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Sweeten the Deal – a Negotiation Games Menu for ITTD

Sweeten the Deal – a Negotiation Games Menu for ITTD

Perhaps my personal favorite genre is the negotiation game. It’s all about wheeling and dealing as you try to put your own fortune ahead of your opponents’. But you can’t do it just by lucky rolls and smooth strategy. You need to convince your adversaries to give you what you want. All while they do the same to you. It makes for a grand time and exciting experiences with every play. If you’re interested in this genre, here’s a sample menu for your International Tabletop Day celebration.

Appetizer – Bohnanza

bohnanzaThe players take on the role of bean farmers in order to sell the greatest harvest. Yes, bean farming. In Bohnanza, you can plant everything from black-eyed beans and green beans to wax beans and stink beans. The more you plant, the greater the reward when you eventually harvest them.

The trick, though, is that you can only plant two kinds of beans at a time. If you have to plant a third type, then you are forced to uproot one of your earlier fields. Plus, you have to play cards from your hand in order. In order to avoid uprooting plants, players are constantly negotiating and trading with one another. Sometimes you really want to get another bean so you can plant it for more points. Other times, you just need to get rid of something so you won’t have to plant it. Every turn is a flurry of activity as deals are negotiated, usurped, and eventually struck.

Bohnanza is on the lighter side and is a great way to whet the pallet. It also does something that all good negotiation games do: it encourages you to trade. Sometimes a good game can provide a less than spectacular session because a player is uncomfortable putting their suggestions out there. This title mitigates that because if you don’t say something, you’ll end up uprooting your crops early.

Main Course – Genoa

Genoa boardWith the appetizer out of the way, it’s time to delve into something a little more meaty. And that’s Genoa (or, in older editions, Traders of Genoa). Here, everything is negotiable. As the players secure contracts to grab goods or special actions, they can trade anything and everything to do so. That includes not only money and the goods themselves, but also the contracts and even ownership of various buildings.

Each turn, one player controls the merchant. He rolls the dice to place the merchant and then decides where it will go and which actions will be taken. The other players then offer that player coins, goods, or empty promises to ensure the merchant moves where they want it. The merchant player is king and his justice is swift. But then, on the next turn, someone else becomes the merchant. So if you abuse your power when you have it, you’ll be left in the cold on every other turn.

In this way, Genoa gives everyone control. Each player has the chance to be in control and can use that power however they see fit. No one is entirely without recourse.  Plus, because the merchant player makes all the decisions, it encourages the other players to negotiate with him or her. They’ll need to bargain in order to get what they want. Otherwise, they may never make it to that pub to get the items they need.

Dessert – Intrigue

intrigue-300x168With the night winding down, it’s time to bring out Intrigue. This game puts negotiation on the razor’s edge. It isn’t just about striking a deal, because the deals that are made are often broken in spectacular fashion. Instead, it’s about reading the incentives of the other players and making your offers accordingly.

Each player is a philanthropist looking to hire various scholars to work in his manor. You also have a slate of scholars you’d like to send to the other player’s manors where they will work and then send home their income. When two scholars arrive for the same job, though, the manor-holder decides who stays and who is banished. Banishment pays very little.

What’s more, when two scholars are sent to the same place, all deals are conducted in turn order. So if I have two doctors vying for a position, I’ll first negotiation with one player. He pays me 20 to keep his scholar. I accept the money. Then I negotiate with the second player. He pays me 30 to keep his scholar and kick out the first guy’s. I accept the money. Only once I have the money in hand do I decide who to kick out. As you can see, betrayal and mistrust rule the day in this game. That’s why its best to save Intrigue for dessert. You may hate your friends by the end of it.

Do you have any negotiation games planned for Tabletop Day?  Tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Rio Grande Games, Filosofia, and Mayfair Games

Featured Image Credit: Filosofia

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