designed by Steve Finn, published by Doctor’s Finn’s Games
Run your very own medieval monastery! Collect the various supplies (scrolls, manuscripts, pigments, quills, ink) you will need to produce magnificent illuminated manuscripts by rolling 6 (or 7) resource dice. Choose one set of results and move up that number of spaces on the associated resource track. Or get gold. Or move up on the bishop track and get bonuses. Or manipulate the value of some of the resources. Unless of course it’s market day, when the active player divides up the dice (5 in group, 3 in the other) and everyone secretly bids, one card at a time, to win the right to a group of dice. The game ends four markers reach the top of the resource tracks, or one player reaches the top of the bishop track. Points are added up for first, second, and third place based on the value of each particular resource. Most points wins! But be careful: not moving up on a track means you get negative points for being at the bottom. And in a game where the winner and 3rd place were separated by 4 points, that’s a big difference.
A game where randomness is not so bad, as there is always something good to do. Just choose wisely and you advance at least a little on all tracks. Use clever strategy in timing the manipulation of the value of the resource, but watch for the abrupt end. Light enough for gateway, deep enough to make for interesting choices.
One Line Verdict: Don’t take a vow of silence on this one. Scream it from the abbey roof about how good this game is.
designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Uberplay
A pure bidding game where you try to buy the most stuff. Start with a limited number of dollar amounts in your hand: simply bid on items, ranging from artwork to basketball teams and castles worth different amounts of prestige, as they are turned over. But be careful: once you spend the money card, it’s gone. And the cards vary in their amounts, so there’s no change. As the game goes on, you begin to lose your flexibility with your bid amounts. And watch out for misfortune cards: bid to NOT get these. At the end of the game, the person with the least money in hand is instantly eliminated, and the remaining players add up their point totals. And win by only winning three items.
A game of tight auctions, steely gazes that rewards the cold-hearted and cut-throat. The limiting of bid cards in both amount and use is very smart and requires clever strategizing in your bid. But most of all this game is about reading your opponents and forcing them out.
One Line Verdict: Great filler for feeling what it’s truly like to be rich. In other words, totally evil.
designed by Mark Corsey, published by Breaking Games
“The Game of 49”
Bid for spaces as you try to get four in a row! A pure bidding game as you bid for spaces that come up for auction on a 7×7 grid. Flip a card, bid on it. That’s about it. Win the auction and place a marker on the board. The more markers you have, the more money you can make in later rounds when these Payoff cards are flipped. But there is a careful balance in this game as you try to get the spaces that you need, but have enough left at the end to get that space that will win you the game.
Next level Connect 4, as you try to outbid and outfox your opponents for coveted spaces. Admittedly, a better game than that with a clever twist for payout cards. Basically a pure bidding game.
One Line Verdict: If you like auctions and bidding, this is a must. If you don’t, then pass on this one.