For Sale: A Fast, Tiny Auction Game

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I have to admit that when I first saw the components for For Sale, I was mostly underwhelmed. Nothing jumped out at me. The artwork seemed plain and a little outdated. House cards with numbers on them? Boring!

Boy, was I in for a surprise…

Game Specifications

Publisher: Gryphon Games
Published: 1997
Suggested Age: 8+
Number of Players: 3-6
Playing Time: 20 minutes

Gameplay

For Sale is a real estate game in which players will be buying and selling property. Players will compete to get the best bargain for their properties and then try to flip those same properties for the highest amount possible. Properties are numbered from 1 to 30 to indicate their value.

The game begins with the auction phase, where a certain number of property cards (equal to the number of players) is placed face-up on the table. Players will then have two options: they can bid or they can pass. To bid, they must lay in front of them a certain amount of money from their personal pool of cash. If they pass, they must take the lowest valued property card available on the table.

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In turn order, each player will continue to bid more money or pass until all properties have been taken. Players who pass only have to pay half the amount they bid (unless they went first and passed on their turn, making the property free for them). The player who bids the most that round gets the highest valued card, but they must pay the full amount of their bid. After one auction round is over, the next set of property cards are placed on the table and bidding continues for several more rounds.

After the auction phase is completed, we then move to the selling phase. Players will have the opportunity to exchange their property for checks ranging from $0 to $15,000. After a certain number of check cards (again equal to the number of players) have been turned face-up on the table, players will secretly select one of their property cards and place it face-down on the table. When everyone is ready, players will all reveal their property cards. The player with the highest valued property card will earn the biggest check, the player with the second highest property card will earn the second biggest check, and so on and so forth.

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Once all the players’ properties have been sold, everyone will count up their checks and any leftover money from the bidding phase. Whoever has the most money wins the game.

The Pros

It’s fast. I have no doubt that this will be one of the quickest games you’ll ever play. Most of my games last between 15-20 minutes. In my experience, I’ve found that the first phase of the game is definitely the slower part, since players are often trying to figure out whether or not it’s worth it to outbid the previous bid. But the second phase more than makes up for it, as people are quite eager to swap out their properties for those checks.

It’s simple, while offering a good amount of depth. I absolutely love this aspect of the game. This really is such an easy game to learn, play and teach. And yet it’s not a game where more experienced players will automatically have an advantage over new players. In fact, a good portion of this game is about feeling out what your opponents are going to do and then playing appropriately. Even if you don’t come out of the auction phase with the best assortment of properties, some clever thinking can earn you the victory if you can accurately assess the how the group is playing.

It offers good replayability value. Every game is different because the collection of properties (as well as the selection of checks) are randomly drawn each time. And how you bid will vary based on what properties or checks are available. This game really leaves you wanting more, especially when you’ve come short of first place by just a couple thousand dollars. Whenever I’ve played this game, we’ve always ended up playing two or three times.

The Cons

I literally have nothing negative to say about this game.

Conclusion

For Sale is the perfect game for non-gamers and gamers alike. Non-gamers will appreciate  the simplicity and how quick it plays, while gamers will enjoy the depth of strategy required to win the game (even though there is an element of chance in the game). I’ve had success playing it with both adults and children, so I think it also works well as a family game.

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