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Subject: What I don't understand about Goa auctions rss

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Andy Latto
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Foxboro
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I understand what I should do as the auctioneer. If the bid is 11, then I can buy the tile for 10 (new version) or take the 11. So I need to decide whether the tile is worth more or less than 21 to me. (Well, I should actually buy even if it's worth somewhat less than 21 if the person with the high bid is my main rival and he will profit if he wins the auction; bidding will hurt me a little, but it may hurt him more).

That's not to say I know what I should bid; I'm not necessarily good at putting an accurate dollar value on a tile. But I have at least a theoretical understanding of the decision I'm trying to make.

Similarly, I understand what I should be trying to do as the player to the right of the auctioneer. Figure out what the smallest bid I can make is where the auctioneer, using the above algorithm, will not choose to outbid me. If it's worth that amount to me, bid that smount; otherwise pass.

But as the player across from the auctioneer that I start to get confused.

If I want the tile, and can bid more than I think the person on my left will think it's worth, the auction makes sense to me; I should try to bid just enough that I don't get outbid.

But in the not-uncommon situation where the tile being auctioned is worth more to the player on my left than to me, I'm confused. Let's suppose that the tile is worth 10 to me, and just over 15 to both the player to my left and the auctioneer.

If this were a "normal" auction game, where the money was paid to the bank, I would bid 14. Then the player to my left would bid 15 and win the auction. But it's correct for me to do my best to "bid him up", so that he has to pay more money, and gains less from the auction.

But in Goa, assuming the auctioneer won't buy the tile, then no money goes out of the game. "Bidding him up" costs the player to my left money, but it makes the exact same amount of money for the auctioneer! So if I bid 3, or pass, the player to my left will bid something like 9 and win the auction. If I bid some amount between 9 and 14, the player to my left will outbid me by one and win the auction. So the player to my left will definitely be getting the tile, and I can decide how much he pays the auctioneer within the range from 9 to 15. Equivalently, he buys the tile for 9, and then gives an amount of money of my choice (in the range from 0 to 6) to the auctioneer.

So how do I decide how much money I want the player to my left to give the auctioneer? Should I be evaluating which of them is ahead, and setting the price that hurts whichever one of them is doing better? Or is there some general principal I'm missing where I would rather the player across from me has money than the player to my left?
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Andrew Miller
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Sounds to me like you understand the auction system pretty well.

--ElSoy
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David Debien
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To be honest, I don't think about it at the level you just went. I generally break out the auction value into #s of actions saved. From there determining a value is easy.

However, your delimna is more based on whether bidding someone up is even worth it since even if you do get a player to bid more (costing them) it benefits the auction holder. So, where is the benefit to you? As you yourself pointed out, if you have a good idea who is winning, then you need to act to hurt that person the most. But what is hurting them? If the auction holder is the perceived in the lead player, is it helping him to drive the auction up? Not if he himself wants to purchase the tile.

Finally, these valuations of yours of 10+ values. In most of my games, such bids will automatically disqualify half the table as not even having the funds to be able to bid that high. This, of course, is where the real rub comes in. Being able to valuate a tile is one thing, actually having the funds is another. It is this currency shortage that makes it even more difficult to accurately value a tile.

It's easy to say the +2 Actions Tile is worth X amount, but in a player eceonomy in which no one even has X amount of cash, it comes down to how little left over cash the high bidder will want to have as running out of funds in Goa can be a real killer.

In the end analysis, you cant value a tile in a vacuum. There is more to consider than the static value of the tile itself. Is it the first tile in the auction order? If so, will the person who values it the most want to bid on any future tiles? When in the auction order will they hold their auction (thus providing a much needed cash infusion)? How much money is in the player economy and who is holding it? giving up a tile you want in order to sweep the rest of the auction round is a very viable strategy...
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Marc Gilutin
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Alhambra
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Sounds like you're pretty close.....for a poker player.

Position!

And, if you're first and it's worth 10 to you, don't give yourself a headache over what the other two will do.
Sounds like, as long as there are two of them, somebody's going to bid more than you want to bid.
So put in a token bid or not. Doesn't sound like it'll matter much.
 
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Game Guy
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I agree that tiles commanding multiple bids of 10+ are rare for the reasons stated. I also agree with Marc about the importance of position.

What I would add is that keeping track of the other player's money supply is paramount. The OP's question/analysis supposes that each player will bid as much for each tile as they think it is worth (subject to the vagueries of opportunity cost). That is fine assumption for an economics class and even for many real-world market questions. However, as David pointed out, bidding in Goa is often limited by players' actual money supply. Where real big wins occur is when someone is auctioning a powerful tile (double extra action, for instance) and other players, especially the auctioneer, are cash strapped. At that point, the goal becomes to buy the tile for (auctioneer's duccets+2). This situation comes up pretty often because cash strapped players will auction powerful tiles they cannot buy just to take in cash. The difference between paying them the minimum and overpaying because you do not know how many duccets they have can be a game breaker. Getting good tiles cheap because other players are poor is one of the best strategies in Goa.
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