My Favorite Game This Month: For Sale

27 February 2014 | 11 Comments

for saleI didn’t post a “favorite game of the month” in January because my favorite game that month was one that I designed, and that doesn’t count, right?

But in February, I definitely have a favorite game that I played for the first time this month: For Sale.

For Sale is not a new game–in fact, it was released way back in 1997. But I kept hearing good things about it, and it filled a niche in my collection (larger-group games that play quickly and are easy to learn).

I think the tipping point for the purchase was a review I read about how if they start the night with For Sale as a filler game, they often end up playing it 3 or 4 times in a row before moving on to other games. I love any game that makes you want to play again right away.

For Sale is a 3-6 player game that plays in about 10-15 minutes. The rules are very simple: In the first half of the game, you acquire properties using an auction mechanism. In the second half of the game, you sell those properties for the highest bid (a deck of cards serves as the bidder for the second half). The player with the most money at the end of the game is the winner.

Here’s why I’ve really enjoyed For Sale:

  1. It’s light, short, easy to teach, and plays up to 6 players. This is a sweet spot for me. I prefer heavier, complicated games, but sometimes I really don’t want to teach those types of games. Plus, these lighter, larger-group games are perfect for people who are new to gaming. I taught For Sale to 2 different groups last Saturday–all new gamers–and they loved it. We played multiple games each time.
  2. It appeals to the poker player in me. I hosted a weekly poker night for many years. The thrill of poker for me comes from the flop (the common cards on the table) and trying to figure out what my opponents are going to do. For Sale scratches both of those itches, and I don’t lose $10 every time I play.
  3. There are lots of interesting decisions for a light game. The key decision in For Sale is, “Pass or bid, and bid how much?” It’s a small decision that keeps the game moving quickly, but it’s interesting every time.
  4. It has the exact kind of player interaction I enjoy. For Sale has this beautiful push and pull when it comes to player interaction. If I bid, then I stay in the running to win one of the higher-value properties on the table, but I’ll definitely end up paying for it–maybe paying too much. If I pass, I not only get a lower-value card, but I lower the barrier to entry for the other players. Every flop of property cards is different, so you have to gauge each time how long other players will stay in the auction.

I highly recommend For Sale. If you have another game recommendation based on what I wrote above, I’d love to hear it.

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11 Comments on “My Favorite Game This Month: For Sale

  1. I think I have a great game to recommend on this one!

    Sushi Go! Really feels like it may scratch a similar itch. It’s very easy to teach, I had a group with all my younger sisters none over the age of 10 learning this one quick and easy. Slowly seeing which cards are available to take and having to guess which cards your opponents may need to take for yourself vs taking what’s best for you and risking someone getting the card they need can really be a tough decision and it’s really got a lot packed in for a light game at under 10 bucks (which affordable is always a selling point to me).

    I have heard a lot about For Sale though and I really should sit down and find someone to play it with.

  2. Have you played No Thanks? It’s faster than For Sale, but scratches a similar itch for me. (For Sale tends to take 20ish minutes with the group with which I typically play it.) No Thanks has the thrill and challenges of poker in a sub-ten minute game. It’s one card at a time that is being revealed, so it’s not quite a flop, but the anticipation is similar. I don’t think there has been a single time that I’ve taught it that we didn’t end up playing it at least three times. It’s by far my favorite filler type game.

  3. For Sale is so good! It’s my favorite filler game because while the decisions are simple to understand, they’re tough to make. This keeps new and old players on similar footing. I also love it because the game often rewards you for being in second place. It’s tough to manipulate an auction so you end up there.

  4. Hi Jamey.
    I agree, For Sale is a great short warm-up game.
    Two others I can recommend (well I published them!) are Kenakalan and Granny Wars.
    Both are quick to learn and fast to play (15-20 mins). Kenakalan plays 2-6 and Granny Wars up to 8 people. You can check them out on our website

  5. You nailed it with this assessment. It’s a brilliant game – smart, simple, light, yet with some fun, tough decisions. It’s my go to filler, too. I have the tiny box version that’s about the size of a tuba mouthpiece (sorry, I’m a band director), which makes it extra accessible.

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