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Subject: Lucre without Price Lists rss

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Just a Bill
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In Phil Fleischman's Lucre thread I mentioned the possibility of a streamlined system where there would be only one way to spend Lucre but it would feel like a lot of ways. That may not be an attainable extreme, but we could perhaps get close to it with an auction-based implementation. Here's the rough idea:

How to earn it:

* May take 1 Lucre as a reward, in lieu of a card or ship.
* May take 2 Lucre in lieu of having a second encounter.
* May trade Lucre in deals (all deal rules still apply).

How to spend it:

Once per encounter per player, you may start an open auction by bidding one or more Lucre on any one of the following:

* Retrieve a ship from the warp.
* Draw a card from the Cosmic, Reward, or Tech deck (specify which).
* Cause a just-drawn Destiny or Hazard card to be ignored and replaced with another draw.
* Take the top card of the Cosmic or Reward discard pile (after other scavenging effects).
* (maybe) Draw a Hazard in an encounter that did not already require one.
* (maybe) Increase your side's total in the encounter by the amount of your bid.

The winning bidder discards the Lucre he bid and may either perform the action defined by the original bidder, or prevent it from taking place.

Option: If you want to cancel the bid action (not perform it yourself) you need only tie the high bid, not exceed it.

Examples:

1. Red bids 2 Lucre to discard the current hazard and draw a repacement. Green wants that hazard in play and bids 3 to keep it there. Red can now overbid Green, or let Green pay 3 to maintain the status quo.

2. Blue bids 1 to retrieve a ship from the warp. Yellow bids 2 to reclaim one of his own instead. Orange bids 3 to prevent either of them from getting a ship, even though he has none to retrieve himself. (Unlikely example, but demonstrates the mechanism.)

3. Anti-Matter bids 1 for the Attack 04 on the discard pile. Philanthropist bids 2 and wins. Philanthropist can now take the card into his own hand or leave it on the discard pile.

The rule that each player is limited to starting one auction per encounter is important here. In Example 1, whether Red wins or loses the auction he cannot start another one; he must live with whatever hazard emerges from the dust. Likewise, in Example 3, if Philanthropist leaves the attack 04 on the pile, Anti-Matter cannot try to get it again unless it is still somehow there on the next encounter. However, anybody who has not yet started an auction this encounter can now start one for the same thing or a different thing. This includes Green and Philanthropist, because participating in somebody else's auction doesn't count against you.

This concept still has a short list of the things you can do, but it's not an menu of arbitrary prices. It's far easier to remember the handful of allowed actions than it is to recall what each one costs. (And the costs should vary anyway, depending on what aliens are in the game and how high the stakes are at any given moment.)

The concept still needs refinement, but I like the idea of letting the marketplace decide what that Card Zap on top of the discard pile is worth, and I like the tension created by the piles of Lucre, because in this model we are constantly competing against each other with our growing purchasing power, and we have the ability to bid somebody up to try to thwart their purchase, if we have the stomach for it.

Tension, risk, unexpected contention, getting the bid dropped on you when you didn't really want it ... good stuff.
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Big Head Zach
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Two questions/situations to consider:

1) If there are 6 players, and one person, Player A, starts a bid to, say, take the Attack 40 from the discard pile, and everyone starts bidding but Player F wins the bid and chooses not to carry out the result, this means that now there are 4 other players still with Lucre who can immediately start bidding again. Player F's efforts are meaningless, and he spent the most out of anyone. So what's to prevent a particular bid-upon item from being re-introduced by everyone if the winner forgoes whatever that item/opportunity is?

2) In similar thought, once a card hits the discard pile and it's something really powerful (like the A-40 in a game without math aliens or win inverters), it's going to be repeatedly fought over like a basketball rebound. Sure, at some point everyone will have acquired it and run out of Lucre and it may end up actually buried in the discard pile, but would this too flagrantly alter the natural flow of the deck? Or perhaps we now establish a "fresh discard" pile and an "unbiddable discard" pile?
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Jefferson Krogh
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I like taking lucre as rewards, and as a substitute for skipping your second encounter. I like the idea of the auctions, since it puts lucre values directly into the hands of the players. This prevents having to refer to any sort of price list, too.

