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Investment/Rail game

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Oracle
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I'm in the early stages of designing a investment game with a rail theme, and I'm trying to decide if it's going to be feasible.

The general idea is players can buy and sell stock in one of the rail lines in the game. Whoever has the most shares of a given stock is the CEO of that line.

There will be delivery cards that the railways are bidding for (the CEO makes the bids), and this will be the same bidding mechanic as the cheapass game The Big Cheese. The rail line has a certain number of employees, and their "bid" is a promise to assign a certain number of employees to that contract. Once work is started on the contract, each turn one of the employees is removed and made available to bid again (representing less work to do as the job gets done).

When the last employee is removed, the delivery is complete. As payment, the stock in that rail line goes up and the CEO gets a cash bonus, both amount specified on the card.

I'd like some feedback on how people think this will work.

Jason

sedjtroll
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Well, as a starting point it soudns pretty good. Is there anything to do with money besides bid on railways to work on? Or is that bid the "promise" and the money is for buying shares in stock (which is done when?)?

When does the game end/how do you win?

I am not familiar with the Big Cheese, so I don't know exactly how the bidding goes.

I guess what i'm saying is that I'd need more information. It doesn't sound terrible, although I don't see that particular theme being all that fun. This mechanic would be great for that Humanitarian Aid idea from the beginnings of the CGD project... although the theme wouldn't necessarily match up exactly (each player might contribute to a given disaster, and players wouldn't necessarily bid money on the right to help at a disaster site- but I think that could be fixed up).

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Sorry, I couldn't help myself...

Oh IIIIIIIIII've been workin' on the rail-road,
Allll the live long daaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
I've been workin' on the rail-road,
just to pass the time a-way...

sedjtroll
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Another thought

Is there a significant reason to want to win the bid for one Rail card over another? Or do you just want to win as many auctions as possible?

- Seth

Oracle
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Investment/Rail game

sedjtroll wrote:
Well, as a starting point it soudns pretty good. Is there anything to do with money besides bid on railways to work on? Or is that bid the "promise" and the money is for buying shares in stock (which is done when?)?

The money is just for buying shares. You're bidding with employees which is a fixed aspect of the railroad. I haven't decided if it will be the same for all the railroads or what that number will be.

The winner will be the person with the most money at the end (including shares at the current market value).

sedjtroll wrote:
When does the game end/how do you win?

I don't know yet :). It could be when a person has a certain amount of money, or I might include special cards in the deliveries deck (like taxes or special bonuses for certain rail lines), and after x number of those cards come up, the game ends.

sedjtroll wrote:
I am not familiar with the Big Cheese, so I don't know exactly how the bidding goes.

I mentioned the Big Cheese to make it easier for someone familer with the game to know what I was talking about and then I tried to explain it.

The Big Cheese has one great mechanic, but then there's nothing more to the game besides that mechanic. The way it works is you're a VP at a company running a department with 10 employees. You're bidding on projects (from a deck of cards turned up one at a time) that you want your department to do, and your bids are to allocate that number of employees to the project. If you win the bid, you put the employees on that project card so they're not available to bid again. Then you remove one employee per turn (thematically, there's less work to do as the project progresses), so it's available again for bidding. When you remove the last employee the project is complete and at that point you get credit for it. The projects have different point values and involve a die roll so when you're bidding you don't know exactly what you'll end up with.

sedjtroll wrote:
I guess what i'm saying is that I'd need more information. It doesn't sound terrible, although I don't see that particular theme being all that fun. This mechanic would be great for that Humanitarian Aid idea from the beginnings of the CGD project... although the theme wouldn't necessarily match up exactly (each player might contribute to a given disaster, and players wouldn't necessarily bid money on the right to help at a disaster site- but I think that could be fixed up).

What seems to be going out on a limb is that the "players" are the rail lines, and the human players are buying the right to control one or more of the "players".

I like the way players can get some points for another players work by being a minority shareholder and having their stock go up.

sedjtroll wrote:
Is there a significant reason to want to win the bid for one Rail card over another? Or do you just want to win as many auctions as possible?

The different deliveries will have different payoffs, so you'll want to bid more for higher payoff ones, but if you wait for the big ones, you opponents will clean up on the little ones and if they only bid a few employees on each one they'll have the back in a few turns when the big one comes up.

There will have to be some reason to bid with one line over another. When a person controls more than one rail line, they'll have multiple sets of workers which might let them dominate too much.

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

There will have to be some reason to bid with one line over another. When a person controls more than one rail line, they'll have multiple sets of workers which might let them dominate too much.

Right... this sounds like a problem.

Also, how do you acquire shares? Maybe instead of purchasing shares, there could be a correlation between the number of workers 'bid' by each rail, and the shares of that rail's stock that a player gets...

Look at my Journal Entry for Coopetition in a Tile Laying Game and see what I was trying to accomplish- maybe it'll spur an idea along these lines.

- Seth

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I would certainly agree that the mechanic in The Big Cheese is good enough that it deserves a larger game built around it (I've certainly had a go myself.) But I don't think that the theme you've chosen quite works - a railway game really needs tracks and trains, not employees and deliveries.

I'm separating the stocks aspect for the moment since that's a tried and tested aspect of business games, even down to the "largest shareholder is the CEO" thing, which is just silly but works in game mechanic terms.

Like Seth, my reaction was that this might fit the Humanitarian Aid game idea nicely, but then the stocks system would be inappropriate.

Oracle
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Investment/Rail game

sedjtroll wrote:
Also, how do you acquire shares? Maybe instead of purchasing shares, there could be a correlation between the number of workers 'bid' by each rail, and the shares of that rail's stock that a player gets...

I was considering an acquire style 'buy up to 3 shares per turn', but it was obvious right from the start that wouldn't work. The lines don't merge to give you the option to sell, so it would have to be buy or sell up to 3 shares per turn, and that doesn't seem to be what I'm going for. It's something I'll have to work on if I go ahead with the game.

sedjtroll wrote:
Look at my Journal Entry for Coopetition in a Tile Laying Game and see what I was trying to accomplish- maybe it'll spur an idea along these lines.

There are some good ideas there, but I was looking more at the Coopetition in a game like acquire where a few people can have shares of a hotel chain, and one player attaching a new tile to that chain benefits them all in some way. More directly it would be like Pacific Northwest Rails. In that there's a per share bonus each time a player completes a run, so any number of players can get some money based on one player's action.

Scurra wrote:
I don't think that the theme you've chosen quite works - a railway game really needs tracks and trains, not employees and deliveries.

Imagine a game of Empire Builder where the maximum number of players are active regardless of how many human players are involved. Call each EB "player" a rail line. Now sell shares in the rail lines through some mechanic, and each time it's the turn of one of the lines to play, the player with the most shares of that line will pay on behalf of it. Track can be bought by the CEO with the money players have invested by buying shares (or the CEO can spend his own money if there's no money or shares left and something he really wants to build), and when you complete a run, you get half the payout as a bonus and the rest is divided evenly among shareholders. At the same time, events in the game manipulate stock prices; completing a run raises them, losing a load to an earthquare makes them plummet.

Instead of taking random cards to maintain a hand of 3, each turn the top card of the deck is turned over and the big cheese mechanic is used to bid on it, so each railway can have any number of cards available. Of course, the game ending conditions would change...maybe a player would have to have $250M and be CEO of a line that connects the major cities.

That's more or less where my starting point was (though the bidding mechanic came in later); but it's horribly over-complex, would take about 5 hours to play, and I think just playing empire builder would be more fun. My goal is to create a light strategy game that plays in about 30 minutes, so I abstracted away the Empire Builder aspect. Thematically, the workers sitting on a load card are building the track as necessary and running the train, but the player doesn't have to be concerned with it.

Scurra wrote:
Like Seth, my reaction was that this might fit the Humanitarian Aid game idea nicely, but then the stocks system would be inappropriate.

I can see how The Big Cheese can be re-themed quite nicely to fit an humanitarian aid game, but I can't think of a good way to add to it. As we've both said, The Big Cheese is mostly a mechanic looking for a game so we'd need to add something :).

Anyway, what I set out to do is develop a a simple investment game with a rail theme.

Jason

jwarrend
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Investment/Rail game

One thing I will say for this idea is that I think it's actually a strength of the design that the game doesn't involve track laying, because train games have been done to death and there's not really much room for originality in that genre, in my opinion. In fact, when you started describing your game, I thought that it sounded a lot like a few other games, but when I realized it's trackless, I think that's your only hope to do something different.

It's an interesting idea, and although it seems like a hodge-podge of other people's mechanics thrown together, well, so was Puerto Rico and yet that is probably the most highly touted game on this group, so nothing necessarily wrong with that.

I do think the idea of the CEO controlling the company's bidding, and all players choosing which companies to invest in, could lead to a very interesting gameplay with potential for different kinds of decisions. Unfortunately, though, I think it could also lead to very dull gameplay. The execution will be crucial. It's potentially a cool idea, if you can pull it off! The cute twist on Acquire is that instead of all players being able to affect the company's destiny, only the player with the most stock controls the fate of the company, yet all players can potentially benefit from a company's success. Interesting. Best of luck!

-Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:
One thing I will say for this idea is that I think it's actually a strength of the design that the game doesn't involve track laying, because train games have been done to death and there's not really much room for originality in that genre, in my opinion. In fact, when you started describing your game, I thought that it sounded a lot like a few other games, but when I realized it's trackless, I think that's your only hope to do something different.

Speaking as someone who is developing a railway game even now, you've just depressed me :)
Seriously though, you are probably right - for instance, my game does have track-laying but it's in a confined space and with distinct limitations, and a focus on other things rather than just the track, for all the reasons you outline above.
Still I like to think that there are still some original ideas to be had in track-laying games!

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Oracle wrote:

sedjtroll wrote:
Look at my Journal Entry for Coopetition in a Tile Laying Game and see what I was trying to accomplish- maybe it'll spur an idea along these lines.

There are some good ideas there, but I was looking more at the Coopetition in a game like acquire where a few people can have shares of a hotel chain, and one player attaching a new tile to that chain benefits them all in some way. More directly it would be like Pacific Northwest Rails. In that there's a per share bonus each time a player completes a run, so any number of players can get some money based on one player's action.

That's just the type of thing I was trying to accomplish in that journal entry... players invest in something, and that something confers a benefit and an income. I don't know, maybe the benefit is only for the "owner" and the income is split by the shareholders, or maybe the other way around- the income only goes to the owner and the shareholders all enjoy the benefit. I think the former makes more sense. So you want to invest n order to reap dividends, but the more people invest, the better it is for the owner...

Scurra wrote:
I don't think that the theme you've chosen quite works - a railway game really needs tracks and trains, not employees and deliveries.

Anyway, what I set out to do is develop a a simple investment game with a rail theme.

I'm still with Scurra. A light investment game is one thing. A game about Railways is quite another. :/

Stocks and bonds isn't too exciting and has been done...

What else do people invest in? Maybe Sports teams (Money invested goes toward better equipment or hiring better players-free agents)? Race Horses/Dogs (money goes toward better care, leading to better performances)? Land Speculation (Buy shares in plots of land, some land turns out to be nothing special, some land gets developed- Zoned Residential (Could be good or bad), some land gets developed- zoned Commercial (could be good or bad, and the reletive proximity to Residential could be a factor), and some land turns out to have really valuable resources (oil, gold))?

That last one certainly soudns viable. The Big Cheese mechanic could be for developing the land... maybe a facedown card mechanic involved so you don't know how valuable the land is until it's done being developed (or at least until after you bid your workers on it). But you DO know what it's Zoned as... maybe each player has a set of Residential Workers and Commercial Workers to bid with, so whoever bids the most basically determines the zoning- or else the zoning is determined by the card/tile and you can only bid with those workers....

This is all stream of consciousness, but it sounds more like a real game than the railroad theme. I know there are several rail games already, but I have not been interested enough in those to even check them out...

- Seth

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Quote:

Speaking as someone who is developing a railway game even now, you've just depressed me :)
Seriously though, you are probably right - for instance, my game does have track-laying but it's in a confined space and with distinct limitations, and a focus on other things rather than just the track, for all the reasons you outline above.
Still I like to think that there are still some original ideas to be had in track-laying games!

Hey, don't take me as an authoritative source, I confess to knowing little about rail games. But I think that there are so many out there that one would be very unlikely to just "accidentally" come up with something new; I think a bold new conceptual idea is necessary, a totally different set of mechanics than just track-laying and stock speculation or commodity delivery, all of which have been done really well. I'm sure there's room for innovation, I just think it will take relatively more innovation than, say, a game about "Pez dispenser collecting", about which almost ANY game would become the authoritative and innovative word in that under explored genre. (maybe).

Good luck with your game! I'm sure you will put my idle comments in their place with your game system!

-Jeff

Oracle
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jwarrend wrote:
One thing I will say for this idea is that I think it's actually a strength of the design that the game doesn't involve track laying, because train games have been done to death and there's not really much room for originality in that genre, in my opinion.

As I said, I did abstract away the track laying aspect. I'm glad you agree this was the right move. Tracklaying has been done very well already.

jwarrend wrote:
It's an interesting idea, and although it seems like a hodge-podge of other people's mechanics thrown together, well, so was Puerto Rico and yet that is probably the most highly touted game on this group, so nothing necessarily wrong with that.

I think it's unlikely at this point in my "career" as a game designer that I'll come up with a truly novel mechanic, so I think it's best if I borrow other mechanics that have been tried and tested and concentrate on getting them to work together. Even if I do invent my own mechanic, chances are someone's already done it and worked out the kinks, so I'm better off knowing where the mechanics come from so I can take advantage of using a version with the kinks worked out.

jwarrend wrote:
I do think the idea of the CEO controlling the company's bidding, and all players choosing which companies to invest in, could lead to a very interesting gameplay with potential for different kinds of decisions. Unfortunately, though, I think it could also lead to very dull gameplay. The execution will be crucial.

I agree, which is why I'm asking for input so early in the design :).

Between stock certificates and delivery cards, even a scaled down prototype will probably need at least 100 cards, which will be a lot of work. The input I get here will help make that first prototype better.

sedjtroll wrote:

Race Horses/Dogs (money goes toward better care, leading to better performances)? Land Speculation (Buy shares in plots of land, some land turns out to be nothing special, some land gets developed- Zoned Residential (Could be good or bad), some land gets developed- zoned Commercial (could be good or bad, and the reletive proximity to Residential could be a factor), and some land turns out to have really valuable resources (oil, gold))

These ideas both sound good. Besides what you said about the land speculation, the Big Cheese mechanic could be used to buy the Race Horses/Dogs, and they could have attributes about how many dice you get to throw for them in a race each turn, like 2d6 or d10. You get VPs for how well each of your animals performs.

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

sedjtroll wrote:

Race Horses/Dogs (money goes toward better care, leading to better performances)? Land Speculation (Buy shares in plots of land, some land turns out to be nothing special, some land gets developed- Zoned Residential (Could be good or bad), some land gets developed- zoned Commercial (could be good or bad, and the reletive proximity to Residential could be a factor), and some land turns out to have really valuable resources (oil, gold))

These ideas both sound good. Besides what you said about the land speculation, the Big Cheese mechanic could be used to buy the Race Horses/Dogs, and they could have attributes about how many dice you get to throw for them in a race each turn, like 2d6 or d10. You get VPs for how well each of your animals performs.

I'm not sure I get what you mean about the buying of race animals. I don't see the big cheese mecahnic working there (what degrades? The life of the dog and how many races it can run before it's lame? The people training it, so after a while it's as trained as it's going to get?)

I don't like it as much as the other- the land spec idea just sounds more like a real game. However, I think the Race thing could also turn into a game, but I don't yet see how these particular mechanics would make it do so.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
I'm not sure I get what you mean about the buying of race animals. I don't see the big cheese mecahnic working there (what degrades? The life of the dog and how many races it can run before it's lame? The people training it, so after a while it's as trained as it's going to get?)

I was thinking of the training, so when all the trainers are removed, it's ready to race.

sedjtroll wrote:

I don't like it as much as the other- the land spec idea just sounds more like a real game. However, I think the Race thing could also turn into a game, but I don't yet see how these particular mechanics would make it do so.

I think you're right, it's just that you did a good job summing up the land spec game and the animal one does have some potential.

I also missed the concept that you're buying shares in a relitively small amount of land instead of entirely owning a large number of plots of land. I like your way better. It seems to have a lot of potential, but it will also be hard to develop

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

I was thinking of the training, so when all the trainers are removed, it's ready to race.

Sounds like it could work, but thematically- that's not how you train animals :/

Quote:

I also missed the concept that you're buying shares in a relitively small amount of land instead of entirely owning a large number of plots of land. I like your way better. It seems to have a lot of potential, but it will also be hard to develop

I think it could be considered to have started already... if you'd be willing to lend your ideas and I'll lend mine, we could get a Cooperative/Competetive game going where players invest in each others stuff (in order to earn and benefit), but the more they invest, the more they help their opponents (the owner). The Big Cheese mechanic is great for bidding a non-money resource (time and effort instead of money). Money and/or other resources could be spent on investing, and on more workinrs perhaps.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
Sounds like it could work, but thematically- that's not how you train animals :/

As Scurra said, the person with the most shares isn't necessarily the CEO either. Call it thematic license :)

sedjtroll wrote:
I think it could be considered to have started already... if you'd be willing to lend your ideas and I'll lend mine, we could get a Cooperative/Competetive game going where players invest in each others stuff (in order to earn and benefit), but the more they invest, the more they help their opponents (the owner). The Big Cheese mechanic is great for bidding a non-money resource (time and effort instead of money). Money and/or other resources could be spent on investing, and on more workinrs perhaps.

I'd certainly be willing to work together on the idea.

I've been thinking a lot about using money to hire more workers. It makes sense that players should be able to, but it would help a leader run away with the game.

There should be something in place to prevent the strategy from degenerating into accumulating as much stock as possible (such as a tax on each share owned that comes up from time to time).

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

I've been thinking a lot about using money to hire more workers. It makes sense that players should be able to, but it would help a leader run away with the game.

There should be something in place to prevent the strategy from degenerating into accumulating as much stock as possible (such as a tax on each share owned that comes up from time to time).

Perhaps the workers you DO get should have an Upkeep. There was a game I had on the Macintosh a while ago called Chaos Overlords, which was one of thise resource management (turn based) games where each turn you can hire a thug, goon, or other miscreant, and you can assign each of your hirelings an action, like attacking other gangs or attempt to control a building, or go out and make some money. The point is, each unit had an upkeep, and you could fire them if you didn't want to pay them. The idea being that they could make you more money then you spend on them... and at some point enough money to sustain you so you could research other stuff and beat people up.

sedjtroll
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Too many cooks....

Ok, there's an inherant problem with the Big Cheese mechanic, but I don't think it's insurmountable.

Ok, so you bid in numbers of employees that you will devote to the job. I assume the highest bidder wins the opportunity to do the job and allocate their workers to it. However, the higher the bid, the more workers assigned, the LONGER it takes to get the job done.

This is sort of opposite the way it should be. Aside from the old "Too many cooks spoil the broth" saying, I cant think of a situation where more workers would make a job take longer, or at least not one where you'd want it to.

So what ought to be done perhaps is find a way for the LOW bid to win. Then have a compelling reason to want to bid high... like you have to pay a high upkeep for each guy that doesn't get assigned to a job (and no upkeep for used workers- somethinglike that).

Such jobs might have a minimum nuber of workers needed to do the job... and/or a maximum that can be assigned to it. Or not. I don't know, I just think this would be an interesting twist which would actually bring the theme to life a little better.

- Seth

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Re: Too many cooks....

sedjtroll wrote:
Ok, so you bid in numbers of employees that you will devote to the job. I assume the highest bidder wins the opportunity to do the job and allocate their workers to it. However, the higher the bid, the more workers assigned, the LONGER it takes to get the job done.

This is sort of opposite the way it should be. Aside from the old "Too many cooks spoil the broth" saying, I cant think of a situation where more workers would make a job take longer, or at least not one where you'd want it to.

- Seth

I think the mechanic works in the Big Cheese because it's somewhat satirical. The way I see it is, each bid is a way to suck up to your boss by showing how productive and extravagant (i.e. wasteful) you can make your project.

But I think you've hit on something; IRL, you bid low, not high. So the mechanic taken as it is into a more "serious" game may be a little confusing, because the biggest project wins.

However, I believe James Ernest re-used this mechanic in his new game, One False Step for Mankind. In one of its phases, players bid for cities. But the higher the winning bid, the longer it takes for the player to actually use his new city. Perhaps this can help us out?

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Re: Too many cooks....

sedjtroll wrote:
Ok, so you bid in numbers of employees that you will devote to the job. I assume the highest bidder wins the opportunity to do the job and allocate their workers to it. However, the higher the bid, the more workers assigned, the LONGER it takes to get the job done.

You're right, I hadn't considered that. I was considering the theme to be of secondary importance, but this is a good example of why that's a poor design tactic.

sedjtroll wrote:
So what ought to be done perhaps is find a way for the LOW bid to win. Then have a compelling reason to want to bid high... like you have to pay a high upkeep for each guy that doesn't get assigned to a job (and no upkeep for used workers- somethinglike that).

I don't think that's a good solution; it puts you in a situation where it's bad to have workers available to do work; or not spend all your resources. I also don't see how this solves the problem in the first place; it still takes longer to finish a job if you throw more people at it, only now you have more incentive to do that.

Also thematically, you have to pay more to keep your workers idle than to have them do work. I'm not sure this would be better than (more workers) = (job is finished slower).

It also seems like play would be very complex (do you try to keep all your workers occupied by bidding high, or try and keep them available so you can be working on a lot of projects at once, but get nailed by lots of upkeep payments?) But that might not necessarily be a bad thing, especially if we can balance the upkeep amount well enough.

We could also have a use it or lose it situation, where you can hire additional workers, but if you leave workers idle they get bored, so a certain percentage of your idle workforce quits each turn. The hiring process should be difficult enough that this is a bad thing.

sedjtroll wrote:
Such jobs might have a minimum nuber of workers needed to do the job... and/or a maximum that can be assigned to it. Or not. I don't know, I just think this would be an interesting twist which would actually bring the theme to life a little better.

That could work, but it doesn't really relate to this issue. We could change the Big Cheese mechanic so that the length of time to complete a job is printed on that job card, and it's constant regardless of how many workers are working on the job. When that much time elapses, all the workers are released. That does break some of the elegance of the mechanic though, because now you need to add something to keep track of how much time has elapsed.

IngredientX wrote:
I think the mechanic works in the Big Cheese because it's somewhat satirical. The way I see it is, each bid is a way to suck up to your boss by showing how productive and extravagant (i.e. wasteful) you can make your project.

I just took it to be an fairly abstract game and didn't even think about it that way. It does make the theme of the game a lot better to look at it like that. :)

IngredientX wrote:
However, I believe James Ernest re-used this mechanic in his new game, One False Step for Mankind. In one of its phases, players bid for cities. But the higher the winning bid, the longer it takes for the player to actually use his new city. Perhaps this can help us out?

All I knew about One False Step was what's on the cheapass site. I just a read a review on BGG. It sounds like you're bidding for control of a city, and the higher the bid, the longer it takes for the city to come under your control (by the BC mechanic). The review doesn't say what you're bidding, but presumably it's not workers, so it doesn't help us with the worker mechanic.

It does raise an interesting new point though. The workers are a hold over from my original train themed game. Now we're talking about building improvements on properties (I think). So we can change the theme a little so we're bidding some resource.

If we now have a fixed number of workers doing the job, regardless of the bid, and we're bidding tons of concrete (for example), the workers can only handle one ton of concrete per turn, so the mechanic will work as far as higher bid takes longer to complete. Thematically we're bidding to produce more grandiose structures on the property, which will need more concrete (and take more time).

The problem with this is that there's no reason you should get back the concrete after using it on the building. We could say there's a warehouse with a fixed amount of space and a certain amount of the space gets allocated for the job (we can't leave it on site in case it rains or gets stolen). This is weak too though because if we're so good at refilling the warehouse instantly, why do we have to pre-allocate all the concrete needed for the job?

Sorry if this is a bit rambling; I'm trying to brainstorm and just throwing random ideas in the air.

Jason

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Re: Too many cooks....

Oracle wrote:

I don't think that's a good solution; it puts you in a situation where it's bad to have workers available to do work; or not spend all your resources. I also don't see how this solves the problem in the first place; it still takes longer to finish a job if you throw more people at it, only now you have more incentive to do that.

But it IS bad to have workers available to do work. In the real world that means your;e not making money. You still have to pay your workers though.

As far as the 'no upkeep for used workers' thing, I thought about that- their pay could be considered to have already been taken out of your compensation for getting the job done (paid by the client or watever)

Quote:
It does raise an interesting new point though. The workers are a hold over from my original train themed game. Now we're talking about building improvements on properties (I think). So we can change the theme a little so we're bidding some resource.

On the contrary, I think we're better off representing Contractors bidding jobs. The low bid wins (often)- with regards to price, but also sometimes with regards to schedule. But if you have people sitting around, you're losing money. That's the way it works in the real world.

So when you bid, what you're saying is "I can do that job in 3 days" (1 worker = 1 day's work?) as opposed to "I'll put 5 workers on that job."

- Seth

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Re: Too many cooks....

Oracle wrote:

The problem with this is that there's no reason you should get back the concrete after using it on the building. We could say there's a warehouse with a fixed amount of space and a certain amount of the space gets allocated for the job (we can't leave it on site in case it rains or gets stolen). This is weak too though because if we're so good at refilling the warehouse instantly, why do we have to pre-allocate all the concrete needed for the job?

Sorry if this is a bit rambling; I'm trying to brainstorm and just throwing random ideas in the air.
Jason

I suppose you could get money back as payment for the job you just did, and use that to buy more concrete, and other supplies.

Sorry for the short post; trying to finish up after-hours at work. :x

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Re: Too many cooks....

sedjtroll wrote:
As far as the 'no upkeep for used workers' thing, I thought about that- their pay could be considered to have already been taken out of your compensation for getting the job done (paid by the client or watever)

That does make sense. You can even have the employees bill there hours to specific projects. This might be a complicated to explain in the theme though.

sedjtroll wrote:

On the contrary, I think we're better off representing Contractors bidding jobs. The low bid wins (often)- with regards to price, but also sometimes with regards to schedule. But if you have people sitting around, you're losing money. That's the way it works in the real world.

So when you bid, what you're saying is "I can do that job in 3 days" (1 worker = 1 day's work?) as opposed to "I'll put 5 workers on that job."

Do you mean abandon the Big Cheese mechanic then? It seems integral to the mechanic that the more you bid the longer it takes.

Jason

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Re: Too many cooks....

Oracle wrote:

Do you mean abandon the Big Cheese mechanic then? It seems integral to the mechanic that the more you bid the longer it takes.

Nononono...

Just turn it around. Same mechanic, but you want to be the LOW bidder. So winning with a bid of only 3 isn't as 'good' for you as winning with a bid of 5 (you have the 'penalty' of 2 workers idle), but it's a lot better than someone else winning (maybe with a bid of 4)- you'd have all 5 workers idle, and you wouldn't get whatever payment for finishing the job.

- Seth

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Re: Too many cooks....

sedjtroll wrote:
Just turn it around. Same mechanic, but you want to be the LOW bidder. So winning with a bid of only 3 isn't as 'good' for you as winning with a bid of 5 (you have the 'penalty' of 2 workers idle), but it's a lot better than someone else winning (maybe with a bid of 4)- you'd have all 5 workers idle, and you wouldn't get whatever payment for finishing the job.

Then why can't I just open with a bid of all my workers? Even if we introduce a rule that you can only raise by 1, it doesn't seem like much strategy; either raise and give your opponent the chance to raise one more or make your opponent win the lower amount. But if the opponent wins the lower amount, I'm still screwed because he's now doing productive work and I have more idle workers.

Also, aren't we still trying to win as many bids as possible? Say there are 10 workers per player and 2 players. If player 1 wins with a bid of 10, player 2 will will only be able to win with a bid of 1, so player player 2 is in a lot of trouble...but then as player 1 frees up workers, player 2 can start winning all the auctions by outbidding player by 1 more than their number of workers. Player 1's only defense is to not bid as he frees up workers so player 2 will keep winning auctions with 1.

I don't see what the strategy will be. If there's an even number of workers and I go first, I know I can't win the auction if we keep one upping each other, so why would I open the bidding at all? If there's an odd number of workers, why will my opponent raise my bid of 1 since they know they can't win the auction?

I'm sorry if I'm doing a bad job explaining what I mean; even reading back, I don't think it's clear. I just don't think an auction mechanic will work when you're trying to bid high. It's completely illogical.

Thematically, you're trying to use as many workers on a project as possible? Why?

In real life, all the hours will be billed to the client and raise the price needlessly. IRL, what is the difference between 10 people assigned to a project that needs 2 (so they will end up sitting idle without management having any control) or having the workers sit idle officially (but at least management is aware of the problem so they do something). The same amount of work still gets done and it costs the company the same amount.

Jason
p.s. This post gives me a d4 :)

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Perhaps I wasn't clear because I think there's been some misunderstanding.

All I'm suggesting is that instead of bidding with workers, and having the high bid win... haw about bidding with workers and having the low bid win?

Aside: How exactly does the Big Cheese auction mechanic go? Is it a "once around" auction, or do players take turns bidding each other up? Do people in that game have to start with a bid of 1, and only increase by 1 unit per bid?

I thought it would be more like you bid as much as you like, and if you have the high bid, you win the job (we're still talking about The Big Cheese here).

Therefore in the model I suggest, you bid as much as you like, and if you have the LOW bid you win the job. I.E. You bid LESS than the previous bid each time.

So if Player 1 bids 10 guys, and Player 2 lets him win that auction, then for the next one player 2 can bid whatever he likes. Player 1 has no guys to bid, therefore he can't "underbid" Player 2.

I don't know where the "increment by one" thing came into it, but I think there was some confusion about the general direction of "incrementing" a bid. Since the low bid wins, "outbidding" an opponent means offering to do the job "faster," or with fewer dudes. No matter how many dudes you end up winning the bid with it is assumed that the job gets completed.

I just realized an inherant problem that could make this not work- maybe it's what you were alluding to: What's to stop someone from just opening with a bid of 1? In BC one might say what's to stop someone from opening with a high bid, but the answer there is simple. They will be out of guys if they do that, and for quite some time.

So maybe the "low bid" thing won't work after all, unless maybe there's some penalty to pay when you win a bid (you pay something per worker not assigned to the job). That might make it so you want to bid higher (cause you can't afford not to). But this is making less and less sense.

Perhaps just sticking with the original BC mechanic is the way to go, and just say that the clients dont care how long it takes to do a job- maybe they equate more time working on it to a better final project.

- Seth

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The only really good solution to the "low bid" dilemma is to run a Dutch Auction instead. Unfortunately, I think the only viable way to do it is the way Merchants of Amsterdam did it, which is to use a mechanical device to control the process.
A blind bidding system where the lowest bid won unless it was tied in which case it went to the next highest unique bid might be fun.

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Scurra wrote:
The only really good solution to the "low bid" dilemma is to run a Dutch Auction instead. Unfortunately, I think the only viable way to do it is the way Merchants of Amsterdam did it, which is to use a mechanical device to control the process.
A blind bidding system where the lowest bid won unless it was tied in which case it went to the next highest unique bid might be fun.

Isn't a Dutch Auction a way of selling multiple items to the highest bidders?

You blind bidding idea sounds like it could work very well, but it will change the playability quite a bit from a regular auction. The alternative is to just ignore the thematic problem Seth pointed out and concentrate on game play even if there are holes in the theme. The best way to tell which is the best thing to do is probably to playtest both.

There's also the issue of being encouraged to have most of your bidding resources tied up instead of wanting to keep them free for the next auction. It all comes down to whether the penalty for idle workers is small enough to just ignore it and bid 1 for every auction or severe enough that it's more important to concentrate on minimizing your idle workers than playing the game.

Jason

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Suppose that at the end of each turn/round/phase/auction/whatever you must pay a fee to your unemployed workers. This way you would want to employ as many workers as possible, but the winner of an auction is the one who bids the lowest amount of workers on it.

So, in a sense you are still bidding money, but, due to the fact that you get a worker back each turn, time also plays an important role. Perhaps, some "contracts" return workers faster than others. A nice twist would be that, when a contract is finished (ie all your workers are returned from that contract), you get an amount of money, of course this amount of money will also vary per contract.

I think this whole idea is already a nice basis for a game, although you probably need to add a few more dimensions for a truly rich and interesting game.

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sedjtroll wrote:
Aside: How exactly does the Big Cheese auction mechanic go? Is it a "once around" auction, or do players take turns bidding each other up? Do people in that game have to start with a bid of 1, and only increase by 1 unit per bid?

I thought it would be more like you bid as much as you like, and if you have the high bid, you win the job (we're still talking about The Big Cheese here).

I'm pretty sure it goes as you've described it you keep bidding until nobody wants to raise it.

sedjtroll wrote:
So if Player 1 bids 10 guys, and Player 2 lets him win that auction, then for the next one player 2 can bid whatever he likes. Player 1 has no guys to bid, therefore he can't "underbid" Player 2.

I misunderstood that before. I thought we were still bidding higher.

sedjtroll wrote:
I don't know where the "increment by one" thing came into it, but I think there was some confusion about the general direction of "incrementing" a bid. Since the low bid wins, "outbidding" an opponent means offering to do the job "faster," or with fewer dudes. No matter how many dudes you end up winning the bid with it is assumed that the job gets completed.

Because of the way I misunderstood it, I thought it would be possible to win with a final "low" bid of 10 because you were bidding up, the last bid must still win; therefore should only be allowed to increase by 1. To me, it followed from incorrect starting assumptions.

sedjtroll wrote:
I just realized an inherant problem that could make this not work- maybe it's what you were alluding to: What's to stop someone from just opening with a bid of 1? In BC one might say what's to stop someone from opening with a high bid, but the answer there is simple. They will be out of guys if they do that, and for quite some time.

So maybe the "low bid" thing won't work after all, unless maybe there's some penalty to pay when you win a bid (you pay something per worker not assigned to the job). That might make it so you want to bid higher (cause you can't afford not to). But this is making less and less sense.

This is exactly what I was getting at. It becomes a trade off of minimizing your penalty while maximizing your workers available to win other bids. I think the game falls apart at that point and it just won't be fun.

sedjtroll wrote:
Perhaps just sticking with the original BC mechanic is the way to go, and just say that the clients dont care how long it takes to do a job- maybe they equate more time working on it to a better final project.

At this point, that's what seems to be the way to go, but after this thread of conversation, I'm not very satisfied with it any more.

Jason

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