Mow Money! Mow Your Way to Success
Designer: Matt Saunders
Artist: Curt Rivadeneira
Publisher: Mayday Games
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 1–6
Playing Time: 45–60 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Bidding, Hand Management / Building a Lawn Care Business
Spring has sprung, the grass has risen.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com (hyperlink)
Mow Money! has you building a landscaping business in the town of Walkerville. It is a place with a lot of lawns and there are other landscapers competing for the contracts. Each of you are working hard to earn the money and gain the prestige to get the best contracts available.
You make silent bids for the contracts. And after earning money you gain prestige to help in getting more contracts and you earn the money that allows you to buy better equipment. If you don’t get the contract, there are other odd jobs around town you can pick up to earn a few extra bucks that will keep you in the competition.
Remember, it’s your reputation that will earn you the coveted city contract.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Each player starts with a basic mower and the ability to upgrade as the game progresses. They also have a set of bid cards and bid tokens (identifying the neighborhoods or odd jobs).
The central play area has one Neighborhood per player (except for solo play) which has a deck of Contract Cards. Depending on the number of players the Contract Card deck is built with a preset number of contracts worth different prestige. The deck is shuffled and divided for the neighborhoods. There are starting cards placed face up on each of the Neighborhood decks. Shuffle the different bid cards (Basic, Medium, and Advanced) and place each face down.
Hand over the starting player token and begin.
Mow Money! is played over several rounds that have four phases. When all the rounds are over, the player with the most reputation earns the city contract.
Phase 1: Invest
This is where you buy better lawnmowers and bid cards. The bid cards are important as the game advances because the contract requires bids being made from different levels. You have to balance your investments to ensure you can grow your company.
Phase 2: Bid
Each player now makes a secret bid on one or two of the available contracts or on doing odd jobs. When placing your bid make sure to look at the contract card and what is required to bid on it. The cards will list what level of bid card is needed and how many. Some cards also have stars and if the contract calls for starred cards, you must have them. There will be times when you will not be able to bid on the contract you would really like because you don’t have the right cards for it.
You also have bluff cards you can add to your bid to disguise how many cards you’re playing. Later in the game, you can also add Contracts to your bid. This allows you to make lower bids, but you discard the contract after bidding it. Using them is a one-time event and the reputation is lost for the final scoring.
To bid on an Odd Job you must have three Bid Cards with the same odd job icon. Bidding this way on an Odd Job pays a bonus.
Phase 3: Resolve
Everyone turns over their Bid Tokens. After resolving all the Odd Jobs you settle the contract bids by going through the neighborhoods. When there is only one player bidding on a contract, that player wins at the bid they made. When there is more than one player bidding on the same contract, the person that has the lowest bid wins. In case of a tie, you see who staked the most Reputation Points. If the tie continues, the winner is the person closest to the starting player in order of play.
As the winning bids are determined, the player winning the bid discards any non-bluff cards. The losing bids return the cards to their hand. The winning player receives payment in the amount of their bid and adds the Contract Card to their hand. This also the same for players who won an Odd job during bidding, cards are discarded.
Any player who did not win a Contract Card or complete an Odd Job may choose to use three cards to perform an Odd Job for the listed payment without the bonus.
Phase 4: Maintenance
If any Neighborhood has no Contract Cards remaining, the game ends and you count up prestige.
Take all Contract Cards that were not bid on and place them face down at the bottom of their Neighborhood stack. Turn up the top card on the stack to see what contracts are coming up
Pass the Starting Player Marker and play the next round.
Theme, Graphic Design, and Layout
The artwork on the cards was clear and allowed the cards to be easily read. Because icons and numbers are used there is little confusion about what is represented. This was the case for even one of our younger players.
I have played games designed around competing businesses, this was the first I played for building a lawn care company. The theme works nicely for all ages of players because it was something everyone was able to relate with. Even if they were young enough to have not mowed a lawn for one reason or another, they knew what it was about.
The secret on only two of the possible available jobs provided a fun strategic measure of not only determining what you would be bidding on, but what others might go after. Determining how low you wanted to bid, depending on the cards you have. Eventually everyone had to use their reputation for either lowering their price, or even being able to bid.
We played a five-player game, and everyone enjoyed Mow Money! We even played several games in a row because one person didn’t want to stop until they won. No one complained and it made for a great time.
I recommend Mow Money! to people who like bidding games where you are regularly depleting your resources as the game moves to the end.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.blogspot.com.