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Subject: another off hand variant on subsidies. rss

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sunday silence
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Some players have remarked that the subsidies paid when a player wins an auction throw off the game somewhat. I forget the entire argument and it's beeh awhile since we played but I had this idea the other day as a way to limit the subsidy:

There is an upper limit to the subsidy paid and that is equal to the SECOND highest winning bid in the game so far. So start the game with an arbitary value, say 5 dollars. The max subsidy is 5. Later someone wins a bid for 6, then someone wins a bad of 8. so the second highest winning bid so far in the game is 6, so the subsidy max is now 6. And so on.

Would this help?
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Graham Walker
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Tough to say. The game needs the subsidy to bring new money to the ecomony and what you are propsosing is trying to temper that a bit. Players might try to game your system as they could try and colude to bid 1 for a shipment they don't want. So if one player bid 10 and the 3 others bid 1, then auctioning player would only get 11, which is not bringing any money to the economy. If the next auction is more lively with closer and higher bids, then that auctioing player would be getting a windfall in comparision.
My expectation is that in your system there would be much wider swings which which I think would unbalance the game in way that might be more abritrary. Likely better that everyone get the same chance for the subsidy benefit.

That being said the incenttive to try and colude and bid 1 might be very interesting bluffing/chicken type mechanic as there would certainly be an incentive to break the colusion in order to bid a bit more to get a cheaper shipment. Especially in a case where the leading player is auctioning and the board wants to stem his lead.

Why don't you give it a try and see what happens? You never really know until it is playtested.
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Martin Boisselle
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You just have to take the subsidies in account when you're bidding.

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Agent J
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If your bid causes another player to receive a massive windfall, then you'll lose. Stop making that bid.

If another player's bid causes another player to receive a massive windfall, then:
1. Make sure you're that player.
2. They'll lose, they should stop making that bid.

Consider that the second highest bid is always a dollar lower than the highest bid, and is placed by the selling player. If he had bid one dollar more he would have bought the goods himself. So, if you base the subsidy on a secondary bid instead of the winning bid, you remove the tool from the winning bidder that allows him to spend less and get more - ie, if the bid was $10 and the subsidy is $1, the opportunity cost for the seller to buy the goods is $21, which is vastly different than the $30 it would have been.
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sunday silence
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gerwalker wrote:
Players might try to game your system as they could try and colude to bid 1 for a shipment they don't want. So if one player bid 10 and the 3 others bid 1, then auctioning player would only get 11, which is not bringing any money to the economy. ....


This is not what I am saying. FIrst of all, you set up an initial subsidy of say 5 dollars, you have to figure out what is a good starting subsidy. So you dont get just 1 dollar, there is a min subsidy set at the start.

Two: You dont get the subsidy for the second highest bid in that auction. The subsidy is raised by the second highest SUCCESSFUL bid in a previous auction. It's not set by bids that dont win. It's set by bids in previous auctions that were successful.

So in your scenario if it was the first bid in the game, the winning bidder would get 15. So the highest sucessful bid (really the only successful bid) so far is 10, there is no second highest. Later in the game, someone wins with a bid of 12. Now the second highest bid is 10, and so the subsidy is now at a max of 10.

Is that clear?
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Agent J
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sundaysilence wrote:
gerwalker wrote:
Players might try to game your system as they could try and colude to bid 1 for a shipment they don't want. So if one player bid 10 and the 3 others bid 1, then auctioning player would only get 11, which is not bringing any money to the economy. ....


This is not what I am saying. FIrst of all, you set up an initial subsidy of say 5 dollars, you have to figure out what is a good starting subsidy. So you dont get just 1 dollar, there is a min subsidy set at the start.

Two: You dont get the subsidy for the second highest bid in that auction. The subsidy is raised by the second highest SUCCESSFUL bid in a previous auction. It's not set by bids that dont win. It's said by bids in previous auctions that were successful.


...? Oh.

Never mind.

There aren't enough words to express...
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sunday silence
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Jythier wrote:
So, if you base the subsidy on a secondary bid instead of the winning bid, you remove the tool from the winning bidder that allows him to spend less and get more - ie, if the bid was $10 and the subsidy is $1, the opportunity cost for the seller to buy the goods is $21, which is vastly different than the $30 it would have been.


I am not saying that. Please read again the original post or my second post. This is not what I am saying.
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Agent J
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sundaysilence wrote:
Jythier wrote:
So, if you base the subsidy on a secondary bid instead of the winning bid, you remove the tool from the winning bidder that allows him to spend less and get more - ie, if the bid was $10 and the subsidy is $1, the opportunity cost for the seller to buy the goods is $21, which is vastly different than the $30 it would have been.


I am not saying that. Please read again the original post or my second post. This is not what I am saying.


