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Merchants of Amsterdam» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Bidding in the land of he bulb rss

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M Loebach
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Four Commodities
Three Sections
Second or First are all that count...

This is our games' group second run at this.
Each time it has been a success.

Merchants of Amsterdam is a develop and score / Puerto Rico / Bidding Game. It melds all three very well.

There are three areas
1. Trade centres around the globe (The globe is divided into 4 quadrants).
2. Warehouses in the city (The city is divided into four districts)
3. Goods track (There are four types of goods)

Each turn the "Governor" draws cards and places them for use in one of three spots.

1. Mine -- this spot is for the card the governor will use him/herself
2. Trash -- this spot is for the card the governor will throw out
3. Biddy's -- this is the spot where the card will be available to the person with the quickest hands -er- highest bidder.

Each card does one of the following
1. Develop a place on the globe and move a good one ahead
2. Develop a district and move a good one ahead
3. Move goods 3 spaces
4. There is a red marker that moves around the perimeter of the game board that acts as a timer. With this "hourglass" card you move the game timer ahead one along the perimiter of the board.

As the game timer moves around the board there are opportunities to develop goods, warehouses, global locations as well as lose them.
There are also chances to "Score" on a scoring spot you score based on most districts, most global trade, most goods.

For example...
In the case of global development you look at which quadrant has been developed the most and score that one. The person with the most gets an amount of money, the person in second gets a lesser amount. Then you look for what quadrant is the next best developed, then 3rd and 4th. with each of the players with the most and secondmost getting cash.

The rules are very clear as how to sort out ties of any sort.

Back to the Governor and the cards.
After all three cards have been filled the following happens.
Trash -- this card is discarded.
Mine -- the governor uses this card and develops as the card dictates.
Biddy's -- There is a timer in the game that counts down from $200,000 to $50,000 (florins actually). The first person to slap the timer pays that amount for permission to use the card. They pay, then they play.

When the Red marker/game timer reaches the end of the timer track the game is over. Each Area is scored at double the money that was scored throughout the game. If there are any debts to be paid they are settled. The person with the most cash wins.

There are smaller bonuses and a couple small very specific rules that come into play, but the game provided a cheat sheet so everyone can see them.

In the game we played Sean "Tau" Ascendant won with about $1,200,000+. The scores were relatively close for all five players. There was an incident where the tiebreak rule came into affect and in retrospect I should have gone over their effects in more depth at the beginning. All players were good sports and we had a good time jumping on the timer (VERY durable). We also had the benefit of a sixth player (Kuub) being the banker.

I find the board design, cards and dimer very aesthetically pleasing and easy enough to read. I think the only complaint is that had we not had a banker constantly making change the game would have taken anouther 20 minutes because every payout we had to consolidate our Florins to provide enough to pay the next person. I consider this a minor flaw (use chips / Monopoly money / actual Florins / whatever).

There is a notion that the timer should be in a different spot each play for fairness (arm reaching etc.). I think that is probably sensible. As well, make sure the timer is not touching the game board while bidding is on.

All in all excellent fun.


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