“This game went from zero to hero between my first impression and final conclusion! It was such a pleasant surprise when I found out how much fun this game was. One person I played with immediately ordered the game after playing for the first time.”
Publisher: R&R Games
Designer: Ken Gruhl
Artist: Greg Preslicka, Jenn Vargas, and Hal Mangold
Game Type: Bag building, bidding, auction
Initial Year of Release: 2016
Age Range: 12 +
Expected Playtime: 30 min.
Number of Players: 2-5
Theme and What is it?
You are a coin collector set on impressing all your fellow coin hobbyists. The problem is, they want to be the ones to impress you. So, get your tuxedo or evening dress out of the closet and dust it off! You are about to find yourself in a bidding battle at an auction for fancy coins and prestige.
This is a bag building and bidding game. You come to the auction with a set of standard gold, silver, and bronze coins in a swanky velvet bag. There are 5 lots to be bid on in a 2-3 player game, or 6 lots when you play with 4 or 5 players.
Players place bids on the lots secretly behind a blinder card. Auction items are either coins or prestige points. The prestige points are how you win the game but they are also used as currency to buy a set of 7 special coins. More on these coins in a moment. The game ends when there are no more coins left to auction.
The game is set up with a small board in the middle. It has 6 squares for lots. There is a prestige track around the edge of the board. There are 7 circles on the bottom where 7 random coins from the black bag are placed. This bag has special coins that players are hoping to win bids on or earn with prestige.
The coins placed on the bottom of the board are only purchased with prestige points. The only way to earn prestige is to either bid on lots 4, 5, or 6 (in a 4-5 player game) or by owning special coins that give you more prestige.
BIDDING AND PURCHASING
Each turn consists of a bidding phase and a purchase phase. First, 3 new coins are drawn from the black bag and randomly placed in lots 1-3 on the main board. Players then draw 5 random coins from their nifty little velvet coin pouches.
Each player has a screen to hide a small board they now use to make their secret bids. The small board has spaces to represent each of the 6 lots. As many or as few coins as a player would like may be placed on the lots.
The bidding phase is accomplished by revealing the small boards and comparing bids. Gold coins always win over silver or bronze. The number on the gold coin indicates how many ‘golds’ there are.
So, if one player has a gold coin with a 1 written on it and the other has a gold coin with a 3 on it, the player with the 3 wins that lot. If players have the same number of gold coins on a lot, they will then compare silver coins. Silvers are treated the same way to determine who wins the lot. If there is a tie for silver then players will compare bronze coins in the same way.
There are some interesting things built into the bidding mechanism in this game. Some lots restrict the kinds of coins which can be bid. For instance, lot 3 doesn’t allow players to bid gold or silver. That means that if people really want the coin on lot 3, they are going to be slapping down lots of bronze.
After all the bids are compared and winners receive their prizes, the purchase phase begins. Starting with the player who won lot 1 everyone is given the chance to spend 3 prestige points to purchase one of the 7 coins along the bottom of the board.
If you remember you start with 0 prestige points so the first thing players might fight for is lots 4-6 which over the highest bidder prestige points. Balance your choices wisely because once all 7 coins have been purchased those slots do not get refilled.
RESETTING THE AUCTION
The reset phase gets players ready for another round. Everyone puts all the coins they used or earned into their own discard piles. Three new coins are drawn out of the black bag and placed randomly on lots 1-3.
Each player draws 5 more random coins from their personal coin pouches. If someone’s bag runs out of coins everything from the discard pile goes back in and players continue to draw until they have 5 coins.
So, what is the point of getting these new coins, you say? There are symbols on the coins which will allow you to take additional actions each time you draw them out of your coin pouch or score extra points at the end of the game.
This is what makes the game a bag-builder. You want better coins to do more things…to get more coins…to get more points….to win!
The combination of the game’s name, art, and theme didn’t grab me…at all. The box also said it was a “diabolical bidding game.” Hmmm, not my cup of tea. The picture of the game on the back of the box just looked boring.
Once I opened the box, I was pleased to see VERY bright colored velvet bags and my opinion started to change. Then I saw all the drab-ish coins and pastel-colored boards and I was confused. Did these components go to the same game? Hmmm, what was up? Keep reading….
Game Build Quality
The components are made to get the job done. The coins and boards are all standard cardboard. The screens for each player stand well and are sturdy. The velvet bags are cute but I wonder how much punishment they will be able to handle over time. They seem a bit thin. The wooden meeples are sturdy and bright.
I’m not crazy about the art in this game. At first glance, the box cover looks like a bunch of cartoons looking at themselves in a carnival funhouse mirror. However, the player faces look better on the player screens.
The boards and coins are bland. The pastel game boards seem out of place with the bright coin pouches, meeples, and player screens. You also have to wrap your brain around the coin colors. The gold and bronze are a little difficult to tell apart. They made the font color different on the coins.
Perhaps that is so you could tell gold from bronze? The backs of 5 sets of 10 player coins are colored to match the meeple, screen, and bag. The rest of the coin backs are gold, silver, or bronze. The different denomination of coins has different symbols on the back. I find it all to be a bit busy.
I ended up really loving the mechanisms in this game. The bidding turned out to be a lot of fun and I loved the bag-building. You tried to guess what other players were going to do while balancing your desires for certain coins. It was always different because you never knew what you or others were going to pull out of their bags.
There were some fun little hidden gems in the game. I liked when bidders tied. It meant no one won the lot. If it was a lot with a coin then the coin would stay in place.
During the reset phase, a new coin would be added. Then the stakes would be higher. I also liked the “bad-penny.” When the bad penny is drawn you get to choose an opponent’s coin bag to steal a random coin. Then, you drop the bad-penny into their bag.
When you bought or won special coins with symbols on them, they improved the coins that would be drawn out of your pouch. I loved this part! How you build your bag really determine who wins. If there is a symbol on the left side of the coin you get to take an action when it is drawn from your pouch.
These symbols let you do things like gain prestige instantly, discard a lower quality coin from your bag, or draw extra coins to improve your bidding power. The symbols on the right side of the coin include a crown, a scepter, or an Essen symbol (if you have the Essen version of the game).
At the end of the game, extra prestige will be added for those who come in with the most of each type. There are prestige points for those who come in second and third as well. If there is a value of prestige points on the right side of the coin you get to add those to your final score as well.
Age Range & Weight
I’ve tried this game with an 8 and a 10-year-old. It is rated as a 10 and up game but I think it really depends on the kid. It needs to be someone mature enough to understand how the bag building mechanism works. It is not a difficult game to learn by any means but the attention span might be an issue with younger children. Overall, it is easy to learn and easy to play.
This game went from zero to hero between my first impression and final conclusion! It was such a pleasant surprise when I found out how much fun this game was. One person I played with immediately ordered the game after playing for the first time.
Give this game a chance and you will be pleasantly surprised. I highly recommend!