Published by Eagle Gryphon Games
Designed by Stefan Dorra
3-6 Players | 30 Minutes
For Sale is my all-time favorite bidding game. Originally released in 1997, this 3-6 player game tells the story of cut-throat real estate investors caught in a ruthless standoff in an effort to earn the most money. I think it’s the smooth gameplay, easy entry and witty player interaction that continues to keep this one on top. This is the epitome of a bidding game, one of my favorite mechanics… and one that For Sales does so well.
A mere quarter of a century after its original release, I was pleased to hear that the game would be receiving an expansion. The Advisors Expansion promises an additional phase of the game with a more strategic twist. Can this expansion possibly improve on such a beloved game? With so many plays under my belt, does the change even have a chance to win me over?
I don’t want to miss this opportunity to introduce the base game to a new audience. I’ll provide a brief review of the original, base game and then discuss expansion.
FOR SALE – THE ORIGINAL CLASSIC
When I first got into board games, I continued to hear about this “classic” game where players buy and sell real estate. I wasn’t familiar with things like mechanics or game weight, so I blindly took the plunge.
I think it was my first play where For Sale immediately clicked and I instantly fell in love with it.
The game is fairly simple. The game takes place over 2 phases: a buying phase and a selling phase. Players begin the game with a handful of starter cash and are tasked with buying up the best real estate they can get their hands on.
During the buying phase a number of real estate cards equal to the number of players are revealed. The real estate cards feature illustrations of different available property, each assigned a value from 1 to 30. You might be able to choose from a cabin in the woods, an igloo, a mansion or even an out house. Players then take turns bidding on the cards. Players may either up the previous offer or drop out and take the card with the lowest value. This continues until every property card in the deck is purchased. Players have the option to spend their cash as freely as they see fit. Any cash left over will be applied to their final score.
The selling phase plays out in a similar fashion to the buying phase. During this phase the check card deck is used in a similar fashion to the real estate cards. Check cards valued from $0 to $15,000 are revealed and players bid. In this round players won’t bid with cash, they’ll bid with the real estate cards they collected in the buying phase. The winner of each turn is the player with the highest property card. This continues until the checks and real estate cards are simultaneously exhausted.
Players then count up their total income and the player with the most money is declared the winner.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT FOR SALE
For starters, I love the simplicity of For Sale. My young daughters have no problem with the process and we can play this as a family. This is a big win for me since the majority of my games lean to the heavier side. As I previously stated, the rules are incredibly simple so it’s a breeze to teach. Turns go by quickly and there isn’t much of an opportunity for anyone to lose interest.
And why would they? The player engagement is top notch. Because of the game’s simplicity, it’s so easy to quickly get where the game wants you to be: attempting to outfox your opponents.
The game is really about efficiently spending your resources, but doing so while also gauging your opponents actions (who seek the same victories). The initial real estate bidding can go anywhere from taking a lower card in an effort to spend responsibly to a full-on ego-fest where players spend outrageously. The selling phase feels like a standoff where you’re making your best guess on who’s going to play what and knowing when to go all in.
There is a sweet moment each game when you realize victory may hinge on one or two cards in your hand. Misplaying your real estate resources and leaving you with a poor return or may even zippo.
WHO IS THIS FOR?
The witty player interaction and simple mechanics make this a real crowd pleaser for nearly anyone. For Sale is on a short list of go-to games we play with new gamers or when time is limited. Of course, For Sale is definitely a game you can string 2 or 3 plays in a row. In my opinion, For Sale is an essential that should be in every gamers library.
SO ABOUT THAT EXPANSION…
The Advisors Expansion seeks to integrate a new strategic layer while still embracing the core actions players familiar with For Sale know. The Advisors Expansion features 30 new cards players will bid on during a new phase that precedes the normal buying phase.
The advisors are essentially employees you hire to work for your real estate empire. Each advisor brings a special benefit players can utilize during the buying, selling or even advisor phase of the game.
HOW DOES IT PLAY?
The hiring advisor phase plays out similarly to the original phases of the game. Players start with $20k or $28k depending on the player count and take turns bidding on the advisors.