I think you would only give the windfall to the second player who ships a big overbidded load, instead of the first and the second player.
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Agent J
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sundaysilence wrote:
Jythier wrote:
So, if you base the subsidy on a secondary bid instead of the winning bid, you remove the tool from the winning bidder that allows him to spend less and get more - ie, if the bid was $10 and the subsidy is $1, the opportunity cost for the seller to buy the goods is $21, which is vastly different than the $30 it would have been.


I am not saying that. Please read again the original post or my second post. This is not what I am saying.


Nope, it's not, I'm sorry I did not read carefully enough.
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Clyde W
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I don't think the issue you're fixing is big enough to fix.
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Agent J
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I disagree that there is an issue to begin with... then again I'm a Container fan.
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sunday silence
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well it's been quite a while since I studied/played this game, so am in no position to comment on the merits of the subsidy debate. All I know is that some people thought it was a significant issue.

So I thought of this idea the other day, and I didnt want to lose it, so I figured I'd post it just in case someone is still interested in that issue, here is something that might fix it.
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Agent J
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sundaysilence wrote:
well it's been quite a while since I studied/played this game, so am in no position to comment on the merits of the subsidy debate. All I know is that some people thought it was a significant issue.

So I thought of this idea the other day, and I didnt want to lose it, so I figured I'd post it just in case someone is still interested in that issue, here is something that might fix it.


Well, thanks for your contribution then!
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Malachi Brown
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So, once two high value shipments have been made, it's time for everyone to start shipping single containers to the island?

edit: nevermind, I see... this is a limit, not a substitute for the value of the bonus. So, amend that to say that there is no reason to ever ship a set of containers that has significantly more value than the second most valuable shipment so far.
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sunday silence
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well then what do you do with it? Just hold onto it? you could create a variant where you have wharehouses on the island that you can store instead of auction. It's been a while since I experimented with this or something like this, maybe I am forgetting something.

it's interesting that in your comments, two of the things you complain about are newbies overbidding and also people shipping cargoes that are net negative for you in the mid to late game. WOuldnt this idea do something to mitigate that?
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Malachi Brown
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sundaysilence wrote:
well then what do you do with it? Just hold onto it? you could create a variant where you have wharehouses on the island that you can store instead of auction. It's been a while since I experimented with this or something like this, maybe I am forgetting something.

I'm just trying to reason through the ramifications of this variant. It's not so much a matter of holding on to something, but just a matter of discouraging shipments that are more valuable/larger than the second most valuable shipment so far. I think that would serve to slow the game down since there is no incentive to ship a full boat (nominal value of, say, $30) when the biggest boats so far have had two containers and have sold for $10 each.

In my thinking, this would logically play out with players shipping boats with one or two containers at a time until two ships have sold at a price that might support the value of three containers in one shipment. Maybe I am still misunderstanding the suggested variant...

sundaysilence wrote:
it's interesting that in your comments, two of the things you complain about are newbies overbidding and also people shipping cargoes that are net negative for you in the mid to late game. WOuldnt this idea do something to mitigate that?

I think you are reading too much into my comments. The over/under bidding comment was made after my first play with 3 other new players. I think the bigger issue is new players underbidding, but sometimes overbidding is an issue as well. This is less of a problem with the subsidy and more a problem of the players either not understanding the impact of the subsidy or not understanding how to evaluate the value of a shipment. The occasional bid for two containers in the early game that comes out as $3, $3, $15 means that someone probably bid much too high. Delaying the large payout in this situation does not fix the problem as much as it just delays it a bit. The problem is with new players getting a handle on evaluating things and understanding the ramifications of the subsidy.

In my opinion, that is a valid criticism of the game, but it is not a flaw that needs to be addressed. It just means that the players need more experience to learn how to balance the game themselves. Putting this additional constraint on the subsidy would, in my opinion, delay the feedback loop and potentialy make the problem worse.

The other issue, that other players are often shipping boats that are net-negative for me in the mid and late game, is a problem with my own play. This variant does not address that at all. A shipment that is bad for me is still bad for me even if the shipper is getting less cash for it. The real solution is to figure out what I need to do in terms of production, warehousing, and/or bidding to induce other players to ship the containers I want instead of the containers I don't want.

Again, this is not, IMHO, a flaw of the game but rather a flaw in the way the player(s), including myself, are playing the game. Either I am not creating the right signals, or the other players haven't learned to read the signals. Tweaking the subsidy payout doesn't fix either of those things.
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Agent J
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Malachi wrote:
sundaysilence wrote:
well then what do you do with it? Just hold onto it? you could create a variant where you have wharehouses on the island that you can store instead of auction. It's been a while since I experimented with this or something like this, maybe I am forgetting something.

