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Bidding Options

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Jeremiah_Lee
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I'm trying to decide how to handle bidding in a game I'm finishing up. I'm just not sure if it's advantageous, or disadvantageous to be the first bidder in what I'm calling an 'Around with dead pass' bidding system. Anyone thought about this more than I have, and come up with an answer? Or, is there not a strict answer, as it might be a benefit in some instances, but not others.

Around w/dead pass
- Start with one player and go around, you may not come back in if you pass

Open bidding
- like you might see at a not-in-a-game auction, like an estate sale
Once Around
- Start with one player and go around, everyone gets a chance to bid once
Around w/alive pass
- Start with one player and go around, you may pass and come back in later

fecundity
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I think it depends at least

I think it depends at least on how obvious the optimal bid is and on the size of the jump between bid levels:

Suppose that the optimal bid is obvious; then going first allows you to make the best bid, and subsequent bidders will need to make a higher, non-optimal bid or let you have it. This is a big deal if there is a big jump between bid levels; anyone outbidding the first player will need to pay a lot for it.

If the optimal bid is not so obvious, going first may not be so great. As first bidder, you can either pass (and miss out on bidding entirely) or make a wild guess (because you won't even have the information of what other people were willing to bid). If you bid conservatively and later bidders overbid by small steps, then it may be at the point of being a reasonable bid-- either a later bidder wins or you have to pay a lot for it. If you bid recklessly, then you may end up being hung out to dry.

Jeremiah_Lee
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Thanks for the input, this

Thanks for the input, this certainly helps.

apeloverage
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another option

is blind simultaneous bidding (ie everyone chooses their bid, then reveals them at the same time).

SiddGames
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Constraints

I think it also depends on how tight the bidding resources are. If a typical winning bid is in the range of 1 to 3, then going first is advantageous because you can potentially lock out the other bidders, or force someone who really wants it to bid "very high" on it. If the typical winning bid can be anywhere from 1 (nobody wants it) to 15 or 20, then going first doesn't really give an advantage, I think.

InvisibleJon
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Blind simultaneous bids and what happens to the bids afterwards.

apeloverage wrote:
is blind simultaneous bidding (ie everyone chooses their bid, then reveals them at the same time).
I'm a big fan of the blind simultaneous bid. A lot hinges on how you resolve tied high bids. One way (that I'm fond of) is to give ties to the highest non-tied bidder. This encourages players to overbid, even in situations where the optimal bid (for a non-blind simultaneous situation) is obvious. After all, you don't want to tie with another palayer and give the item you're bidding on to a player who low-balls. Another (obvious) way to resolve ties is to have all tied bidders engage in a second simultaneous bid-off.

What you do to the resources that are bid makes a big difference too. Typically, only the winner loses the resources bid. Bidding changes dramatically if all bidders lose the resources bid, or if only the high and low bidders lose the resources bid, or if all bidders lose their resources bid.

leafeater
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Great idea

I am working on a game right now that involves a blind bid.

I never thought about forcing all players that bid to give up the resources whether they win or lose.
That adds a lot to the bid.

InvisibleJon
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One more twist: Added fees

Also, you could add fees to the bidding process. You could have a fee to participate in a bid ($1 to join the bidding round). You could have a fee for each bid placed ($1 per bid). You could make either of the previous fees random (1/3 no fee, 1/2 $1, 1/6 $2). You could have a fee for winning (1/3 $1, 1/3 $2, 1/3 $4).

Fees to participate help ensure that only interested parties participate. Fees to bid encourage players to make fewer bids, thereby accelerating the bidding process (or allow players with lots of money to place lots of bids and force players with little money out of the bid). Randomizing either of these fees slows the game down a little (especially true for the "per bid" situation) but amps up the excitement. Fees for winning encourage winning bidders to be cautious in their bid and keep a cash reserve for unexpected costs.

ReneWiersma
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The "around, with dead pass"

The "around, with dead pass" auction mechanic works best when the "right" price of any given thing up for auction ranges somewhere between $4 and $8. This way, if you are first to bid, you really want to bid the right amount right away, because paying $1 more really makes a difference, but not so much a difference that you won't be overbid. If you bid too low and the auction gets back to you, the price might be too high. However, if you bid a certain amount and it goes uncontested you wonder whether you haven't bid too much!

I don't like the "around, with dead pass" auction when the bidding increments might be too fine grained compared to the usual price. For example, suppose the typical price for something is somewhere in the range of $20 to $30. That way one player may bid $15 trying to get it cheap, another player bids $16, et cetera. This usually just eats up time, and only gets exciting when the price nears the "right" price, so why not start somewhere near the right price right away?

Once around gives an advantage to the last player, so this should be balanced by either making the bidding increments not-so fine grained (as in Ra), or by giving everyone an equal opportunity of being the last player.

Blind bidding can be fun, but you need a way to deal with ties. Letting the second player win in case of ties is a fun mechanic, but it is very game-y and might not be appropriate for your game (I would not sell my house through such an auction, for example ;) ). I try to avoid ties whenever possible, because most solutions are either fiddly or unfair in some small way.

InvisibleJon
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Blind bid ties follow-up.

ReneWiersma wrote:
Blind bidding can be fun, but you need a way to deal with ties. Letting the second player win in case of ties is a fun mechanic, but it is very game-y and might not be appropriate for your game (I would not sell my house through such an auction, for example ;) ). I try to avoid ties whenever possible, because most solutions are either fiddly or unfair in some small way.
Valid point. If it doesn't fit the metaphysical structure and context for the game, it doesn't work. If you're running a more abstract game, or can justify it in context, then it can be quite fun.

