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Lawrence Jung September 17, 2012 Board Game Analysis

Modern Art is a card game designed by Reiner Knizia and published by Hans im Gluck in 1992 originally in German. It involves buying and selling pieces of art works by five fictional artists with the players acting like an art dealer. The five artists are LightMetal, Yoko, Christin P, Carl Gitter and Krytpo. They are fictitious artists for the purpose of this game with their own set of paintings.

The basic game of Modern Art is designed for 3 to 5 players. All players are competing against each other at all times. It follows asymmetrical design since players begin with a different set of cards in their hands with each new play session. There is a social element where each player places a bid for the 'art work' up for auction outloud. The average play time is 50 minutes with 5 minutes for setup.

The main components of this game are the 70 cards that represent paintings from the five artists and 88 tokens, in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 denomination representing thousand dollar units. Tokens are used to purchase the paintings and help the players to increase their art collection. The board is not necessarily needed but it helps the player to keep track of how many paintings have been sold in each season and the value of the artist from the previous seasons.

The board is set at the center of the table that is easily accessible to all players. The board shows the five artists and helps with organizing the results of each season. At the start, players have a starting capital of 100,000 in tokens with a sight screen in front of the player to prevent other players from seeing how much current capital the player has. The 70 art cards are shuffled and dealt to each player. The amount of cards each player receives changes based on the number of players. With 3 players each receives 10 cards, with 4 players each gets 9 cards and with 5 players each gets 8 cards. The rest of the cards are place face down by the board. The deck of 70 cards contains pieces of art from 5 fictions artist however the number of paintings by each artist differs. They are not evenly represented which gives then different odds of recieveing the

requisite number for the season. Before play, the deck is shuffled and the type of artist in the player's hand is randomized that can change the initial state of the game with each new play session.

Modern Art is made up of four rounds. Each round involves the separate sales of cards. At the end of each round, there is time determining the value of each artist. This will help determine how much each player earned from the auction. However, only the top three artists who have sold best have any value at the end. Another way players can earn money is from successfully auctioning off 'art works' from their hands. The player to go first is the youngest player and process of play goes clockwise. There are five different types of auctions. They are Open Auction, Once Around Auction, Sealed Auction, Fixed Price Auction and Double Auction. The type of auction is indicated on the card that is up for auction. During Open Auction, each player shouts out a bid in no particular order, until no player wants to up the last bid. The player with the highest bid wins the 'art work'. It is indicated by a "cross" icon. In Once Around Auction, going in a clockwise motion starting with the player left of the auctioneer, each player may make only one bid. Each successive player either raises the previous bid or passes. The auctioneer gets to bid last on the 'art work'. This auction is indicated by a circular arrow. During Sealed Auction, each player makes a secret bid by hiding their bid in their hands. All of the bids are revealed simultaneously with the highest bid winning the 'art work'. This auction is represented by a hexagon. Fixed Price Auction is when the auctioneer names a price. In a clockwise fashion, each player gets one option to purchase the 'art work' at that price. If no one purchases the 'art work', the auctioneer must. This means that the price the auctioneer sets cannot be more that what he holds. This auction is indicated by a dollar sign. If no players make a bid at an auction, the painting is taken by the auctioneer without payment (unless it is a fixed price Auction). If a player does not have a card in their hand, their turn is simply skipped. The final auction is known as a double auction. During this auction, the auctioneer gets to put out a second painting by the same artist. Both of the paintings are auctioned based on the auction type of the second painting, which cannot also be a double auction. Other players can play a second painting from the same artist if the auctioneer cannot. When this happens, the player becomes the new auctioneer and the money earned from the auction is split evenly between the new auctioneer and the original auctioneer. The end of a season occurs when the fifth painting from the same artist is place for auction or when all the players do not have any paintings to sell (empty hands). The fifth painting is not sold, nor is the fourth painting if it is part of a double auction. The artists who have sold the most paintings during that season, each painting by that artist is worth $30k. The second and third best selling artist is worth $20k

and $10k respectively. However if there is a tie, the tie is broken with the artist closest to the left side of the board is the winner. If the artist also had value from the consecutive previous seasons, their current value is the sum of all of the consecutive seasons. The players must sell all of the paintings they have bought during that seasons even if the paintings do not have any worth. Players keep their current hand and draw new cards. With 3 players, each player draws 6 new cards, with 4 players 4 cards and with 5 players 3 cards. The game ends either with the cards running out or after the fourth season of play. The winner is determined by the player with the most money.