I dislike that one auction per player per encounter will increase the length of the game considerably. My instinct is to let only the offense initiate one auction per encounter, but that may be overreacting. This would at least mitigate Zach's concern about the discard pile.

Overall, this is an idea worth exploring.
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Just a Bill
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bhz1 wrote:
So what's to prevent a particular bid-upon item from being re-introduced by everyone if the winner forgoes whatever that item/opportunity is?

Nothing, but I don't see where this is a problem. If F is the only player that wants the item un-owned and everyone else wants to own it, F is probably going to lose, plain and simple. Noboody gets any guarantee that they can always successfully thwart just by haing the most money. (You really don't even need the thwart for game balance; it's just a simple way to answer the slippery question, "If I can't technically take advantage of the action being bid on, or it's debatable, can I still bid?")

Generally, there's not a lot of incentive to bid for something and not take it. This is really for those cases where the thing being bid on is binary (like a re-flip of destiny or a hazard).

bhz1 wrote:
the A-40 ... going to be repeatedly fought over like a basketball rebound. ... but would this too flagrantly alter the natural flow of the deck? Or perhaps we now establish a "fresh discard" pile and an "unbiddable discard" pile?

I would really hate to see multiple levels of discards introduced. I say let 'em fight over the rebounds; I don't see a big problem with that either. However, if it was, the rule could always be amended to say when you are bidding for a discard, you can take it, leave it, or stash it under the appropriate deck, I suppose. But let's see if we really need such an extra rule.
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Just a Bill
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Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
My instinct is to let only the offense initiate one auction per encounter

I considered that, but I think it would relegate "lesser" purchases (like retrieved ships) to disuse. Eon and Mayfair let you get multiple ships or multiple cards per purchase. In this system, where you can only get one at a time, you really need a shot at it every encounter.

The alternative, of course, is to allow bidding for multiples, but I was concerned that this would increase the rules complexity — and my whole goal here is a pricing model that is as streamlined as possible. (You wouldn't want people bidding 1 Lucre for 8 reward cards and getting away with it because everyone else is out of money right now.)

I suppose, for cards and ships, you could make the bid be the price per unit and allow the winner to scale it appropriately. Say Red bids 1 Lucre per card and then Blue increases it to 2 and wins. Now blue can spend 2 Lucre for one card, or 4 for two, or 6 for three ... that might work.

But still, if you really need something and get outbid, do you want to have to wait for an entire round of play before you can try again? The game may very likely be over before then.
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Jefferson Krogh
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Yeah, good points there.

Another way to speed things would be to specify that each player can only win one auction per encounter. Power Grid does that to good effect. That means that 6 auctions can be done half the usual time.

Of course, since you didn't indicate any other ways to gain Lucre, I might be overestimating how often people will start auctions. If players start at zero and need to earn their lucre, then auctions will be a lot more infrequent than I first thought. I just assumed players would start with some, as they did in Eon.
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Just a Bill
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Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
Another way to speed things would be to specify that each player can only win one auction per encounter.

That's not a bad safety-valve: "The player who starts an auction and the player who wins it are both ineligible to initiate any more auctions during that same encounter. However, all players are always eligible to bid."

Now you have to consider how badly you want to win, since it will cost you the other auction you had planned to start. The only downside I see here is that it now makes everyone want to race to initiate their own auction first ... but there's always the Timing Rule for that.

Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
I just assumed players would start with some, as they did in Eon.

Nah, I'm trying to keep it simple by eliminating the entitlements. No starting cash, and no automatic boost to encounter totals.

Another benefit of this is that it leaves room for an alien whose power includes starting the game with some Lucre. For example, a Dragon that starts with 4 instead of zero is a lot cooler than one that starts with 8 instead of 4.
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Big Head Zach
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Another benefit of this is that it leaves room for an alien whose power includes starting the game with some Lucre. For example, a Dragon that starts with 4 instead of zero is a lot cooler than one that starts with 8 instead of 4.


