High Society

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As a member of High-Society one aims to live as lavishly as possible. Our jois de vivre must be present for all to see and nothing demonstrates one’s exquisite tastes like the latest objet d’art. Scandal and faux pas are the bane of the fashionable. One’s reputation can suffer terribly at the hands of these misfortunes. A damaged reputation can be very unfavourable to one’s …
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Category Tags , , , SKU ZBG-OSP7777 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Easy to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Transportable
  • Beautiful artwork

Might Not Like

  • Elements of luck and push your luck
  • A lighter game
  • The colour of the money
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Description

As a member of High-Society one aims to live as lavishly as possible. Our jois de vivre must be present for all to see and nothing demonstrates one’s exquisite tastes like the latest objet d’art.

Scandal and faux pas are the bane of the fashionable. One’s reputation can suffer terribly at the hands of these misfortunes. A damaged reputation can be very unfavourable to one’s social standing. And do be careful not to spend everything at once. One cannot be seen to associate with paupers...

High Society is a classic auction game for 3-5 players designed by award winning designer Reiner Knizia.

Each round a desirable item will be available to players to bid for. Competition for these items is fierce. The more you spend now, the fewer the options available later in the game. Some items are less desirable, and these go to the lowest bidder.

The person with the least available cash at the end of the game cannot compete for victory no matter how many desirable items they possess.

Originally published in 1995, High Society has been republished by Osprey Games with high quality over-sized cards and all new, art-nouveau, inspired art illustrations.

Player Count: 3-5
Time: 20 Minutes
Age: 10+

 

High Society transports you back to the opulence of the early twentieth century. You are part of the ‘haut monde’ and eager to show that you are ‘bon vivant’ – one who lives well, even if you are actually nouveau riche! As such you must assert your status and impress your peers to surround yourself in luxury and become the status icon of the era.

This card game is by Dr Reiner Knizia. A portrait of Reiner would hang in most board game designer halls of fame. A Spiel des Jahres winner and runner-up, as well as the winner of Deutscher Spiele Preis four times. Arguably one of the most prolific board game designers of all time with a rather impressive back catalogue of games. ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Keltis’, ‘El Dorado’, ‘Samurai’, ‘Through the Desert’, ‘Modern Art’ and ‘Tigris and Euphrates’ are all his. Many of his older titles are now deemed classics and are getting fresh new looks and updates year on year.

High Society was originally published in 1995, but the latest Osprey Games version was released in 2018. Refreshed with large over-sized cards adorned with beautiful new Art Nouveau inspired cards by illustrator Medusa Dollmaker. The versions seem to be the same in gameplay however, which leads us on nicely and rather conveniently into the next part of the review…

Gameplay

The entire card game revolves around an auction mechanic. Most rounds see players bid for luxury cards with varying Victory Points or to avoid the faux pas pitfalls that can bestow upon you from one of three negative cards.

All players start off with the same amount of money in the same denominations. When a luxury card is turned over, one player starts the bidding. You go around the players who can increase their bid or pass. To bid, you lay down your money and announce the value, this money cannot be picked back up until you pass or someone else successfully wins an item. If you pass, you exit the bidding battlefield and take any money that you have bid back into your hand. To win a card you have to have the highest bid with all other players passing. You get the card and you pay your money.

In addition to the luxury cards there are three recognition cards that double your victory points at the end of the game.

The twists of the game come in three ways. Firstly, you do not know when the game will end, it ends when four cards with dark green borders are turned over. This stops you holding out for the better cards. Secondly, the person with the least amount of money at the end is shamed and disqualified as being poor. Finally, there are three negative cards which could halve your score, deduct you points, or lose you a card that you have already purchased. The bidding mechanism for these cards is slightly different. Players bid to not get the card and the first person to pass gets the card, but all other players lose the amount they have bid.

Knizia knows the auction mechanic well using it in Modern Art and Medici prior to High Society. He also used the mechanic later in Ra. Every time he uses it with a slightly different twist but ultimately it is still an auction.

How it Plays

Seating 3-5 players and playing in under 20 minutes, this game is a great filler or end of night game. Like many of Knizia’s lighter games, this is a simple game with hidden depths. By that I mean that High Society is a breeze to learn with easy instructions and a game you can get out even with non-gamers, but actually the layers sitting below its simplicity are unravelled the more you play.

There is an element of luck to High Society. Mainly surrounding when the game will end and what cards are turned over before that point. For me, this randomises the game to give it replayability and actually adds to the strategy of the game. Without the luck variables the game would lose something and so it is necessary.

Throughout the game you are balancing when to bid and when to pass. Ultimately, you are having to push your luck and hoping that the cards you buy will see you through at the end. Your bidding strategy has to be adaptable and sometimes you are better off buying something big at the start, other games you will want to be mopping up the cheap luxury cards at the end.

The limited denominations of the money and that any money you bid remains on the table add further complexity. This crucially means that if you bid 10,000 francs, if you want to increase to 12,000 you cannot pick up your 10k and replace it with an 8,000 and a 4,000. This is no problem early on, but if you have spent some of your money you may have to increase your bid by more than you might want, or worse, duck out a bidding battle completely.

