For Sale Review

For Sale card game in play

Sometimes, a "filler" game steals the show.  Recently, this happened to me with For Sale. (In case you're not familiar with the term, a "filler" game refers to a quick game that you play, generally, while waiting on other games to end or more friends to arrive.)

For Sale is the game of the double auction.  Every player starts with a pile of money.  You use this money to buy properties.  To do this, you flip over one property per player and start an auction.  Going around in a circle, each player must increase the bid or pass.  If they pass, they get the lowest valued property and get half of their previous bid back.  This continues until one player is left - they buy the highest valued property at their full bid price.  Once the entire deck of property is auctioned, you sell what you've bought.  Again, you will flip up one card per player, but this time it is from the deck of "checks."  All of the players will select one of their properties and sell it by revealing it at the same time (a silent auction).  The players then get a check corresponding to the relative value of their property - the highest valued property gets the highest check, etc.  Once all of the checks are gone (all the properties you bought will be too), whoever has the most money in checks (and starting money that they didn't spend) is the winner!

I love For Sale.  It is simple, engaging, strategic, easy to teach, and can be enjoyed by everyone.  Is that enough pros for you?  Really, all of those adjectives are precisely what I look for in a "filler" game - especially the easy to teach (and I also look for quick to play).  Yet, I have found For Sale to be engaging enough that I often want to play it more than I want to play the longer game that I actually meet up with people to play.  So, I guess the first official pro for For Sale is that it is fun.  Yes, this is a highly subjective pro - but to me, I really enjoy playing the game.
card from For Sale game
I even like the artwork!

My second pro for For Sale is that I love that you get half of your bid back when you pass.  Normal auctions aren't like that - you normally buy something or you don't.  However, in For Sale, you're going to get a property every time, and so it makes sense that you should have to pay something every time (except if you pass before ever bidding, then you get a (crappy) property for free - that may not make sense thematically, but it's ok).  Often you find yourself in a situation where you are actively trying to not win an auction; but you don't want to lose it either.  You often bid simply to not be last - and sometimes you bid a bit higher to try to force other people to pass!  You can really see that people have no intentions of winning the auction when they start jumping to the next round number.  (For example, if the bid is at $2k and they bid $4k.)  When you get half of your bid back, it rounds against you - so, if you pass later, bidding $3k or $4k costs you the same.  However, if you actually win the bid they cost a different amount.  So, people will bid like this in the hopes that they can pass later and get a better property than is currently the lowest.

My third pro for For Sale is that I love the double auction.  It forces you to balance how much value you place on any given property.  You have to ask yourself whether it's worth an extra $5k to get a property 2 points higher.  Will that new property actually earn you more than $5 over the other property in the next round?  It can if used at the perfect time, and it can cost your opponent a lot of money when he bids his highest property only to lose to yours!  My general strategy in valuing items (both property and checks) in this brilliant little game is to bid higher when there is a large discrepancy.  For example, if the properties available are worth 1, 4, 25, and 30, I will try to stay in the auction - I don't want the 1 or 4!  But I'll pass as soon as the 25 is the lowest.  Likewise, with checks, if the $2k, $4k, $13k and $15k are available, you really want to be in the larger group, so it's worth throwing one of your top properties.  Unless you know that you'll lose, in which case you throw a cruddy property and hope for the best on the next set of checks!

different decks from For Sale game
The property deck is on the left!  Weird, huh?
I can't really think of too many cons with For Sale.  The only one that comes to mind is that I think you might feel "played out" of For Sale fairly quickly.  It plays fast enough that you can play several games of it in an hour, which can quickly rack up the total number of times you have played it.  There's really not that much to the game, so I think you could probably grow tired of it.  I'm not there yet, I still really enjoy playing - so this is just speculation on my part.

Ok, I do have another con that is incredibly nit-picky.  The back of the cards (on my edition) for the properties looks like money - it is green with a fancy money-esque image.  The back of the cards that are checks have a picture of property on it!  What??  I always grab the opposite deck of which one I need.  Always.

Overall, I give For Sale a 9.0/10.  I try not to give 9 or higher unless I can see myself getting a group together just to play a game, and I can see this with For Sale.  I might have to play other games when I have this group together (life's hard, right?), but I enjoy For Sale enough that I would go meet people just to play it 5 times in a row!

For more thoughts on this game, you can check out Games With Two's For Sale Review, or I Slay the Dragon's review of For Sale. And, if you like quick, simple games, you might also want to check out Flash Duel, Poo: The Card Game, and Cookie Fu.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your review. I have never played this one before but it sounds awesome! I am looking forward to future posts!