BAZAAR - Reviewed by Mike
This Sid Sackson game of bartering jewels to obtain cards on display in a market place makes an excellent end-of-session game, lasting as it does about 40 minutes.
Attractively designed components consist of : -
* 10 barter cards, each containing 5 'equations' which indicate the exchanges that can be made.
* 45 Merchandise cards, depicting different combinations of 5 jewels that are required to take the card
* 4 Star cards, which are used to indicate the start of the second phase of the game (see later)
* 100 jewels (20 of each of 5 colours)
* 1 Colour die, used to determine which colour of jewel the players receive when they roll it.
* 1 Scoring Pad
At the outset 2 of the 10 barter cards are chosen at random and placed in the middle of the table. This shows 10 opportunities to trade jewels in the hand for another combination (e.g. 1 yellow for 1 white and 1 green or 1 blue for 2 whites 1 green and 1 yellow). 20 of the Merchandise cards are dealt into 4 stacks of 5 and placed on each of the 4 Star Cards. Each player rolls the die to obtain their first jewel, the colour rolled indicating its colour. There is a star symbol on one face which indicates the player can take a jewel of their own choice.
Play continues with each player performing one of 2 actions, either rolling the dice and obtaining another jewel OR trading one or more of their jewels for one of the combinations shown on the barter cards. Players holding are restricted to a maximum of 10 jewels so sometimes you have to trade more in than out to keep within the limits. Players are trying to obtain the combination of jewels in their hand which will match that of one of the face up Merchandise cards and if they can do so in their turn they can claim that card for themselves and receive points for doing so. When one of the 4 packs exposes the Star Card the second phase commences. The remaining Merchandise cards are sorted into 2 piles of 8 and one of 9 and placed under the remaining 3 piles. This means that there are less Merchandise cards on display but they are valued more highly due to a scoring modifier.
The score received depends upon 2 factors, the point value of the card and the number of jewels in the players hand after making the purchase. Points range from 1 to 12 but the latter is extremely difficult to obtain. The points are noted on the scoring pad and play continues until one player has obtained a pre-determined score, which depends upon the number of players (e.g. for 4 players this is 30 points).
Play is quick-moving, and the interaction comes when you can see what jewels other players are collecting and which merchandise cards they are likely to be after. Several of the cards have similar makeup so even if a player manages to take the one you were after you can usually get another one pretty quickly. It can be quite tricky to work out the best barter to get you the jewels you are seeking so don't think that this is just a die rolling and collecting exercise. The endgame can be quite tense as well. Supposing you are on 26 points in a 4 player game. There is no scoring combination for 4 points so to get the points you need for victory you need a 5-pointer, which is obtained in 3 ways but involves having less than 2 jewels left in your hand. So whilst you struggle to do this another player scores 2 quick 3 pointers and pips you on the post !
The game was published in 1987 by Discovery Toys and I don't think it has been re-issued since, unless it has been revamped under another title. Well worth seeking out and don't forget to barter for it if you see a copy. It's a gem !