How to Play
Try to acquire the most valuable sets of cards by the end of the game.
In a three player game all of the cards from two types of currencies are removed from the game. In a four player game all of the cards from one currency are removed from the game. Each player takes a bluff card while the rest of the bluff cards are put back in the box.
Shuffle the rest of the cards together and deal six cards to each player face down. Each player should have seven cards when they add their bluff card to the other six cards. Four cards are placed on the right side of the table face up. Four more cards are put face up on the left side of the table. The rest of the cards are placed in a pile in the center of the table.
Each round begins with players deciding how much they would like to bid in the current round. Players are bidding on the order that players will take their turn in the current round. The highest bidder in each round gets to go first, the second highest bidder goes second, and so on. Players can bid as many cards as they want with each card being worth the amount printed on the card. All bids are revealed at the same time so players can use their bluff card to make it look like they are bidding more than they actually are. Once the bids are revealed everyone that played a bluff card takes it back into their hand. Players total up everyone’s bids to determine the order that players will take their turns in the current round.
If two players bid the same amount, the player who played the card with the lowest serial number breaks the tie (FRED 001 beats FRED 069).
Completing a Round
The round begins with the player who bid the most money and proceeds through all of the players based on how much they bid. Each player takes one of three action during the round.
First the player can choose to exchange the cards they bid for the cards on the left or right side of the table. If the player chooses one of the sets of cards they take all of the cards from that side of the table into their hand and they replace them with the cards they bid during the current round.
Second the player can exchange the cards they bid for the cards another player bid in the current round. If the player chooses to take someone else’s cards they take those cards into their hand and give the cards they bid to the player they took the cards from. This player will now become the next player to take an action since they now have the highest bid.
A player’s third option is to just take the cards they bid in the round back into their hand.
If a player bid no cards other than their bluff card, they get to take no action during the round.
Once everyone has taken their turn the round ends. If the piles on the right side and/or the left side of the table have less than four cards in them, cards are taken from the draw pile to increase their size to four. Cards are first added to the right side and then to the left side.
A new round is then started with a new round of bidding. If the last card from the draw pile was used to fill the left and right sides, the next round will be the last round of the game.
After the final round is completed (when there are no more cards in the draw pile), scoring is conducted. Players sort the cards in their hand based on the different types of currency. Each card is worth the number of points printed on the card with some conditions.
If a player has over 200 points from a specific type of currency, they score all of the points printed on those cards. If they have less than 200 points of the type of currency, they lose 100 points from the number of points they would have scored from that currency. If this leads to a negative amount of points, the player scores no points for that currency.
Players can score 100 bonus points if they have all three 20’s or 30’s of one currency. For example if a player gets all three 20 United States dollar cards they will get 100 bonus points. These bonus points do not apply to whether a currency has over 200 points to avoid the penalty.
Every coin card is worth 10 points and is not subject to the penalties or bonuses mentioned above.
Winning the Game
The player who has the highest score at the end of the game wins.
If you have read other reviews on this site you are probably aware that we have reviewed quite a few games from Reiner Knizia in the past on this site. With Reiner Knizia having made hundreds of board and card games it is not hard to run into games that he has made. While some people don’t really like his games I usually do. I generally expect his games to be at least solid as I can’t think of one of his games that I didn’t like playing. The main reason I like his games is that they are deceptively simple but also have quite a bit of strategy to them. While it has a little more luck to it than I would like, Money is like most Reiner Knizia games since it is simple to play but also has quite a bit of strategy under the surface.
Basically Money is a bidding game mixed with a set collection game. At the beginning of every round players bid their cards in order to determine the order in which players get to take cards from the table. Players then try to build up sets of cards which will score them points at the end of the game. The game is pretty simple but it takes a couple rounds to undrestand what you are trying to do in the game due to the scoring system. After the first couple of rounds the players should understand what they are trying to accomplish and then the game starts to really get going. While your first game may take a little longer, after everyone knows what they are doing, a game probably takes around twenty minutes to complete which makes Money a great filler game.
While I found the scoring system to be kind of confusing when I first read the instructions, it actually is quite interesting once you get the hang of it. The key to the game is to build sets of cards that total more than 200 points. The main reason I ended up losing by quite a few points is that I mostly went for two different currencies but I wasn’t able to get either over 200 points. The 100 point penalty is huge and will likely lose you the game if you incur more than one of them. Your primary goal should be to try and get as many of your sets as possible over 200 points. I thought getting three of the same card would be crucial in the game and that was my strategy for most of the game. While these bonus points are big, I think reaching the 200 point threshold is the most important thing to accomplish in the game.
I found the bidding mechanic in Money to be pretty interesting. While most games use a normal auction style where players all bid at the same time raising the bid, Money utilizes a blind bidding system. While I wonder how the game would play with a normal auction system, I think the blind bidding system works best for the game. The reason the blind bidding system works well is that it feeds off a risk reward element in the game. If there is a group of cards you really need/want you need to bid high in order to get them but you don’t want to bid too high and waste cards that you otherwise wouldn’t have had to play. Therefore you need to try and judge how much you think the other players want the cards so you can try and guess how much they are going to bid. If you bid too low you might lose out on cards that you want but if you bid too high you will end up wasting cards which you could use to bid with in future rounds.
