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Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

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Hedge-o-Matic
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I've recently finished a game that involves players bidding cards in order to take actions. The rules are ready to go, and seem simple enough, but I've found my solo-playtesting less than great fun, mostly due to trying to "fake" a bidding war.

In the game, the players bid face-down cards, and reveal their bids when there are no more bids. The highest bid wins, and that player loses all the cards tehy bid, while the losers can't act, but only lose a single card they bod. So far, so good.

I've tried "playing" all the sides in a bidding contest, but I have to fake ignorance I don't have.

I've tried running all bids randomly, rolling a d6 and having each persona bid that total value, if they have it, and then play the resultant winner's action to their best advantace.

I've tried runing all players but on randomly, bidding one player's cards as best I can against a randomly detirmined auction, where the other players either bid a face-down card, or stop bidding at random.

I've also just tried to play the rest of the game, delcaring that each player discards 1-6 random cards, and the player discarding the highest value wins an action, while the others discard only one card and don't get to act. This skips the auction aspect altogether, but allows me to test the play of the rest of the game.

What a pain! All of these systems take a fast bidding mechanism and makes it a solo nightmare.

Any other suggestions?

sedjtroll
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Re: Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

Hedge-o-Matic wrote:
Any other suggestions?

How about getting a friend or two to play the other hands in the auction?

- Seth

Hedge-o-Matic
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Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

Hmmm... now there's an interesting idea...

I wonder who might be around in Tucson to help me out...

seo
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Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

How about writing a small program to simulate the players bidding?

A good AI program will mean a lot of work, but maybe you can settle with something really basic (as you did manually), but automated by a simple program or PHP/ASP/JS routine.

I'd be glad to help you.

Seo

zaiga
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Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

I think games that rely heavy on mind games can't really be solo playtested very well. There's one trick I do use though. What you could do is assign each virtual player a personality. For example, one player always bids as much as he can, another player always tries to get something as cheap as possible, and yet another player only bids a lot when a particular item comes up, etc.

This way you can determine if the game system actually works, but you cannot really determine if the game will be fun, or if the choices are really meaningful. In the end, you will have to playtest with real people to find out these things.

jwalduck
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Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

Personas is a good idea but you would also need to simulate how much each player wants to take the action at that point in the game. Players will likely bid low if there is nothing they can do with the action (unless they are deperately trying to stop someone else getting it).

Use personas but also contemplate exactly what this persona wants to do at this point in the game.

Hedge-o-Matic
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Advice for simulating a bidding contest?

I've got no programming skills, but I may take you up on that offer some time in the future, Seo. Thaks! Well, I did end up automating the other player's bidding, in a way. Asimov would be proud!

Here' how I did it: It occurred to me that I wouldn't know the reasoning behind another player's actions, and so I'd run one player as myself, and choose the best course of action I could. Then I'd flip two coins. If either came up heads, the other player would bid a single card. I'd then continue with my own bid, if I desired. Once a player declines to continue bidding, they cannot resume, and when I decided to stop bidding, I would only flip a single coin to see whether or not the other player would continue. After both of us stopped bidding, I'd flip up the bids and see who won.

Simple, but it worked, and I had fun chosing my own bids, which is a good sign.

The odd thing is that, after a few rounds of this, I hadn't won many more times than the opponant, which just goes to show how skillful my gameplay is!

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