Updated: Sep 10, 2019
When you are organising a game night throwing in one or two short games is a must. These games are never the meat of the gaming sandwich but they act as an appetiser or an aperitif or possibly as the After Eight mint at the end of the night. Packing a few fillers in your bag can allow you to keep playing longer, trapping your gamers into having more fun by saying “We could pack up or I have this, it only takes ten minutes”. And the best kind of fillers are like pringles, you can’t stop after just one!
For our “It’s kinda like” game night my filler of choice was For Sale. The aim of this list was to play games that had a similarity to mass market titles but better or at least more interesting gameplay. With For Sale I was stretching that definition, but it is a game about buying and selling property and it features auctions as a major mechanic so I was pitching it as Monopoly in twenty minutes or less. Let’s take a look at how it plays.
A Quick Overview
Each round a number of property cards are dealt face up equal to the number of players. In turn order they each bid on the highest value card. A player must either outbid the last player or pass (paying half their maximum bid) and taking the lowest value card from the centre of the table. When the last player passes the remaining player takes the highest value card and pays their full bid. This continues until all the cards have been bought.
Once the property deck runs out it’s time to sell and make some profit. A number of cheques, ranging from $0 to $15000 are dealt out equal to the number of players. Each player plays one of their property cards face down and then the cards are revealed. The player who played the highest value property takes the highest value cheque, the second highest takes the second highest value and so on. This continues until all the properties have been sold.
Players add up their cheques plus any cash they had left over from the auction and the player with the most money is the winner.
Why choose it?
For Sale has an elegance to its simplicity. It is a game of two halves that can be explained separately and each half has half a dozen rounds of doing the same, very simple, action, making it very quick to pick up. However, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not fun and it has the added benefit of playing with up to six players.
Did they like it?
They asked to play it again so I’m going to say yes. And as I insinuated in my intro, the best fillers are the ones that make you want to play them again and again and again.
Play it with whomever you like
For Sale was one of the games I heard about a lot when I was first getting into board games back in 2009. Eventually I had heard the name so much I just had to see what all the fuss was about and picked up a copy. And then I proceeded to not play it for 6 years!
I have no excuse, the game play is simple to understand, I find the art attractive, the play time is well under 30 minutes so I would have thought I’d have gotten it to the table a bunch of times and yet I didn’t. And the reason I think I didn’t was that those exact same reviewers who had lauded the game and convinced me to buy it, were saying it’s best with 5 or 6.
It’s fine with 5 or 6, it’s also fine with 3 or 4. Here is the lesson, people always ask what the optimum player count is for a game, but the answer is never 0. If you own a game, play it. Sure, some games might work better with more players than you have but if you are excited about playing a game you should play it, because it’s better with a suboptimal group than never being played at all.
Right, back to the review. For Sale is a simple game that plays well with a larger group so it checks all my boxes for a Game Night game. The official play time is 30 minutes but I would say that’s a little on the high side and once players know what they are doing you’ll knock a game of this out in 15 minutes and change.
The game is also light, you don’t have enough starting cash for the auctions to be long or involved and when you are selling property you can bluff a little but your options are limited, especially as the round progresses. That is not to say it’s not an enjoyable game, I’ve enjoyed every play and every play has been followed with a rematch.
The game is however a little expensive with an RRP £20 for a single deck of 60 cards and some cardboard money. The money is nice and chunky and the card art is really nicely done but the price point still seems a little steep for the contents. The box is also massively oversized for what’s in there, although I realise that’s so it fits in with the rest of the series.
For a quick, simple auction game you can’t go wrong with For Sale. It’s not the cheapest filler on the market but it is a good one and it can handle up to 6 players without really increasing the play time or complexity. Plus it lets you buy a Space Station, what could be better than that?