- Designers: Jani & Tero Moliis
- Publisher: Mercury Games
- Ages: 13+
- Players: 2-6
- Time: 30 mins
Times played: 1, with review copy from Mercury Games
[Note: Normally, I prefer to play a game at least three times prior to writing it for the blog. However, given the time pressure coming up to SPIEL ’14, I have written up my thoughts on a number of games based on only one or two plays in order to cover as many new games as possible prior to the show. I fully admit that it is often not possible to see the full breadth of a design in a single play, and thus I shall not give a rating to any game at this stage with such a few number of plays…
Foreclosed! is the newest release from the transcontinental brother team of the Moliis (one lives in Finland and the other lives in Mexico) – you may recognize their name from Hornet, a game recently put out by Z-Man. Foreclosed! is a game that straddles some traditional gaming genres – being both an auction game as well as a negotiation game.
Players act as creditors to a foreclosed estate, and each player is trying to acquire the most valuable set of goods. There are 5 basic types of property – each with its own color – that players vie for. At the start of the game, each player is dealt 2 cards from the shuffled deck to form the basis of their Permanent Collection (i.e. scoring pile). One of these cards is face up, the other remains face down for the duration of the game. There is also a second deck of cards, the Action cards – these each have some special rule on them which can be used at an appropriate time.
Each round in the game follows a similar pattern – First , all players are dealt a card, and this is placed in their Exchange Area (an area which is separate from the Permanent Collection). Then, each player takes his turn, taking one of the three possible actions: Exchange, Collect or Pass.
To EXCHANGE – the active player tries to trade his face up card for one of his opponents. Starting with his clockwise neighbor, he decides if he wants to trade or not. If he chooses not to trade (i.e. he doesn’t like that neighbor’s card), he may continue on clockwise to the next player. Once a suitable card is seen, an offer is made – the offer is always his current Exchange card plus $1 from the active player’s personal supply. This deal can be accepted, and if so, cards/coins exchange locations on the table. Note that the cards still reside in the Exchange area and can be targeted again later in the round.
The receiving player can choose not to accept the Exchange and try to Protect his card. To do this, he places at least $1 on his own card – though he may put as much as he likes on that card. The deal swings back to the active player who can either pass on the exchange or pay $1 more than the protection money on the card to consummate the trade. If this happens, the protection money goes back into the supply of the receiving player – and that player also receives the money from the active player. These cards switch places but remain in the Exchange zone.
Note, if no trade occurs, the active player may continue to look at cards in clockwise fashion, but he may not go counterclockwise in order. Once a card has been passed on, that’s it for that player’s turn. Any protection money remains on a card if a deal is not made. Later players in the round may still exchange for this card by paying $1 more than the protection amount already on the card.
To COLLECT: Rather than make an offer, you can either draw an Action card from the supply or take $1 from the bank. This is a good option if you like the card you were dealt.
To PASS: You take $1 from the bank. You MUST take this action if you have protection money on your card.
ACTION CARDS – at any point in the game, when it makes sense, you can play an action card. Many of them offer modifiers on end-game scoring. Some give you money immediately while another lets you remove your protection money from your card. The icons at the top of each card make it easy to see who the action card affects and where it’s supposed to be played.
Each player around the board gets to take one of these three action choices. After all players have gone, everyone takes whichever card is left in their Exchange Area and moves it down to their Permanent Collection. Any protection money left on cards is returned to the bank. Cards should be arranged by color so all players can see how many of each suit you have. If you have collected a dual-suited card, you must immediately decide which color this card belongs to and place it in the appropriate column. If the card has a coin on it, you get to take coins from the bank when you move the card. A heart on the card allows you to draw an Action card as you move it.
When there are no more Property cards left in the deck (12 rounds in a 4p game), the game is over.
- The bulk of scoring comes from your score in the 5 suits. You count the number of cards you have in each suit and look on the chart to see what you score. The more cards you have in a suit, the more VP/card you get…
- You score some points based on bonuses printed right on the card (1 or 2 VP).
- Next, you tally up any bonuses from the Action cards that you’ve collected along the way.
- Finally, you score 1VP for any unplayed action cards left in your hand…
Winner is the player with the most points.
My thoughts on the game
After my first play, I want to play it again – as I did quite poorly and probably overpaid to protect cards that I would end up losing anyways! The bidding/negotiation system is interesting, and one that I have not seen much in the past. While it does seem complicated at first, once you have played a few rounds, you will realize that it is actually pretty straightforward. There really aren’t too many options in the whole dance.
The initial offer is simply $1 and your card for his card. Then, there is a counteroffer made (protection money). The active player then decides yes/no on the counter. That’s it.
The game describes it as a negotiation game, though realistically there’s not a lot of actual negotiation going on – because this is a no-haggle card game. Prices are set by the players (in the terms of protection money), but once a price is set, there is no further alteration. I like this sort of system because it doesn’t lead to metagaming or sweetheart deals, and it also keeps the game moving along because there is only one counteroffer possible.
There a bit of interesting play that happens early in the round. Even if you are involved in a trade at the start of the round, there’s no guarantee that you will keep the card by the end! So, when you go first, you don’t want to spend all of your money on a particular card, because if you are unable to protect it, someone might be able to exchange it for only $1 cost. Additionally, if you are targeted early on, you need to try to set your protection price based on everyone left to go in the round, not just the current Active player. I forgot this on a few occasions and probably gave up some good deals because of it.
I’m still not sure what to think about the Action cards. In my first game, I did not try to get many of them early on, and I think that put me at a disadvantage. The players that did pick some up early on at least got a secondary scoring goal, and as a result, they were able to better value the possible cards that they could pick up each round. In my next game, I think I will try to make a point of getting a few early on to help guide my strategy.
There is a moderate amount of luck involved – as happens with any game with randomly dealt cards of varying value – but in the end, I think this levels out at the end of the game (12 rounds in 4p game, 17 rounds in 3p game). Anyways, even if you are always dealt cards you want, you have to figure out how to protect them if you want to add them to your personal collection…
Production quality is of good quality. The box is small (10” x 7” x 2”) which my cramped game shelves like… There is a board included in the game, but admittedly, it’s not really needed as the game is a card game at heart. The cards have a nice finish to them, and the artwork is cartoony, but pleasing to the eye.
This is the second game that I’ve played from the Moliis brothers, and thus far I have liked both of them. I look forward to giving this another shot after I return from Europe – as I clearly still have some strategies to explore in this one.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor