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MOTLEY FOOL’S BUY LOW/SELL HIGH

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Überplay, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $29.99)

 

Reiner Knizia’s Palmyra is a terrific game that vanished from the gaming scene, swept under the surface in the flood of other Knizia releases. We featured it and liked it way back when. (The original review is reprinted in this issue.) The game deserved a better fate. Fortunately, Überplay has come to the rescue. Palmyra has received a make-over with Uberplay’s new release of The Motley Fool’s Buy Low/Sell High game. This time, instead of being merchants in ancient times, players become stock market wheelers and dealers in today’s world.

The Motley Fool is a well known investing service so, converting Palmyra to stock investments was a natural. Wisely, the basic mechanisms of play have remained untouched but there are a few differences.motleybuysell

On the light side, there is the humorous exposition of the rules with warnings that the use of the word “foolish” is the equivalent to saying “smart” or financially “sound” and even presenting an example of play to illustrate an illegal move – and chiding the player in the example for making such an “unfoolish” move. The error that appeared in the original rules of Palmyra regarding buying and selling items has been corrected. And, of course, there is the conversion of theme as stock oriented terminology takes over. The cards still do the same job but the names have been changed. Bull & Bear and Dividend cards are now present. There are still three “commodities” for players to buy and sell only, this time, the commodities are stocks in three different industries: retail, technology and oil. But there are more significant changes.

While the cards perform the same functions, distribution is slightly different. There are now 45 cards (instead of the original 44) and the cards for each stock are no longer identical. For example, the Tech deck contains TWO +3 and TWO -3 cards while Oil has neither. Dividends have changed too. There are no longer 4 Dividends (previously known as “Contract” cards) for each commodity. In Buy Low/Sell High, dividends are distributed unevenly with 3 available for technology, 4 for retail and 5 for oil. Now, with 3 Dividends possible for technology, the possible payoff for that stock is less than the others. Also worth noting is that, previously, the payoff for maximizing Contracts was 8 points. With 5 Dividends possible for oil, another scoring tier is added for, with all 5 dividend cards appearing in a trading year, each player will earn $12 for each oil stock held. These changes create differences in the relative value of the commodities. Unlike the original, ALL holdings are not created equal, a subtle but potentially significant difference which can influence your strategy.

When Palmyra faded from the scene, it became a prime candidate for our Game Classics series of excellent games no longer readily available. Cross that one off the list. With the release of The Motley Fool’s Buy Low/Sell High, this quality game is back! Don’t be foolish (in the conventional sense) and let this one slip away. – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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