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Auctions stripped down to the barest essentials. Brilliant design, but doesn't quite do it for me; I prefer Ra as a "pure" auction game, even though it's a lot less pure. Modern Art's economy is also extremely fragile; even a couple of misplays can ruin the entire game, handing it to someone arbitrarily. [EDIT]...and I'm beginning to think that's the kind of the point? More recent experiences have me regarding Modern Art as less of an auction game and more of a game of speculation. That has led me to appreciate the game more.
GAMEPLAY In Modern Art, players are art dealers looking to discover the next enfant terrible while cashing in big time on his or her success. On a turn, a player plays one painting card (or two if they have the appropriate double card), initiating an auction for that card. The four types of auctions are open (shout out bids till it’s going, going, gone), once around, sealed (closed-fist bid where players reveal simultaneously), and fixed (auctioneer sets a price). If an opponent wins, they pay the auctioneer, or if the auctioneer wins, they pay the bank. When the fifth card of one artist has been played, the season ends immediately, and the five artists are evaluated. The one who sold the most paintings gets the 30 marker, second most gets the 20 marker, and the fewest gets the 10 marker. Then each player gets paid out per painting depending on marker distribution. In the next seasons, depending on how the markers are distributed, an artist’s paintings could compound their worth based on previous seasons. The player who has the most money after four seasons is the winner. THOUGHTS Modern Art is, in my opinion, the stateliest and most staid of Knizia’s auction games, which sounds like a bad thing but it’s not. It’s just that Modern Art demands smart play as the strategy, opportunity, stakes, and MATH are set so high. While Knizia adds some neat twists like the double auction and the way the value of different artists’ works have the potential to compound from season to season, the rules overhead is fairly low for such a tense game. In the end, I love the fact that Knizia said, “To hell with it. I’m going to make Auction: The Game of Auctions.” PROS -I would love this game no matter what but I had the good fortune of being in the right place, right time to snag the GeGe Co. Chinese Edition; it’s probably the crown jewel in my collection. -The double cards are a simple addition but add a ton of strategy to the timing. They can make or break a season but in a good way. -The way prices compound from season to season means by the end of the game players can throw absurd money at a painting. I guess just like in real life! NEUTRALS -This may not be a game for you if you are bad at math (like I am). -Seating position can be a big deal, especially at higher player counts. Three or four players might be best. CONS -If you don’t have the cards or the ability to get in on a valuable artist’s works, there’s no way to “tank the stock” of that artist.
Another fantastic Knizia game. This game is pure player interaction - how could it not be? It's just auctions all the way through. But what is really interesting is how there is deep strategy embedded in the decisions of which art pieces to auction off at which point. Like many other Knizia games, this one also has the player screens to keep your cards and money tokens hidden from other players. This small piece of cardboard has been the source of many dramatic moments - one more than one occasion, the winner ended up being someone that the rest of us did not expect. The game has dramatic finishes in spades.