We've played this game maybe a dozen times, but this is my first session report on it. I'll kind of summarize the earlier sessions, then talk more about this one.
First off, we thought the game was pretty easy. Guess how much the paintings will be worth, and bid to within 1 or 2 of that value.
Very quickly, we realized the seller made a LOT of money on that, and the buyer only 1 or 2 gold. So, then people started bidding less. But, if someone bids 20, for example, it's ALWAYS better for you to bid 21 - but if you do this time after time, you drive up the price. There's also the considerations of manipulating what others will play - if you want someone to play a certain artist, make sure they have more of that artist, and less of other ones.
Everyone loves it because nobody's sure of the exact strategy. People will try vastly different strategies, and it's always a surprise who will win. And yet it doesn't feel random.
Anyway, we played 2 games. The first one, I felt the prices were a bit too high, so I hardly bought anything. And I lost quite badly. That's the thing about this game - if EVERYONE pays too much, the only person who loses is the person who's not involved in the buying. Almost nobody bought their own paintings this game, so the winning score was over 500.
So, the second game, I paid a bit too much for some things, but still mostly stayed out of the expensive buying. I had no double auction cards the entire game, so I thought I was doomed. So, I played conservatively, no big chances, but no big losses. I was convinced someone was stealing my cards in the third round, because I had so few. Must have been the red wine.
Anyway, I ended up winning by about 7. Very close game, but made me re-think my opinion that double auctions are game-winners. Maybe it's more balanced than I thought.
And re-emphasizes the reasons why this is still our favorite game right now.