Gogolski
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RA eliminates ties quite

RA eliminates ties quite elegantly. This system of players having fixed amounts they can bid with can be implemented in numerous other games. Note that RA makes the winner of the bid loose his winning-amount, so that it can be picked up by another player. (There are lots of possibilities to make players gain an amount that is currently not owned by another player...)

Charlemange (Krieg und frieden) has an around bidding system, in which all players loose everything they have bid, except for their last raise of the bid. The winner of course pays everything he has bid.

Cheese!

Jeremiah_Lee
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Bidding Options - Mechanics List

Perhaps we need (if we do not already have) a breakdown of bidding options as mechanics.

apeloverage
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Jeremiah_Lee wrote:Perhaps we

Jeremiah_Lee wrote:
Perhaps we need (if we do not already have) a breakdown of bidding options as mechanics.

There's this: http://www.bgdf.com/node/347

ReneWiersma
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What bidding mechanic would

What bidding mechanic would be best for your game depends on what you want to achieve. There are different auction mechanics for different situations. I'll highlight some of my favorite auction games and talk about how each of them incorporates bidding.

Ra
In this game the auctions are the game. Players bid on different tiles by using stones with unique numbers (1 to 16) on them. Each player starts with three stones and these are used up when a player wins an auction. They are reactivated next round (the game lasts a total of three rounds).

An auction is triggered either by player action or randomly (when a Ra tile is drawn) and is once around, with the player triggering the auction getting the last say. When a player triggers an auction willingly he must buy the lot of tiles if no one else wants it.

A nice twist to the game is that, when a player wins an auction, he must switch the stone with which he wins the game with the one in the middle of the table. So, if you win an auction with the '16' stone, you must swiwch it with the one in the middle - this might be the '1' stone. This means that next round you have to work with a lower numbered stone which is less powerful (of course, it might work the other way round too, winning a high number with a lower number).

As the game progresses the tiles will become of different worth to different players. For example, two players may be struggling for the "most Pharao's" bonuses, while another player might specialize in "Nile" tiles, and a third player trying to get a lot of buildings. This creates interesting decisions. You know you want a certain lot of tiles really bad, but what is the lowest you can bid and still make sure you get it?

Amun-Re
Another Reiner Knizia game. This one has two bidding mechanics, which interact indirectly, but very neatly with eachother.

The first type of auction is the province auction. During this auction N province cards are auctioned off simultaneously, where N = number of players. Certain provinces are better than others, and of different value to different players as the game progresses. The province card has a track on it with the numbers 0, 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28. Each player has one bidding stone which they place in turn on a province card on a number. This is what a player wants to pay for that province (money).

If a player is overbid he has to move his bidding stone to another province. This creates some great turn angst. You basically want to bid the right amount right away on the province you want the most, because you probably won't get a second chance. Also, the increasing numbers make it difficult to choose the right number, but it also sometimes makes overbidding a costly exercise.

The second type of bidding in this game is during the so called sacrifice. Each player secretly and simultaneously bids an amount of money. Whoever bids the most wins three free items, the second player wins two items, and anyone else wins just one free item.

The twist is that the total amount of money determines the level of the temple, and this in turn determines how much player's farmers and camels produce this turn. Camels produce money when the temple level is low, farmers produce money when the temple level is high.

An additional twist is that a player may also bid the -3 card, which means they cannot win a free item during the sacrifice, but they get 3 money instead. So, some players who have camels want to bid low, or even -3, to keep the temple level low, while players with a lot of farmers want to drive the price up. This creates a very interesting dynamic, because winning the free items is sometimes just a secondary consideration.

Goa
This game uses a once around auction. The twist being that one player is the auctioneer auctioning off a particular item, and he receives the money if another player buys the item that is auctioned off. However, the auctioneer may also decide to buy the item himself for the highest bid + 1 in which case the money goes to the bank. This creates an nice dynamic, because when a lot of money leaves the game the prices for future items tend to go down and vice versa.

ZooSim
A simple blind bidding game in which players are bidding for different zoo tiles. Each player simultaneously choose an amount to bid on one tile. The interesting idea here is that ties are broken by a flag system. The player whose flag is the highest on the pole wins in case of a tie, and then is moved to the lowest position. This is a fairly neat way to deal with ties in a blind bidding system.

High Society
A simple bidding game where players bid on cards. The cards have numbers on them, and sometimes multipliers. The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins. However, the player who has the least "money" at the end of the game cannot win, even when he has the highest score. "Money" in this case means other numbered cards which players hold in their hands.

The bidding in this game is restricted by what numbered cards players hold in their hands. If, for example, a player holds the cards 2, 5 and 12 he can bid 2, 5, 7, 12, 14, 17 or 19, but not any other number. This, in combination with the least-money-loses rule, can make choosing the right amount to bid quite tricky.

Princes of Florence
This game lasts seven rounds and at the start of each round theres a series of auctions. Each player will end up with exactly one item. Once a player has won one item he may not participate in other auctions that round. There are seven items up for auction. The last player may choose one remaining item and pays the mnimum price.

The auction itself works as follows: the starting player chooses one item and bids the mandatory starting amount of 200 florins. The next player may bid exactly 100 more or drop out of the auction. This continues until but one player remains who then pays his bid to the bank. The nice thing about this system is that sometimes you might not be able to bid exactly the price you want to pay but have to underbid, then when it gets back to you the price might have become too high and you are forced to pass. Also, sometimes you want to bid to drive up the price for something you don't really want (and hope you don't get stuck with it!)

Merchants of Amsterdam
This game comes with a clock which counts down from 200 to 50. When an item is up for auction the clock is started. When a player thinks the price is right for the given item he slams the clock (or gently taps it you hope if the game is yours) and then pays the given price. This is actually a pretty fun and tense way of selling an item, and often players will tend to overbid.

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