51 Mechanics: Betting/Wagering

BoardGameGeek (BGG) is a singular repository of gaming information, knowledge and wisdom that has been serving the modern board game hobby since 2000. I consult it regularly and have used its database to manage my own game collection. I also used it when I was writing my 2016 book on gamified instruction, particularly with regard to the game mechanics that BGG identified and organized content into. While there are more than 85,000 games, even now, there are just 51 mechanics. Since every mechanic offers something to the teacher who wants to use games in the classroom, I'm going to use this section of Game Level Learn and my own contributions to it to assess games from each of these 51 mechanics. Next up?

The betting/wagering mechanic has similarities to the auction mechanic and to the (to be discussed) commodity speculation mechanic. In this mechanic, you are obligated to bet money (generally in-game fake money, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be real money in certain games or certain contexts) on an assortment of outcomes. There’s an obvious overlap here between racing games (you’ll see a few of them below), too. From a teaching and learning perspective, what a great way to teach students about the concept of value. Not just the value of money, but proportional value. When a player makes a decision about betting and how much to bet, s/he will come quickly to learn how strong or weak their position was and be able to adjust it going forward. These games are often simple to learn and difficult to master, which makes them oftentimes great gateway games.

Fauna (BGG: 565)

Fauna masquerades as a light animal-based trivia game (is the animal native to New Guinea or Canada? Is it bigger than a breadbox or smaller than a Matchbox car…) but it is in fact and in gameplay a competitive betting game that rewards one’s knowledge of the animal kingdom in the same proportion as it does one’s ability to master the board and make good betting decisions. Great for kids and adults.

Kobayakawa (BGG: 2164)

One of the great Oink Games titles from Japan, Kobayakawa is accessible even to the most novice of gamers. The idea is that you’re trying to decide if the card you have in your hand is going to have the most value at the end of the betting round. The trick? If you’ve got the weakest card at the end of betting, you get to add the kobayakawa (the card face up in the center) to your card. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but it’s a great, great game at learning value.

Long Shot (BGG: 1147)

Long Shot is one of two horse racing games in this list. In Long Shot, you are buying horses and betting on them to win, place or show. Some horses move more regularly than others based on die rolls, others have the potential for more dramatic spurts of movement. Its all in how you bet, however, that will make the difference between winners and losers. Is this the most exciting game for 8? It scales beautifully, and I think, yes!

Winner’s Circle (BGG: 617)

The other horse racing game on this list. Winner’s Circle is quite astute at getting the player to make judgments about value. The rate at which horses move in this game is very thoughtfully baked into the betting process. Tightly balanced but with the right balance of luck to make it genuinely interesting. Worth a premium to have in your collection.

Wits and Wagers (BGG: 469)

One of the classic party games, in W+W you get a chance to bet on answers to trivia questions based on how close you think those answers are to the correct answer. A fantastic take on trivia games, which aren’t for everybody, and fun for everyone.

Photo from: [https://boardgamegeek.com/image/1170562/winners-circle?size=large]