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Kevin Gordon
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I'm interested in getting opinions on blind bidding in board games. Specifically, bidding for player order. As an example, Scoville uses a blind bidding mechanism: each player secretly decides how much money to bid. Whoever bids the most gets to choose their place in the player order for next round. Next highest bid chooses second and so on.

What are your opinions on games that use this kind of bidding?
 
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Bruce Gazdecki
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I think it works better when everyone playing is on the relatively same level experience wise with the game.

Sometimes if you have people who have played a game play against people who haven't, it can be a bit lopsided as those who know have a distinct advantage in the bidding phase, by both knowing when it is better to go 1st/last, and how much to bid in a given situation.
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J C Lawrence
United States
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Blind bidding is usually an instant death knell for a game. There are however a few exceptions that provide enough information for players to make substantial and informed decisions in their blind bids (eg Container, Fresh Fish, Wings of War: Famous Aces...).
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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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I tend to agree with JC. It's a surprisingly difficult mechanism to get working correctly, and many designers make an absolute dog's dinner out of it. The commonest error is forgetting that players need to know quite a lot in order to get the I think that you think that I think...-cycle up and running, so there's a subtle balance to be struck between what players actually know, can know through application of logic, and have to infer. Just slapping on a blind bid on an existing set of mechanisms because it looks cool is under almost all circumstances a pointless and detrimental idea.

And of the various things you can bid for, bidding blindly for turn order is really one of the worst ideas possible. There is so much riding on turn order that players might as well roll a die for all the good their reverse psychological reasoning has. I honestly don't understand why a designer would choose such a path in the first place.

In the rare cases where the correct balance is attained, I find it a fun mechanism to play and exploit.
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Richard Irving
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The problem with blind bidding is the "win by 1" problem.

Two things are bad in a blind bidding game:
- Not winning the bid.
- Winning, but paying far more than the others or the actual value.

The player who wins close bids will win the game over those that win by a large amounts. The players who LOSE close bids are really in trouble.

Take an item where one player thinks it is worth $50 and everyone else thinks it is worth $40. In blind bidding, the guy will bid $50, In other bidding methods (open bids, around the table, etc.), he would pay $41 ($1 more where the others drop out.)

OTOH, if you were short by $1, in blind bidding you cannot react, whereas bidding systems, you can.

Both of these effects increase the chaos in the game.
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Andrew Walters
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Most of the time I hate blind bidding, but sometimes it is awesome. Modern Art, Revolution!, a few other times it's great. But more often it's no fun.
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Derek H
South Africa
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rri1 wrote:
The player who wins close bids will win the game over those that win by a large amounts. The players who LOSE close bids are really in trouble.

Not in Modern Art; only the winner pays, and the ones who lose are not in trouble in at all as they keep their bid money and now have available for the next bid (and possibly more than the player who just bid successfully). But the reason I enjoy this game is that it mixes in all different kinds of bidding systems and not just blind bidding.
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JP Ginley
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The term 'Blind Bidding' can be confusing

I would consider that bidding for something on the internet where both the identity and financial resources of competing bidders is UNKNOWN to be 'Blind' bidding.

Also, bidding for something UNKNOWN e.g unknown contents of a garage sale I would consider to be 'Blind' bidding

I would not consider that bidding in a table game where we know exactly what we are bidding for, where we know the competing bidders and where we can well estimate competing resources as 'Blind' bidding and instead describe it as 'Sealed' or 'Silent' bidding

In a game using silent sealed-bid mechanism I think 4 or 5 players bidding are required for it to work successfully.


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Jonas Thyssen
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I've only tried it in Dungeon Petz, and when I read the rules i actually thought I'd hate it. But it's surprisingly frictionsless. And you get to waste resources because there is something on the board you really don't want your opponents to take. Which gives the worker placement done afterwards work even better because sometimes you commit too many imps to the central board and get problems later in the roud because you wanted to do too many things.

But in the end it's your own undoing since you chose to send out the workers in pairs even when you didn't need it.
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Lluluien
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rri1 wrote:
The problem with blind bidding is the "win by 1" problem.

Two things are bad in a blind bidding game:
- Not winning the bid.
- Winning, but paying far more than the others or the actual value.

The player who wins close bids will win the game over those that win by a large amounts. The players who LOSE close bids are really in trouble.

Take an item where one player thinks it is worth $50 and everyone else thinks it is worth $40. In blind bidding, the guy will bid $50, In other bidding methods (open bids, around the table, etc.), he would pay $41 ($1 more where the others drop out.)

OTOH, if you were short by $1, in blind bidding you cannot react, whereas bidding systems, you can.

Both of these effects increase the chaos in the game.


I agree with your observations here, but I would argue that use of the blind bidding mechanic is precisely to create this kind of environment that is different in the 50 vs 40 bid case than the 41 vs 40 case. It's essentially asking the players to pay insurance against their bidding decision. The player in the prior case decided to pay an additional $9 to ensure that his winning bid would win, even though he might have said the winning bid would be $41 if blind intellectual analysis was all that factored into the decision.

I think this is a good mechanic when used correctly, because chaos added to a board game by the players is better than chaos added to a board game by randomization mechanics like card draws and dice rolls.

I'm admittedly biased though; I've never lost a game of Citadels - that's how much I like these kinds of "I think that you think that he thinks that I think that you think..." games.
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Christian B.
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Hate it... There's nothing worse than bidding 12 and one other guy bids 13, or bidding 12 and all the other guys bid 2 or something like that...
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Lluluien
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ChrB wrote:
Hate it... There's nothing worse than bidding 12 and one other guy bids 13, or bidding 12 and all the other guys bid 2 or something like that...


I think the reason that it feels like "there's nothing worse" is because in both of these cases, the guy bidding 12 got outplayed. I would say that the purpose of this mechanic is precisely to produce exactly these scenarios.

