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Subject: Games that include bidding as a mechanic? rss

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Johan Dahlberg
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I'm toying with an idea for a card game that involves "bidding" on certain cards that score your points. You want to save your best "bid" cards (numbered 1-5) for the more valuable cards you bid on, while also not bidding too low so you're outbid by other players.

I'm struggling with balancing this mechanic. I recall a board game where you bid on art, and if I remember correctly that game kind of sucked because people bid one at a time and your bid was dependent on previous players bids, but you never knew what the next player would bid. It wasn't that much fun because it was too dependent on the following payers. You could sort of "guess" that you would win or lose.

My current solution/idea to make this an actual strategic and balanced game is this:

1. Players place secret bids by placing any number of cards from their hand face down in front of them, all at once. These cards can be numbers (so if you play two 3's and a 2, your total bid "value" is 8) and special cards that - once revealed later on - have certain effects.

2. Players then take turn revealing one of their cards. The key here is the special cards which change things like the point value of the card currently being bid on (so a "bad" card might suddenly be worth more, and your opponents have under-bid), take away bid cards from other players, etc.

3. Once all players have revealed all their played bid cards, everyone gets to play ONE more numbered bid card from their hand. Whoever now has the best score, wins.

Does this sound like a good idea, or is it just a more complex version of the same sucky game? I want to make it strategic and ensure that players can actually affect the outcome, while not feeling like it will all be ruined anyway by whoever plays next.

Also, does anyone know any games that include bidding as a mechanic, which I can study?
 
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Oliver Kiley
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The older game you are thinking of is Modern Art.

I'd suggest you take a look at Lords of Scotland as an example of a game that is very close to what you are describing. In brief, there are face up scoring cards, one per player, in the middle of the board for the round. In each round, players are playing cards from there hand face down in front of them as part of their bid. Cards can also be played face-up to trigger a special ability, subject to some restrictions, and which have various effects on the outcome of the round. At the end of a certain number of hands, the round is over and the player with the highest bid (strength in cards) gets first pick of the scoring cards. Then a new round starts.

Anyway, Lords of Scotland is a pretty excellent game, worth checking out if interested in pursuing your idea.
 
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Russ Williams
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Mezmorki wrote:
The older game you are thinking of is Modern Art.

Maybe, but his description doesn't really sound like Modern Art to me:
OP wrote:
I recall a board game where you bid on art, and if I remember correctly that game kind of sucked because people bid one at a time and your bid was dependent on previous players bids, but you never knew what the next player would bid. It wasn't that much fun because it was too dependent on the following payers. You could sort of "guess" that you would win or lose.


Modern Art has several different kinds of auctions (including free-for-all where everyone bids simultaneously/chaotically in realtime), while the game he's talking about apparently only has clockwise sequential bidding auctions. Plus that mystery game sucked, and Modern Art doesn't suck.

(BTW: I'm kind of confused how the unnamed game was simultaneously such that "you never knew what the next player would bid" and "you could sort of guess that you would win or lose". That seems contradictory... In any case, clockwise sequential bidding auctions in general are not unfun or predictable - many excellent fun games use that basic mechanism!)
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Johan Dahlberg
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Checked out both of those! Thanks :D

The older game I'm thinking of might have been Modern Art. I played it like once, many years ago. All I remember is that I didn't like it, my description might be off as I don't recall it very well.

Lord of Scotland sounds a lot like what I'm trying to achieve! I'll have a closer look at it.
 
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Matt Lee
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russ wrote:

Modern Art has several different kinds of auctions (including free-for-all where everyone bids simultaneously/chaotically in realtime), while the game he's talking about apparently only has clockwise sequential bidding auctions. Plus that mystery game sucked, and Modern Art doesn't suck.


Well, Modern Art is the only one of the Knizia auction trilogy I don't like at all (I like Medici a lot and am a huge fan of Ra), but I can see that the overall impression from a single play is that auctions are once around bids, and the game itself seems to lack something outside of that.

I think also, the fact that valuation of the different sets isn't something you can see well on that first play, you need a couple of additional plays to be able to get a better sense of how much things should be worth. This is true of most of the games that heavily rely on an auction mechanic, though for me, this game suffered more from that feeling than usual.
 
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Russ Williams
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klz_fc wrote:
I think also, the fact that valuation of the different sets isn't something you can see well on that first play, you need a couple of additional plays to be able to get a better sense of how much things should be worth. This is true of most of the games that heavily rely on an auction mechanic, though for me, this game suffered more from that feeling than usual.


Certainly, but I've never really understood why that (frequent) observation of auction games is (apparently) a Bad Thing for many people. The first time I play a game, I don't expect to know already how to play it well. I expect to be unsure about strategy and tactics, and to play lamely at first with newbie blunders, and to enjoy learning and discovering through the experience of playing multiple times.
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Scott Ruby
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FOR SALE is a card game that people bid on houses with money, and then use those houses to bid on $ amounts. It is really a fun and simple game.
 
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Johan Dahlberg
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That's a similar memory I have of it. I get that games like these can have that feel in general, but with Modern Art I had it a lot more. To be fair, yes, I didn't give it a fair chance, but on the other hand, with other games I've instantly loved them.
 
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Matt Lee
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russ wrote:
klz_fc wrote:
I think also, the fact that valuation of the different sets isn't something you can see well on that first play, you need a couple of additional plays to be able to get a better sense of how much things should be worth. This is true of most of the games that heavily rely on an auction mechanic, though for me, this game suffered more from that feeling than usual.


Certainly, but I've never really understood why that (frequent) observation of auction games is (apparently) a Bad Thing for many people. The first time I play a game, I don't expect to know already how to play it well. I expect to be unsure about strategy and tactics, and to play lamely at first with newbie blunders, and to enjoy learning and discovering through the experience of playing multiple times.


It depends on the game. For me, in my first game, MA auctions felt extremely arbitrary to the point I didn't find it deep, just random and uninteresting, much of the time. I respect it more now after much time has passed and experienced how other games handle the system, but that first experience left me unimpressed.

I suspect the open endedness of the valuation of the art pieces makes it less easily grasped at first. Compare that with Chinatown (with known set values of the stores) for example. Bohnanza also works since the currency is a little more abstract yet the value is more easily compared.
 
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JP Ginley
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suggest that you consider having sequential (turn-based) auctions in
rotation on each players turn but simultaneous silent (sealed) bids by
all players in each auction. Highest and lowest bids can then also be
rewarded or penalised. Use of dry erase markers on drywipe bid card
surface would probably be required.
 
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Ryan Keane
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Ivanhoe and Condottiere are pretty similar to what you are thinking of. There's no first phase where you have to place a subset of your hand down as your bid, but you take turns adding cards from your hand to your current bid. Some cards are simple #'s, while others are special cards that change the goal of the auction or affect cards already out in your and/or other players' bids.
 
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Johan Dahlberg
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I'm happy to say that the idea that started this thread is now becoming reality! I wrote on some old business cards and made frinds and family test play. My gosh the laughs we've had!

I made professional looking cards and in a week or so I'll have them from thegamecrafter.com

The game turned out quite strategic and deeper than I remember Modern Art to be, and the situations that arise cause laugh-out-loud moments

Stay tuned for pictures.
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