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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
North Yorkshire
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A long session to make up for the lay-off and we cracked open Money. A Knizia bidding game with odd scoring, I've had this for years but not played it. Reading the rules, I doubted it, and thought it would go on for ages. But Money flew along, very fast. There are currency cards in different values, 20 20 20 30 30 30 40 50 60, plus some gold and dummy cards to allow players to bluff.

After shuffling the deck and dealing 6 to each player, you draw 4 to the left, 4 to the right of the deck. Players then select cards from their hand and show them together. The first highest bid can take one side in exchange, or take another player's bid in exchange, or take their money back. And so on. When each player has done, draw the two sides back to 4, play on till the deck is exhausted and score. The cards you collect go into your hand, and you can choose from them for your next bid. There's a very clever tie-break, the cards have serial numbers, lowest goes first.

The scoring in Money is typically odd for Knizia, but it works. You sort your hand into the currency and total up. If you got over 200, you score the value. If you got less than 200, score the total minus 100, ignoring negative results. If you get a triple 20 or 30, you score a bonus 100 points for the triple. And the golds are worth 10 points too.

So Money is a very peculiar creature. You want to keep some cards in your hand, you must spend some to get others back, you spend the cards the others want, you can waste your money or get something for nothing. All very odd, but extremely quick decisions.

Richard won the first round with nearly the whole of one currency and took a huge lead. We played another round and I stupidly bluffed a no-bid on the first go, so they picked up 4 cards each and I got 2 I didn't even want. So they could outbid me and I struggled to catch up. I pulled back, but Richard won comfortably.

I liked Money. It does exemplify Knizia's extraordinary ability to craft a game from a simple mechanism, especially through his handling of the scoring rules. How does his mind produce a game from this? Did he deduce a mathematical problem and convert it into a game?

The production is excellent, the banknotes on the cards are very high quality, the colours are very sharp. The next time we play, we'll do more to conceal our choices. Boldly slapping down 4 cards, Richard called my bluff and played his fake card. Doh!
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