Highest Bidder Review


Quick Look:


Designer: Johan Dahlberg
Artist: Johan Dahlberg
Publisher: Self
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 2-5
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: Less then 30 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

In Highest Bidder, players try to earn the highest score by placing bids on multiple scoring cards. The caveat is that the bids are placed secretly in an order that can not be changed and that others can affect.

The game is played in 5 rounds. In the first four rounds players bid on three different scoring cards of different values. In the fifth round players bid on two cards with an initial double value.

In each round players are dealt 9 bidding cards. The cards have bid values or some action to take during the bid process. These nine cards represent all of the players cards for that entire round. Players must decide which point cards they will give priority to and work on a strategy that might win them those points.

Set up for a three player game.

Players start by laying down a set of cards that they will use to bid on the first card. They must place at least one bid card on each of the three cards in the round, so after they determine their priority (if they have one) they may focus on that one and give up on the rest, or they may give a partial effort on all of them, or any combination thereof. In the layout above, players bid on the 1 point first, the 4 point second and the 7 point last. Players might choose to play one bid card on the 1, one bid card on the 4 and the last seven bid cards on the 7; or they may assume the other players will go after the 7 and try and capture both the 1 and the 4. Some of the action cards have the potential to double or halve these values as well.

Bid cards showing some of the actions that can be played in the bid phase.

Once players determine their strategy they decide what their plan is on the first bid. On the count of three players lay down their bids for the first card. The player who took the last bid flips over their top card revealing either a bid or an action. The player acts on the action if necessary and then announces their total cumulative bid so far. The next player flips over their bid and so on. Players cannot resort cards as they go. Once all of the players have flipped over each and all bid cards, then the process starts again to bid for the next scoring card (minus all of the bid cards used during the first bid), and so on until all three cards are complete. At the end of the round, score is taken and another round starts.

Scoring cards that players bid on.

The first four rounds are identical and the fifth round has fewer score cards with double value. Strategy changes a little when you have 9 bid cards to chase two higher value scoring cards to seal the win.

The winner is the player with the highest score at the end of the five rounds.


Rules and Setup:
The rules are good and have an example round and FAQ section which are both helpful. It took a practice round to get going, but then it got really competitive really fast..

Set up is simple dealing from two decks which remain separate throughout the game.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme is supposed to be the artwork. Once the bid is set, the mechanics are just as the cards dictate. It’s kind of fun in that once the group has made their decisions, you don’t have to wait for people to make more decisions, because they can’t, it just plays out in the predetermined order each player set.

Game Play:
The play was quick. I think the five rounds for five players was right at the 30 minutes as listed. Fewer players was a little faster.

Age recommendation is 8+. An 8 year old can certainly lay out a set of cards that determine the order, but I’m not sure they would be able to pick up much more than that towards strategy. I’m going to say that 10 year olds would probably be more apt to the strategy component.

Artwork and Components:
Black and white abstract art and colorful bid cards make this game nice to look at. The cards were average stock, but the edge to edge finish was nice. Average box as well.

Artwork on Display – Check out the Highest Bidder Gallery at https://abstractbidding.wordpress.com/gallery

What’s in the box?

The Good:
Quick, fun, different game where things can change quickly. I really enjoyed the overall play and the variability in play. I really liked the lay it down and play what the order is mechanics. As an engineer, I really enjoyed the line artwork throughout the cards as well.

The Bad:
I’m going to go with the component quality here. Not the best feel, but this was a prototype, so perhaps better material is coming.

Final Thoughts:
I like the simplicity of the game for the depth you get. It is very fun to play and although you get cheated at times, it feels like it’s your own fault because that’s the order you placed your cards in. I think this game would only get better as you better learn how to be most effective with your bid cards in scoring a lot of points.

Players Who Like:
I would suggest this to people who like to sit around a table and play cards with a lot of strategy. Bidding game lovers will like this game for both its similarities and its differences from games like Rook or Rummy.

I am giving Highest Bidder 7.5 out of 10 super meeples.

7.5 10

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About the Author:

Dave Merrell is a Professional Structural Engineer who specializes in Zip Lines and Challenge Courses. When he’s not swinging in the trees (or sharpening his pencil) he’s playing games, most often with some or all of his 5 kids. Dave lives in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona.

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