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Tricia Victor
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A retailer oriented review of an upcoming release from Mayday Games, including tips on how to play it, how to sell it & who to sell it to!

On your marks, get set, MOW!!

Get your engines revved & ready to go. Or in this case, get your workout on with a one-of-a-kind push mower complete with sweating to the oldies soundtrack. Rack up enough odd jobs to earn some moolah & upgrade your mower to landscape in style. Classic mowers may not be suitable for everyone. All colors, models & selections may vary by store. Deluxe versions sold separately. Additional taxes, surcharges & fees not included in price. ;-)

The objective of Mow Money is to have the most reputation points & be crowned king of the lawns.
-Undermine the competition by low balling your bid contracts
-Throw the competitors for a loop & fake a bid for a local neighborhood job
-Invest earnings to improve the mower with upgraded components & purchase bid cards

Setup the neighborhood cards in alphabetical order with the contracts on top of each card in the middle of the table. Those cards are the jobs that players will compete for during the bidding phase. Bid cards will be separated into Basic, Medium & Advanced piles above the neighborhoods. Players begin with the basic mower & earn money through odd jobs & contract jobs to upgrade their mowers. Players can bid for more complex neighborhood jobs with the Medium & Advanced bid cards once their mowers are upgraded.

Each round of Mow Money involves four phases:
1) Invest hard earned money into upgrading mowers or purchasing bid cards

2) Match the icons on bid cards to the contract jobs in the various neighborhoods to place a bid. Use void cards to bluff & deter others from underbidding a job. Fulfill an odd job to gain money tokens. Previous contract job cards can be used to lower the bid amount by putting your reputation at stake. Lowering the bid amount helps give players the advantage to win the contract. However, if the bid is lost, the contract card previously won is discarded. Only two contract bids or one contract bid & one odd job may be performed per round

3) Reap money from the bank by completing odd jobs first. Reveal bids for each neighborhood contract starting with neighborhood A to determine who won with the lowest bid amount

4) Pass the starting player token clockwise. Place contract cards with no bids on the bottom of the contract pile. If any of the neighborhoods run out of contracts, the game ends

Players add up the reputation points found on the contract & mower cards. Every $3 earned is also worth one reputation point. The most reputation points wins the right to be called the city's landscaper.

Mow Money has a lot of cards but all of them & the components serve a purpose. Do not let the setup phase overwhelm. Once the game has been set up, the four phases of game play are very easy to learn & resolve themselves quickly. The bidding mechanics are quite fantastic & have more depth than expected. Players begin with the same cards in hand but that quickly changes once bid cards are purchased. The void cards add the unexpected twists of bluffing into the mix. The combination of bid cards, contract cards & void cards add heavier strategy to managing resources & calculating risks to obtain bigger rewards.

I believe there is fantastic balance between being a light game with a heavy decision making factor. Mow Money appeals to players who love risk taking, strategizing future actions by attempting to outmaneuver opponents & managing resources through a bidding process.
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