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Subject: Setting a Reserve price at the auction rss

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sunday silence
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As we understand the rules; after the auction is over the shipper/seller has the option to reject all bids and pay the highest bid himself and take delivery.

This seems a bit unrealistic as to how most auctions work. In reality, the person selling has to set a minimum bid thus telling all the bidders up front what that amount is. we come up with a new rule:

"The seller declares a minimum or "reserve" amount prior to the auction. If the bidders "pass" or dont bid the minimum the seller takes delivery by paying the RESERVE PRICE."


Our rationale for this is two fold:

1. it seems more realistic and fair to buyers if you know he wont take less than $10 then you know not to bid that. Its fair to both everyone both the seller and the bidders as everyone knows this up front. The rule as written, the bidders can be in for a rude shock when they dont realize what the value is to the seller and their bids are rejected. THis amounts to a sort of a waste of time and maybe a bit unfair, if the seller rejects bids without letting them know his reserve.

2. It prevents the seller from reaping a sort of windfall in the event the bids come in too low. Say the goods are worth 20 to him, but high bid is 5, he pays 5 and gets a 15 profit (perhaps, of course the various Island scoring rules always create some uncertainty in all this).

But now with the new rule, he has to state upfront just exactly what he will pay to take delivery. If he sets it too low, say at 7, he may wind up letting it go at 7 and not getting enough; but if he sets it too high say 18, then he has to part with 18 in cash, and only get a profit of 2.

So he has to set a reasonable price, where he can still reap a nice profit, say 12. Now the bidders know this and can bid much more logically.

The rule thus forces the seller to set a reasonable, realistic price on the value of those goods to him. this seems to me like an interesting choice for the seller. THe bidders know this upfront and they can make a more knowledgeable bid.

So far we have played two games with four players. We hadnt played in years and the first game did not seem very close; the second game was quite close with scores of 123-110-100-68. Not sure what happened to that last person.


The rule seems to create very interesting decisions for the seller and I really like it. What do you all think?
 
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Ed James
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I think you just broke Container.

A primary focus of the game is working out how each player values each individual container, and thus how they may price an entire shipment. You can then build shipments for specific players, hoping to get a big price at auction. Having the auctioneer set a reserve price telegraphs to the other players far too much information.

The sealed bid auction is vital and that includes sealing the auctioneer's valuation by not exposing it at all if the winning bid is satisfactory.
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Agent J
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It also removes a tactical decision to buy at a higher price from certain players and lower prices for other players depending on current supposed scores. I admit that might be a very rare thing to happen, though. I don't see a problem with the rules as written, but no problem with the setting of a reserve either, if that makes you happier.
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Eric Clason
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In my experience, the shipper very seldom ends up buying the shipment for himself. The 'get twice the amount of the highest bid' is usually too good a deal to pass up. I think the rule allowing the shipper to buy the shipment is mostly for the case when there is only 1 other player with money to bid, who without the rule, could get the shipment real cheap. In this case (only 1 bidder), the OP's suggested rule change would shift the burden of deciding the price from the bidder to the shipper.

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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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ejclason wrote:
In my experience, the shipper very seldom ends up buying the shipment for himself. The 'get twice the amount of the highest bid' is usually too good a deal to pass up. I think the rule allowing the shipper to buy the shipment is mostly for the case when there is only 1 other player with money to bid, who without the rule, could get the shipment real cheap. In this case (only 1 bidder), the OP's suggested rule change would shift the burden of deciding the price from the bidder to the shipper.



It's also possible to put together a shipment that absolutely nobody else wants but that is highly valuable to yourself. I once got to get my own shipment for a dollar or two and it scored me a good 20 points on my island.

Still rare.
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Rami Finkelshtein
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Honestly this seems like a horrible idea.

Remember that the bids are worth a different amount for the person who begins the auction and the people who bid on it.

