eBay Auction Game
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I have to admit I have a fascination with eBay. Why? Because until boardgamegeek started up their game for sale section, it was the best place to buy board games. It still is a fantastic place to get a good deal or get ripped off. So, when you combine my love for bidding on things with my love for a good board game eBay the Electronic Talking Game seemed like a sure thing.
But wait, what about the fact that this game has two things going against it. One, it has a theme based on something well known thats usually a game-killer. Two, it is widely distributed throughout popular toy stores in America. Those stores rarely carry anything worth playing.
So is the game worth playing? The short answer is that if you need a good, fun, quick game to play as a filler then get this game! Now for the longer answer
First, a short description of game play. As the name implies, this is an electronic game, and thus requires 3 AAA batteries. The electronic main piece is placed in the center of the board, with 3 double trays surrounding it. Each tray faces a button, numbered 1-3. In the middle is another button marked Ebay, and a smaller button used to turn the game on. The middle button is toggled to decide how many players play 3 or 4. Then a stack of item cards is shuffled and split into 3 stacks. Each of these stacks is placed in one of the three trays. The cards are placed estimated value side up. There are 3 of each card with an estimated value, but on the flip side, their actual values may value. For example, the Decorated Vase has an estimated value of $400, but the three cards have different actual values: $200, $400, and $800. Each card is in a different category (for example: the Decorated Vase is in the Pottery and Glass category). Each category is color coded for easy discernment. Each player takes a stack of Bid cards in their color (red, yellow, blue or green) with the following values: $10, $25, $50, $75, $100, $125, $150, $175, $200, $250, $300, and Proxy.
The game then starts. The electronic announcer states a color. The player of that color must quickly play one of their bid cards in one of the three trays facing an item they wish to purchase. They then press the numbered button that corresponds with that tray. If they dont move quickly enough, a buzzer will sound and they cannot bid that turn. The game then announces another color, and game play continues. Players can only bid higher than the previous bid in the tray. A Proxy bid is an automatic high bid, and can only be beat by another proxy bid. At random intervals, the announcer will announce that an auction has ended. When this happens, the current high bidder (which the computer will state) wins the auction and takes the top card on the stack. They sneak a look at the actual value of the item, and then play continues. The highest bid in the tray (of the winning player) is lost for the entire game, and all other bids are returned. If a player wins an auction for a Gift card, they can immediately steal a card from another player. The game announces when the game is half over, and when the last round occurs. After the last round occurs, the cards are scored.
All the cards are turned over. Each player receives points equal to the actual value of the items they have. If a player has three or more of the same category of card, they score double points for every card in that set. Certain cards (Display cases) act as Wild cards and can be added to any category. Whoever has the highest points wins!
Some comments about the game:
1). Time: I cant emphasize how wonderful this is. When I play a game of eBay, I know that it will end fairly quickly. No chance for analysis paralysis here! If you dont move quickly on your turn, you will lose it. However, its not so fast that slightly slower players cant handle it.
2). Electronics: Im not a huge fan of electronic games, such as Talking Battleship, but this one actually works out well. The electronic voice is fairly loud, and you can easily understand it. Occasionally, if someone is yelling in agony over a missed bid, we miss the next color stated which is annoying, but its the yelling persons fault, not the game. The voice also isnt very annoying, and you concentrate so much on the game, that it doesnt matter anyway.
3). Components: The cards take a lot of wear, but seem to hold up okay. Throwing the cards down might bend them a little but with some care, they should be okay. I do not like the box at all! Its one that opens on one end and you dump all the pieces out. Id rather have one with a lid any day. I have to tape up the rest of the box so nothing falls out. The artwork on the cards is fine some nice photographs, but the colors are very nice, and easily distinguishable.
4). Humor: The text on the cards is not important to the game only the prices. If you read it, however, much of it is pretty funny.
5). Rules: The rules are well written, and are 4 pages long. I think that they could be shorter, but they are concise, and very clear.
6). Strategy vs. Light: With the random ending of auctions, and the randomness of the item cards, there is no sure way to win each game. However, using cards strategically can give you a much better chance of winning. Should you try to make a set of three, to get the double points? Should you try to win a color so that another player doesnt get his set? Should you go for the gift so you can steal a card from another player? Should you go for the higher priced items? There are a lot of choices, and although they are light and quick choices, it makes the game fun. Which lead us to the
7). Fun Factor: This game is loads of fun! With its short downtime, and its quick rounds, a player is never board. But it is not your typical roll and move game, and is very easy to teach to newcomers to the gaming hobby.
So, since this game is currently quite inexpensive and easy to find, I recommend it. Its one of the best filler games I own. Along with its universal appeal (everyone likes eBay) and its easiness to play, this game should be on most peoples shelf. I wish the box was better, but I cannot judge a game by its box. So get this game, and have fun buying good stuff, and junk!
Ok, this is not a brain burner. If you like strategy and planning, there is some, but good luck trying to implement it. I have tried, but it doesn't seem to matter. It seems that winning or losing just depends on if the auction ends when you have placed the last bid.
