HANS IM GLUCK, approx £29

The theme of Reiner's latest release is trading at a medieval market. For your pfennigs you get a playing board, forty wooden pieces in four colours, twenty two coloured tiles and a set of rules. The object of the game is to make as much money as possible over three rounds.

The board depicts the market, which is divided into rows and columns by a squared grid. Into this market go your wares for sale, and customers who buy your goods, or not as the case may be. At the beginning of the game, each player has wooden pieces, representing goods for sale. These are valued at between one and four. They also receive one tile, the nature of which is kept secret. The remaining tiles are kept face down.

Each player in turn may do one of three things:

  1. place a stall in the market
  2. take a face down tile, and place it face up onto a vacant square
  3. play the tile originally dealt

Whichever option is chosen, the relevant piece is placed into the market place. One piece only may be placed in each square. When all are full, scores for the round are determined. The basic idea of the game then is to put out your most attractive wares on the stalls (the higher valued wooden pieces), these are then visited by all the richest people in the town. Unfortunately, although this may be your objective, the other players may have other things in mind, such as sending the town kleptomaniac.

This is achieved by use of the tiles, which represent customers and events. The customers range from the nobility to the dregs of the community, while events include gold, fire and the ever popular `evil eye'.

Gradually the market is filled, until it is scoring time. This is achieved by checking the row and column totals for each individual stall. The value of the customers who buy from the stall are multiplied by the value of the stall. For example, a six value customer in the same row as a four value stall would provide twenty four income. Equally a minus six thief would produce the same score, but as a negative. This is calculated for all customers and events in the stall's row and column. These are then totalled for each player.

Auf Heller & Pfennig bears the Knizia hallmark of a simple system, within which one must make some difficult choices. Each turn one may do just one thing. Is it better to play a market stall down on a prime intersection, or will that just invite unwelcome attention from other people? Should one send a wealthy customer to one's best stall? Great idea, but that will also benefit all other stall-holders in the row and column, including Honest John the Taxidermist, with a four value stall in the pitch next door. Ah ha! What about sending Thieving Fred down to line his pockets? Oh, but hang on a minute, I have a stall there too ... and if I don't play a stall myself now all the best pitches may be gone by next turn. Oh bugger it! Needless to say, I have not yet worked out a master plan to crack this one.

Adding in the events,

  1. gold, which doubles all positive and negative values;
  2. fire, which splits the row and column, forming an uncrossable barrier;
  3. evil eye, which no good customers have any effect, but bad ones do.

makes things even trickier.

There you have it. Auf Heller & Pfennig is a solid design, interesting to play, but something of a mathematical puzzle.

Dave Farquhar

On to the review of Big Boss or back to the review of Manhattan.

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