|My ponies! They won me the game.|
During your turn you can turn over a card and start an auction or try a horse trade. Starting an auction depends on the card that you flipped over. If its a normal animal, then anything goes and once there is only 1 highest bidder, you can choose to pay that person the amount of money cards (no change given by the way!) or you can choose to take that amount of money from the highest bidder. If however its a pedigree animal, then bidding is a countdown from 10 cards and any other player can slam their hand on the card to indicate their interest. So if countdown was to 7, that player can give 7 money cards (regardless of $ amount) to the auctioneer. The auctioneer can however choose to pass that number of cards as well to the highest bidder.
Finally, you can choose to horse trade in that you are trying to either grab an animal in someone else's stable of animals (provided you have the same animal as well) OR to give the rat away (4 rats at the end of the game cancels 1 set of animals from your final score). In this auction though, the aggressor will place a number of money cards and then the defender (for lack of a better word) will then return a number of money cards. Both will look at the amounts provided, keep those money cards and then decide the fate of the animal. If the defender has paid more than the aggressor, then the animal stays. Otherwise, the aggressor will take the animal.
So what are you trying to do with all these animals? There are 10 different animals with 1 pedigree animal for each that will score 250 points by itself. For each complete set of 4 animals, you will score points equal to the number indicated by the animal. You will also score for the number of complete sets that you have. The game will end when there are no more cards in the draw deck and all players will count up their points and whoever has the most points will win the game.
Most of the game I felt I was quite out of it. I used up a lot of money during the game and I must say the donkeys (when they come out, all players will get a certain amount of money) are real life savers for me. Still I had only 2 types of animals in my deck (horse and goat) and I was paying way too much to keep my sets. The turning point came when Jean and Roy both had 1 pony each and I already have 2 ponies at this time. What Roy did was he horse traded jean for her pony. He won and set me up to be able to horse trade Roy for his 2 ponies in 1 action (because I have 2, when I horse trade, I can horse trade immediately for BOTH ponies). I just traded all the money that I had which was a lot and he did not want to use up his money to beat mine yet so I won his ponies and that gave me a confirm 1000 points. In the end, because of the 2 sets I managed to complete, even though I had only 1 pedigree animal, I had won the game.
So in a way, I was pretty sure I was going to lose but because of Roy's move, I won instead. It was not an easy game to get into because of the different forms of auction available but halfway through, you will probably get the hang of it. As usual, I am not very good at gauging how much I should be paying for something but in most cases, the other players are hoarding their money cards and only willing to pay minimal for an animal (seldom has it reached more than $100) until 3/4 into the game. Its not a bad game I feel but i don't think this will be a game for me. The auctions seems to take a whee bit too long and not a lot of interactions until you start to horse trade with each other. The rats only came into play near the end of the game when all players had 1 more horse trade they could do and the Jon and Jillian managed to pass their rats to Jean. So if you love auction games, this will be perfect for you. Otherwise, try before you buy!