Bazaar is a reprint of the classic game by prolific American game designer Sid Sackson in which players are vying to be the most efficient and lucrative buyer, using gemstones to purchase wares from the local bazaar. At the start of the game, a set of ten equations set the exchange rate for the duration of the game. An example might be that a green gemstone can be exchanged for two red and one white. During the game, players can use these rates to exchange gemstones they acquire, working from either side of the equation. The goal is to be able to purchase varying priced ware cards from one of the stalls in the bazaar, the value of which is determined by how many gemstones the player has left over after the purchase. The fewer the stones, the more valuable the ware is for the player. After two of the five stalls have been emptied of wares, the bazaar closes and the player who purchased the most valuable wares is the winner.
Bazaar's true strength is the depth of play opened up by a very simple rules set and it is this imbalance that gives Bazaar its high Return on Investment. Players either roll a die, taking the corresponding colored gemstone or they make an exchange. They can then acquire a wares card and their turn is done.With just a few simple instructions, students are able to fall into the rhythm of the game, using algebraic equations as the language of trade to find the best ways to maximize their interactions.
While multiple copies can easily facilitate several small groups, they can also be combined to make a large group game as the simplicity of play leaves little downtime for the other players. So, by simply doubling the number of stalls created during setup and needed to be emptied to end the game, a teacher can use two copies to accommodate up to 12 students. For three copies, simply triple that number. The game's scalability extends beyond the ability to add players. The length of play can also be adjusted by adjusting the number of stalls that need to be emptied for the game to end. That condition can even be removed and students can simply play for a set amount of time, with the winner being the student who has the most points at the end of that time.
The game can also serve as a problem prompt for students where they are presented with a set of exchange equations, gemstones and available wares and are tasked to work out the best possible scoring possibility, sharing their problem solving approach. This is another example of how analog games can be used to create intentional instructional moments as the teacher has full control of what the possible exchanges are, making it as easy or challenging as they wish.