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Subject: Thoughts and suggestions for auction mechanics rss

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Aloha!
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I'm putting together a game and I have the beginning and end all sorted, but what I can't figure out (because it's always been my least favorite mechanic ever) is a good auction mechanic for the mid-game. The idea is anywhere from 2 to 4 players will be competing for a pool of resources where everyone will get exactly enough no matter what, but some of them are much better than others.

I'm going back an forth between putting out a resource for each player and they all bid based on what's seen or only putting out players - 1 and the lowest bidder pulls from the top of the stack. I also want there to be an option to get extra money by taking basically a wild card that affects the end of the game in usually negative ways.

Am I over-thinking this or would anyone else offer some new ideas into the bidding mechanic to help it feel fresh?
 
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Chris Dugas
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One interesting variation on an auction is a Dutch auction (from their wholesale bulb markets, etc.). Rather than the price going up incrementally for items, the price goes down and it's a game of chicken to see who will break first and bid. There's only 1 bidder per item because you're automatically the highest bidder. There is a Dutch-based game that uses this whose name escapes me right now, but it does require some sort of sturdy bell, since it will get whacked hard, or other way of determining who wins the bid.

Of the options you describe, I like putting out players -1 resources and having the lowest bidder draw blind.
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marc lecours
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The simplest "auction" mechanic is "worker placement". The first player gets first choice, the second player second choice, etc. Therefore you have to have the choices laid out to pick.

The key to worker placement is how do you change the order of picking from round to round. In some games you actually bid money (or something) to be first. In other games its the player with the least points. In other games you have to forgo an action to become first (with the other players going clockwise around the table.). In other games the one who spent the least money in the previous round goes first. The possibilities are endless.
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marc lecours
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An actual auction has problems:
1. It breaks the flow of the game. Unless the auction is very thematic or very fun.

2. You have to bid something in the auction (some sort of currency). The currency has to be fine grained enough so a player has to decide whether to bid 3 or 4 or 10 of something.

3. If the value of each item being auctioned is obvious, then there is no point to having an auction. Auctions work best when the items being auctioned have a very different value for each player.

Easier might just be for you to assign a price to each type of choice. For example "choosing a good resource costs 2 extra coins." Though worker placement is still probably the best.

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Iffix Y Santaph
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Well, if each is only going to get one and last has to draw blind, why not increase the number of possible in the auction, and reveal lots one at a time. Then there's always a possibility that even an average item winds up the best. Also, perhaps make a cost to bid (with predetermined items on all cards negated by winning a bid, but where the last card earns those items), so that when one wins, he acquires what the others bid, along with the item. (Just throwing out ideas. I don't know if any of this would actually work.)
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Jeremy Lennert
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cold_fuzion wrote:
I'm going back an forth between putting out a resource for each player and they all bid based on what's seen or only putting out players - 1 and the lowest bidder pulls from the top of the stack.

Statistically, if you put out 3 cards, one of them is probably worse than average. If the fourth player draws a random card (from the same deck), then being fourth might actually be better than being third.

You could consider putting out (player count) cards but still requiring the last bidder to draw blind--that way the second-to-last bidder still gets a choice between 2 cards, then the remaining card is discarded before the last player draws randomly. (In this case, the third out of four bidders still usually gets a card that is worse-than-median in a vacuum, but the fact that they get a choice between two cards hopefully means they can choose one that suits their current circumstances or strategy.)
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rubberchicken wrote:
The simplest "auction" mechanic is "worker placement". The first player gets first choice, the second player second choice, etc. Therefore you have to have the choices laid out to pick.

The key to worker placement is how do you change the order of picking from round to round. In some games you actually bid money (or something) to be first. In other games its the player with the least points. In other games you have to forgo an action to become first (with the other players going clockwise around the table.). In other games the one who spent the least money in the previous round goes first. The possibilities are endless.

I like this probably the best. Bid for order of choice before anything is revealed. Then offer the option of taking a wild card for more money and then bid again.

The Dutch Auction idea is not bad either and a bell could add a huge thematic bit to it, but I don't really want to make a game that will drive other gamers in the room nuts.
 
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Ben Markley
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rubberchicken wrote:
The simplest "auction" mechanic is "worker placement". The first player gets first choice, the second player second choice, etc. Therefore you have to have the choices laid out to pick.

The key to worker placement is how do you change the order of picking from round to round. In some games you actually bid money (or something) to be first. In other games its the player with the least points. In other games you have to forgo an action to become first (with the other players going clockwise around the table.). In other games the one who spent the least money in the previous round goes first. The possibilities are endless.

Viticulture is a great example of this mechanic. In order to figure out turn order for the "year", people pick a spot on a chart. A player who just wants to go first gets nothing but that privilege, but as you go down the chart, the benefits stack up: extra cards, extra money, a victory point, all the way down to an extra worker for that year. At the beginning of each year, you have to decide whether you want primacy throughout that year or a juicy benefit upfront.

Each year, the order of who gets to choose their spot changes. In order for this to really work well and not heavily disadvantage/advantage some players, the choices all have to be pretty good (and since Viticulture has so many things going on at once, different spots are good at different times). What's really great about this system is that it allows for some competition ("I don't really need a Grape card, but I know you do, so...") and it impacts strategy. If I can't get a Grape card at the start, I'll have to use a worker to place one, which affects where I place all my other workers.
 
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