I'm just trying to reason through the ramifications of this variant. It's not so much a matter of holding on to something, but just a matter of discouraging shipments that are more valuable/larger than the second most valuable shipment so far. I think that would serve to slow the game down since there is no incentive to ship a full boat (nominal value of, say, $30) when the biggest boats so far have had two containers and have sold for $10 each.

In my thinking, this would logically play out with players shipping boats with one or two containers at a time until two ships have sold at a price that might support the value of three containers in one shipment. Maybe I am still misunderstanding the suggested variant...

sundaysilence wrote:
it's interesting that in your comments, two of the things you complain about are newbies overbidding and also people shipping cargoes that are net negative for you in the mid to late game. WOuldnt this idea do something to mitigate that?

I think you are reading too much into my comments. The over/under bidding comment was made after my first play with 3 other new players. I think the bigger issue is new players underbidding, but sometimes overbidding is an issue as well. This is less of a problem with the subsidy and more a problem of the players either not understanding the impact of the subsidy or not understanding how to evaluate the value of a shipment. The occasional bid for two containers in the early game that comes out as $3, $3, $15 means that someone probably bid much too high. Delaying the large payout in this situation does not fix the problem as much as it just delays it a bit. The problem is with new players getting a handle on evaluating things and understanding the ramifications of the subsidy.

In my opinion, that is a valid criticism of the game, but it is not a flaw that needs to be addressed. It just means that the players need more experience to learn how to balance the game themselves. Putting this additional constraint on the subsidy would, in my opinion, delay the feedback loop and potentialy make the problem worse.

The other issue, that other players are often shipping boats that are net-negative for me in the mid and late game, is a problem with my own play. This variant does not address that at all. A shipment that is bad for me is still bad for me even if the shipper is getting less cash for it. The real solution is to figure out what I need to do in terms of production, warehousing, and/or bidding to induce other players to ship the containers I want instead of the containers I don't want.

Again, this is not, IMHO, a flaw of the game but rather a flaw in the way the player(s), including myself, are playing the game. Either I am not creating the right signals, or the other players haven't learned to read the signals. Tweaking the subsidy payout doesn't fix either of those things.


I have that same 'Nothing they ship is right' problem. I still manage to win - you don't have to buy everything (or even anything) to win, but I do say, if you're going island, go big, because the more you buy, the less you throw away. If you're not going island, don't dabble in it, because you'll end up throwing away a lot bigger portion of the value.

I try to avoid others shipping a terrible load for me by shipping the terrible load myself. I figure, if it's worthless for me, it'll be worth a lot to someone else. Often I'm right.

I think the variant as presented adds more problems than the problems it solves. Having to track prior shipments, slowing the game due to the scalar nature of shipments...

Okay, let's fix that. Make the limit PER CONTAINER. So a single container going for $5 will make a 5-container shipment be able to match $25.

But the problem, the real problem, is that finding the perfect Container load and making sure nobody else is in line to get it is a huge skill and you take away the huge matching bonus you can get for that load, while rewarding whoever gets the second one.
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sunday silence
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Malachi wrote:

I'm just trying to reason through the ramifications of this variant. It's not so much a matter of holding on to something, but just a matter of discouraging shipments that are more valuable/larger than the second most valuable shipment so far. I think that would serve to slow the game down since there is no incentive to ship a full boat (nominal value of, say, $30) when the biggest boats so far have had two containers and have sold for $10 each.

In my thinking, this would logically play out with players shipping boats with one or two containers at a time until two ships have sold at a price that might support the value of three containers in one shipment. Maybe I am still misunderstanding the suggested variant...
.


I dont think you misunderstand at all. I think you are correct that this variant might have the problems you suggest. Although it's been some time since I have played and I cant remember how it would play out exactly. Obviouly it needs some testing.

Also if you dont want to sell it what else can you do with it? you cant just hold it. Or can you?

I think Jay's suggestion above may be better idea. To set the subsidy at a price PER container, not as a limit on the total shipment.

I wasnt quite sure what he was saying, but as I read it, the subsidy would be set at say $5 per good. So a shipment of 4 blues that gets a bid of $25, would get a subsidy of $20. If you sell one blue for $7, the subsidy is only $5 and not some larger value based on the total bid, but rather on a per good basis.

Im just trying to establish a way to cut down the subsidy a little in some reasonable manner. Using previous bids is one way. There are ramifications to be sure, just trying to put ideas out there.
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sunday silence
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we are going with a different version of this. My daughter pointed out that the problem with subsidies (if any) comes more at the end of the game when the auctions get much higher and people reap great windfalls. The variant above limits the subsidy at the early stages when it is actually needed most to get cash in the game; and leaves the end stages alone.

So the suggestion now is to put a maximum or cap on the subsidy as equal to the total number of cubes that have not yet been produced.

I will start a separate thread on this under the title: New Subsidy variant..
 
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