Modern Art is game revolves entirely around the economy of the paintings. The more paintings of a particular artist are sold, the higher the chance that artist paintings are worth more by the end of the game. The game involves multilateral competition with each player trying to earn the most from the paintings they have purchased from the auction. There is potential to have team competition when two players have bought paintings from the same artist. This gives the players an incentive to work together to make sure that their artist is number one by the end of the season. Since the artist retains their value from the previous seasons, players are tempted to continue to buy that particular artist to increase that artist value to make their paintings worth more with each successive season. However there is a trade off. There are 70 cards total with 14 paintings from each artist. Over time as more of a particular artist is sold, the chance of that artist to appear in the players hand decreases. The type of auction also comes into play as each painting is assigned an auction type. This can limit the amount of money each player can spend on a particular painting. Open Auction allows everyone to shout out a bid however it can create an "excited" play environment causing a player to over bid for a particular painting. This can drain the player of their funds and have the artist possibly end up being worthless at the end of the season. Once Around Auction is interesting as only one bid is made.The player to the left of the auctioneer goes first while the auctioneer is the last one to place a bid. This puts the pressure on the player left of the auctioneer to start the bidding. This sort of auction really favors the player to the right of the auctioneer and the auctioneer himself since they are the last players to bid on the paintings. Depending on how high the bid is and the willingness of the players to bid, the last player is guaranteed to win the auction when they place a bid. Sealed Auction is the most dramatic auction type. Players do not know how much the other players have in their coffers and how much each player is willing to bid for the current painting. With this dramatic tension, players sometime over bid because they want the painting and do not want to be over bid by other players. The information that is withheld from the player creates an interesting situation that changes how the player calculates their next move.

Fixed Price Auction is one of the simpler auction types. The painting starting bid is set by the auctioneer. This means the pressure is set on the auctioneer to set the price accordingly. The auctioneer can see if the artist has worth added to them from the previous seasons or to see the ranking of the artist in the current season to set a "correct" price. However the first player to be able to purchase the painting is the player to the left of the auctioneer. They have the first opportunity to purchase the painting before any other players. The auctioneer can take this opportunity to either 'team-up' with the player to his or her left or make it impossible for any player to purchase the painting. Finally the double auction has a dramatic effect on the dynamic of the season as it can determine which artist becomes the most popular within that particular season. The artist only needs to be sold five times before the end of the season and to be considered the most valuable. This auction can tilt one's player's collection to be the most valuable. However this auction allows some teamwork. If the auctioneer does not have a second card to fulfill the auction requirement, another player can contribute a second card and become the new auctioneer. This also means that they get part of the sale. What is interesting is that the game follows the "rules of four." An artist only needs to sell four pieces of art work before the season is over and after four seasons have past, the game is over. Modern Art refers to each round as a season which can actually be spring, summer, fall and winter. Four seasons made up one Earth year. There is some strategy in the amount each player should bid for the artist. Any amount can be used during the first season but once an artist value has been determine, there is a guideline on how much the players should bid on a painting by that particular artist. For example, if Lightmetal was determined to be the most popular artist in the first season, each of his artwork is automatically worth $30k during the second season. It would not be a smart move for the player to bid above $30k for a painting by Lightmetal. If they do, the player will be incurring a loss on the bid. Each player must not forget that the objective of the game is to have the most money once all four seasons have passed. Some player may get wrapped up in working on making one artist the most popular each season and purchase artwork from just that artist. Modern Art does encourage the players to diversify their art collections since there are only 14 pieces of art work from each artist. There is a certain balance that the player must follow in order to maximize their dollars and which purchase they make. The different auction types help balance the game. Fixed auction tends to favor the player left of the auctioneer while Once Around Auction tends to favor the player right of the auctioneer. This ensures that each player as a chance to obtain a painting. The basic boundaries for this game revolves around the 70 "paintings", the rules that define the each auction type and how the value of each artist is calculate. Players are free to collaborate or play competitively. It is interesting that this entire game can be played with just cards and tokens. The board is just use to keep track of the value of each artist after each season. This makes Modern Art highly portable and can

be played in a variety of environments. Currently there is a digital version of this game for sale on the iTunes store for the Apple iPad.