3M and Discovery
Designed by Sid Sackson
2-6 Players, about 30 minutes
Reviewed by Mike Oakes
I had the good fortune to pick up this 'gem' of a game recently and we have had great fun playing it as an end-of- evening filler, as it takes about 30 minutes to play.The theme is the barter and trading that goes on in a bazaar. Contents consists of 5 sets of 20 gemstones in 5 different colours, 10 barter cards, 45 merchandise cards, 4 star cards and a six-sided dice containing spots denoting the 5 coloured gems plus a white star to indicate any colour.
Two of the barter cards are chosen at random and placed on the table for use during the game. These contain a series of equations which players will use to trade their gems for other combinations (e.g. 1 white gem = 2 blue; 1 red; 1 green).
The four star cards are placed face up on the table and the twenty of the merchandise cards are placed face up onto the star cards to form four cards stocks of six cards each, with the top four merchandise cards exposed at any one time. Players now try and obtain gems in the right combinations to purchase the merchandise cards, each of which cost five gems each. Your target must be kept secret as other players may well be seeking to obtain the same one.
Gems are obtained by either throwing the dice and taking a gemstone of the appropriate colour or by effecting a trade with one of the barters offered. When they have completed either of the above they can exchange five of their gems for the merchandise card, which then exposes a new merchandise card. At no time can a player have more than ten gems in their hand so if they are unable to make a purchase they have to return the excess number of gems to the pool.
Points are scored by the player according to the star rating of the merchandise card and the number of gems left in the hand at the time of purchase, with more points being offered for having fewer gems left. e.g. 1-star with 0 left = 8 points, 1 left = 5 points, 2 left = 3 points, >2 left = 1 point. A game is played up to 20 points so it can be seen that you can either go for a few small point merchandise cards which are easier to obtain or trade for the more difficult 2-star cards to gain more points.
A further twist is that when one of the four decks have been exhausted and the star card is exposed, the remaining merchandise cards not issued in the original deal are split into three and are added to the bottom of the three remaining decks. Further, all merchandise cards are worth 1 star more than that shown on the card This makes points scoring more rapid in the final stages and leads to a close finish.
The game plays at quite a smart pace and gemstone holdings change rapidly as players seek to obtain the correct combinations. Of course luck plays its part with the rolls of the dice but careful planning in use of the barter cards is also rewarded. Replay value is high due to the number of combinations of the barter cards, plus the random appearance of the merchandise cards.
MS: This game was originally published by 3M in its famous range and has subsequently appeared in several reprinted editions. It is however now long out of print. The most recent UK edition (1987) is the one reviewed here by Mike, and the game was published in slightly amended form as Bier Borse in Germany at about the same time, with beer bottle tops replacing the gemstones. This latter is the version I have played and would suggest that while it is very appealing to look at and a clever little system, it does play rather heavily and is characterized by almost complete silence when playing. The constant swapping of gems/tops through the barter formula is rather abstract and nearly always gives me a headache. Not bad though, one of Sackson's better efforts, and as Mike says, well worth digging out.
On to the review of Rave or back to the review of Cockpit.
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