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You're Bluffing: My second time playing, and I fared slightly better than my first (in which I lost by a score of 7200 to 10 -- no kidding). The deck has 40 cards -- ten sets of animals, with four cards in each set. Each animal has a value ranging from the Horse (with 1000) down to the chicken (worth only 10). Player start with $90 in money cards. On a turn, a player can do one of two things: auction off an animal, or initiate a horsetrade.
To start an auction, a player simply flips over the top animal from the draw pile. All the other players then bid on the animal, with the active player serving as the auctioneer. Once someone has made a bid that no one else wishes to beat, the auctioneer has two choices: she can either sell the animal to the high bidder (by taking his money and giving him the card), or she can buy the animal herself by taking the animal and giving the bid amount to the high-bidder. Purchased cards are displayed face-up in front of a player.
Once two or more people own the same animal, an active player may initiate a horsetrade on his turn instead of conducting an auction. To do a horsetrade, a player selects an animal card owned by someone else (but which the active player also has) and makes a bid on it by putting any number of money cards facewdown. The other player now has two choices: he can either accept the bid (sight unseen) and give the active player the selected animal card, or he can counterbid. Making a counterbid is just like making a bid -- a player puts any number of cards facedown -- and, afterwards, the two involved parties swap bids. Each announces aloud how much he received from the other, and whomever bid the most takes the other person's animal card. The swapped bids are kept.
This continues until all the cards are owned and in sets of four. At the end of the game, you receive points for each of your quartets in accordance with their value (so the four horse will earn you 1000 points), and then you multiply that sum by the number of sets you own. So while obtaining all the chicken cards will only net you 10 points, it will also double all the points you acquire from other sets.
Simple rules, but it sure makes for a tense game. When bidding in an auction, you can bid high in the hopes that the active player will give you the money and take the card -- but if he opts not to, you have to fork over the cash yourself. And the horsetrading is especially devilish. Say someone makes a bid on a card you own by putting three money cards face down. You could just take the money and give him the card, but what if the total is only $20? So perhaps you want to counterbid. But what if the bid is really $140 and you counterbid $120? After swapping bids he will still get your card, and, here again, he only paid $20 for it -- but this time you could have had all $140 if you just taken the money in the first place. Agonizing.
Still, I quite like this game -- in fact, I even liked playing it during the 7200 to 10 rout (but perhaps liked it a little bit more this time, when I eked out a victory). The simple rules combined with the tough decisions make this a game I'll be playing often in the future.
I purchased my copy from the magnificent Magic Mouse Toys in Seattle's Pioneeer Square.
Take It Easy: This award-winning game is like a cross between a jigsaw puzzle and bingo. Each player starts with a board and a set of 27 tiles, and one player is selected as the Caller. On each turn the Caller randomly selects one of the tiles; each other player then finds his corresponding tile and places it in any empty space on his board. The object is to create ...
... uh, y'know what? Never mind. Just go here and play a round or two online. It'll probably take less time for you to play an entire game than for me to explain the thing.
Times Up: The rules to Time's Up are simple. Forty cards form a central draw pile, and each card bears the name of a famous person: Pythagoras, George Harrison, Luke Skywalker, Johnny Appleseed, etc. Players break into teams of two. In the first round, a player draws cards from the central pile and tries to get his partner to guess the indicated name by saying anything he wants: "This is the guy who came up with the famous theorem stating that the square of two sides of a right-angle triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse...". Two restrictions, though: a player cannot pass, and only has 30 seconds to accumulate as many cards as possible. If a player gets a person he doesn't know (I didnt know Clarence Birdseye, for example) he will have to describe the name as best he can. ("First name is also the first name of Supreme Court Justice Thomas; last name is what a robin uses to see".). Play continues until all the cards have been claimed, at which point the teams get one point for every card they got.
In the second round the teams use the exact same set of forty cards. This time, however, they can only say one word ("hypotenuse!") but may use as many gesture as they like. In the third and final round, players cannot say anything, and must rely entirely on gesture (*pantomime of a triangle*). While the second round is usually pedestrian, the third round is unfailingly hilarious.