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Subject: The King of all Fillers… rss

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Mitch Willis
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Kathleen
Georgia
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Overview
For Sale is a bidding and bluffing card game about real estate for three to six players. It’s designed by Stefan Dorra, whose previous game designs include Die Sieben Siegel, Amazonas, and Buccaneer. The edition I have is the current one published by Uberplay. Each player takes on the role of an investor, first bidding on properties and then selling said properties for profit. The object of the game is to acquire more money than your fellow investors. Our games are usually very short, with between 15 to 20 minutes being the norm.

Out of the Box
Inside the small game box resides thirty property cards, thirty check cards, 72 cardboard coins (12 $2K coins, 60 $1K coins), and a small rule book. The components are nice with the cards and coins both made from pretty good stock. The property cards’ illustrations are cartoonish but nicely done with a bit of humor; the lowest valued property is a cardboard box while the highest valued one is a space station. The property cards have one of each value, ranging from 1 to 30. The check cards have two of each value, ranging in $1K increments from $0 (VOID) to $15K, but skip over the $1,000 value. The rules are short and to the point and will have you playing in no time at all.

Setup
In a 3-player game, you’ll shuffle and randomly remove 6 cards each from the property deck and the check deck; with 4 players, you'll remove 2 cards each. With 3 or 4, each player will receive $18K in coins. In a 5- or 6-player game, you’ll use all cards and each player will receive $14K in coins. A number of property cards, equal to the number of players, will be dealt face up in the middle of the playing area. A random player will be chosen to start the buying properties phase.

Game Play
During the buying properties phase, on your turn, if you want to stay in the bidding for the highest face up property, you must outbid the previous high bidder. If you choose to pass instead of bidding, you must take the lowest valued property available; if you had bid previously, you may also take back half of your bid (rounded up), with the other half going to the bank. If you’re the only remaining bidder, you’ll get the highest valued property but you’ll also have to give all of your bid to the bank. Once every one has received a property, the same number of property cards will be dealt face up again and a new round of bidding will start beginning with the winner of the previous bid. This will continue until there are no more property cards left.

After the buying phase is over, all players will have an equal number of property cards and the selling properties phase will begin. Instead of the open auction of the property phase, the selling phase is done with blind bidding. First off, a number of check cards, equal to the number of players, will be dealt face up in the middle of the playing area. After examining the value of the checks, each player will select one of the property cards they acquired from the previous phase and place it face down in their respective playing area. Once every one has done so, each will flip up their card simultaneously. The person with the highest valued property will get the highest valued check available, in turn, down to the player with the lowest valued property getting the lowest valued check. After every one has received a check, the same number of check cards will be flipped up for the next round. This phase will continue until the last check card is claimed.

Endgame and Scoring
The game ends after the selling phase. Scoring is very simple; after the last check is claimed, every one will total the values from their checks. If you have any coins left over from the buying phase, you add their value to the check total. The player with the most money wins the game.

Observations
The only randomness to be found in For Sale is in the clusters of property and check cards that are dealt face up for auction during each respective phase. Aside from that, the game will be determined by how well you manage your bids during the first phase, and how well you bluff during the second. During the open bidding of the buying phase, you’ll want to balance your bids against the value of the available properties. If you bid too much too early, you’ll have far less flexibility in later rounds and will more likely get stuck with a lot of low valued properties. Remember that if you’re the highest bidder, while you’ll get the highest valued property, you’ll also have to pay your whole bid. If there’s not a lot of disparity in the values of the available properties, some times it’s better to drop out of the bidding to take a little bit lower value and get half of your bid back. Also, try to keep aware of how many coins your opponents have. Say you were going to originally make a $2K bid but notice the person to your left only has $3K left. By upping your bid an additional $1K, you’ll force that player to take the lowest property available since he/she can’t outbid you, therefore guaranteeing that you’ll get a higher valued property when bidding comes back to you. Also don’t dismiss the value of having a few coins left over after this phase; we’ve had several games where the coins made the difference between winning and losing.