One thing I find interesting about bidding in the game is whether it is best to bid high in order to get one of the two four card sets or whether it is better to bid smaller which will probably get you a better deal. While you have the option to not bid on a round I think that is pretty foolish unless you want to keep all of the cards which is unlikely unless it is one of the last rounds in the game. It is foolish not to bid anything since even if you bid the least in the round, the value of your currency is guaranteed to go up or you can just take back your own bid. You could end up bidding a 10 point coin and turn it into a couple cards that one of the other players ended up bidding.
In the game I played two players were generally more aggressive and bid higher to get their choice of cards while I was a more cautious bidder mostly due to wanting to keep a lot of the cards that I had in my hand from the start of the game. Since I placed third out of four players I would say that being aggressive is a pretty good strategy in the game. I am not going to dismiss bidding low though since if you aren’t committed to a type of currency you can actually gain a lot of value being the third or fourth highest bidder since you could turn 10 or 20 points into 50-100 points worth of cards which you can use as cards to bid in future rounds.
After bidding is completed players take turns taking sets of cards from the table. At least in the game that I played it seemed that the top bidder always chose one of the two sets of cards in the center of the table with the second highest bidder usually taking the second set of cards from the center of the table. This usually occurred since the cards in the center of the table were more valuable than the cards bid by the other players.
An interesting element can come into the game though when someone ends up bidding several cards from a set of currency. This might make it beneficial for a player to make take less valuable currency cards that actually help them out more. This makes the bidding kind of interesting since a card might not be worth anything to you but you might have to think about keeping the card since you don’t want a player to be able to take it if they already have a lot of cards from that set.
While I really liked Money I have to say that the game has one pretty big issue that there is no way to work around. Basically your success in the game will come down to whether you end up picking currencies that none of the other players are pursuing. This means you pretty much need to guess what the other players are going to go after. While you can get some clues based on what cards people take at the end of each round, that is not going to really help you in the game. Within the first half of the game you need to commit to at least one or two of the currencies that you are going to pursue. If another player also chooses one of those currencies you are going to have a hard time winning the game unless all of the other players are splitting their currencies with other players
The problem here is that your success in the game sometimes feels like it comes down to luck and other player’s actions have more impact on your fate in the game than your own decisions do. Even if you know that another player is going after the same currency as you there isn’t a lot you can do about it. You can ditch that currency but you are going to throw out points you have already acquired and you are going to just help out that other player. Usually you need to just stick it out and hope that the other player’s currencies are also being messed with.
To show how much this factors in to the outcome of the game I want to bring up the game I most recently played. It turns out that I and another player both ended up going after the same two currencies. We ended up splitting the cards pretty evenly which means neither of us reached 200 points in either currency. This meant neither of us scored a lot of points. Meanwhile the other two players both ended up choosing currencies that no other players pursued. These players ended up scoring a lot more points than I did. The winner of Money will probably come down to who gets lucky enough to pursue currencies that no other player chooses to go after. This issue doesn’t come close to ruining the game but it does show that the game does rely quite a bit more on luck than you would think.
The second complaint I have about the game is that the theme is kinda pointless and unrealistic. When you think about it, it makes no sense that a person would trade more money of one currency in order to take less money of another currency. In the real world if you wanted a different type of currency you would just exchange it at the exchange rate and not have to give up more value of one currency just to get another currency. While the theme doesn’t really hurt the game, I think a better/more interesting theme could have made the game better.
As far as the components are concerned I thought they could have been better. The card thickness is fine but I think the artwork could have used some work. Some of the currency artwork feels “stretched” and thus looks kind of blurry. Maybe it was just the printing for the cards for my copy of the game but I think the cards could have been printed better. Another kind of nit-picky issue is that I don’t know why all of the different denominations of money all look the same outside of the number printed on the card. Maybe in some currencies each bill features the same picture but it is kind of weird to look at at a United States dollar bill and have all of the denominations have the same picture on them. I am guessing this was done to make the sets easier to distinguish and also make the game cheaper to print. It kind of bugs me though.
Some other quick thoughts:
- For three and four player games the instructions recommend removing one or two of the types of currencies. After playing with these rules I would recommend using all of the types of currencies for a four player game since it won’t extend the game that long and will give players more options.
- The bluff card is kind of pointless in my opinion. When we first started playing the game we used the bluff cards with everyone putting down their bid when they were finished. This gave the slowest players an advantage though since they could see how many cards other players had bid. After a couple rounds we decided to let everyone keep their bids in their hands and everyone would just reveal their bid at the same time since this kept the slowest players from getting an advantage over the other players.
Like a lot of Reiner Knizia’s games, Money is deceptively simple but also has quite a bit of strategy to it. I had a lot of fun with Money and I definitely plan on keeping the game in my collection. My only main gripe with the game is that it relies a little too much on luck with guessing what currencies the other players are going to go after. If you generally don’t like Reiner Knizia’s games you probably won’t like Money either. If you are looking for an interesting filler card game though that is simple but also includes quite a bit of strategy I don’t think you could go wrong with Money.
If you would like to purchase Reiner Knizia’s Money you can purchase it on Amazon here.