That being said, it's totally valid to hate the mechanic as a matter of personal taste.
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Carl Qwerty
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There's blind bidding for turn order in RISK 2210 A.D. I kind of like it, because you can guess who wants to start the next round the most.
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Isaac Shalev
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rri1 wrote:
The problem with blind bidding is the "win by 1" problem.

Two things are bad in a blind bidding game:
- Not winning the bid.
- Winning, but paying far more than the others or the actual value.

The player who wins close bids will win the game over those that win by a large amounts. The players who LOSE close bids are really in trouble.

Take an item where one player thinks it is worth $50 and everyone else thinks it is worth $40. In blind bidding, the guy will bid $50, In other bidding methods (open bids, around the table, etc.), he would pay $41 ($1 more where the others drop out.)

OTOH, if you were short by $1, in blind bidding you cannot react, whereas bidding systems, you can.

Both of these effects increase the chaos in the game.


I couldn't disagree more!

Any bidding game is about properly valuing the lots for bid. A blind bidding system puts the onus on the player to value things properly, rather than being bailed out by the other players and getting a cheap buy b/c they didn't value the lot properly.

Blind bidding does quite a few things very well:
- It's fast
- It's decisive, with tiebreakers usually baked into the bid decision
- It's dramatic and sometimes surprising
- It tends to reduce the overall chaos in the game, since auction winners don't get to walk away with much excess value (the $41 vs $50 situation).

What some people don't like about it is that there's a dominant strategy in blind bidding (bid just under the actual value of the lot) but figuring out valuation is difficult. When you're wrong about an auction game it can make you feel stupid. Other allocation methods can feel more like a decision and less like a math test.
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Kevin Gordon
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A lot of good responses here. Thanks everyone. The reason for the inquiry is because I've had a bid for player order included in my game design since very early in its development. I've only recently discovered that many people strongly dislike that specific mechanism in other games so I was curious to hear what people thought.

As for my game design, even though I very much enjoy that part of the game, I'm going to try out a different way of determining player order that does not involve a bid. I think I might miss that aspect, but I suspect others will appreciate the change.
 
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Metäl Warrior
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ChrB wrote:
Hate it... There's nothing worse than bidding 12 and one other guy bids 13, or bidding 12 and all the other guys bid 2 or something like that...


There's a solution to that: Vickrey auction, as the bidders are encouraged to bid the true value of the item they're bidding on. eBay uses a system which is closely related to this.

In such an auction the first case would go to the one bidding 13, but he'd pay 12. In the second case, the one who bid 12 would win, but pay only 2.
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Lluluien
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Jaffeli wrote:
ChrB wrote:
Hate it... There's nothing worse than bidding 12 and one other guy bids 13, or bidding 12 and all the other guys bid 2 or something like that...


There's a solution to that: Vickrey auction, as the bidders are encouraged to bid the true value of the item they're bidding on. eBay uses a system which is closely related to this.

In such an auction the first case would go to the one bidding 13, but he'd pay 12. In the second case, the one who bid 12 would win, but pay only 2.


Without commenting on whether or not that's better (which is probably a function of where it shows up anyway), I'm glad you posted this. I haven't heard of this before and it's an interesting dynamic vs normal vs blind auctions. Thanks for the FYI
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J C Lawrence
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Much of the question is what the function of the auction is? Are you looking for accurate price-finding/setting? (eg Medici) Or is it price-enforcement? Or are you looking for players to pass information via their bidding patterns (eg Container, Modern Art) Or is the auction to force strong structural commitments? (eg Age of Steam, Wabash Cannonball, Phoenicia). Highly chaotic distribution of positional commitments/advantages? (eg most 18xx) Etc.
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Jeffrey Brewer
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As you can tell by all the other posts, it's not a very popular mechanic.

My opinion is that blind bidding a few times a game can be an interesting mechanic (best example is determining turn order for the first round), but routine blind bidding during the game is no fun. It shouldn't be one of the main mechanics during the game.

Hope that helps!
 
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JP Ginley
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A 'BLIND! auction description implies or suggests that auction bids are clueless and/or wild guess. Nothing could be further from the truth in real life sealed bid auctions.There is little in the business trading world that can exceed the suspense or drama of sealed-bid auctions where participants are well informed on what they are bidding for...when they know exactly what they are bidding for, who they are bidding against and have good estimate of competitors resources.

It is not a very popular mechanic in board games because it needs four or five contestants to make it really interesting.Also,I cannot think of any
boardgame where it has been successfully implemented as the main
mechanic.That does not mean it can't be done.

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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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Fresh Fish.
 
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JP Ginley
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..or fresh bait ?
 
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Eric Brosius
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Often, blind bidding does not integrate well with games that involve a lot of long-term planning. A difference of $1 or $2 in your bid can make a huge difference in the course of the game, and this element of chaos doesn't fit in a long-term planning game.

However, I enjoy it in some games where it fits well. The most notable is Bakschisch, a game that is about nothing but blind bidding. The blind bidding can't ruin the rest of the game, because there's no "rest of the game". I appear to be the foremost fan of this game on BGG, and I've had good success teaching it to others (only a few of them didn't like the blind bidding.)
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Andy Latto
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Jaffeli wrote:
Vickrey auction, as the bidders are encouraged to bid the true value of the item they're bidding on. eBay uses a system which is closely related to this.

In such an auction the first case would go to the one bidding 13, but he'd pay 12. In the second case, the one who bid 12 would win, but pay only 2.

This is an auction type that makes a lot of sense in a lot of real-world situations, and I'd think it would be the right choice in some games. Does anyone know of any games that use the Vickrey auction (also known as second-price auction) mechanic?
 
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