Basari can play up to four players, but it is rare to find a game that works particularly well for three players. However this is one that excels with three and is one of my favourite three player games.
The theme for Basari is thin, so thin in fact that I have not bothered to note it after a number of plays. It does’ however seem to fit the 'traders of x' theme and in your box you will find some nice stone gems with which to play the game. The components are few and far between and so it is not surprising that it is a small box, though I take my hat off to the designer for using a square for the board which when folded into four fits into a reasonably sized box and keeps the size down. This represents good value for money and you get quite a bit of game for 12 cards, a board and a few pretty stones.
The game-play is simple. Players begin at any point on a square of consecutive spaces like in your traditional roll and move game and the round ends when a player returns to the space he began the round. Each space on the board has two attributes, a set of gems and a number of points. Each player begins the round by rolling a dice simultaneously, each player moves that many areas. All three players then choose from one of three actions, either the gems, the points or a further dice roll.
If a player selects the gems action and no other player selects it then they receive the gems listed on the area. If they choose points and no other player selects it then the points are added to their total (they range from 4 -7). If a player chooses the dice then they roll the dice again and receive that number of points, and 6 minus their rolls in extra movement. Extra movement is useful because the first player to finsh a circuit earns 10 bonus points and it is points that win the game.
If however two players select the same action then one must pay the other for the right to the action. This takes the form of an auction where each player makes an increasing value bid in the form of gems by adding to their current bid. One player gets the action, the other gets some gems and the player roll again.
At the end of the round bonus points are scored for the first place finisher and also for the player with the most gems of each of 4 colours. The red bonus is worth 14 while the blue worth 8. The person who received the bonus loses three gems of that colour and the process repeats for a second and third round. Most points win.
The game is simple, roll a dice and then choose an action, but there is plenty more game to it. What is particularly interesting is when two players choose the same action. There are a range of tactical options, but most often you can afford to give away one colour, knowing that you will not score the bonus. But do this too early, or too often and you will have little hope of getting bonuses, and little currency to work with in future ties.
There are a number of strategic options to pursue. Go for the bonus points from gems, go hard after pure points, or go for the bonus for finishing first. In a three player game it is possible that each player will get their tendered action, but this rarely happens. In a four player game it is guaranteed that two players will double up on an action. So there is plenty of game theory and strategic thinking involved to avoid the double up.
You may be turned off my the luck involved in this one. This includes explicit luck in the roll of a die and implicit luck in the selection of action. But for me I enjoy the long run probabilities that are at work and the tactical bidding that comes when you double up on an action.
So if you haven’t tried it this is well worth a punt. With the right attitude this is a simple, fast and friendly game and who can ask for anything more.
El Mejor Juego de la Vida
Nice review. The first edition (FX Schmid) was a beauty, this one really hurts my eyes.
Andrew you're right , it's a great little game. Shortly after having bought my copy I read a review of Edel Stein & Reich which has a very similar mechanic and managed to get a copy of that too. If you're trying to keep your collection down probably best not to buy that as well but if that isn't an issue try and track down a copy, you will like it . It plays a little more smoothly in my opinion and looks excellent (including more neat jewels!), it can also play up to 5. We have a games night coming up this Friday and having not played it for a while - writing this makes me think we may!
Nice review Andrew! I enjoy this game too, even though I haven't won it yet!
Just a couple of small points:
When your action is to roll the die, you move the number you roll and you get 6 - the number you roll in points.
When you make a new offer, you don't need to add to your previous bid, you can take that bid back and start fresh.
One thing to add:
There is a good variant on BGG that I always play with: instead of all players rolling their dice in the movement phase, only the person in the points lead rolls their dice and all players move that distance. It take some of the luck out of the game.
Another vote for Edel, Stein & Reich here. Another small box game, but this is very beautiful and though the game has slightly different rules they are similar in structure. Glad I've spotted another close connection between games otherwise I might have bought this too.
I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag. With Latin written on it that says "It's hard to give a shit these days"
Hard to find games that play well with 3? How about:
The end of the triumvirate
If you can't find good 3 player games, it's because you are not looking