So how I can give this game 4 stars? Because it's just plain fun. Everybody who has played it likes it and 2 people went out and got their own. It is very easy to learn, kids as young as 6 or so can play as well as any adult. They don't need a handicap with this game - so you can give it your all and they still might beat you. It plays quickly - about 20 minutes, and it's a unique game.
I would recommend this as just an enjoyable game. If your tired at the end of the day and your kids want to play a game, pull this out. I have played with 3 other adults as well and the consensus of everyone I have played this game with is thumbs up! None of them would say it's a great game, but they all liked it because it was... fun!
Browse though an American toy or department store and you will not find many games that should get the interest of adult game players. Mass distribution American games are known more for their ability to sell to the masses than for any gaming integrity, even though some classic games, like Clue, are quite decent games. The Ebay Auction Game, with its electronic talking auctioneer, is a surprisingly good new game that brings some real strategy and nice design to an otherwise lackluster sea of sameness on the American "family game" landscape.
The game features an electronic auction device housed in a triangular blue plastic housing with spots for three stacks of item cards. This unit sits atop a cleverly folded board, and at each of the three corners of the board there is space for a plastic bin to hold the bids. Each player receives a set of colored bidding cards, with values from $10 up to $300 and a "proxy" card, representing the highest bid. The item cards are very well designed, with several key features.
Each item is represented three times in the deck, and the cards are printed on both sides. The face up side shows the "estimated price", but like real Ebay what someone claims something is worth may not be its real value. Each of the three cards for each item shows the same estimate value, but the actual value, shown on the back of the card, can be this value, double this value, or half this value. Items are categorized into six areas, all actual Ebay categories, and each represented by a color. There are different numbers of items in each category, with only a few for "Antiques and Art" and plenty for "Toys and Bean Bag Plush". In addition to the items, there are two types of special cards. The "Display Case" is a joker of sorts to help boost your number in a certain category, and the "Gift" card lets you take an item already won by another player.
The card deck is shuffled together and placed in three sets on the corners of the electronic auctioneer. When play begins, the auctioneer calls out the player that can bid by their color. For example, hearing "yellow" means that they player using the yellow bid cards can place a bid on one of the three items up for bid at that time. Of course your bid must always be higher than any previous bids, and you do this by placing a bid card on top of any previous cards placed for that item. When you place your bid, you also punch a button that registers it. In this way, the game computer knows which players have bid for which options, although not the amounts. The players bid in random order, but each player gets a chance to bid before the machine either ends one of the auctions or keep things going. When the auctioneer announces that an item is closed and who has won the auction, the game temporarily pauses. The winner takes the item card and discards their winning bid card; all other previously placed bid cards are returned to their owners.
The game announces when it is halfway over, and also announces the start of the final round of bidding. The card deck is only half used each game, so it is impossible to know exactly which items and categories will come up. When all the auctions close, you tally your score by summing the "real" value (the back of the card value, not the estimated value) of the items you won, and you can double the value of the items in all categories for which you collected three or more cards. This is how the Display Case works, in that two "Pottery and Glass" category cards plus one Display case will get doubled as if there were three of that category. Your bidding cards are worthless at the end of the game, a funny feature supporting the Ebay-idea that money doesn't matter as long as you keep collecting goods.
The game has a great pace, since your time to bid is limited and there is plenty to consider. You lose your bidding cards with each win, and thus gradually lose the ability to win key items if you are not careful. You can pass when you're called to bid, and this can be useful if you don't want to burn a card or are waiting for a potentially more valuable item. Even though you don't know the true value of the item you're biding on, the estimated value does give you the range and thus overbidding on a $100 estimated item could easily make you lose the $1000 art piece that comes up later. Everyone is collecting different categories as well, and with three items to consider under limited time you definitely feel the pressure. If you're really observant, you can get some idea of the true value based on subsequent bids. For example, say my opponent wins an "Inflatable Space Alien" card with an estimated value of $100. The actual value of this item can be $50 (it has a hole in it), $100 (it is what it says), or $200 (it is the premium limited edition model). When the second Space Alien card come up, if they aggressively bid I may assume that they originally took the $50 card and thus now that this card is worth more. If they avoid it, maybe they already have the $200 card so I should avoid it, too. Of course, with this kind of activity you could also bluff, but the game pace makes any of this kind of strategy unlikely when played as a family game but quite fun with more active gamers.
Because of the large and varied card deck, the game has good replay value. The electronic device is well designed and clear in its speech; the gaming uniqueness of the Merchants of Amsterdam clock is nothing compared to this tool as an auctioning device! I am honestly surprised that this game is being mass-produced by Hasbro, and it is a testament to the popularity of Ebay. It is heartening to see, though, that the unfortunately unnamed designer(s) did not sacrifice game quality for mass appeal. Buy one of these games soon and you will be happy you did. Surprised, as I was, but not at all disappointed.