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Review: Going, Going, GONE!

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The game box for Going Going Gone

Is there anything more thrilling than an auction? You show up with nothing but a numbered paddle and the determination to win, but you can leave with armfuls of memorabilia that will fill your attic until the next time you clean it–when, hey, the memorabilia might have increased in value!

Enter the world of auctions, auctioneers, and frantic collectors in a game of Going, Going, GONE!

How It Works

Going, Going, GONE! is a real-time auction game for two to six players. Players bid their bucks for cards, which can be cashed in for more bucks. The player with the most bucks after seven rounds wins.

This table shows the value in bucks for sets sold. It’s also on the auctioneer’s paddle, which doubles as the rules. Very handy.

At the start of the game, each player receives 25 cubes in their chosen color. These are “bucks” and represent the money each player has to spend. The five cups are placed in the center of the table, and seven cards are dealt in front of the cups. (Two cups will have two cards in front of them.)

Each round, one player is the auctioneer and receives the paddle. This player will count down from 10 to “Gone” as quickly or slowly as desired, as long as the rhythm is steady. While the auctioneer counts down, players drop their cubes into the cups corresponding to the card lots. When the auctioneer says, “GONE!” and covers the cups with the paddle, the bidding is over. Whoever dropped the most bucks in a cup loses their bucks but wins the card; everyone else gets their bucks back. In between rounds, players may trade in sets of cards for more bucks.

Each card has two features: an item (represented by a picture) and a country (represented by a flag). Sets are cards that match either in item or country. Players get a better return the more items of a set they sell. Once players have traded in their sets, the auctioneer placard passes to the next player, and another round begins.

At the end of seven rounds, players cash in their sets. The player with the most bucks is the winner.

Each card in Going, Going, GONE! features an item and a flag. The background color changes with the country, and the item can be identified by either the picture or the icon.
Each card in Going, Going, GONE! features an item and a flag. The background color changes with the country, and the item can be identified by either the picture or the icon.

Get Up and Go, or Got Up and Went?

Going, Going, GONE! is not your grandmother’s auction game. Or, really, your Euro gamer’s auction game. It is simple, fast, and frenetic. As such, it is less like the Euro auction mainstays we’ve grown accustomed to in the hobby and more of a party game approach to one of my favorite mechanics. And it’s no worse off for that.

Going, Going, GONE! is a super simple concept: bid bucks, collect cards, sell for (hopefully) more bucks. The game is intuitive, or it feels that way because the game’s rules are reinforced through the tactile components. Each player can see at a glance how much money they have to bid with. Unlike chips or paper money, each of which can have variable values, cubes make it obvious for players to tell how much money each person has relative to the others. A big pile of cubes means a big pile of cash. A small pile of cubes means…it might be time to cash in some of those sets. Similarly, a big pile of someone else’s cubes in a cup means they want that card and it will cost you a lot to get it. Empty cups signal bargains.

The pictures on the cards and the flag icons also clearly distinguish sets from each other–it’s easy to find what you’re looking for in the auctions, even from a brief glance. The only unintuitive  portion of the game is the value in bucks that players receive for trading in sets. Thankfully, the auctioneer’s paddle doubles as the rules, and it has a large table of values that’s easy to read no matter where you’re sitting.

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These chits represent 10 bucks a piece. I’ve never had to use them because I don’t think we’re very good at the game.

So the rules are easy–is the game fun? YES. I played this game with family and friends, some who play lots of games and some who don’t, and everyone who has played has had a great time. Part of this is because the individual rounds go very quickly, dictated by the whim of the auctioneer. Going, Going, GONE! relies more on adrenaline than considered bidding. If the auctioneer counts quickly, there may not be time for players to make meticulous calculations on what is the wisest amount to pay for each lot up for auction: the thrill of competition and the high of winning take over. This makes Going, Going, GONE! less like, say, Ra or Medici and more like the auction bidding wars in sitcoms, with players bidding more than they can afford for items they may not care about simply because they get carried away in wanting to win.

The real-time aspect of Going, Going, GONE! works in its favor to keep the game accessible. First, it serves to mimic the auctioneer-led auctions that most people think of when they hear that word without the auctioneer. Yes, in this game one player controls the paddle and the timing, but that player may bid in the auctions as well, keeping all players involved in every round. (Granted, it’s hard to bid and count–harder than you’d think–but it’s hard, anyway, to manage five auctions at once.) Second, it lowers the barrier for entry and makes up for differences in player ability. Space Alert is another real-time game that I enjoy, but it’s very hard to wrap your mind around and especially to teach. There’s certainly a place for it, but I think Going, Going, GONE! has more applications. In fact, while I tried to play the game with various player counts all the way up to its maximum of six, almost every time I played the game I maxed out the table just because others wanted to be involved. When Space Alert hits the table, you might get that response at a convention or a game store, but probably not in the comfort of your home or in the lunch room at work. Going, Going, GONE! doesn’t look like a difficult game to jump into, and the game’s designer has said that was one of his goals: a game that someone can pick up the rules for by just a quick observation.

What comes in the box for Going, Going, GONE! Five cups, 240 cubes, 49 cards, an auction paddle, and some chits. (Unfortunately, the other pictures I took of the cups didn't turn out. I'll upload those later.)
What comes in the box for Going, Going, GONE! Five cups, 240 cubes, 49 cards, an auction paddle, and some chits. (Unfortunately, the other pictures I took of the cups didn’t turn out. I’ll upload those later.)

Of course, just because the game doesn’t look difficult and has simple rules doesn’t mean there aren’t tense decisions to be made. Going, Going, GONE! condenses its auctions into mere seconds. These real-time auctions heighten the importance of decisions: if you only have a few seconds to act, every second counts. While players might make different choices if they had hours or even minutes to consider, because they have such a short amount of time, players will typically make less than optimal plays (although the best players, in my experience, are those who can keep their heads–not an easy thing to achieve in this game). This serves to even the playing field between experienced and inexperienced players. I am usually pretty good at evaluating lots–when I can scratch my chin and think for a second. When I don’t have that time, I lose my head along with everyone else, throwing cubes into whichever cups will take them.

I fear I’ve made it sound here as though there aren’t many decisions, with random cube drops determining winners, but that’s not the case. The truth is, Going, Going, GONE! is very much a game you need to experience for yourself: no written report will do it justice. But back to the decisions. The game’s cards are brilliant, opening the decision space for players. Each card has two sets that it’s a part of–an item and a country. Some set collection games allow players to be nice to each other, avoiding competition for sets they don’t care about or they know another player really wants. Not in this game. Because each card is a part of two discrete sets and sets cannot overlap, there will usually be at least two people interested in a card–and sometimes three or four or all six. This makes the bidding especially exciting, when you have to carefully monitor the cups of the auctions you want to win lest your opponent snatch the card away from you in an eleventh-hour drop. And, as I mentioned, it’s very hard to monitor five cups at once. My sister once won one of the two-lot auctions for a single buck, simply because the rest of us were too busy hovering over the auctions we were desperate to win.

This is a card depicting board games. Nothing wrong with a little cross-promotion, but this item doesn't maintain the cartoony style of the other cards.
This is a card depicting board games. Nothing wrong with a little cross-promotion, but this item doesn’t maintain the cartoony style of the other cards.

The components in Going, Going, GONE! are sparse, but what’s there is very good, for the most part . The cubes have a nice heft to them (the game is manufactured in Germany), and the cups are sturdy (as they need to be in a game where players are moving quickly around the table). The cubes make a gratifying clack when added to the cups, perhaps increasing players’ desire to bid. The cards are excellent quality and shuffle well, and the gray borders aren’t showing wear even after several plays. And the art is cartoony, setting a nice almost Antiques Roadshow vibe to the game. (The only misstep in the art, in my opinion, is the inclusion of board games as one of the items to bid on. This in itself isn’t bad, but the games are all real games in Stronghold’s line. It’s a nice cross-promo for them, but this art isn’t in the same cartoony style, which is a bummer.) The auctioneer’s paddle/rules works well to cover the cups, although in my first game, I ran into the oft-reported problem of the paddle’s handle folding in. This isn’t a big deal at all, but it happened. Also, the 10-buck chits are on the same thin cardboard as the paddle, which is disappointing. (But those I’ve played the game with haven’t been very good bidders–I don’t think we’ve had to use the 10-buck chits anyway.) The box is bigger than it needs to be for the game, and the box, while fitting in with Stronghold’s big-box game line, doesn’t match the size of any other boxes on my shelf, making it a little hard to store.

All told, Going, Going, GONE! is a very fun auction game. It has succeeded in mimicking the real-world paddle auctions most of us have seen at one time or another, but doing so in a way that is conducive to good group play–that is, by making the auctioneer an additional role rather than a solitary one.  Going, Going, GONE! is not designed to replace other, Euroy auction games, but it has taken its place near them on my shelves for when it’s party time.

iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Stronghold Games for providing us with a review copy of Going, Going, GONE!

Summary

  • Rating 8.5
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Summary

Pros

  • Exciting and fun gameplay
  • Eliminates the need for one player to moderate the game; the auctioneer role doesn't preclude players from bidding
  • Cups, cubes, and cards are great quality
  • Very accessible and fun for just about everybody

Cons:

  • Paddle and chits are not as good quality as the other components
  • MSRP seems a bit high for what comes in the box compared to other games that cost the same
8.5 Very Good

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Today in Board Games – Issue #128

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