HIGH SOCIETY - Reviewed by John
Category/Format: Abstract/Card Game
A 20 minute card game from Ravensburger, designed by Reiner Knizia, and best played several times to gives an aggregate score. It involves obtaining possession cards, by bidding for them with limited resources (Money cards). The game has an interesting twist at the end, in that the player with the least amount of money is ‘OUT’ and cannot win the game, irrespective of any possessions they may have. This means that money has to be used wisely and effectively. The game differs each time it is played as the possession cards appear in a random sequence, leading to a variable ending.
The game is for 3 - 5 players, aged 12+. Each player receives 11 Money cards with money values ranging from 1,000 to 25,000 which cannot be reused once they are spent. There are 16 Possession cards - 10 Status symbol cards (value 1 to 10) , 3 positive cards which double the value of the Status cards and 3 negative cards which need to be avoided.
The negative cards comprise of a) SCANDAL, which halves the value of the Status cards; b) GAMBLING LOSSES, value negative 5; - and c) a THIEF , which negates the value of a possession card.
Play commences by the 16 Possession cards being shuffled and the top card is turned up, starting a game with a maximum of 15 rounds. A card is turned up for each subsequent round. If the turned up card is not one of the negative cards the start player places a money card from his hand face up on the table in front of him. Subsequent players then place money card/s in front of them increasing the bid or they pass. Money cards can only be added to increase a bid, the swapping of cards between table and hand is not allowed. Once a player passes he takes his displayed money cards back into his hand. The successful bidder takes the Possession card but all his Money cards are spent and discarded.
For negative cards the procedure is different as the first player in the round to pass receives the card and retains his Money cards, whereas all the other players lose any Money cards they have laid so far in that round (in effect you pay NOT to have the card in your possession).
Play continues until the fourth card with a red border is turned over, at which point the game ends immediately. The cards with the red border include the 3 Positive cards and the Scandal card.
Obviously players that use their resources early, and perhaps unwisely, find themselves having to take negative cards in the later turns and run the risk of finishing with the least amount of money.
The winner is the player (left ‘IN’) with the highest possessions at the end of the game, subject to adjustment by doubling / halving and making any deductions applicable. In the event of a draw the player with the most money left is the winner.