Let us take a simple example a 4 player game. The current player just started an auction for something that is worth 15 on his island.
1) We use your variant rules and the player sets the minimum bid at 10 and the highest bid is 9 which he automatically rejects and pays 10. The player has now made a profit of 5 points (got 15 points and lost 10 money). Even more interesting for someone to bid 10 or more the goods have to be worth AT LEAST 20 points since they know they are giving you 20 money for it.

2) We use the standard rules and the same situation happens. the maximum bid is 9 and this is worth 15 points he has two options:
a) Pay 9 himself and now make a profit of 6 points
b) Decide what they believe the individual who bid 9 values the goods at. Subtract that value from 18 to get the point differential that they have now gained on this player (this may be negative).

The biggest issue with option 1) is that if done continuously it will draw all the money out of the game while option 2) often leads to situations of people overbidding for players who they know are behind and underbidding on players who they think are ahead.

Also option (1) seems to just give the auctioning player less of an advantage of picking up their goods for cheaper (sometimes you send a 4 ship container and get in bids of 4 at which point...sure you will take them all for 4) setting minimum bids take that opportunity away.

This game is mainly about trying to understand what everyone values all the goods at, considering their current economy and monetary situation. Making it a more restricitive market than it already is both lowers the amount of interesting decisions and options players have.

I don't feel that this is right for what I want to get out of the game. Then again if this variant works for you then by all means play it and have fun. I will never tell someone who is having fun that they are doing it wrong.
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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I do agree that had the situation allowed it, it would have been better to ship a valuable shipment for someone else, but the situation called for that specific shipment due to the containers available, etc.
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John Hathorn
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I don't like the rule and wouldn't play Container with it. However, if the OP likes it, more power to him.
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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JohnnyOffice wrote:
I don't like the rule and wouldn't play Container with it. However, if the OP likes it, more power to him.


Yeah, I really like the shipper having the final say instead of only the first say. I think it's quite backwards in that the way you've modified the rule, in a single-bidder auction you've just handed the advantage to the buyer instead of leaving it with the seller.
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Tim Earl
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I'm also baffled as to why anyone would find this change necessary.

In most cases the seller is going to want the extra money he gets by selling it to someone else, but the rules as written allow him to say "Hey, that's not a lot of money so I'm going to buy it" without showing his hand by disclosing that amount prior to other players bidding.

I just don't see a need to change this and would definitely not play with this variant.
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Abdiel Xordium
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The variant seems based on the notion that valuations are unknowable and essentially random. It fundamentally undermines the container market that is the core of the game.

Quote:
1. it seems more realistic and fair to buyers if you know he wont take less than $10 then you know not to bid that. Its fair to both everyone both the seller and the bidders as everyone knows this up front. The rule as written, the bidders can be in for a rude shock when they dont realize what the value is to the seller and their bids are rejected. THis amounts to a sort of a waste of time and maybe a bit unfair, if the seller rejects bids without letting them know his reserve.

The game sacrifices realism in some ways in order to reflect it in others. For example, the game doesn't allow players to control their process "from stem to stern". You can't buy containers from your own factories and warehouses. Realistically a company would do everything it could to control the entire process. But allowing that in Container would ruin the market that is the game.

Similarly, your variant would undermine the market. In real life, financial institutions don't want to be surprised. Regulations are implemented to prevent unpleasant surprises and make profits predictable. The game isn't about instituting regulation to eliminate volatility. It's about using players' past actions to accurately project container values.

If the bidders don't realize the value of a set of containers at auction they have played poorly! Going forward, they need to use the information they've gleaned from their poor perfromance at the auction to bid better next time. This is what the game is about.

Quote:
2. It prevents the seller from reaping a sort of windfall in the event the bids come in too low. Say the goods are worth 20 to him, but high bid is 5, he pays 5 and gets a 15 profit (perhaps, of course the various Island scoring rules always create some uncertainty in all this).

Again, this represents poor play on the part of the bidders or expert play on the part of the seller. Everyone has secret goals. But players are supposed to use information like what factories players build, what goods players put in their warehouses, what containers players put on their ships, and players' bidding history to determine how everyone values containers.

Your scenario represents a situation where the seller is auctioning containers that only they can use. This is something a good player will understand going into the auction. Forcing the seller to tip his hand by setting a reserve would ruin all the effort they put into setting up the auction in the first place.

The correct response from the bidders is to recognize what's going on and try to force the seller to pay as much as possible.
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sunday silence
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I appreciate all your comments; I have not had time to go through them in depth.

One should keep in mind that the basic mechanics in Container are so solid that you can twist the rules a long way without really breaking the game. The basic mechanics of the game remain very impressive to us.

Again its really cool to see so many comments, I dont really mind negative comments that have some explanation to them. I will go through them soon. Thanks again.


EDIT: I am not sure if this was made clear: If any bid is OVER the reserve price the bidder wins; the seller cannot take the goods if the bid is over the reserve.

Maybe that's clear to you or maybe its not. If you keep this in mind, do you still have the same answer? cause under the rules as written the seller can take back the goods no matter what the bid, in this variant, he has a set amount. If the goods are worth 20 and seller says reserve at 10; a bidder can bid 11 and knows he will get the goods if he wins.
 
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
badge
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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sundaysilence wrote:
I appreciate all your comments; I have not had time to go through them in depth.

One should keep in mind that the basic mechanics in Container are so solid that you can twist the rules a long way without really breaking the game. The basic mechanics of the game remain very impressive to us.

Again its really cool to see so many comments, I dont really mind negative comments that have some explanation to them. I will go through them soon. Thanks again.


TLDR:

We don't care to try it but it's cool if you like it.
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sunday silence
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Its been over two years since we last played, and we are just getting back into it. I cant say we are very sharp at this point.

We have lots of ideas on the game, as you may have seen from previous variants Ive posted. it is a great game and a great system.

No one seems to think this rule is breaking the game, although one person had not played the original rules. so it seems normal to them I guess.
 
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Tim Earl
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sundaysilence wrote:
EDIT: I am not sure if this was made clear: If any bid is OVER the reserve price the bidder wins; the seller cannot take the goods if the bid is over the reserve.

Maybe that's clear to you or maybe its not. If you keep this in mind, do you still have the same answer? cause under the rules as written the seller can take back the goods no matter what the bid, in this variant, he has a set amount. If the goods are worth 20 and seller says reserve at 10; a bidder can bid 11 and knows he will get the goods if he wins.


Crystal clear, and I hate the idea. You're tying the hands of the seller.
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sunday silence
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If the biggest objection then is that the seller is giving away too much information what if the seller simply writes down his reserve amount in secret before the auction? So basically he becomes one of the secret bidders on the goods?

That would have to overcome the objection on the information transfer then yes? So what criticism is left?
 
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J C Lawrence
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The price I sell containers at also depends on whom I sell them to.
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Tim Earl
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clearclaw wrote:
The price I sell containers at also depends on whom I sell them to.


Exactly. Maybe I want to keep someone from getting that last color, or I think he's trying to stock up on his cheaper good so he doesn't throw away something more valuable. Those things matter.
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Cris Whetstone
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sundaysilence wrote:
If the biggest objection then is that the seller is giving away too much information what if the seller simply writes down his reserve amount in secret before the auction? So basically he becomes one of the secret bidders on the goods?

That would have to overcome the objection on the information transfer then yes? So what criticism is left?


You are trying to fix something that isn't broken. You've picked out something from a small sample size of games play that you think should be different. But you're ignoring that the game was designed in a specific way for specific reasons. You're trying to play a game that this one is not.

Play it more times with the original rules so that you have that perspective with which to look at it more clearly in it's original form. The auctions are run the way they are due to how the game was designed for the reasons that are put forth in the thread above. You seem to be trying very hard to ignore those reasons in order to promote your view about something very specific.

Please go back and play the game several times as designed so that you can at least understand why the auctions are the way they are. You may still want to change it but I would be fairly certain you are missing a fantastic game if you do.
 
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