Full disclosure: A review copy of The Lady and the Tiger was provided by Jellybean Games.
A tiger, escaped from the zoo,
proposed to the Duchess of Kew.
To her great surprise
she got lost in his eyes
and found herself saying “I do”.
(Peter C. Hayward)
So, uh, you may have guessed, but it’s The Lady and the Tiger Week here on What’s Eric Playing?, an experiment that has never been done before on this site and will likely never be done again due to to the overwhelming time commitment required to manage this. That said, let’s have fun in the moment, shall we?
In Favor, you are challenged with trying to impress a Duchess with your superior auction-winning skills by collecting sets of cards that match the identity you have concealed. I suppose someone’s gotta be into that, so, good for you, friend. Will your bid for their attention be successful? Or will you fall out of favor?
The setup for Favor is pretty straightforward, as is the case with the entire Lady and the Tiger set. For this game, you’ll shuffle the Door cards:
Give each player one, face-down. Now, give each player 5 gems:
The color doesn’t particularly matter; the rest are unused for this game. Finally, shuffle the Clue cards:
Place the deck face-down in the center of the play area and flip one card face-up. You should be ready to start!
Favor is a pretty light bidding game played over a few rounds, where you try to obtain lots of cards that match either one or both traits of your identity (the Door card you have face-down). Each round (“Day” in the game’s parlance) starts with the initial setup and ends when the Final Auction occurs (which is when the deck is depleted). Between those points, players may take their turn. Each player takes their turn starting with the first player, and they have two options:
- Add to the lot: Flip the top card of the deck face-up and add it to the face-up cards in the center.
- Call the auction: Starting with the player on your left, all players have the opportunity to bid once on the current set of cards in the center. You may bid as many gems as you have, but you must exceed the previous high bid in order to place a bid. Once all players have had a chance to bid, the high bid is paid to the player who called the auction. If the player who called the auction is the high bid, their bid is split evenly between the other players. Any leftover gems are removed from the game for this round. If no player bids (all players pass) on a lot, the lot is discarded from the game for this round.
After each auction, begin a new lot by flipping cards from the top of the deck corresponding to which round you’re in:
- Round 1: 1 card
- Round 2: 2 cards
- Round 3: 3 cards
Once the last card is drawn, the Final Auction begins on the next player’s turn. Unlike a normal auction, nobody gets the Final Auction’s gems from the high bid; they’re just discarded out until the next round.
After the Final Auction has concluded, you score! Cards are worth points for how well they match (or don’t match) your hidden identity (the Door card you were given earlier):
- Exact match (both traits match): +3 points
- One trait matches: +1 point
- No traits match: -2 points!
After that, check to see which player has the most gems. That player gains an additional 3 points.
If you find that you are about to lose points and would prefer not to lose points, hopefully you obtained one of the Wild cards:
These cards may be paired with another card you have to change one of its traits — the Lady / Tiger allows you to count a Lady as a Tiger (or vice-versa) and the Red / Blue allows you to count a Red as a Blue (or vice-versa). That’s handy!
At the conclusion of the round, keep track of all players’ scores using a pad of paper or your phone or something, and then start the next day by flipping over the correct number of cards for the round you’re in:
- Round 2: 2 cards
- Round 3: 3 cards
The player who won the previous round’s Final Auction starts the next round. If you’ve completed Round 3, the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
The major difference at two players is that the player you outbid will always get your gems, making it a bit more luck-of-the-draw. It’s slightly interesting if you have exact opposite identities, since you will specifically want or be able to use the other player’s card. At higher player counts you’ll also see more gems get pulled out of circulation by incomplete splits. I slightly prefer this game at those higher player counts, but it’s an interesting game for two if you like very light bidding games. Plus, this is one of the few games in the set that isn’t limited to only one player count!
- Don’t forget to take cards. Having the most gems is worth 3 points, sure, but that’s only three points if you don’t get any cards. I see people who get hardly any cards in a round all the time and it’s confusing.
- Don’t go broke. Running out of gems means you can’t participate in an auction until it’s your turn to call and your opponent might get the cards for a song if you can’t outbid them (or at least threaten to do so). All of those things aren’t great options, sure, but giving your opponent cheap cards is especially bad, as that then prevents you building up a treasury and regaining all of the money you blew on auctions.
