Edel, Stein & Reich
Who can attain the largest gem collection? Or who can make the most money acquiring one!
In 1998 a game called Basari was released. It gained its fair share of fans, although there were some perceived flaws in the game as well. It went out of print and then came back strong in 2003 with both a remake of the game, and Edel, Stein & Reich, which is a card game version using the same base mechanics. While I haven't played Basari, I can't see how the boardgame could be any better than Edel, Stein & Reich.
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The gameplay is pretty straightforward. Each player starts the game with three gems of each of four colors, (Red, Yellow, Green and Blue). A card is turned up from the Gem deck for each player and placed in front of them. An event card is also turned up for all to see. Each player then secretly chooses which of three actions, (four when playing with 5 players, see below), they want to try to take. The actions are:
1) Take money. Each gem card shows a number on it, which is the amount of money, (read victory points), a player will get if they win this action.
2) Take the event card. The player who wins this action can either take the visible event card or a face down event card from the top of the deck. They can then either carry out the action or ignore it.
3) Take gems. Each gem card also shows from between two and four gems, which the player will receive if they win this action.
4) Free Choice. This is only available in the 5 player game, and depending on how many players chose the action, the choosing players either return one gem to the supply and take two, or just take any one gem.
You will notice the phrase "win this action" was used in the above, with no explanation of what that meant. If only one player chooses a particular action, that player wins the action and performs it. If three or more players choose an action, then they all lose, and no one gets to perform that action. If two players choose the same action, then they have to bid their gems for the right to win the action. The bidding starts with the player with the least red gems, (then yellow if tied in red, then green, etc.), who places one or more of their gems in front of them. The other player then can either accept that bid, taking the gems and allowing the other player to perform the action, or they can raise the bid. Raising the bid means either bidding more gems, or bidding the same number of gems, with a higher quality than the original bidder's bid. So if the first bidder put out a yellow and a green, then the other player could bid a red and a blue, and since the red is of higher quality than the yellow, this is a higher quality bid. This bidding continues until one player accepts the bid and takes the gems and the other takes the action.
Each player then gets a new gem card and the process repeats until the gem deck has run out. At this point there is a scoring round. Scoring consists of checking the players gem supplies, with money paid out to the holder of the majority of each color of gems. Reds pay 14 million, yellows pay 12, greens pay out 10 and blues pay out 8. The winner of the majority must then return half, (rounded up), of their gems of that color to the general supply. If players tie, the payout is divided, but the winners only have to return two gems of that color instead of half. In addition to the gems, there are "Certificates", which are a type of event card. The player with the most certificates gets 10 million, and second place gets 4 million. If players are tied, they all get the full value of the certificate payouts. All certificates are then returned to the bottom of the deck.
The event cards are broken down into two major groups, those whose actions occur immediately, and those whose actions only apply at the scoring round. The former tend to be involved in the trading of gems with another player, taking gems from the supply, returning other players' gems to the supply, and an immediate scoring at half value for one color of gem, (with the appropriate returning of gems). The scoring phase cards are the aforementioned certificates, as well as cards that give a bonus if the holder has the sole majority of a certain color, or bonuses of +1 million for each gem of a given color.
Well first off, it is a great looking game. The gem cards are beautiful, and the whole game has an air of class. Secondly, it is a very simple game in terms of the mechanics, and it is a relatively quick game, generally playing in under an hour. Finally, it's a lot of fun, with lots of "auuugh!" moments when a couple of people choose the same action you did. There is also a good deal of strategy, and players who are completely shut out of the first scoring round can still come back and win.
Buy/Read about Edel, Stein & Reich now at Funagain
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