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Subject: How similar are the top rated auctioning games? rss

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Matias Grynderup
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I'm looking to add a couple of boardgames to my collection, and after looking at the ratings and a copuple of reviews, I have decided to add one or more of the following games to my collection:

Power Grid
The Princes of Florence
El Grande
Ra

All of these games seem to be auction/bidding games, and I'm wondering how similar the games are? They all seem pretty good if I have to judge them by their reviews, and they all have great ratings. But I don't want to buy 4 quite similar games. So can anybody tell me how much the games resemble each other?
 
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Barak Engel
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I can only speak to Power Grid and PoF... We have Ra but we haven't played it yet. And those two are very very different - it would never occur to me to try putting them in the same bucket.
 
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Adam Smiles
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All 4 games are excellent and should be welcome additions to any collection. But they have very little in common. El Grande isn't really an auction game. You play a card each round and the value of the card will determine the order in which player select special actions.

Princes and Power Grid both have an auction as part of the game, but the auction is only 30-40% of the games. There are other things going on outside of the auction.

Ra is the only straight auction on the list. Every turn your options are to add something to the lot, or force an auction on the current lot.

I recomment getting all of them. If you're looking for which ones to buy from the list.... While I probably enjoy Princes and El Grande the most, they are also only really good with 5 players. The quality of the game (in my opinion) decrease with the number of players. Ra and Power Grid hold up better across a broader number of players (although I still think they're also better with 4 or 5 than with other numbers).
 
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Sean T
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Of the games you mentioned only Ra is a pure auction game. The others have an auction as part of the game, but it isn't the only part. Even Ra is a little different from most games where auctions are the main mechanic due to the fact that how much you can bid is limited to three specific costs depending upon which sun tiles you have. They are all top notch games and all quite different from each other.
 
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Marc P
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There are many elements to a turn in Power Grid. While mastering the auction (timing, value of item, etc) is important, the other two major elements of the turn focus on resource control and area control.

El Grande a bidding mechanic, but you're angling for a specific place in the order (1st, 2nd, last) that will, hopefully, result in your being able to use a specific power that turn for the least expenditure. Further, you have 13 bidding cards valued 1-13 that can each only be used once. The majority of the game, however, is area control.

Ra is completely about bidding for "lots" of items to complete sets, accumulate points, or have the most of an item. There are also bad items in lots that remove items from your inventory. On your turn, you may pull an item from the bag and add it to the lot, or declare an auction (once around) on the existing lot. Everyone starts each round with 4 bidding chits that all have different values. When you win an auction, you place your bidding chit on the board and take the one that won the last auction.

I haven't played PoF.

In the three that I have played, the bidding aspect feels completely different. In PG, the auction is open--it goes around until all but one has passed, so values can increase, and there is a point where you can drive the cost up to drain another player of cash. In EG, everyone must bid, so you lose one of your bidding cards each round. In Ra, you may pass on multiple auctions (once you've won 4 lots, you're done for the round) and play against the bag until the round is over.

I've also played Modern Art, another pure auction game, and it feels completely different from Ra. I own both, and I don't think that there's much overlap at all.

So of the 4 you mention, I can say that 3 are fine games, and are worth having in the same collection.

edit: added white space for clarity
 
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Matias Grynderup
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Thanks for all the good (and speedy) answers. I think I'll have to eventually buy all of them...
 
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Chris Shaffer
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slowcorner wrote:
There are many elements to a turn in Power Grid. While mastering the auction (timing, value of item, etc) is important, the other two major elements of the turn focus on resource control and area control.


I think you've left out the heart of the game. IMHO, the major element of the game is setting turn order, which is derived in part from the area control element of the game. The size of each player's area (i.e. the number of power plants owned) determines the order each turn. This is the defining element of Power Grid -- master it, and you will do well. Failure to understand the effects of turn order will directly result in failure at the game.
 
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Alex Sorbello
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the only real bidding game is RA, el grand is actually a area influence game and Powergrid a network building game. PoF is actually a niche game but all of the latter although have a auction mechanic they are not the heart of the game IMO.
 
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Jeff Meitzler
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RA and power grid can be played with 2 players, ( and i like 2 player ra alot). RA is much, much easier to learn.

Hope this helps.
 
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John Stimson
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I've played all four and will agree that all four games are completely disimiliar.

The order of auction importance (increasing)is El Grande then PoF then PG then RA. I think it's a misnomer to call El Grande an auction game as the auction is less than 5% of the game. While the auctions are what make RA work, the mechanic is not truly an open free flowing auction system. I much prefer the auctions in PowerGrid.

I also think if you like auction games Das Zepter von Zavandor is a winner as well.

 
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Dave Eisen
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I disagree strongly about the relative placement of Princes of Florence and Power Grid there. The only (well, almost the only) player interaction in Princes of Florence is in the auctions. Power Grid there is board control, managing turn order, deciding how much of each resource to buy.

I would say that while not a pure auction game, Princes of Florence is 95% one. Power Grid not even close.
 
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Marc P
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TheCat wrote:
I think you've left out the heart of the game. IMHO, the major element of the game is setting turn order, which is derived in part from the area control element of the game. The size of each player's area (i.e. the number of power plants owned) determines the order each turn. This is the defining element of Power Grid -- master it, and you will do well. Failure to understand the effects of turn order will directly result in failure at the game.


All true, of course. I think that I was considering the turn order dance something that you keep in mind during the auction and area control parts of the turn, rather than being a separate action. Of course, the player aid (that lists the parts of the turn) places Set Turn Order as the first action, but it's the actions of the players on the previous turn that determines what the order will be. The same would apply in Zeptor, where you balance your actions to avoid the dreaded 1st or 2nd spots right before an auction.



edit: subject-verb agreement :-)
 
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John Stimson
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Regarding Princes of Florence and the importance of the auctions. I rank it below PG in terms of importance for two reasons.

1. PoF auctions in the begining of the game are almost totally irrelevant. Once you make sure the builder and jesters go for a reasonable amount of money, there really is nothing else to bid up on because if someone buys an item you are hoping to buy, there is almost always an acceptable alternative.

2. Later auctions can be critical but it takes experienced players to recognize the worth of an item to another player. I've seen situations where a player obviously needs a park (for example) and I put a park up for auction, another player bids. The person, who needed the park critically, PASSED. I knew it was critical to one person, but they themselves didn't know until way too late. In other words, with the right group of good players, PoF is an auction game. In the wrong group PoF is a planning game with a minor auction element.

OTOH in Power Grid auctions are far less subtle. Granted placement of powerplants is an element, and turn order is crucial, but in the end Power Grid usually boils down to buying the right power plants at the right times.
 
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