is a classic auction game by Reiner Knizia that's recently been rereleased (after many years out of print) by Gryphon Games as the first game in their bookshelf series.
Playing Time: 20-30 minutes
Money is basically a card game: it comes with a deck of 74 cards.
The oversized cards are all printed on heavy-weight linen-textured cardstock; they're sturdy and should hold up to a lot of play. The majority of the cards show foreign currency in different denominations. They're all quite attractive.
And that's pretty much the game!
At $21.95 Money is slightly on the expensive side for a card game of this size, but I think that's partially made up for by the oversized and notably sturdy cards. I've given it a "4" out of "5" for Style.
The object of Money is to turn your initial investments into the most valuable set of currency. Gathering large amounts of the same currency or triples of the low-value cards will serve you well for doing so.
Setup: Each player is given a bluff card, which they may add into any bids to hide how many cards they're bidding. Each player is dealt a starting hand of 6 cards.
Then 8 cards are laid out, a 4-card lot to one side of the draw deck and a 4-card lot to the opposite side.
The Cards. The Money deck is split into 7 currencies, each of which has 9 cards: 20, 20, 20, 30, 30, 30, 40, 50, and 60. There are an additional 6 Chinese "coins", which each have a value of 10.
When playing with fewer than 5 players, 1 or 2 currencies is removed from the deck before play.
Order of Play: Money is a blind-bidding game. Each turn a player makes a secret bid, taking some number of money cards (and possibly his bluff card) from his hand and placing them face-down in front of them.
The bids are revealed simultaneously and then each of the players takes an action in decreasing order of bid. A player may do one of three things:
- Exchange his bid for one of the face-up lots. (This is the most typical response.)
- Exchange his bid for another player's bid.
- Take his bid back into his hand.
That's all there is to the game, but nonetheless it's a very clever game of figuring out which cards you have and which cards you want and determining how to turn the one into the other.
Ending a Round: After a round of play is over, there should be two very depleted lots in the middle of the table (usually corresponding to the bids of the last two players). Each of these lots is filled out to four cards (from the draw pile), then a new round of bidding begins.
Ending the Game: At the end of the game, each player scores his money. This gives rewards to people who collected a lot of a currency or sets of triples:
- Chinese coins are worth 10 each, with no modifications or additions.
- For each non-coin currency where the player had 200 or more, he scores its full value.
- For each non-coin currency where the player had less than 200, he scores its value minus 100, to a minimum of 0.
- For each non-coin triple--three cards of the same currency and value--the player earns a bonus of 100.
The player with the highest score wins.
Relationships to Other Games
Money is a very original blind-bidding auction game. The idea of changing lots for lots, and thus trying to slowly increase the value of the cards is something that I haven't really seen before, though Knizia also uses the idea of changing bidding tokens--to a lesser extent--in Ra, another classic bidding game released around the same time as Money.
Money is a light filler, and thus comparable to some of his early auction games, particularly High Society.
Rio Grande was the original producer of Money when it was put out in the United States about 10 years ago, but they've let it go out of print. This new edition is by Gryphon Games, and is part of their "bookshelf series" of games, all of which are high-quality and quick fillers. The other four games in this series released simultaneously with Money are Roll Through the Ages, Knizia's Gem Dealer, For Sale, and Knizia's High Society.
The Game Design
Money is a great filler game. It's a pretty simple game, but for the 15 or 20 minutes that you're playing, you'll be enthralled by tough decisions and the feeling of a building strategy (or the failure of the same). This is all aided by the originality that I've already noted: you won't have played anything quite like Money before.
Though I say that Money is simple, there's nonetheless a good amount of strategy to it. It takes quite a bit of work to figure out how you can bid well in the game, and actually ramp your money up to amounts that might pay off in the end.
If you're looking for a short game to start or end your gaming session, Money is at the top of my list of suggestions, alongside a few other classics like No Thanks, Fairy Tale, and For Sale. I give it a full "5" out of "5" for Substance.
Money is a classic Reiner Knizia game that has shamefully been out of print for the last few years. Now that Gryphon Games has brought it back as part of a very attractive line of filler games, you should snatch it up, as it's one of the great European designs of its length.