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Subject: No auction variant rss

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Nigel Buckle
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Thornton Heath
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I like Planet Steam, but there are elements that I'm less keen on.

When I play I use the following changes:

1. No die roll for platform placement - this makes building Licenses less valuable, so now you can cash them in for 15 or they are worth 15 at the game end.

2. No auctions - this was the main area of the game I didn't like, auction after auction and mostly a blind auction as you have no real idea if the person you're bidding against even wants the role you do.

So instead use an auction mechanic similar to Vegas Showdown, you'll need 2 extra markers and a bidding chart (I've submitted one, if it gets approved I'll note it here). The chart has each role with a track (0-50 in various increments) and each commodity with a track (0-20 or 25, depending on the commodity again in various increments).

On your turn to 'bid' you put your markers down to bid on a role and a commodity. If you are not overbid you pay that amount and take the role and commodity. If you are overbid then when your turn to bid comes around again you take back your marker and place it again (either higher on the same track or on another track).

Why does this improve the game? Now you see what others are bidding on, and you only rebid when you are overbid and only 1 'auction' is needed for the entire year - rather than n-1 auctions (where n= number of players).

Also with this variant there is no need for the charity rule, if you run out of cash you will always be able to take a role for 0.

You MUST bid on a role, but can decline (pass) on a commodity. If there are insufficient commodities in the market, then no one can bid on that track.

-- Edit:

File now available:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/44495

If you want to use the variable market variant too then you will need to introduce a 3rd option to the chart
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Chester
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Temple
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Aren't you using most of your building licenses to be able to place platforms on reserved areas (ones that start the game with a neutral platform)?

I find the auction in this game (like many other games) to be one of the most exciting and fun elements. Sounds kind of sterilized to take it out, to me, and less fun. The fun of it is that you DON'T know what other players want or are planning. And you can (or should) adjust your plan according to how the bidding unfolds. You can try to get someone to have to pay more by bidding up an item that you are equivocal about, but that they desperately need/want.

There are lots of games with this type of mechanic, and I usually really like it. I haven't played Vegas Showdown, but I'm pretty skeptical of this variant.
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KAS
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Arlington
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Our group also likes the auction aspect of the game as is. Sometimes it is important to bid up for a specific resource as it is for a particular role so that adds to the uncertainty of the whole thing (which is a good thing).
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yegods
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in a recent play, i tried the dubious tactic of announcing which role i wanted as i was bidding, trying to get the only other interested bidder to bow out. it didn't work terribly well. but i like the auctions, and it would significantly lessen the appeal of the game to remove them.
 
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Nigel Buckle
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If you like the auctions, then don't play the variant

Biggest problem I had with the game using the auctions were:

* New players - have NO idea what is a reasonable bid at all

* Time, unless you play with people who pretty much bid their max at the start you have 1,2,3,4,5,6, ..... ,25,26 etc for each auction. Which takes a big chunk of playing time.

* What are you bidding on? As you are just bidding for the right to take a choice first it's a lottery as to what the other person is going to take - add in the punishing economics (not that I mind that aspect), if you run low on cash you're sunk ...

But I can see for some this element IS the game ... just not with the groups I play.

cornjob wrote:
Aren't you using most of your building licenses to be able to place platforms on reserved areas (ones that start the game with a neutral platform)?


Yes, but with the die roll mechanic removed there is less 'risk' about some placements so slightly less demand for the licences. Hence the change, gives you another income stream (not that 15 is very much ...)

If you've played Amun-Re that uses a similar mechanic (except in that you can't go back onto the same track if you are overbid unless you have a specific action card).
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Alan
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Interesting variant. I'm a fan of the auctions. I think they increase the depth of play and provide other valuation aspects that tie in very well. Part of the game is ascertaining the value of the various roles to you since the valuation will vary among the players.

I can see a stronger argument for removing the die roll. It's an unnecessary piece of randomness that, I believe, is an artifact of the original incarnation (M.U.L.E.). Even so, I don't mind it too much since it only becomes a big problem when the board starts to fill up and backup choices become nonexistent.

Just a couple of quick comments/responses.

bucklen_uk wrote:
* New players - have NO idea what is a reasonable bid at all

Y'know, I thought this would be a problem too except the new players come up to speed very fast. After they see a year or two and how things start interrelating, the auction means more to them and they have a more concrete notion of how/what to bid. In the teaching games I've played, this hasn't been a big problem at all.

bucklen_uk wrote:
* Time, unless you play with people who pretty much bid their max at the start you have 1,2,3,4,5,6, ..... ,25,26 etc for each auction. Which takes a big chunk of playing time.

I find the incremental bidding to be fun and interesting. What's the breaking point for a given player? The player with the highest breaking point usually wins the bid, but you only find that by incremental bidding. Maybe your opponent is just bidding up the cost to force you to spend more. (I certainly do that at times.)

The added time isn't a big factor as far as I've seen. Yes, it takes time, but it's also fairly interesting to watch it play out. If you're that worried about game length, this probably isn't the game for you. (Games can run 2-4 hours, depending on no. of players and AP.)

bucklen_uk wrote:
* What are you bidding on? As you are just bidding for the right to take a choice first it's a lottery as to what the other person is going to take - add in the punishing economics (not that I mind that aspect), if you run low on cash you're sunk ...

Again, this is another interesting aspect of the auction. Sometimes the resource is more valuable than the role. Sometimes the second auction goes higher than the first one. And not running low on cash is a big part of the game. You need to make money (sell goods) to survive and win.
 
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Shane Loader
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Ft. Collins
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We played this way and found it worked very well and definately speeded up the entire game. All the auctions went cheaper and there was more money in the game but consequently the tanks and resources were nearly always sold out except for water. And the auction for the resoutces that were available during the auction was interesting.
Everyone seemed to porefer it as it removed alot of randomness.
 
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