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Felix: The Cat in the Sack» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A light auction with cats! rss

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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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To buy a cat in a sack is a German expression for buying something unproved or untried. In this light auction game players bid on sets of partially unknown cats trying to collect the most valuable felines by the end of the game.

Components

Felix comes in a very compact yet typically green 2F box. This makes it easily portable and handy to have around as light filler.

At its heart, Felix is a lightweight card based auction game. Each player receives set of good quality oversized coloured cards. These are nicely illustrated with variety of good and bad cats, dogs and rabbits in an appealing cartoonish style. Despite the art, this really isn't a game for children.



Housekeeping cards depicting a cat in a sack and 2, 3, 4, and 6 mice coins are also provided as placekeepers on the table.

The game money is handled with cheap untextured plastic discs, thematically termed mice, which come in black and green 1 and 5 denominations. There's also a wooden sack piece to mark the starting player which rotates around the table.



Gameplay

Each player receives a full set of cards, coloured in their player colour front and back. The cards contain several nice cats, worth up to 10 points, bad cats giving penalties up to -10 points a zero-point cute pink bunny and big and large dogs. Before the game starts, each player discards a card selected randomly by their neighbor.

Each round, a set of cat card is auctioned. The sets are created by each player starting with the starting player secretly selecting one of the cat cards and placing it face down on the table. Once all players have discarded the cards, the first card (from the start player) is turned face up and the auction begins.



Before each auction, some money is distributed on the mouse cards next to the sack cards. In a full 5-player game, these are values 2, 3, 4 and 6, some are removed for fewer players.

In the auction, each player can bid (by placing an amount of mouse coins in front of themselves) or pass. The starting bid is arbitrary, all following bids must increase the bid. When a player passes, they take their bid back and also take the money from the lowest remaining money card. The next next face-down card from the set is turned over and bidding continues to their left.

The last remaining player, after everyone else has passed flips the last remaining unknown card and checks the set. If there are any dogs in the set they are evaluated. A single big angry dog chases away the highest (most positive) valued cat in the set. A single small friendly dog chases away the lowest (most negative) cat in the set, but this could still be a positive cat if there are no negative ones. The bunny counts as a cat of value 0 here. If there are two or more dogs, they fight and have no effect on the remaining cats. All remaining cat cards are collected by the winning player and kept in a scoring pile. They receive the start player token and a new round begins.

The game ends when all the player cards have been auctioned. All face-down won cat (and rabbit) cards are turned face up and scored and then any remaining mouse money added. The player with the highest score, wins!

Notes and Conclusions

The core and clever mechanic of this game is that the players all know the value of one of the cards being auctioned off. As more of the cards are turned face up, the players with knowledge of the remaining cards find themselves in a much stronger position, if only they have an opportunity to make use of it.

Winning an auction and becoming the start player puts you in a bad position for placing cards on the next round. Given the benefit of placing last and knowing the value of the whole set, it could be very useful to pass on a mediocre set, taking the 6 mice and leaving the player to your left to take the set and become start player.

The free money cards can be a powerful play. If a player was able to consistently pick up the 6 money without having to pay anything, they'd likely win or come close. Of course, you need to stay in the bidding to get such a high card and this significantly increases the risk that you'll be left buying a bad set. Also, there's a set amount of money in the game. If the bank ever doesn't have enough money to fill all the mouse cards, they are all left empty for this turn. This often leads to higher bidding as losing the auction becomes extra painful.

There's a small amount of luck involved in which of your cards is discarded at the start. It's not clear that knowledge of the card you placed in is the same for every card, but it is likely that the differences in which number card you get to place is greater. Regardless, this is a tiny loss set against the gain of making the last round interesting, even for card-counters.

This is not a game of deep strategy, but the combination of auction with different partial information on the part of all the different players works really well. It's accessible to people who play light games and engaging enough to be good filler for people who like heavier games.

If you like light auction games, check my Light Auction Games geeklist for some others.
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David Witzany
United States
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I believe that this game is OOP at the moment. None of the stores that have ads for it here actually have it in stock. I ended up buying it from germangames.com in Canada a few months ago, but they're out of it now, too. Boardgames.ca appears to have a single copy of it left.

 
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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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fuldhim wrote:
I believe that this game is OOP at the moment. None of the stores that have ads for it here actually have it in stock. I ended up buying it from germangames.com in Canada a few months ago, but they're out of it now, too. Boardgames.ca appears to have a single copy of it left.


Really? that's a shame. I might ping Jay to check. One of my favorite light auction games.

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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
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I just pinged Jay. RGG is out of stock currently but there will be more coming in 2010, so everyone will have an opportunity to get a copy of this great little game.

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