During the blind bidding of the selling phase, it’s probably going to come down to how well you can read your opponents and how well you can bluff. While having the higher valued properties is definitely an advantage, it doesn’t guarantee victory. On more than one occasion, we’ve had players with middling cards snatch away the win. Even though having the 30 valued property ensures that you can get a $15K check when it appears, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use it then. First off, every one will know who has the highest property and most will assume you’ll save it for one of the $15K checks; you might be able to play a slightly less valued property and still get the high check since the others will probably think you’re playing the 30. Second, say a $15K check shows up in a round with a bunch of other high valued checks and there are no low values; you could dump a low valued property, still get a high valued check, and save the 30 for a round when there is more disparity among the checks. In my experience, you have to be aggressive in this round and take chances, unless of course you did so well in the buying phase that there’s a big disparity in property values between you and your opponents.

Conclusions
In my humble opinion, I think For Sale is the perfect filler; it’s quick, light fun, but it takes a little thought and has some tough decisions as well. I’ve yet to introduce this game to some one who hasn’t liked it. I’ve also never played just a single game at a sitting; after the first game, every one’s usual response is “let’s play another one.” And it appeals to both non-gamers and hardcore gamers alike; while it’s easy to see why it appeals to the former, I was surprised by its appeal to the latter. A gaming group that I get to play with about once a month mostly consists of heavy gamers, playing games such as Railroad Tycoon, Power Grid, Outpost, Louis XIV, and Taj Mahal. After a night of such games, we had a little time left but not enough for another heavy game, so I introduced ‘em to For Sale. They were all impressed as we played three quick games. Before the next session that I was able to attend, one of the gamers sent me an e-mail asking me to bring “…that little real estate card game.” As an overall game, I currently rate For Sale an 8; however, if I were rating it strictly as a filler, I’d have to give it a 10.
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Brad Keck
United States
Utah
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Great review. I absolutely agree about For Sale being the king of fillers.

I do have one comment, though. You mentioned the thing about paying attention to how much money people have. I believe this is absolutely a game where it is critical to keep money hidden to prevent exactly the scenario you described. You want to try to bid as much as I have? You're going to have to gamble on how much that is.

Again, great review overall. Love this game.
 
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Mitch Willis
United States
Kathleen
Georgia
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TheKeck wrote:
Great review. I absolutely agree about For Sale being the king of fillers.

I do have one comment, though. You mentioned the thing about paying attention to how much money people have. I believe this is absolutely a game where it is critical to keep money hidden to prevent exactly the scenario you described. You want to try to bid as much as I have? You're going to have to gamble on how much that is.

Again, great review overall. Love this game.


Thanks. It's funny you mentioned keeping the money hidden...the heavy gamers that I get to occasionally game with caught on to that real quick after just one game. You're right on the money 'cause it makes the bidding a bit more difficult...
 
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Greg White
New Zealand
Upper Hutt, Wellington
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the copy of the rules i have advise you to keep your money hidden from the other players.
 
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Mitch Willis
United States
Kathleen
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NZRPGR wrote:
the copy of the rules i have advise you to keep your money hidden from the other players.


You're right, I found it after seeing your post. I may have overlooked it 'cause it was printed in yellow text in the rulebook I have. We've never kept people from hiding their money, it's just that most in our game group didn't bother until they noticed how it could impact the bidding. Thanks!
 
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Chris Jones
United Kingdom
Sheffield
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My group loved this game and we played it all night rather than whilst waiting for a couple of guys to turn up late.

Hilarious when you're waiting for the first person to bail and take the property, then everyone follows leaving the leader to take the lead property whilst you jangle your change at him/her!

Very clever, very quick, very simple and superbly themed.

An excellent mini game with a significant amount of replayability.

But a rather over large box for whats inside - buyers beware...don't get too excited expecting lots of game parts!

CHRIS
 
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