To Market, To Market: A Review of Hafid’s Grand Bazaar

Hafid’s Grand Bazaar

Bid, trade, and sell in Hafid’s Grand Bazaar, a game about becoming the most successful merchant in the land.

Hafid’s Grand Bazaar is the latest offering from Rather Dashing Games and Kalmbach Publishing, following their recent successes with This Belongs in a Museum and Element, both of which were reviewed in recent issues of Casual Game Insider. Does Hafid live up to its older siblings? Let's dive in to find out.

Gameplay

Players are each given six bidding cubes and ten merchant cards. Merchant cards come in five categories: food, livestock, raw materials, textiles, and finished goods. In each category there are five different kinds of goods. Each merchant card shows you not only how much it is worth, but also how many copies of that good are in the deck. The back of your merchant cards shows what category it is, so other players have that information, but they do not know what kind of good it is.

A board is placed on the table that represents the bazaar. There are six different merchant stands, and two merchant cards are dealt facedown to each one. Someone is chosen to be start player, and the game begins.

Players take turns using their cubes to bid on locations on the board. You can’t bid on more than one location at a time, but you can place multiple bidding cubes on a single location. You can bid on caravans, influence, and customers.

Caravans — There are six caravans. The player with the most cubes on each caravan wins it. If you bid on the first one, you are trying to win the right to select goods first before other players. If you bid on the second, you are trying to win the right to go second, and so on. When selecting the goods, you take the merchant cards at any of the six merchant stands. If you bid on a caravan and lose, you instead draw a card from the draw pile.

Influence — The influence spots include the Informer, which allows its winner to look at cards at the merchant stands, and draw a card from the draw deck or the discard pile. The Negotiator spot allows for trading. Any player with a cube on there can trade with any other player; they can even help broker deals between players who are not on the Negotiator spot. The Free Trader lets you spend a cube to draw a card from the draw deck when a player uses a caravan.

Customers — Finally, there are three seller locations for selling to customers. These allow you to turn in one of each category of goods to earn an extra five gold for them, turn in a full set of unique goods in a single category to earn thirty gold for them, or sell a set of two or more of a single good type to earn double their value.

After the bidding phase, players with caravans take their cards. Then, if any there are cubes on the Negotiator location, trading occurs, and finally players move on to the selling. If you do not sell to anyone, you can instead discard five to ten merchant cards for their base value. If you have more than ten cards at the end of the round, you must discard down.

Merchant stalls are then refilled, each player is dealt five merchant cards, the start player moves to the next person, and a new round begins. After each player has been start player once, the game ends and the player with the most money is the winner.

Hafid’s Grand Bazaar Components

Review

Hafid’s Brand Bazaar blends together several different elements that complement each other nicely. You have bidding, negotiation, and set collection. The bidding is perfectly condensed to make it accessible for new players but still strategically satisfying. And of course, you never have quite enough bidding cubes to do everything you want, so you have to prioritize.

The negotiation is also particularly interesting, as it all occurs in a set time and only if at least one player has a cube on the Negotiator location. Being able to broker deals between other players almost feels like a game in itself and it leads to some quite interesting situations and some imaginative deals.

Game time can vary quite a lot, since you play one round for each player. With a full game of six players, it can take up to ninety minutes which is going to outwear its welcome for some people. But for three to four players, you will have a great game.

Hafid’s Brand Bazaar feels very much like a casual version of much more complex games. There is still plenty of strategy and tough decisions to be made, but the rules are easy to learn and straightforward. Everything seems streamlined, and the result is a fun, clever game that can be enjoyed by multiple types of game groups.

Pros: Nice blend of mechanics, the negotiation phase is handled well

Cons: Game time varies wildly based on player count

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.