- You really want to be the one calling the auctions. You get to go last and have the most flexibility, and you get the money. Those are all good things to do, so I generally try to call auctions.
- Figuring out what your opponent(s) want is a good idea. If you can figure out their identities, you can bid on lots they want and slightly drive up the price. Just be careful you don’t take a card that will earn you negative points! Don’t bid like crazy; just enough.
- Treat the Wild cards like they’re valuable. In the right hands, they’re worth a lot of points, so, make sure that you’re not just letting those go for a song. You can essentially turn two +1 cards into two +3 cards, which is a pretty significant swing. That said, they may be worthless to you if you don’t have any cards worth changing, but that’s no reason not to drive up the price.
- I don’t really see much of a point to adding cards to the lot unless you have the most gems. Unless you can definitively price out every other player, you benefit somewhat from lots getting auctioned off at smaller amounts so that you don’t get unlucky and have to take cards that are bad for you. Though, by the same argument, you might get lucky and flip a lot that’s very good for you. You just need to be able to outbid your opponents.
- At two players, you generally want to take every card if you have your opponent’s opposite identity. Even if you take -2s, that’s stopping them from getting a +3 and two-player game scores are essentially zero-sum. If you two have adjacent identities (both ladies or both red or something), then this doesn’t make as much sense — taking a -2 to prevent a +1 is very bad math, strictly speaking. Spend some time figuring out what your opponent wants, first (as previously recommended).
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Plays very quickly. Again, over and done with in 15, max, usually. Great filler, but then again every game in the set is.
- Beautiful art. I’m going to keep mentioning this because it keeps being true, but this game is just suuuuper nice, artistically. The colors are bold, the style is varied but still consistent, the whole thing is just super interesting to look at. Super glad I have it.
- Pretty light. There’s not much to learn outside of how auctioning works and the single-bid auction makes it so that it doesn’t go on for too long. Plus there are interesting considerations that are made in a single-bid auction versus a regular auction.
- Highly transportable. The box is so small and there are so many games in it! And the games are all pretty different and unique! That’s nice, though that’s not a Favor-specific thing. It’s just nice in general.
- The expanded player count is nice, too. I’ll be more appreciative of Traps for this reason, but this is a nice game to have in the collection as well since it plays the more standard 2 – 4, rather than just 2.
- May be too much luck for some people. You can have lots that are consistently bad for you by pairing up the card you need with its exact inverse, you can run out of gems right before all three of the cards you need come up on the lot, all sorts of things can happen. It’s a very light auction game with random flips, so, that will be the case, sometimes.
- The lack of any scoring apparatus is kind of frustrating. Having to keep track of your score through your phone or on a pad of paper kind of takes you out of the game, a bit. I get that that’s been a standard for ages with euchre, Uno, and other games of that sort, but even a small dry-erase board and a market would have been handy, though I imagine that sort of thing drives up the cost. It’s a very very minor frustration.
- Not really a whole lot you can do if a player gets a ton of points one round. Like if a player gets 15+ points in a round, unless they get crushed in subsequent rounds, they’re just kinda gonna run away with it. Generally the runaway leader is bad, but in shorter games like this it’s not the absolute worst thing in the world. You just need to be mindful of what lots people are getting and prevent them from getting the wild cards as well as good lots.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Yeah, overall, Favor is nice! It’s definitely a very quick auction game (not nearly as deep, complex, or … long as Modern Art, for instance), so you’ve gotta stay on your feet so no auctions get away from you. They shouldn’t, since you have to bid or pass, but you’ve gotta be mindful of how much money you’ve got left so you don’t get left out in the cold. Sure, the winner may get away from you sometimes, but there’s no reason why you can’t just play another round (or you can steal Oink Games‘ general three-round scoring rules and give the top scorer +2, the second-highest scorer +1, and the lowest scorer -1 rather than carrying the scores from round to round). Regardless, it’s another fun game in The Lady and the Tiger, and if you think you might be feeling an auction game but you’d like something on the lighter side, Favor may be doing you a … service? I feel like there’s another word that works there.