Mow Money by Mayday Games [Game Review]
Mow Money from Mayfair Games
There is a lot of competition when starting a business, and you’re starting a landscaping business. You have your lawnmower and ambition. With those two items you can compete to get contracts in the neighborhoods of the city, Walkerville, to earn money and build your prestige. As you earn, you have to decide if you or going to buy better equipment or leverage your money so you can bid on more landscaping jobs. Then, when one neighborhood has no more contracts to be filled, the company that has earned the most prestige will be awarded the contract to take care of the public buildings and parks.
Mow Money, from Mayday Games, pits you as a startup business owner against others in the city to become the premier landscaper. Four friends and I opened up the game and played. The only information we had beforehand was the information on the outside of the box.
We had a good understanding of the game from the first pass through the rule book. We talked over the points anyone found confusing, set up, and played. About half way through the first game we were no longer using anything to remind us about game order, or what could and could not be done. We played a second game with no difficulties.
Each player starts with a basic lawnmower and the ability to bid on jobs. You can bid for a mowing contract, which earns you money and prestige, or pick up an odd job for money. Then you have to decide on how you are going to invest your money. You can buy large mowers or the ability to bid for jobs. You have to maintain a balance. The larger mowers are needed to buy the bid cards, which allow for easier bidding of better contracts and higher paying odd jobs, but you have to have money to buy the bid cards.
There are the same number of neighborhoods as there are players (except for the one-player version which has two). Each round, every neighborhood has one contract available. The first round the contracts are all the same, and the easiest to obtain. The rest of the contracts come up on a random basis. The number varies, but the game ends when one neighborhood no longer has any contracts for the players to bid for.
Bidding is concealed. Each player can bid for up to two jobs, two contracts or one contract and an odd-job. The lowest bid gains the job, gets paid, and earns prestige for contracts. There is a way you can also alter your bid by staking previously earned reputation. The concealed bids allow for bluffing (extra cards are in your hand just for that purpose) so others don’t know if you are bidding on a particular contract or an odd job.
In our two games we developed different strategies. It didn’t seem like there was a one-way strategy to win, which we liked. The first game was one with a strategy of focusing on earning money early through odd jobs to go after the larger contracts. This same strategy didn’t work in the second game. The second game was won with a more balanced approach between odd jobs and contracts.
The recommended is ages 10+. The theme of mowing lawns is one many younger players will probably relate to, even if they are not yet competing for contracts. There are many other games that use a bidding system, so younger players who have had some experience with that should not have a problem.
Mow Money was designed by Matt Saunders for 1–6 players and should last about 45 minutes. We played with 5 and were right around that time frame for both games. The first game took a little longer and the second shorter. This was partly from learning how to play, but also how the bidding went. With 5 players there were 6 contracts available from each neighborhood. In the first game we went 8 rounds while in the second we finished with the sixth round.
Our discussion after playing was positive. We all agreed we would play Mow Money again. For this game we had five players, and five positive responses.