It also makes an easy way to handicap less-played aliens in your set, ala the mechanics in games such as Small World and Twilight Imperium...

At some point, the not-as-cool aliens will have so much stored-up Lucre on them it'll be tough not to pick them for their decided financial leg up.
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Jefferson Krogh
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Works for me, Bill. Auctions will be fairly uncommon things, then, which is fine. If I get four rewards, I'm more likely to just take the cards from the deck than the lucre, unless there's a specific thing I want to target in the next encounter. Or unless I see the guy before me grab a bunch of lucre, and I want to counter him. Or unless I'm already happy with my hand. Yeah, I can see it becoming a factor in most games, but not overwhelmingly so.
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Just a Bill
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bhz1 wrote:
It also makes an easy way to handicap less-played aliens in your set, ala the mechanics in games such as Small World and Twilight Imperium...

At some point, the not-as-cool aliens will have so much stored-up Lucre on them it'll be tough not to pick them for their decided financial leg up.

Yeah, I love those kinds of handicapping ideas. There's so much good potential here ... it's very disappointing that FFG/Eon don't see any value in a revised Lucre system.
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Jack Reda
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I am not a fan of auctions in Cosmic Encounter, but that is not to say this isn't a fine idea. And, what it reminds me of is that you could easily have a published Lucre expansion that has several variants.

Classic Lucre variant, Auction variant. If it was published with a nice set of asteroids or lucre moons, you have another variant that can go with it, and so.
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Adam McLean
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If speeding things up becomes an issue as players go back and forth one-upping each other for an auction .... have you considered a silent auction?

A player proposes a bid, all players place X amount of Lucre in their hand, reveal and resolve. Ties could be broken by the offense.


I could personally go either way on an auction mechanic, but I agree with Jack, why not produce something with different variations so players could decide how to incorporate it into their own games in one form or another.
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Ken H.
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oatesatm wrote:
If speeding things up becomes an issue as players go back and forth one-upping each other for an auction .... have you considered a silent auction?


I believe that's called a "blind" auction, which is different from silent.

Anyway, I love the idea that prices fluctuate to account for the circumstances of the game. However, I prefer the lucre supply to be based on home planets (with bonus for recapturing one, as mentioned in the other thread), rather than replacing defensive ally rewards. Taking lucre instead of a 2nd encounter is okay.
 
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Mil Myman
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Wow! Neat idea!

I really don't like the idea of slowing down the game by having 5 auctions during every encounter, but if the Lucre supply is small enough, that won't necessarily happen. But it means that people would have to have *no* Lucre at all often, in order to not start an auction. So all but one of the players start auctions and spend all their Lucre to win one of them, and then the last player bids one Lucre on whatever he wants, and gets it.

I'm thinking of a Princes of Florence-type system, where each thing can only be auctioned once per encounter. Someone bids on ships from the warp (and someone eventually wins that auction), and then no one else can start an auction that encounter for ships from the warp. PoF also limits players to one auction win per round of auctions - once you've won an auction, you can't bid again until next round. This will generally mean that the big, expensive things will be bid on first (like the face-up Attack 40 in the discard pile); and the smaller, cheaper things will be bought by the last player who hasn't won an auction, for 1 Lucre (like probably a ships from the warp).

And of course, there are many ways to conduct such an auction, which take varying amounts of time in the game:

Open auction - everyone just bids whenever they want, overbidding the previous bid.

Turn auction - going around the table, players take turns bidding or passing (and such an auction can have the rule that once you pass you can't get back into the bidding, or not)

Blind Auction or "In the fist" - players conceal their bid in their hands and reveal simultaneously. Highest bid wins. Then you need some type of tie-breaker.

Once Around - one player makes a starting bid, then going around the table, each player makes one bid or passes. That's it.

Dutch Auction - Start the price higher than anyone would bid and gradually lower the price. The first person who bids, wins.

Swiss Auction - everyone pays their highest bid, regardless of whether they won.

I've played a lot of games with auctions in them. I never thought CE would become one of them, but it's certainly an interesting idea!
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Gerald Katz
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Bill Martinson wrote:

I suppose, for cards and ships, you could make the bid be the price per unit and allow the winner to scale it appropriately. Say Red bids 1 Lucre per card and then Blue increases it to 2 and wins. Now blue can spend 2 Lucre for one card, or 4 for two, or 6 for three ... that might work.


Better. I'm not a fan of the auction mechanic in any game, but I can deal with it. The only getting one ship bothered me. Allowing for multiples wins me over.

Allowing anyone to start an auction I think is too much. The offense can start one. The defense can start another. Timing order is irrelevant unless both declare an auction at the same time. The second auction cannot be for the same thing as the first auction. Auctions can only happen before Planning.
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Roberta Yang
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The number of auctions needs to be quite limited. There's no sense trying to outbid someone for something this turn when you know you can just get it for the lower price yourself next turn (and that if you outbid them, they'll just get it for the lower price themselves next turn). It's supply and demand - if we have a large number of auctions creating a big supply, nobody needs to spend more than one Lucre on any individual purchase.

With that in mind, I would actually support having only one auction per encounter (started by the offense). This makes each one more intense and meaningful (especially if Lucre is in short supply) and stops the soft advantage of "people don't want to attack you that often" from becoming the soft disadvantage of "you get to be the defense less so you get to start fewer auctions".
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Just a Bill
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salty53 wrote:
I would actually support having only one auction per encounter (started by the offense).

I'm thinking about things like Machine, Invader, Infinity Drive, Boomerang (if it ever gets printed), etc. If Machine takes five encounters he probably won't start an auction on each one, but that's five encounters in a row where nobody else gets the option ... somebody might be desperate to buy something that could stop the Machine's rampage.

I was wondering about the idea that if the offense doesn't want to start an auction, then the option passes around the table in Timing Rule order? This may advantage those who lucked out on the seating order and are to the left of players who (for whatever reason) don't start a lot of auctions, but maybe that's an over-reaction.

Anyway, one auction per encounter is probably best.

(Hmm, then there could be an alien whose power is based on starting as many auctions as he wants at any time.)
 
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Roberta Yang
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On the other hand, we don't want prices to be driven up too high. Generally, you'll get Lucre as Rewards, which means every Lucre you take comes at the cost of one ship from the Warp or one card from the deck or Rewards deck. If auctions are too rare, that's not going to be worthwhile.

The problem with allowing the defense to hold its own auction is that it leads to things like: "Red holds an auction in the regroup phase to draw some cards. Red flips Blue's Destiny card. Blue holds an auction to re-draw. It succeeds. Red flips Green's destiny card. Green holds an auction to get some ships back from the Warp. At Launch phase, Red uses its power as the Will to attack Yellow instead, who immediately holds an auction to draw a Hazard." Of course, we could say only one offensive auction and one defensive auction per encounter, rather than one auction per main player, but that still leads to weirdness - in this example, is Green really more deserving of the defense's auction for this encounter than Yellow, the player who ends up being the actual defensive main player?

Nice catch re Machine, though. Leaving it entirely in the Offense's hands certainly seems problematic.
 
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Mil Myman
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Maybe no one should get to start an auction. Maybe the auctions start "by themselves" - perhaps a separate deck of things that will be put up for auction, and you flip one up each encounter. I figure the offensive player gets the first bid, but he doesn't get to decide what's for sale.

This could be a separate deck of auction items, or it could be incorporated with the destiny deck, like with the Hazard warning symbols (though this would require the Destiny Deck to be re-designed and re-printed).

It also provides a new mechanism for auctioning multiples of things. One auction card could say, "One card from the deck," and another could say, "Two cards from the deck," and another three, etc. It's probably also a good idea if each of these cards includes a minimum opening bid. The auction cards might even specify a particular auction style: Open, Pass-out, Once Around, Blind, etc.
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Chris O
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I would like to take a mediating position with these auctions, in the sense of not going to one extreme of only one auction a turn, and not to the other of pointless outbidding someone for something they can get for less money.

Instead why not have only one auction per turn for a certain TYPE of item that you want to obtain.

SO:

- 1 Ship reclaiming auction
- 1 flare auction
- 1 discard auction
- 1 draw auction
etc.

This is NOT to say that every turn you have to run through a list of options, but that starting with the Offense and then going with normal timing rules order (or just clockwise) each player MAY start an auction for something and that will be the ONLY auction for that kind of prize this turn, so you are in or out.

I think this melts away some of the disadvantages of the extremes and seems more natural.
 
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Just a Bill
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Maybe the auctions start "by themselves"
...
This could be a separate deck of auction items
...
It's probably also a good idea if each of these cards includes a minimum opening bid. The auction cards might even specify a particular auction style: Open, Pass-out, Once Around, Blind, etc.

I like this. No, I love it. It's clean, self-contained, offers lots of possibilities, and the idea of different icons on the cards for different auction styles, a la Modern Art, is brilliant.

Real potential there.
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And even though you might be able to buy the same things with Lucre that would cause the Lucre Equalization Problem, it might be significantly lessened since, (a) you can't count on being able to buy the equalizing thing when you want it, and (b) only one person can win each auction.

And another idea which comes to mind as a result of point (b) above, what if more than one person can indeed win the auction? By this I mean a specific mechanism by which more than one player might get the Lucre-spending opportunity, such as:

1. Conduct the auction normally, somebody wins with a bid of X lucre. Any other player might be able to buy the same thing that the winning player got, but for X+1 Lucre, or X+2, or Xx2, or X + the minimum opening bid, or whatever. So the auction is for the right to get the best price, everyone else pays a higher price (if they want to and are able to spend that much).

2. In the case of multiples of something being auctioned off, like 3 ships from the warp, someone wins and pays X for their three ships, and another player can pay X for two ships, and a third player can pay X for one ship, assuming they need it badly enough.

2a. As 2, but the players who buy the lesser amount pay slightly less, such as X-1 for two ships, and X-2 for one ship.

3. One or more Lucre powers that allow something like this. Such as a power that can get the same thing for the same price as the winner of the auction. Or a power that doesn't participate in auctions at all, but can always buy the item for the minimum opening bid.

4. Some combination of the above.
 
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Just a Bill
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
what if more than one person can indeed win the auction?

I was wondering about that, too. It happens in real-life auction houses, although I can't remember what it's called. A "lot" of glassware or swords or whatever will be put up with per-item pricing. The winner gets to pick as many as he wants at the bid price, and then other buyers can consider (at the same price) whatever units the first one leaves behind.

In that context, the variations in value/condition clearly drive the incentive to be the high bidder, which of course wouldn't really happen in Cosmic unless the per-unit auction were for cards in the discard pile or something. So I think you're on the right track with X+1 pricing or something, although my gut tells me that might be counterproductive (if you're going to pay X+1 after the fact, why didn't you bid X+1?).

One idea I had was that the high bidder sets both the per-unit price and a quantity cap. If I bid 2 Lucre per card and purchase 3 cards, then everyone else who wants cards can pay the same price per card for no more than three cards. (Or perhaps even less than three cards; not sure about that part.)

An interesting feature of this model is that you may want to be high bidder to make sure you get as many widgets as you need, and/or you may want to be high bidder to limit how many widgets somebody else can get (perhaps buying just one in order to shut Mr. Moneybags down this encounter).
 
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Adam McLean
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Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not totally sold on an auction mechanic, although the idea is growing on me as the suggestions roll in.

With all of the Lucre ideas floating around out there ... I can see a Lucre expansion being just that --- a Lucre only expansion. It could include a comprehensive collection of different ideas/mechanics that players can use as they see fit, with the accompanying rules for each: If they want to use classic rules, asteroids, auction deck, mining, etc., players/groups are then free to choose the way they want to play and the components used.

I would suggest that no aliens be included in this expansion (unless every one of them was a Lucre alien), especially since many people have no desire to play with Lucre so they shouldn't have to purchase an expansion just to get the aliens included in it.
 
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