For Sale is a card game by Stefan Dora. It was published in 1997 by Both Ravensburger and FX Schmid in Germany. A round of For Sale takes about ten minutes to play and will accomodate three to five players. It's not cheap to acquire in the US, but it's a fantastic little game.

The game is set up and then played in two rounds. First players spend chips to buy house cards. Then they spend the houses to acquire check cards. The player at the end with the highest value of checks plus the number of remaining chips from the setup is the winner.

During setup each player gets 15 chips which are best thought of as victory points. These are used to buy houses through a mildly tricky bidding mechanism. Successively, until the houses are all sold, the players are presented with an array of cards equal in number to the number of players in the game. On each card is a picture of a house of some kind (igloo, palace, etc.) and a number from one to twenty. For each of these sets of cards, the players in turn either bid or pass. If a player wants to bid, he must bid at least as much as the player before -- unless he has already bid that much, in which case he must bid at least one more. When a player chooses not to bid and passes, that player takes the house card from the current set with the lowest remaining value. The passing player must pay an amount of chips based on his bid and rank in the passing. If he is not the last person to pass (and thus taking the highest value house card for the round) then he must only pay half of his bid (rounded down). If he is winning the final house for the round he pays his full bid. Once the twenty houses (18 in a three-player game) have been passed out, the remaining chips are set aside and round two begins.

In this round, the "check" cards are arrayed as the house cards were in the first. Each player then selects one of the houses won during the first round and places it face down. Once all players have made their selections, the houses are revealed and the checks are awarded in the same value-order as the houses played. That is, the player who revealed the most valuable house earns the highest value check. While the 20 house cards were simply numbered 1-20 the 20 check cards are numbered: 0,0,3-20, so sometimes people really get stiffed.

After all check cards are awarded, the players add the values of their checks and their remaining chips and the person with the highest total is the winner.

If three people are playing, the number of cards for each round is reduced to 18 by randomly selecting two cards from each to remove secretly. This is a wonderful way to play sometimes because of the much greater element of the gamble as each round draws to a close and the players are guessing what will be available in the final round, trying to budget appropriately.

A couple hopes
A few dreams
Much sweat
Many tears
Cropped grass
Cleaned glass
Patched dents
Paint and fix.

Call and ask
Don't hold back
We'll sell out
Your best price
We appreciate your offer
Very much.

Wordmongers' Masque: Poets' Ball

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