When we play this game, I like to use the following house rule:
In the first auction round, all of the cards will be Item cards, with no special cards included in the auction.
This addresses a few issues:
- If a player does not get an Item on the first round, then they're at a big disadvantage for the rest of the game.
- Worse yet, if a player bids 10 for an item (more likely if not everyone's going to get an item), then the special card is one that steals or discards an item, a player can end up eliminated after round 1.
- Fewer early Items means less competition and more monopolies, which makes for less negotiation... and competition and negotiation are the point of the game!