Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 10 April 2018

A certain je ne sais quoi:- High Society

Game: High Society

Publisher: Osprey Games

Designer: Reiner Knizia

Year: 2018

High Society is a 3-5 player card game in which you spend your money in auctions in an attempt to gain the most trappings of wealth and become the most renown member of  high society. Of course there is a catch, only the wealthiest people can be part of high society, so if you spend too much of your money in the auctions you may find yourself being kicked out of the social club for the unforgivable crime of being poor!

Gameplay in High Society is simple enough to be taught to almost anyone, each player starts with a hand full of money cards varying from 1,000 francs to 25,000. Each round a single trapping of wealth will be drawn from the deck and players will begin to bid for it. To bid you place down money cards from your hand to become the highest bidder, the next player gets the option to outbid you, or to pass. Once all players pass the highest bidder gains the trappings card at the cost of all of the money cards they played.

High Society set up for a 3-player game. High Society is a pure card game, there are no tokens or counters to get in the way and complicate things.
At least that is how it works most of the time, while most trappings offer you from 1-10 points at the end of the game, there are a few exceptions, such as the -5 card. For these cards the bidding is reversed, players continue to bid money until one player passes, at which point they gain the card and everyone else must pay their current bid! There are also 4 special blue trapping cards, 3 of these double your score at the end of the game, and one halves it. The game will end immediately when the 4th of the blue trappings cards is drawn from the deck, this card will not be bid on. At the end of the game the player(s) with the least money will be disqualified, of the remaining players the one with the highest points wins.

High Society is an auction game, which isn't something I traditionally enjoy, but the bidding mechanics in the game are extremely well done. You see throughout the game you don't just run out of money, but you run out of denominations. Sure you can outbid your opponents by small amounts, but you only have so many cards below 10,000 francs, and once those are gone then you will no longer be able to do small bids. So there is a layer of strategy not only in how much you bid, but with what cards you bid it. Combine this with the poorest player being disqualified, making you want to hold money back even near the end of the game and you have an auction system where every choice is meaningful and interesting.

The green players final score, 7 points from trappings, minus 5 for the faux pas and finally multiplied by 2 to give a whopping 4 points. And they only get that if the 16,000 francs is enough to stay in the game.

High Society is not going to find itself at the top of my list of favorite games any time soon. But it does serve a very good purpose, it's an extremely good gateway game for people who are only used to playing card games (Hi mum!). While there are certainly games that I'd prefer to play, a game which my mother insists that we have another game of *and* I actually enjoy certainly has a place in the collection. If you do love Auction games as a Genre then the unique take on them is well worth trying and High Society can certainly serve as a good filler game.


High Society was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It will soon be available for an RRP of £14.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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