. For an overview of earlier editions see this post. The good news is that Gryphon Games has stepped up to the plate to produce a brand new edition of this classic, with a new look and new components worthy of its respected status.


Getting started in a 3 player game

COMPONENTS

Game box

So here's our first look at the new edition, and let me assure you, this is as solid a box as they come, very sturdy and a high quality consistent with some of the other new games that Gryphon Games has produced in the last couple of years.


Box cover

The back of the box gives us the essentials about the game, including our first look at the components:


Box back

Component list

So what do you get inside? It's brightly coloured and attractive!

• 10 Exchange cards
• 45 Ware cards
• 100 Stones
• 1 Die
• 6 Player Reference cards
• 1 Rulebook


Everything inside the box

The wonderful box insert deserves special mention - it's been customized to fit these specific components just beautifully, and includes a special plastic cover to protect them and keep them in place.


The wonderful box insert

Let's check everything out a little more closely. Those already familiar with the game will especially be interested to get a close-up look, and those new to the game will get an idea of what the fuss is all about!

Stones

There are 100 stones in five colours, 20 in each, and these are what you'll be trading, trying to get particular sets of colours. They're made of glass, and are attractive and appealing, and certainly contribute well to the positive aesthetics of the game on the table.


All the glass stones in five colours

Ware cards

Next up is the deck of 45 Ware cards.


The deck of Ware cards

Each Ware card pictures five coloured stones. This is how you'll earn your points, by collecting a matching set of stones corresponding to the four cards that will be face up on the table. Some cards have a single star – these are usually combinations that are harder to acquire, and are worth more points. The cards themselves have a pleasing linen finish, and are high quality.


Sample ware cards

Exchange cards

So how do you get the stones? Well you trade your existing stones using the equations on the Exchange cards. Each of these represents the rate of exchange, and lists five formulas that players can use for exchanging stones that they have.


A sample Exchange card

The game comes with 10 Exchange cards, all featuring different combinations of possible trade exchange, and two Exchange cards are selected randomly for each game. The exchange cards are made of very solid cardboard, and have an attractive and pleasing finish.


All ten Exchange cards

Die

Another way of getting stones is by rolling the die. It's a beautiful custom die with all five colours, and a “wild” side featuring a magic lamp, which gives players freedom to choose the colour of their choice when rolled.


The six sided custom die

Reference cards

So how do you score? Each time you claim one of the face up Ware cards, you get points depending on how few stones you have remaining after turning in the stones needed to claim the card, i.e. the less stones the better. The point values are listed on the player reference cards, which are made of thick card, with a quality linen finish.


High quality player reference card

Rules

Well, you almost know how to play already, the game is really very straight forward! The rulebook consists of a single sheet of card folded once, and includes some illustrations and game-play variants. As is the case with many of Sid Sackson's games, the rules are very straight-forward and easy to grasp, meaning that the game is highly accessible to a variety of ages and abilities, and that the real fun to be had is in the gameplay. Previous editions have used different rulesets, of which the 3M version is generally regarded as superior to the Discovery Toys version. Most gamers will be pleased to know that the Gryphon Games edition employs the same rules as the popular 3M edition (for discussion on the rule differences between editions, see here and here).


Rulebook cover

GAME-PLAY

Set-up

Randomly select two of the ten Exchange cards and place them face up on the table – these give the ten formulas that will be in play for this particular game. The Ware cards are shuffled, and four stacks of five cards each placed on the table, with the top card of each face up; the remaining cards in the deck can be set aside back in the box, and won't be needed. The stones are placed within reach of all players, each of which gets a reference card to help with scoring. You'll also need pen and paper to keep track of scores.


Ready to begin a game

Flow of Play

Gameplay is extremely straight-forward. Players take turns, on their turn either rolling the die to get a new stone or using the exchange rate to trade their existing stones, and optionally claiming a ware card to earn points. Let's explain in more detail.

Getting or trading stones (mandatory)

On your turn, you can do one of the following:

Either:

(a) Roll the die and take a stone of that color: Exactly what it says, it's that simple. The Magic Lamp is a wild, giving you a free choice of colour.

Or:

(b)Trade stones using one of the formulas on the Exchange cards: This involves returning one or more stones to the bank, and taking the stones matching the other side of the formula. Only one trade may be done per turn, and you can use either side of the equation to do so.


