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Subject: Confounded by Modern Art rss

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Eddy Bee
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Maybe someone can shed some light on this issue...

Modern Art has been one of the mainstays of my gaming group for many years. Last night we had an opportunity to play it again. And once again, the game seemed to defy all logic. Here's what I mean...

Let's say it's the first round and Yoko already has 3 paintings out. A 4th Yoko painting is offered for auction, and it's pretty clear that by the time the round ends Yoko will have the majority - which means all Yoko paintings will sell for $30K.

Does it make any sense to bid higher than $30K for the painting? I would think not, yet time and again, we have players who constantly overbid, and then they end up winning the game!

Most of us are left scratching our heads, trying to figure out how it's possible to bid more than a painting is worth, and yet end up with the most money at the end of the game.

I realize you can earn money back when you're the auctioneer, but so does everyone else, so that factor pretty much evens out across the board.

Does anyone have any insights into this conundrum? Are we missing something?

Thanks,
-Eddy Bee
 
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Goo
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Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
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I don't think you are missing anything
The player must be winning based on other transactions in the game, obviously. If they overpay for the painting, two bad things happen to them. One, they sell it for less than they paid for it and lose money (which, I agree with you, is really just stupid). Also, they give more money to the auctioneer. If you are the auctioneer, just count your blessings if this happens. If I overpaid you $5 for that Yoko, then you net $35 and I net -$5. That is a $40 swing.

I suspect that the player would have won, but by much more had they not done this. I do not think this move could have helped them win in any way. It looks like maybe aggressive players do well in your group. Perhaps it's just the aggressive style that periodically results in a bad purchase, but ultimately dominates the group.

I'm just saying.


-goo

 
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Shannon Appelcline
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If you have at least two bidders who regularly overbid, then effectively every painting will be overpriced and no money will ever be made off an end-of-the-round sale.

In this case, all the money in Modern Art comes from auctions, and my conclusion would be that your high-bidders are better sellers than the rest of you. (It *doesn't* come out even between all sellers; a good seller will do a good job of timing sales just right to achieve maximum gross per card, per sale, and against his opponents.)

Another possibility is that at least one of your high bidders is using that as a facade to disguise his attempt to up the valuations of his own paintings in hand. If I buy a painting from an opponent for $0 profit, but then turn around and sell a painting from the same artist for an even higher value that what he just did, then clearly I'm on the plus side. He made $X profit from his sale, I made $X+5 profit from my sale, and the other players made nothing (except minimal profits for the end-of-the-turn scoring, which isn't amounting to much due to high valuations).

I've said elsewhere that Modern Art is a fragile game. In this case it's possible that your two high-bidders are acting in a synergistic manner that happens to throw off the balance of the game--but I bet there's a counter if you look carefully at what's going on.

(This all might be better placed as a Modern Art article, not a Geek Journal.)
 
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Goo
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Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
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It's like
It's like this guy I know who went to Vegas and got dealt a hard 18. He was drunk and doubled down. The dealer said it wasn't a good idea, but he's also very stubborn and said it was what he wanted. The pit boss even came over and told him that it was a bad idea. But he stuck to his guns.

He pulled a 3, of course, and walked away the big winner that night. Is his strategy helpful? Is it a good idea? Absolutely not.

Then again, it paid him off this time whereas over the long haul it would not. In your Modern Art Scenario, it will never pay off. Therefore, this example isn't very good. It only helps in that the player is affirmed by their poor play and you can now capitalize on it. Sell them paintings you think they'll overpay for. If you know what they will do, you can learn to beat this poor play.


-goo
 
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Mark Haberman
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(This all might be better placed as a Modern Art article, not a Geek Journal.)

Yes, but would you have given an answer already if it was there instead of here?
 
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J C Lawrence
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Born suckers: http://slate.com/Default.aspx?id=2110977&
 
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Shannon Appelcline
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Yes, but would you have given an answer already if it was there instead of here?

Nope, but if this generates interesting discussion I conversely won't be able to look it up when I'm thinking about Modern Art in a month.

Pity there isn't a way to move a journal entry to an article after the initial discussion is done.
 
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Brandon Clarke
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My Theory on Modern Art
To win a game of Modern Art, you don't have to earn the maximum amount you COULD have earned in the auctions during the game, you just have to earn more than each of your opponents do OVER THE FULL COURSE OF THE WHOLE GAME.

This last bit is the key. You do NOT have to make a profit on each and every auction.

It is the first round. 3 Yoko's have been sold, the 4th Yoko is on the table. In all liklihood Yoko will be the winner of the round, and therefore worth 30. Question: How much is it worth paying for that painting?

