Buy Low Sell High
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From the witty and popular personal finance duo comes a "blue-chip" board game, which is a remake of Palmyra.
Buy Low, Sell High not only teaches sound investment principles, it is a blast to play!
I bought this one in Germany and was glad I did. We have had tons of enjoyment with it. A simple supply-demand game of economics of the ancient world where you have some control over market prices. When you buy the price goes up, when you sell the price goes down. I love the cartoonish artwork on the board and cards. The game rules are straight forward in 5 languages with no room needed for interpretation. It is equally fun with 2,3, or 4players. The game component are simple (amphoras in 3 different colors as well as player markers). I highly recommend this one to anyone who has an interest in ancient history or economics, or both. You really get the feel of a dealer of ancient commodties
The game is simple, plays fast (35 minutes for 4 players), requires skill and observation. I've played it 25+ times with my in-laws and wife over the past 3 years. Its still a favorite.
I don't think luck is a big problem because having bad cards can slightly reduce your chances of winning, but since cards will affect everyone, having bad cards won't be decisive.
This is a little more cut throat than some family games because you need to cut down the position of the leader (as opposed to the player in last). This means the board shouldn't allow the leader's commodity to gain in value, if he's concentrated.
The game isn't as beautiful as some of the newer games, and the Amphoras are impractical and tend to topple over.
I've enjoyed most of Reiner Knizia's games that I've come across. Palmyra is no exception. Not only are the components beautiful, the game provides a great simulation of supply/demand economics in a changing market setting. Yet Palmyra is easy to learn and plays out in 30 minutes.
The supply/demand mechanism is simple. Essentially players buy and sell red, green and yellow amphoras (ancient Greek vases) at the start of their turn. Players start the game with three amphoras of each color and the remaining amphoras are placed along three tracks (one for each amphora color) located in the center of the board. Each track contains numbers ranging from 2 (in Palmyra) to 30 (farthest from Palmyra) which indicate the current market price of the amphoras. Players that wish to buy amphoras take the amphora closest to Palmyra and pay the price on the track under the amphora (e.g. 14). Sales are made in a reverse fashion. In this way, each amphora that is sold or bought changes its price based upon position along the track (e.g. 24 to purchase the first amphora, 26 to purchase the second, etc.)
To simulate the change in the market, players play cards from their hand on the board after the buy/sell phase. The Caravan cards either raise or lower the prices of the amphoras at the end of the year. Tax cards immediately tax players money for possessing amphoras of a certain color. Charters provide money to the owners of amphoras at the end of the year. Mirage cards allow a player to cover and eliminate the effects of a previous played card. Once the cards fill the board (which changes based on the number of players), the year is over, payouts are made and the prices on the amphoras are adjusted based on the net Caravan card total in each color.
Three years are played at which point the players sell all their amphoras back. The highest score determines the winner.
The player interaction is great. You are constantly faced with lots of decisions: Should I drive the cost of my red amphoras up? What about drop the price on the green amphoras? That players has a lot of yellow amphoras, should I hit them with the Taxman? Ouch, that player played the -3 Green Caravan card on the board, should I use my Green Mirage to cover it up?
Palmyra is a great game we plan on playing at home quite a bit. Some people may feel it is too luck driven (which is why I give the game 4 out of 5 stars), but for me it has the right amount of luck versus skill.