Going, going, gone!
A remake of the fairly uninteresting Vermeer and coming before The Great Art Race, this is an interesting and unusual bit of strategy/merchant-style gaming that is worth a look if you are after something different. It has a bit of a board game feel to it so if you fancy a change from Monopoly, this might be what you're looking for. A merchant commissions his nephews to look for his stolen art collection. Whoever is the one bringing back the most pictures will become his heir, so the goal of the game is to get as much art home before the old codger pops his clogs. You'll start in 1918 and finish when the uncle dies, and plays out in series of rounds. There are several activities you can take part in, notably auctions, but in order to get money to buy the pictures, you can open up plantations to grow coffee, cocoa, tea, tobacco ..., which you then ship back and sell it on. You can also gamble on horse races, but you have to be well organised, as you need to be on-site when the auctions happen. You can also educate yourself so you can tell real art from fakes, while the option to hire thieves to steal pictures from your rivals adds to the fun. Vermeer really is quite a little find. It's far from perfect, but thanks to its mix of unusual gameplay mechanics and the originality of its setting, it largely manages to overcome its bigger flaws. It scores a few points too on its presentation, and overall this makes for a good way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon.