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Subject: Don’t call it an Auction. I hate Auctions. rss

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Tomello Visello
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I admit that I have a prejudice and I admit that it harmed my experience; it delayed my exposure to this game.

My bias is that I (am not good at) and/or (dislike) the standard Auction concept. For me it is an immediate turn-off in a game explanation. If the word “auction” comes up regarding the description, then most times I will quickly stop listening or stop reading. So while I knew Ra existed and I understood that it was popular, I could never investigate it for more than 30 seconds before I ran away.

My willfully chosen status of remaining unenlightened took a sudden redirection when I mingled in a group of unfamiliar gaming people with whom I was unable to explain my feelings swiftly enough and in a suitably polite manner, thereby rendering me helpless decline an invitation to play. I was trapped by etiquette to comply with their hospitality.

And I did come out the better for it. But it’s not an auction.


Why is this NOT AN AUCTION? Compare it against a real-world situation like an estate auction, or something similar. There you bid money, pay money when you win, and then you collect the object.

--a lesser reason is that this is single bid instead of continuous upmanship. That’s how government contracts are bid and no one calls that an auction.

--If you think sun tokens are money in Ra then notice how you bid, you pay, you collect, AND you get CHANGE back in the form of the previous bidder’s token. Even more outlandishly, the previous bidder’s token (your Change) can EXCEED your Bid. How can that be an auction?

--There are no secrets. You have complete information about what your opponents can bid. And you have complete information about what benefit the offered tiles might represent to them.

--The set of tiles offered may contain items that are harmful to you. Imagine the auctioneer saying, “Today I am offering for bid this wonderful 18th century wooden medicine cabinet, complete with a vintage bottle of castor oil. And by the way, the winning bidder will have to drink the castor oil right here while we all watch.” Or maybe, “I have three Ming Dynasty Chinese vases and a hammer. Winning bidder must destroy two vases in his collection with the hammer.” Would you bid at an auction like that?


So what else can it be?

--Ok, so it’s not quite Rock-Paper-Scissors. But you do sort of just choose your best available discrete value and see how it competes

--It is Budgeting or Financial Management. You carefully bid relative to what tokens you have in your own bank account

--It is Bargain Hunting. You bid relative to what your opponents have; specifically what they have LEFT.

--It is a two directional game of Chicken. One direction is a limit to how long a round will last, and there are TWO clocks running to determine its end. In another direction, think about how many tiles you dare to expose before you trigger a particular auction yourself. For the latter, you can win with a low numbered token if the offered set is too small for the others to bother with.

--Its kind of like pulling rank in the military. If I’m a sergeant in a room full of generals, I keep my mouth shut. If I’m in a room full of privates, I can yell all I want. Highest numbered tokens are in power … until they leave the room.

--It is a war of attrition. Eventually, even low sun tokens can win as the highest remaining.

--It is a proper military strategy battle. You choose your moment to attack, when you have the best position. It is not always the largest army that wins.

-- It is Guerilla Warfare (now called Asymmetrical Warfare). You can manipulate the system to trap your opponents within the restrictions. It is possible to benefit yourself by winning with a low bid. You can even taunt your opponent by declaring a small bid that makes him to commit stronger forces and thereby deplete his supply of ammunition (tokens). You do him harm.


Yes, some kind of bidding does take place, but it is in a strictly controlled manner. There is a fixed maximum for the number of times you can win and there are specifically limited discrete values you are allowed to use. What else can you call it? Right now I just call it a competition.

But it’s not an auction.

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Jorge Montero
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Hogwash.

There's plenty of auction systems out there that don't require upmanship at all. For example, dutch auctions. They are still used today, for example, during Google's IPO.

Since when does getting a sun with a higher number make this a non auction? You get something now in exchange of something of higher value later. Any purchase with speculative motivations, whether at an auction or not, is all about this mechanic.

All an auction requires is that the goods go to the highest bidder/s. No more, no less.

You probably hate characteristics of your typical open auction, but hating auctioning in general makes about as much sense as hating trade just because you don't like bartering.

Still, you can come up with a different name for all this auctions that you claim aren't auctions, but it won't matter. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
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J C Lawrence
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TVis wrote:
IBut it’s not an auction.


Sorry, wrong. It is an auction. quite a few of them in fact.

Quote:
Why is this NOT AN AUCTION? Compare it against a real-world situation like an estate auction, or something similar. There you bid money, pay money when you win, and then you collect the object.


There are in fact many different forms of auctions: English, Dutch, First-Price Sealed-Bid, Vickrey, Double Auction etc. Additionally most voting systems can be described as auction-forms.

Quote:
--a lesser reason is that this is single bid instead of continuous upmanship.


Compare Dutch, First-Price Sealed-Bid and Vickrey auctions.

Quote:
That’s how government contracts are bid and no one calls that an auction.


Actually, they do.

Quote:
--If you think sun tokens are money in Ra then notice how you bid, you pay, you collect, AND you get CHANGE back in the form of the previous bidder’s token. Even more outlandishly, the previous bidder’s token (your Change) can EXCEED your Bid. How can that be an auction?


Sure. Part of the auction lot is speculative future value. Bid accordingly.

Quote:
--There are no secrets. You have complete information about what your opponents can bid. And you have complete information about what benefit the offered tiles might represent to them.


How is this unusual or different than other auction forms?

Quote:
--The set of tiles offered may contain items that are harmful to you. Imagine the auctioneer saying, “Today I am offering for bid this wonderful 18th century wooden medicine cabinet, complete with a vintage bottle of castor oil. And by the way, the winning bidder will have to drink the castor oil right here while we all watch.” Or maybe, “I have three Ming Dynasty Chinese vases and a hammer. Winning bidder must destroy two vases in his collection with the hammer.”


Yep. I've bid at auction for houses with liens on them. I would have had to accept the lien. No difference.

Quote:
Would you bid at an auction like that?


Yes, and I have.

Quote:
For the latter, you can win with a low numbered token if the offered set is too small for the others to bother with.


A significant part of the skill in Ra comes down to forcing other players to bid when they don't want to lest they lose the lot. The small bidding tiles are especially powerful in this way,

Quote:
--Its kind of like pulling rank in the military. If I’m a sergeant in a room full of generals, I keep my mouth shut. If I’m in a room full of privates, I can yell all I want. Highest numbered tokens are in power … until they leave the room.


Then call Ra on something you don't really want but wouldn't mind getting, when you you also know someone else does. Then if everyone passes you can pick it up with the 1. If they bid they've just spent one of their very few bidding opportunities in that epoch.

Quote:
--It is a war of attrition. Eventually, even low sun tokens can win as the highest remaining.


There is no requirement to keep the low suns until the end. Bid 'em early, bid 'em fast, bid 'em often. They there to use as cudgels against the other players, forcing them to bid their high suns when they don't really want to.


Quote:
Yes, some kind of bidding does take place, but it is in a strictly controlled manner. There is a fixed maximum for the number of times you can win and there are specifically limited discrete values you are allowed to use. What else can you call it? Right now I just call it a competition.


It is an auction.

See Shannon Appelcline's article on the Designing Strategy: The Auction Grand Unification Theory:

http://www.skotos.net/articles/TTnT_/TTnT_161.phtml

[/q]
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Jim Cote
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To add to the dissent:

An auction also does not have to be conducted with money. Money is just another resource as far as games are concerned. You can bid with time, actions, corn, threats, gold, or anything else.

You may find that you, in fact, like many games with the auction label since your dislike for the "standard" auction may not cross to the other types. Check out: Goa, Taj Mahal, Beowulf, Traders of Genoa, and Struggle of Empires. Also, check out this Geek List:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/14594
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Matthew M
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HA HA! You like auctions!

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Mark Edwards
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Quote:
But it’s not an auction.


Heheh, I think a few people are missing the tone of your post. ;-)

It's "competition", yeah that's it...
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Teague Webb
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I, for one, am totally down with the original poster's rationalization, because I, too, hate/suck at auction games, but love Ra.

Oh, and good show, DM!
 
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Mark Bigney
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Don't call it a comeback. I've been here for years.
 
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Mark Casiglio
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Thank you Tom you are 100% right, RA is absolutely NOT an auction. The key is the sun tiles. They are not currency. The only thing that sun tiles represent is an opportunity. You exchange one token for one batch of tiles. When you've made one such exchange, you have one less opportunity but nothing else of value is taken from you.

What confuses people is the ranking of the tiles. But that's just a means to have Ra value one tile over another. Let's say you offer up your copy of Acquire for trade. I might offer you my copy of Fluxx thinking you'd like it ... but Bob offers up Poisson D'Avril, which you accept.

Is a BGG game trade an auction? No. It's an exchange. This is the same thing. The only difference is that we know ahead of time how Ra values the tokens.

So let the unimaginative call it an auction. We know better! cool
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Eddie the Cranky Gamer
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Csigs wrote:
Thank you Tom you are 100% right, RA is absolutely NOT an auction. The key is the sun tiles. They are not currency. The only thing that sun tiles represent is an opportunity.


Yes it is.

Currency is an abstraction of opportunity to make bartering and commerce more flexible.

The suns are the games currency.
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J C Lawrence
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Csigs wrote:
Thank you Tom you are 100% right, RA is absolutely NOT an auction. The key is the sun tiles. They are not currency.


Auctions do not require currency. Sun tiles are fungible resources and are thus currency. The only thing that auctions require is competitive exchange of value. The valuta exchange need not be money, anything of value will do be it food, work, effort, time, lawn cutting, car washing, access to resources or whatever.

Quote:
The only thing that sun tiles represent is an opportunity.


That's all money represents too. It is an idea backed by confidence, nothing more.

Quote:
You exchange one token for one batch of tiles. When you've made one such exchange, you have one less opportunity but nothing else of value is taken from you.


Ditto money.

Quote:
Is a BGG game trade an auction? No. It's an exchange.


Almost all exchanges are in fact auctions. Two part exchanges are merely degenerate auctions. Sometimes the terms of the bids and their valuations are not explicit but that does not prevent it from being an auction.

Quote:
So let the unimaginative call it an auction. We know better!


I suggest some research into the area.
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Antonio Chavez
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And on a similar note, I'd like people to stop calling Commands and Colors: Ancientes a wargame. I loathe wargames and I had been put off this game after seeing review after review talking about war. Then, this weekend, at a local gaming convention, I was roped off by a 6-year-old that wanted to play it. I couldn't say no, so I sat down.

And I loved it.

It's not that I was wrong, no. The thing is, people calling it a "wargame" evoked visions of tanks, artillery and aerial bombardments. There was none of that in this game. Yes, there were some people attacking each other, but, I mean, they didn't even have guns! How can you call something "war" when it doesn't even have guns?

People, CC:A is NOT a wargame. Please, stop referring to it as that. It's just a people-chasing-other-people-with-pointy-sticks-and-with-the-ocasional-rampaging-elephant-for-extra-fun game. Let's call a spade a spade, and not a WARGAME, OK?
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Matthew Barratt
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"So...it's an auction, is it?"
"Please. Auction is such an ugly word."
"All right. How about fishpaste?"
"Much better."
"So...it's fishpaste, is it?"
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Mark Casiglio
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apotheos wrote:

The suns are the games currency.


Eddie the Cranky Monkey, et. al. ... I have a coupon on my 'fridge that I can exchage for a bottle of coke. I concede that the coupon is an abstraction of my opportunity to bring home that bottle of Coke. Does that make the coupon currency?

Is the exchange then an auction?

If anyone can answer yes to those questions then I concede that I have no position to stand on and there is no way for me to convince you that Ra is not an auction.

But you are invited over for some Coke.
 
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Jim Cote
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Csigs wrote:
I have a coupon on my 'fridge that I can exchage for a bottle of coke. I concede that the coupon is an abstraction of my opportunity to bring home that bottle of Coke. Does that make the coupon currency?

Is the exchange then an auction?


Your point is invalid. An auction is when there's competition for a resource where players offer a resource. Anything that has value, including game resources, is a form of currency. Do not be fooled just because a game calls something "sun tiles" or "gold" or "dollars". It's exactly the same mechanism.
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Billy McBoatface
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It's clearly not an "auction game." Haven't you people read the rules? It's a simulation of life in ancient egypt!!! All three epochs, no less!

Sheesh.

And don't get me started by telling me that ancient egyptions used to auction off mummies or anything like that, because it just isn't so.
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Teague Webb
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I don't know which is funnier:

The original poster's light-hearted rationalization, or

All the folks trying to "seriously" argue about it

laughlaugh
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Fredrik Ulmstedt
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ninja I vote for: NOT auction! Just because I can.blush
 
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Eddie the Cranky Gamer
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Csigs wrote:
apotheos wrote:

The suns are the games currency.


Eddie the Cranky Monkey, et. al. ... I have a coupon on my 'fridge that I can exchage for a bottle of coke. I concede that the coupon is an abstraction of my opportunity to bring home that bottle of Coke. Does that make the coupon currency?

Is the exchange then an auction?

If anyone can answer yes to those questions then I concede that I have no position to stand on and there is no way for me to convince you that Ra is not an auction.

But you are invited over for some Coke.


If you have people with different valued coupons offering them competitively to obtain something yes, that would be an auction.
 
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Adam Berkan
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The Ra tiles are not currency because you can't make change for them. The 10 tile isn't twice as good as the 5 tile. If the 6,7,8,9 have all been played, the 10 is only slightly better than the 5, and even then only if they are owned by different players.

Every time an auction is won by the non-highest piece, the pieces higher than that lose some of their value. In the extreme case where the two remaining players have the 14 and 15 is the same as if they have the 1 and the 2, or even the 1 and 15.

This makes it a lot less auctiony than most auctions...
 
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Jim Cote
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Ze Ace wrote:
The Ra tiles are not currency because you can't make change for them.


Not a valid criterion. You can't make change for pennies either.

What about High Society? What about For Sale?
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Tomello Visello
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clearclaw wrote:
TVis wrote:
--There are no secrets. You have complete information about what your opponents can bid. And you have complete information about what benefit the offered tiles might represent to them.


How is this unusual or different than other auction forms?

[/q]This item has caused me the most puzzlement the last couple days.

Even in other games where the player has a stack of money visible, I still do not know his exact balance. I can also imagine games where I compete with him for a valuable item without knowing that it has even more meaning to him becuase he secretly holds a particular companion card in his hand to make it yet more valuable.

The guy standing next to me at a country estate auction, dressed in bib overalls, might be an ordinary farmer or he might be Warren Buffet. I don't know what he can bid. And what looks to me like a nice candelabra might be an exact match for the one his wife already has at home waiting for a mate.

I remarked upon the lack of secrets becuase I just can't imagine much else unless you give some examples.
 
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Luke Morris
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Re: Don’t call it an Auction. I hate Auctions.
I disagree with everyone.


I like auction games in general....



But hate Ra.



It's probably still an auction game though but the leads me to make the rather pig-headed assumption - "Perhaps there are no absolutes and just because I like something, doesn't mean I like EVERYTHING involving that thing".

I like some cheeses but not others. (I love cheese fondue but HATE macaroni cheese!)
I like some alcohol but not others.
I love the sun but not if it's TOOOO hot.


Man, I'm a hypocritical scumbag who doesn't follow a liking through to an absolute. HOW DARE I!!!?!?!?!?!!!
 
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