Factors I take into account:

1. In any auction, generally the painting(s) is/are worth more to the person to the left of the auctioneer than it is to the people further around the table clockwise. This is because the person to the auctioneer's immediate left gets the next sale (usually) and therefore can control where the market goes. Specifically if they buy the painting, they can control which artist gets played next. The next person clockwise finds the painting slightly less valuable as they have slightly less control over the direction of the market, and so on around the table.

2. You must take into account the type of players you are playing against. The right price to pay varies greatly if you are playing with buyers as opposed to sellers. With buyers you need to try and optimise your profit margins on paintings you buy, and it pays to buy a lot. With sellers it pays not to buy much (selectively might be a better word) and to play as many double auctions (especially later in the game) as you can.

3. Generally if a painting is going to be worth 30, and you are not buying it yourself when you are the seller, then after 15, every extra dollar you bid gives a net advantage to the seller. This is because at 15, you go -15, and the seller goes +15... i.e. the seller is now 30 ahead of you. When (or IF) you get 30 for the painting at the end of the round you and the seller are now even - both of you are at +15. However, this does not mean bidding more than 15 is a bad idea. As stated above you must make more than each of your opponents OVER THE FULL COURSE OF THE GAME.

You can buy this painting for say 20. This puts you at -20, and the seller (player A) at + 20, or 40 ahead of you. If you buy the next painting for 20 also, but off a DIFFERENT SELLER (Player B), this puts you at -40 and Player A at +20 and Player B at +20. If you then buy a third painting for 20 (Off Player C), this puts you at -60, and Players A, B and C AT +20.

If, at the end of the round, each of the paintings is worth 30, you are now at +30, while Players A, B, and C are still at +20. So you are ahead.

The lesson being that as long as you spread the sales amongst the other players, you can make an overall gain on the other players, even though you lost money on each trade relative to each seller.

It does not pay to buy the Yoko for 35 though, EVER.

If someone else is willing to pay 31, 32, 33 or 34 for the 4th Yoko, let them do so... they loose 4 on the transaction, which is the same as you gaining 4 (except that the others players experience this gain too). It is never better for you to lose 5 as opposed to having an opponent lose 4.

As noted in an ealrier reply in the thread, if this player regularly overbids (overbidding being defined as paying MORE then what the painting is worth at the end of the round) then their winning is IN SPITE of these bids, not because of them i.e. they are gaining a lot more on later sales than they are losing in this sale... they are tricking the other players into an artificially inflated market price. One way to take advantage of this is to follow this overbid by selling with a "in the hand" auction, and relying on people being spooked by the high prices into overbidding themselves...

BC
 
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Shannon Appelcline
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Another factor in buying:

4. Who's doing the selling, and how well are they doing in the game? If you're buying from the player you think is in last, it's viable to pay them $29 for a painting that's almost surely going to go for $30. You make a $1 profit over all your actual competitors, while the last place player makes the $29 which doesn't catch him up to you.

Conversely, it would be mostly stupid to pay more than $15 to a player you think is in first. If you pay $16, they make $16 and you make no more than $14, meaning that you lost $2 on first place.

(The only exception, if other numbskills are forcing the bid up; it's better to make $10 off of the first player's $20 then to make $0 off of the first player's $19, and let some other player catch up $11. This is why Modern Art is partially a prisoner's dilemma: personal good versus overall good.)
 
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Chris Farrell
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It should also be noted that paintings have some value beyond the specific amount of cash you predict they will be worth. Paintings give you a bit of power over the end of the round, and players who own art are in a somewhat stronger position.

So if you assume that simply owning art has some value, then it would sometimes be viable to pay more than it would apparently sell for. But I have to think it's pretty rare. You simply can't routinely win by massively overbidding unless other players are getting sucked into playing your game. On the other hand, if they are bidding more because they are taking into account factors that you are missing, they will win.

Oh yeah, and finally, the amount of money we're talking about in early rounds is pretty insignificant. A extremely clever player could, I suppose, be running up the bidding in early rounds to manipute the table psychology for later rounds, when they will resume bidding rationally when real money is at stake.

Here is an interesting thread on bidding:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/46644

Modern Art is a game of amazing subtlety for something so comparatively simpe. Just keep thinking about it. I think thay by default, most people do not bid enough for paintings.
 
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Eddy Bee
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Thanks
Thanks for the insightful replies. It seems that our group easily succumbs to upwardly spiraling bidding frenzies, and that's when the whole game starts to get out of hand.

We pretty much had figured that if the wealth from the bids was being spread among the players, and not going to the richest player, that things would generally balance out. But clearly, we are bidding way too much to begin with.

Thanks again.

And yes, the reason I posted this topic in a Geek journal is because I hardly ever get a response when posting questions under the actual game entry. Perhaps there should be a way of melding the two...
 
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