Components

The playing cards are sumptuous. The oversized nature of them gives them a bit of table presence, while the illustrations by Medusa Dollmaker would’ve made Alphonse Mucha jealous.

The money cards are a little more lack lustre but then who wants to deal in dirty old money when you are a high flier! The colour palette used on the money cards is subtle and subdued, but two of the colours are awfully similar. The rules are clear and nicely laid out. The box is small and does its job – you won’t struggle to find a home for this one!

Final Thoughts on High Society

High Society is not a game for bargain hunters, those seeking cash in the attic or someone wanting the real deal. This is a game for connoisseurs and collectors so let’s keep the riff raff out!

You have to embrace the auction environment for this to work. Saying your bid amount out loud with a nod of the head, a tap of the nose or a raise of the hand all helps add something to the game.

This is a good little filler card game. Like a lot of Knizia’s games this is easy to pick up and play. The more you do play however, the more you discover the hidden strategies that gives High Society a little bit of extra clout. The balancing of budget with a need to get decent cards really plays on your mind and the auction mechanic hurries the decision making process in a very natural way.

This could be considered a small box game and as such would travel very well indeed. But don’t be fooled by its stature, for a small box game there is ‘lots’ on offer… an auction play on words to finish!

High Society is a Reiner Knizia special, it boils all the gameplay down to a pure bidding game and gets rid of any unnecessary filler. I like to introduce it to people not familiar with his games as it shows how much can be done with so little. With that in mind if you need help learning the game I have written this blog especially for you.

Set Up

Each player gets an equal set of 11 money cards (1 colour per player) that they keep in their hand. It is very important that you do not let on to other players how much money you have left at any point in this game until the end.

Take the 16 status cards and shuffle them, then make a stack face down. Choose a starting player and we are ready for some big money spending fun.

How To Play

In High Society you are trying to be the socialite with the most glorious lifestyle but not the one who is the poorest. At the end of the game the player or players who have the least amount of money are automatically expelled from the game no matter how glorious they activities are. Keeping on top of your bidding whilst making sure your competitors don’t run away with the win is the order of the day. Once the poorest player (s) are eliminated the remaining players activities are measured and the winner is the player with the ‘best’ lifestyle.

At the start of a turn a new card is flipped over from the stack of status cards and depending on the type of card the following auctions / bidding will take place.

Auction Rounds – ‘Good’ Status Cards

These are the cards you want, they show perfume (1 point), champagne (2 points), haute cuisine (3 points), casino (4 points), nice clothes (5 points), holidays (6 points), art (7 points), jewellery (8 points), dressage (9 points), cruising the world (10 points). In addition there are 3 very coveted x2 multiplier cards which significantly help at the end of the game.

During these ‘good’ rounds you are bidding to win the card displayed. The starting player decides if they wish to bid and if they do they must play 1 or more of their money cards face up on the table as their opening bid. The next player clockwise must then either place a bid on the table that is higher or they can pass.

When you pass on ‘good’ cards you take all your money that you bid back into your hand and sit out the rest of this turn.

When it comes round to you again you can increase on your previous bid but you cannot take any cards that are on the table back into your hand, rather you have to add new cards from your hand to the table. The bidding continues until all players but one have passed. The player who remains loses all of their money bid on the table but gains the status card.

In the event of all players passing on a turn the last player to pass gains the status card for free.

The winner of the auction becomes the new start player and turns over a new status card unless the end game trigger has occurred. Any status card won must be left face up on the table for all players to see.

Disgrace – ‘Bad’ Status Cards

There are 3 cards in High Society that you want to avoid at all costs. These are faux pas! (you lose a card), scandal (your score is halved), passée! (you lose 5 points).

When any of these cards are revealed the auctions become the opposite of before. As soon as a player passes in this phase they receive the status card and they receive their bid money back, all other players ‘lose’ this turn and must pay their bids to the discard pile.

If a player ‘wins’ the faux pas card they must immediately lose one of their ‘good’ status cards won in a previous round. If they do not have any other ‘good’ status cards they must discard one as soon as they win it.

Game End Trigger

You may have noticed the x2 cards and the scandal card are green. As soon as all 4 of these green cards have been revealed the game ends immediately without auctions for the fourth card.

Final Scoring

The player (s) with the lowest amount of money are immediately removed from the final scoring and cannot win despite how many ‘good’ status cards they may have. Then the remaining players add up their status cards remembering to apply the green cards effects at the end. The player with the highest score wins. Ties are broken by the winning player with the most money left over.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped you to learn the rules and how High Society plays. Obviously I would always recommend people use the official rule book to learn the rules in depth but this blog should give you a really good flavour of how the game flows.

I really enjoy the game and if you want to find me on twitter to discuss how brilliant High Society is please do @boardgamehappy.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Easy to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Transportable
  • Beautiful artwork

Might not like

  • Elements of luck and push your luck
  • A lighter game
  • The colour of the money