Skip to Content

Chat/ Auctions/tiebreakers

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 08/03/2008

Hi guys,

Thanks, FastLearner for providing the transcript of the chat. Man, that thing is hard to wade through, but asking you to pretty it up would be asking a lot of work on a regular basis, so it's probably not worth it; if there was some way to do that, though, it would make it a lot easier to read!

Anyway, I was interested in reading the discussion on auction mechanics, because I have one or two games that use this; one, in fact, is primarily a bidding game, although it has some nice twists that make it different from other, similar games (I'll divulge more at a little later stage of development). One thing I find hardest about these games is coming up with good tiebreakers, and it seems like you need to come up with them at every turn.

I didn't see this discussed in the chat, and while I think we talked about it sometime recently, I can't remember; does anyone have any great systems that they've seen/used to break ties in bidding games? I haven't played Fist of Dragonstones, but it looks like a pretty nice system (one kind of currency is used only to break ties). There's also, of course, the system where you go around the table, so people have no choice but to outbid the other players. I think blind bidding is sometimes preferable to that, since in a 5 player game, say, the bid can escalate to the point where the fifth player in bid order is out even before it's his turn to bid. So I think blind bidding has some advantages, but breaking ties is something I always struggle with.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated!


Joined: 12/31/1969
Chat/ Auctions/tiebreakers

Some tricks to avoid tiebreakers in auctions:

In Ra each sun (a tile with which you bid) has a different number, so ties could never happen (Ra is a once-around auction as well). I like this system, it is clean and simple and could work well for blind-bidding systems as well.

Once around auctions are also good I think. It does mean that players early in such an auction are at the mercy of the players that may bid after them. Still, this can be migitated somewhat if the auctioned item(s) are of different value to different players (which is a good idea anyway).

ZooSim uses a "flagsystem". If you need to resolve a tiebreker between players, the player with the highest flag wins and then the flag is lowered for that player. A little bit fiddly perhaps, but good in a game that has a lot of ties.

Amun-Re (and other games) simply break ties by who is closest (clockwise) to the active player. I don't think this is very elegant, but it works and if you have a game in which a tie doesn't happen very often than it isn't so bad.

I don't like the system used in Fist of Dragonstones. I think it is much too fiddly for my tastes.

I think it is best to avoid the situations in which tiebreakers could arise. If that is not possible, than try to resolve the tie by some "in game" factor. For example, if your games uses roles that each player picks (such as Citadels or Puerto Rico) assign a unique number to that role. Whenever there is a tie, use that number to resolve the tie.

Scurra's picture
Joined: 09/11/2008
Chat/ Auctions/tiebreakers

I was going to cite Ra as one of the best tiebreaker auction mechanics out there. Although I do have a soft spot for Merchants of Amsterdam - if you haven't played that, it uses a Dutch Auction device with a count-down clock - basically, the first person to hit the clock wins the auction, but you have to judge how high you are prepared to jump in at, and you can get badly stung by overpaying.

I really do like the Evo system (adapted for use in Amun Re) in which once a player is overbid they must bid again and this keeps going until everyone has paid for one thing. The beauty in Evo is that you can play the game where there is one less item than there are players, so someone will always have to give in and take nothing - but they can make other people really pay.

Both of my recent blind bidding systems were alluded to in the chat session, but neither have particularly elegant tiebreaker solutions. In one, no-one gets the item if there a tie, and in the other the item passes down to the next highest bid if there is a tie. In both cases there are some fairly subtle strategies that can be employed to exploit these, so it doesn't adversely affect the game.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut