As players in Mercado, you assume the roles of wealthy members of upper-class society. To raise your social status, you must buy luxury goods. So, you shop around the market for expensive baubles, finery, shoes, jewellery, and perfume — anything that will increase your reputation among the other snobs and social climbers.
Several market stands are laid out on the table where you can see valuable products and their prices, which are various combinations of coloured coins. But to complicate matters, some of the coins are counterfeit. Every player has his or her own coin purse with different coloured coins in it. On a turn, a player grabs blindly into the purse, pulls out three coins, and places them on the market stands of his or her choice. If a player has enough coins on a market stand after a few rounds, the player receives the luxury item from this market stand, and the player earns the corresponding reputation points. The used coins are out of the game for now. Opponent players who also placed coins on this market stand put their coins back into their purses.
It is exciting not knowing which coins you will pull out of your purse and hoping for just the right colours to emerge. The players must figure out how to deal with the counterfeit money. Once a few coins are placed, it will be easier to see which items the opponents are going for, and how they plan to achieve standing in high society.