Reading between the lines, it seems that some of your players have had difficulty grokking some aspects of Corner Lot, especially the value and size of the bonuses, or how the stack will unroll etc. Below is a rough transcript (from memory) of the spiel I use when teaching the game. It has worked well for me. I wrote this originally in reaction to a session report. In case I forgot anything, I’ll update this version as needed.
This is a set collecting game. We’re going to be buying cards in a weird auction and collecting revenues for the cards we get. At the end of the game we’ll get bonuses for having certain patterns of cards. The player with the largest net worth wins.
There are 5 suits of cards with 8 cards per suit. (Lay out 8 cards, one of each value) Property cards have a cost and a revenue. The cost is the baseline of how much they cost to acquire and the revenue is roughly what they’ll pay you every round for owning them. With one exception the cost is always the revenue minus two times five. And the exception is…? (Wait for someone to point at the 40/12) Correct!
The deck will be shuffled and five cards will be laid face up to the side. (Lay 5 cards off to the side) These are out of the game and yes, you get to see them. Then 7 cards are laid in a sorted row as so. (Does this) This is the current market: the cards up for auction first. Then another 7 cards are set out, and make the future market: the cards auctioned in the second round. Later they’ll move down to become the current market, a new set of 7 will be dealt to be the new future market and so forth. As there are 40 cards in the deck, 5 are out, leaving 35, the game has 5 rounds of 7-card lots.
Okay, we’ll also pick a start player. They’ll get the first turn, then the player to their left and so on. Always purely rotational. That never changes.
On your turn you may bid, buy or pass. That’s it, just bid, buy or pass. Bidding! You may bid on any card in the current market that isn’t the cheapest/bottom card and that you haven’t bid on already. Just to keep the bids straight, make your bids by putting your chips on the corner of the card nearest you. So you get this corner, you get this corner you get this corner etc. (points) The minimum bid is the cost of the card plus $2, or $2 more than the highest bid on the card, whichever is more. Instead of bidding you can just buy the cheapest/bottom card for face value: this number on the card. Pay your money, take the card. And of course, you can pass. If you pass you’re not out: you can come back in later.
So why bid ahead and pay that $2 premium? Because the high cards are worth a lot more than their face value and the low cards, are well, not so good. (Quickly throws some chips on the various cards, some cards with a single bid, some two, some three, usually the penultimate card with none) Just pretend these chips are the bids by various players. When someone buys the bottom card we then look at the next card up. If it has just a single bid on it, then that player gets the card instantly for his bid. (Shows this) Then we do it again. Ahh, the next card has two bids! Those two players then go clockwise bidding for the card until only one person is left and they win the card for their bid and the losers get their money back. The minimum raise is $2. This next card has 3 bids on it: same thing happens, round robin etc, And this keeps on going, the stack keeps unrolling until there are either no cards left or you get to a card with no bids on it. Then it stops. Often all 7 cards in the market will go all at once! The key thing is that by bidding ahead you are securing the right to bid later. If you didn’t bid ahead on a card, you’ll have no chance to bid on it when the stack unrolls if someone else has bid on it. You are bidding for the right to bid!
Now all this unrolling and bidding and cards going places etc happens during the turn of the player who bought the bottom card. Once it is all done, the next player gets his turn.
Now of course with this card here (points to the penultimate card with no bids), say you (points) have the next turn, you can just buy that card for face value, you can bid on this last card if you haven’t already, or you can pass. It might be a good deal. Or not.
Okay, once all the cards in the current market are gone we get revenues! You get paid for every card you have. But you don’t get the full revenue! If the wild card for that suit hasn’t been bought, then every card in that suit pays $2 less. (I’ll talk about the wild cards and how to get them later) So this 5/3 card only pays $1 and this 25/7 only pays $5 and so forth. The key thing here is that cards pay back at roughly 22%. So you don’t get your money back quickly!
So we all get our money, a new future market is dealt and we do it all again. We do that 5 times and the game is over and we figure out how much I won by. Or not. Again. Bahh!
At the end of the game you get bonuses for the cards you have. There are four bonuses. For 3 or more cards in the same suit you get the number of cards you have of that suit times the highest revenue card you have in that suit, Then, 3 or more cards in the same suit in adjacent numerical order (and 12 comes after 9 as there is no 10 or 11) pays the number of cards in the run times the highest revenue card (so 4/5/6 or 7/8/9/12 for instance), 3 or more cards of the same value pays the number of cards time the revenue, and 3 or more cards of adjacent values but with each card of a different suit and each suit only occurring once pays the number of cards times the highest revenue. Sort of a “rainbow” run. It is always 3 or more cards and always times the highest revenue card in the set.
Each card can pay all four bonuses, but it can’t pay any bonus more than once. So 5/6/7 in suit will pay two bonuses, one for the suit and one for the run! But you you can’t take four 7s and say you have lots of sets of triple 7s as you mix and match them, and you can’t take two 5s, a single 6 and two 7s and say you have two rainbow runs.
So these bonuses are where the real money is in the game. And what you really want is for all of your cards to pay out multiple bonuses in different directions. Something like a 5/6/7 in 3 suits will pay every which way, for the suits, the suited run, the triples, and the three rainbows, see? See why the big cards are so much more valuable? (Get an answer) There’s lots of money there.
So we do all that and the player with the most money wins! It takes about 45 minutes.
Oh, the wilds! Okay, remember the bid, buy or pass business? You can just buy a wild card. It costs $20. It is just like buying the bottom card but it doesn’t start the stack unrolling. When you buy a wildcard you have to instantly say what it is. It is a 7! This is a 12! Whatever, just one of the card values: 3/4/5/6/7/8/9/12. But! But! When it comes to revenue time, the revenue for the wild card goes straight to the card and just piles up there. You don’t get it until the end of the game. Also, you have to pay the bank $5 for each wild card you own. You do get your revenue income first, so you can pay from that, but if you still can’t pay the $5, you have to put the wild card back and you lose all the money that piled up on it!
Now for the bonuses the wilds are just like any other card. They have a suit and they have a value. You can have the wild be a duplicate of another card you have, so you could have a blue 40/12 and have a wild blue 40/12 too. That’s fine.
And of course, once someone buys a wild, all the cards in that suit will now pay their full revenue.
There’s also a trick in passing. If everyone passes in a round, $5 is put on the bottom card. It is now $5 cheaper! However the first person to pass doesn’t get first dibs at the card at the new price. The turn marker moves forward and the next player does. Of course if everyone one passes again, it gets $5 cheaper again and the turn marker moves forward etc. If it ever gets to $free the next player has to take the card. Such a problem!
So we do all this: bidding, buying cards, moving cards about, vast amounts of money leap out of the bank and go to me, little small bits go to you guys, all that stuff. We do 5 rounds, then we pay out the bonuses, count up the money, and see that I won yet again. Hey gee, I’m the banker too!