The buying phase features a blind auction where players use their advisor cards to purchase real estate. As I mentioned, these advisors cards feature abilities that, when played at the right time, can earn big bonuses. In fact, because of their abilities, may cause you to completely rethink your typical For Sale Strategy.
Here’s a brief rundown of the advisor cards and how they interact with the game.
• Sales Associate cards, when gained during the advisor phase will allow you to take your entire bid back into your hand.
• Agent cards bring some additional player interaction by allowing you to snag a $1000 from the player to your right.
• If the Contractor card (valued at 7-9) earns you the lowest priced property during the selling phase you get to take the 2nd lowest check.
• The Appraiser earns you $4k, $10k or $15k for your LOWEST check at the end of the game.
• The Realtor card lets you pay $3k to increase the value of your property over 30.
• Playing the Broker when gaining 16, 17 or 18 value property (depending on the broker you receive) – you earn an instant $3k.
• The Lawyer allows you to play 2 properties during the sell phase and then put one back in your hand.
• The Investor allows you to double a currency card between $2k – $9k.
• Double any $1000 in coins at the end of the game with the Financier.
• If the Underwriter does not receive the highest value property card you get an instant $4k.
WHAT IT DOES FOR THE GAME?
The biggest change the Advisors Expansion brings is a lot more added strategy. While the game still plays similarly, the added layers of strategy really force you to think more deeply about your choices – especially during the hiring advisors phase – and how you’ll use it to benefit your strategy going forward.
With cards like the Appraiser, it won’t hurt as bad to get a $0 check. In fact, you may chain the Appraiser with a low value property to save money for that bigger property buy or when bidding jumps.
The Advisors cards might force you to seek our certain valued property cards to gain the bonuses.
Knowing that cards can now exceed the 30 threshold, you might choose wisely when to spend your Underwriter (valued at 28 to 30) in hopes of getting the $4k bonus.
DOES IT CHANGE THINGS FOR THE BETTER?
For Sale is a game that really shines because of its smooth play. It can be played as intensely or casually as you want. The Advisors Expansion adds a good amount of strategy and that’s going to slow the game down – you’re going to spend more time planning out your moves. Players looking for an addition that keeps with the same flow will be disappointed.
Learning the 10 new types of cards seems a little overwhelming at first, but after one play I had a good understanding of all of them and felt like I could take control of their benefits without too much trouble. It will take a few games to really benefit from all the new options. While I had a good feel for the advisor cards during that 2nd and 3rd play, I still struggled determining my best course of action. I was often left winging it with the cards I ended up taking.
So it’s more complex and bogs down the game. I must hate it, right? Not so fast.
I really appreciate the new strategy introduced to the game. The new round doesn’t add too much time to the game and working the new abilities for your benefit can not only be satisfying, but can potentially be the difference in a game that traditionally scores close.
There is also a new 2-player variant for the game that is definitely a welcome option. It can sometimes be a challenge getting 3 players together. It’s not overly complicated to introduce and could probably be added to a 3, 4 or 5 player game.
My entire family was able to grasp the new cards, so the learning curve isn’t terrible. It won’t replace the base game for us. For Sale is just too perfect to be improved on (or at least with this expansion). The biggest negative is the potential time added from players overthinking their turns. But, it’s definitely one I can see playing from time to time – especially with the 2-player variant. I do like the additional strategies and I think those will be a welcome addition for For Sale die-hards.
If you don’t own For Sale, go get it now. Every time I play a new bidding game I compare it to For Sale. They often will hit the table more frequently early on, but we always come back to the For Sale. The easy setup, theme and smooth game play are brilliant. The Advisors Expansion isn’t a necessity, but if you are a serious For Sale fan, I think you’ll enjoy the new flavor it adds.
I’d also like to mention Eagle Gryphon also offers a travel version of For Sale that compresses the entire game in a small deck-size box. The only change is the cardboard quality of the coins. And speaking of coins… Eagle Gryphon also offers metal coins that you can use with the original For Sale or the new For Sale: Autorama. These are super affordable and add a ton of textual value to the game.