Two possibilities for exchanging a red stone using this Exchange card

Claiming a Ware card (optional)

After getting stones by rolling the die or trading, you may optionally claim one of the face up ware cards if you have the correct combination of coloured stones. The points you score depends on how many stones you have left after claiming the Ware card. Consult the reference card to determine exact values, but the basic principle is that the fewer stones you have left the more points you score, and cards with a star are also worth more points since they typically are harder to claim.


Having one stone left after claiming this Ware card earns 3 points

End of Game

After one stack of Ware cards has been exhausted, all future Ware cards claimed are worth more points. From now on until the end of the game, use the single star column for cards with no stars, and use the double star column for cards with one star. This is an ingenious mechanism which means that more is at stake in the closing stages of the game, and gives players who are behind a chance to catch up.

The game ends when a second stack of Ware cards has been exhausted, at which time the player with the most points is the winner. Scores are typically in the 20s or 30s, and triggering the game end by claiming the final Ware card of a second stack can be a key strategic move.


Closing stages of a game with only three stacks of Ware cards left

CONCLUSIONS

What do I think?

"Why aren't I having an acute case of analysis paralysis?" I admit that when I was playing Bazaar for the first time, I soon had visions of it being bogged down in analysis paralysis, as players tried to calculate endless permutations of trades, trying to think four or five moves ahead in an effort to figure out the optimal way to claim a particular Ware card. That would quickly become tedious, and be about as boring as watching a four hour game of chess or watching paint dry. In reality Bazaar surprised me, because it wasn't at all difficult to play more casually. It could become brain burning if you take this too seriously, but when played at a relaxed pace without taking too long to figure out multiple moves ahead, it's a very enjoyable exercise. Overthinking the game would not only make it painfully slow, but also be unproductive because there's always a risk someone else will beat you to the Ware card you're trying to claim anyway. Realizing this is perhaps the key to freeing the game from the potentially painful burden of analysis paralysis that could otherwise afflict it.

"Can you puzzle the puzzle?" Certainly the game-play of Bazaar is very puzzle like. It provides an interesting puzzling type exercise that fans of that genre will especially appreciate. In most cases the best way to play is to try to improve your current hand of stones to give yourself a good chance of working towards claiming a couple of potential cards, and then narrowing down the hunt as you get close to accomplishing this. As such it's a game in efficiency, and either you can try to rapidly claim ware cards as quickly as you can, ignoring how many stones it takes you to do so, or you can carefully plan to claim a particular ware card by trying to come up with the exact combination necessary, which will usually take more turns to set up but will score more points. So there's various ways to approach the game, and the different combinations of Exchange cards and Ware cards creates infinite replayability.

"This isn't hard at all!" One of the strengths of Bazaar is how easy it is to learn. Even children around age 8 should have no problem grasping how it works, and find themselves wanting to play just by watching. The game proved to be a big hit with my wife and children, and was played well over a dozen times in the first week alone. Down time could become an issue if there are too many at the table, but with 2 to 4 players the pace is usually just right, and it's something that the whole family can enjoy.

"Is there any math in this equation?" Some have billed Bazaar as an educational game, and I don't think that's strictly correct. It's true that there's little or no theme here, and that the heart of the game is an abstract exercise in efficient exchanging of the stones. So it could be argued that the game is really just an exercise in algebra, since the formulas on the exchange cards are little more than equations, and players must try to optimize these equations to arrive at combinations that earn the most points. While there's truth to this, yet the game doesn't at all feel like a dry exercise in math or logistics. Reading comments from others, it seems that I'm not the only one who was pleasantly surprised to find the gameplay more enjoyable than expected. Bazaar proved to be very rewarding, and despite being an abstract game the puzzle-like aspects proved to be very appealing to most people I introduced Bazaar too, especially in a family setting.

"What about the new edition?" I've not seen a copy of earlier editions of Bazaar, so I can only share my impressions from playing this particular version. I'm more than happy with the new 2011 edition - the box is extremely sturdy and features a wonderful box insert; the components themselves are very high quality, colourful and attractive. People familiar with the old edition will undoubtedly find themselves sentimentally attached to some of its nuances, but I think it has to be conceded that the new Gryphon Games edition has done an excellent job of matching a classic game with quality production. Avoiding the unpopular rules changes introduced by the Discovery Toys edition and retaining the 3M edition ruleset is also a good move.



What do others think?

The criticism

Not everyone likes Bazaar, and among the reasons why some don't find it appealing are that they consider it too dry and abstract, and find it too brain burning or boring, mainly because of the algebraic type equation puzzling required to do well. But is it really about as fun as taking a math test? Admittedly it won't be everyone's cup of tea, and it can become a painful exercise if players try to figure out all the progression chains possible - so definitely try using a timer if this proves to be a problem with your group. Puzzling and some mathematical flavour won't please all comers, so you may want to stay away if you think this isn't to your taste. Yet it has to be admitted that it's a clever and unique game, and there's more than enough people ready to put their hand up in defence of it, even many who to their surprise found it more enjoyable than they first expected - and I even include myself in that category!

The praise

Bazaar is currently ranked in the Top 5 of Sid Sackson's games, and over time has acquired a horde of devoted fans and ethusiasts, who have positive things like the following to say about the game:

"Fun trading game that gets better the more you play. Very underrated." - Bryon DeLaBarre
"A Sid Sackson classic! Somewhat of a brain burner but simple enough in execution that the whole family can enjoy it. Heck, you can even slip in an algebra lesson if you want." - Ed Holzman
"Although this game is very dry, puzzle-like, and subject to pure calculation, I always enjoy playing it." - Charles Bahl
"Nice trading game with a strong analytical element. It's challenging and tense. With the right group of people, not overly competitive and capable of thinking on the fly, it can be quick and fun. A true classic." - Rich Hefferan
"An amazing game. The game is full of simple ideas that come together so elequently. And the variety of formulas makes the game infinitely replayable." - Lowell Kempf
"Though this game is quite abstract it is still absorbing and addictive. Such a simple mechanism can sure give a wide range of results." - Patrick Stevens
"The idea behind the game (trading properly) is plain brilliant for its simplicity, and the randomness of the cards excludes any strategy (you could say as well that it keeps the game thrilling), but at the same time the allowed trades can make achieving a certain card more than tortuous." - Antonio Recuenco-Munoz
"This is a streamlined game that is simple to learn, yet challenging to play well. After I play, I always feel like I've gotten a bit of a mental workout, but not so much that I'm drained." - Rebeka B
"Great game of logic -- trade gems to get a certain combination. It plays quickly and is very fun." - Ed Sherman
"Classic and very enjoyable Sid Sackson trading game." - John Moreland
"Bazaar is about as close to a pure economization game as you'll come. No matter how you slice it, this is a great game." - Alan Goodrich
"One of my all time favorites. You can think as hard as you want, or just play for fun ... So simple in design yet so complex in the thought process. I can't recommend this enough ... a classic." - James Elmore




Recommendation

Is Bazaar for you? Many of Sid Sackson's games have stood the test of time, and Bazaar is no exception. It's elegant and beautiful, and has potential to appeal to a variety of gamers, and its accessibility means that it's even suitable for families or non-gamers. This fresh new edition has done a wonderful job of bringing a beautiful game to today's audiences, and if you want to own a game that’s both beautiful to look at and interesting to play, then you can't go wrong by taking a look at Bazaar.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

Subscribe to this list to be notified when new reviews are posted.
58 
 Thumb up
2.75
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darren Bezzant
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
"Everyone wants to be unique, but no one wants to be different."
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for this excellent Review Ender!

I've seen this one on the shelf at my FLGS for a while and I think I will have to pick this one up.

I am still a bit concerned about makeing sure the colours are distinct enough to ensure that my weak colour vision can play it. Do you see any thing I should watch out for?

Cheers!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Hartman
United States
Fairbanks
Alaska
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Another great Ender review.

Funny story - reading this here at work, I thought "Oh, I love Sid Sackson games, and the review is good, I'll have to get this." So I went to put it on my wish list, and I found I already own it, the 3M edition. Honestly, when I picked up a lot of 8 or so of the 3M games at a B&M auction a few years ago, I did little more than put them in my BGG database. Apparently I should actually look at what I own, lol. So I'm going to go home tonight and pull it out.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ender Wiggins
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
dbezzant wrote:
Thanks for this excellent Review Ender!

