The game play of High Society is very simple. You are trying to outbid your opponents to get cards that you want to add value to your hand, and avoid taking too many penalty cards. In the end you will most likely have to take one or two penalty cards though, because they game does have a nice little twist. The person with the least amount of money at the end of the game loses, even if they have more points than anyone else in the game. This sort of stops you from overpaying for some items just to gather the most points.
The play as I said is very simple. Everyone receives 11 money cards, these are in the values of 25, 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 all valued in millions. The object is to outbid your opponents for the cards you want without overspending. On each turn the top card is flipped over and bidding starts. With most cards that it is a traditional auction where you bid until everyone drops out except for one bidder. That bidder wins the card which is either a luxury item card (worth points), or the recognition cards which double all the points in your hand. Of course though, this game would be boring if all the cards gave you good results.
There are also cards that have a negative effect on your scores. One of them is tax evasion which cuts your points in half, gambling debts which costs you five points, and the thief which cancels one of your luxury items. The bidding on these is a little different. Again, you do a standard auction, but the first person to pass (in other words fail to outbid their opponent) gets that card. Receiving the card is the bad news for the person who passes, but they do keep put all their money they had bid on that auction back in their hand. Everyone else has a bad result too, they lose the money they had bid to the bank! This makes for some interesting strategy, because remember the person with the least money loses automatically at the end even if they have the most points!
The recognition cards along with the tax evasion card each have a red border. The game ends when the fourth card with a red border is turned face up. This also adds some strategy because after that third red border card is shown the game can end at any time! At the end of the game as I said you first add up your money, the person with the lowest total is out of the game. Then everyone else adds their points taking into consideration bonus and penalties from the cards they won. The person with the highest total wins!
Honestly, this is a great little bidding game. The only semi-complicated rule is for the tax evasion, gambling debts and thief cards, but that does not take long to learn. That little twist makes strategizing fun in the game. Again, remember you want to have the most points at the end, but also avoid having the least money if you want to win! At under $15 retail price this is definitely worth having around to teach your friends the basic aspects of bidding games and have some fun playing it.