Have you become a fan of shows like “Antiques Roadshow” where you like to see what different items are worth as a surprise? Well, this game sort of incorporates that idea into the game. You are buying and selling artwork during each round, but you aren’t quite sure of how much the paintings will be worth until the end of each round. Of course, as in any strategy game though you do have some control over the value of the paintings. The problem is so do your opponents, which could foil your strategy if they discover it.
To start the game everyone gets five cards. There are four rounds in a game. To start a round you start with the first player and they get to choose which of their paintings they would like to auction off. The card indicates the types of auction it will be. There is the standard auction everyone is familiar with where everyone bids until nobody outbids the last bidder. There is also an auction many people are familiar with which is a blind bid, where everyone reveals their bid at the same time with top bidder winning. A type of auction where each person can only raise or pass once is another one that the card might dictate, and honest is my least favorite type of auction. The final one is a fixed price, which people that are familiar with ebay might view as a “buy it now auction” where the first person that agrees to pay the seller’s price gets the painting. Finally, some cards have a symbol that allows you to sell 2 paintings of the same artist at auction, with the second painting determining the type of auction. If you do not have a second painting of that artist you force your next opponent to use one of theirs (and lose their chance to make the decision themselves), and then you two split the income from the auction.
These auctions are all used to sell paintings and increase your money (if you are the seller) or your paintings you hold if you are the buyer. Turns to be the auction rotate through the players until one artist’s painting has been put up for auction five times. The last time it is put up for auction the auction does not happen. Instead the round ends and that artist has had the most paintings sold so theirs will be worth the most money $30,000 for that round. The artist with the second most sold are worth $20,000 per painting, and the one with the third most sold will be worth $10,000 per painting. The trick to scoring is that painting values are cumulative from round to round as long as the artist is in the top 3. Let’s say in round one the artist is #1, he is #2 in round 2, and #2 in round 3. That means each painting at the end of round three is worth 30,000 + 20,000 + 20,000 for that artist, meaning $70,000 each! After the round is over the paining cards are discarded and new ones are dealt.
The strategy in this game is rather complex. It involves knowing what your opponents might auction off based on what might be in their hand and what cards they are trying to increase the value for. Of course you will be doing the same thing, so sometimes bluffing by offering different cards up than anticipated could be a good strategy. In the end though your strategy is dependant on what is going in the game so far.
This is a great auction game for beginners. It is very reasonably priced in it’s current version which was released in 2004. On average you will pay $20, and it is a great game to own at that price. My only warning is that the game is for three to five people only, so if your group is usually smaller or larger than that , this might not be a great choice.