I've seen this one on the shelf at my FLGS for a while and I think I will have to pick this one up.

I am still a bit concerned about makeing sure the colours are distinct enough to ensure that my weak colour vision can play it. Do you see any thing I should watch out for?

Thanks Darren.

The only thing you'd really need to worry about is being able to distinguish between the red, yellow, green, blue and white colours used in the game for the stones and on the ware cards and exchange cards. It seems to me that the publisher has elected to use a somewhat unusual shade/tint for green which could make distinguishing red/green easier for those people who normally have trouble making that distinction.

If you can distinguish between the five colours easily enough in the pictures in this review, then you shouldn't have any problem playing the game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
flag msg tools
designer
Baseball been bery bery good to me
badge
This is a picture of a published game designer
mbmbmbmbmb
AKQuaternion wrote:
I found I already own it, the 3M edition.

thumbsup 3M edition is still the best.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fido Montoya
United States
Arkansas
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Thank you VERY much for the pics and review. I've been looking for a detailed review of the components of this version for some time. I'll have to pick this version up at some point, but I must say that I'm not thrilled at the pastel look of the stones. The 3M version (which I own two copies of) is still superior with the plastic tokens in my opinion. The primary colors used in that edition are extremely easy to tell apart, even with my minor red/green deficiency. I'm not fond of the Discovery Toys glass gems, either.
Thanks again for taking time to review this edition and to share with the rest of us!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Los Angeles
CA - California
flag msg tools
Great review. I played this new edition last weekend, and really liked the components, for what it's worth.

I did use poker chips for scorekeeping (the Eagle Games manual suggests a pad and pencil), but other than that it's really a nice production. The pastel green is an odd choice, perhaps, but it is distinctive enough that it's a non-issue for me.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pierre Rebstock
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
EndersGame wrote:
If you can distinguish between the five colours easily enough in the pictures in this review, then you shouldn't have any problem playing the game.


I must say that my colour vision is pretty bad (not quite the usual red/green problem) but i can quite easily distinguish those colours so props to the publisher thumbsup

Although I would have never identified #2 as yellow
It goes: red (cuz there's got to be a red one, right?), grass green, peppermint green (like those mentos sweets iirc), blue and white (I'm almost sure I aced the last two).

Thanks for the review!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
PierreNZ wrote:
EndersGame wrote:


It goes: red (cuz there's got to be a red one, right?), grass green, peppermint green (like those mentos sweets iirc), blue and white


Your lawn must look wonderful.

laugh
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Keith
United States
San Leandro
California
flag msg tools
"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
badge
...watch how I soar!
mbmbmbmbmb
EndersGame wrote:
As such it's a game in efficiency, and either you can try to rapidly claim ware cards as quickly as you can, ignoring how many stones it takes you to do so, or you can carefully plan to claim a particular ware card by trying to come up with the exact combination necessary, which will usually take more turns to set up but will score more points.

One of the things that tickled me was that the game end tie breaker went to the player who had acquired the *least* ware cards, thus further enhancing the central idea of efficiency. Sure, you *could* go all out and try to complete as many ware cards as possible, but the person who plays smart and scores just as much still has the potential edge!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
lotus dweller
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
flag msg tools
I love the image on the box top.
When I saw it on arriving on this game's page I thought I was looking at a 1950s game. And when I saw the title of this review I thought, "Oh no, what are they going to do to that lovely looking game?"

But now I know that they did a good design job. Great review thanks.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William McDuff
Canada
Prince Rupert
British Columbia
flag msg tools
"'A grey man,' she said. 'Neither white nor black, but partaking of both. Is that what you are, Ser Davos?' 'What if I am? It seems to me most men are grey.'" -- Lady Melisandre of Asshai and Ser Davos Seaworth from A Clash of Kings by G.R.R. Martin
badge
A small part of a 17,000 pushpin video game art project I was involved with.
mbmbmbmbmb
Just a check; that looks like a different box size from the Gryphon Bookshelf series, correct?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ender Wiggins
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
wmcduff wrote:
Just a check; that looks like a different box size from the Gryphon Bookshelf series, correct?

That's correct, it's considerably larger.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.