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Auction game in need of a theme

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padragan's picture
Joined: 09/24/2010

I was thinking about a auction mechanic working like this:

Groups of cards (as many as the number of players, think coloretto) are placed face up on the table, and for each group there's a bidding track going from 0 - 5 (or whatever numbers will fit). Player one will place a token on any bid for the desired group, and the next player can either do the same with one of the other groups or make a higher bid on the same group (in which case, player one will get his/her token back). Players with a token placed may not do anything when it is their turn, and the auction will continue until all players have their token on a group of their own. Of course, any player bidding 5 would be certain of getting their desired cards. And the player grabbing the last remaining group of cards will of course always get them for free.

That's it, this is the core I wish to build my game on. So, here are my thoughts on further development.

By this I mean that all groups should not be of equal value to all players, one must value what type of cards they need for this turn. To accomplish this I'm thinking all players should get a few cards dealt to them, and these are combined with the bought cards to form a hand. You have only partial information on what the other player want and can do. Also, I think cards should be able to be combined (like collecting series of some sort for extra value).

Some cards should have actions on them, other cards maybe resources or similar things.

I also think it would be a good idea to have a flow of things on a board, perhaps resources you can grab that get replenished from time to time, making timing of your actions important. Perhaps you work on some larger project on the board (but I think most of the play should really be just generating VP within the round).


As you all see I'm very vague, and this is because I have absolutely no idea what theme could fit this mechanic. All of my ideas and conclusions above only serve the purpose of making the auction phase more dynamic and full of hard choices. When I say "resources" it doesn't have to be resources, I'm really thinking something that will generate VP for the player in some way. I would really like to produce a real prototype as soon as possible, but for that I need a theme, preferably one that could embrace some of my ideas above. And it would be great if it was a theme that has not been overused like medieval villages... ;)

Any ideas? Do you understand what I mean and what I'm after? Any input is greatly appreciated.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Need a theme... hmm.

You say you need a *theme*... But realistically all you are presenting is an *bidding mechanic*. The problem, I see, is that such a mechanic is only a *PART* of a few mechanics required by a game. Otherwise you may end up with a game which is too simple because it relies on a single mechanic.

You say that *group* of cards are placed on the table (let's say 1 per player), do players know what is in each group? Or do they only know 1 card in the group and need to make a decision based on that card (this is kinda interesting - because you may bid for something crappy and get something really good - but it's a crapshoot, huge luck factor involved good or bad)? Do you accumulate *tokens*?? Shouldn't players have less than the maximum of tokens per turn (favoring players who save tokens for later bidding...)???

From a post here earlier - to be avoided anything Zombies and Medieval Merchant Trading (theme-wise).

So other than questions regarding your bidding mechanic, you should avoid the 2 mentioned themes.

Wish I could add more - but I think you would need to fill in the blanks some more...

I would add more questions like: "If I only see 1 card - can I PAY 1 or 2 tokens to see a 2nd card from the pile"? But again you need to clarify my earlier questions.

ASIDE: This reminds me of Rummoli's bidding for the *New hand* or the Dealer's *Old hand*. Basically players bid 1 or more for the hand because they feel the hand they have is crappy and the other hand may be better (tricks or better cards).

padragan's picture
Joined: 09/24/2010
Excellent questions, and they

Excellent questions, and they really expose my lack of good explanation of my idea.

Yes, the bidding is only the first part, when the players end up with their finished hands the cards are supposed to be played (in some sort of priority order) in order to gain VP and possible boost some long term goals as well.

In my mind I imagined the groups of cards to be 3 in each pile, all face up. You know the cards in your hand and you know the content of each group on the table, but you do not know the situation of the other players and what they are willing to pay for each group, hence the relative value of the groups on the table.

I thought the players should get the currency for the bidding (let's just call it gold) as an upkeep (perhaps 2 gold each turn) and hand them 5 gold or so before the game begins. I did not have hidden cards in mind, but if I had it would have been an interesting mechanic you suggested. I also think some cards perhaps comes with a gold bonus? For this I was a bit inspired by the way initiative and gold is handled in "Year of the Dragon" where you need to balance the two, but can focus on other things and accept you will pick last.

To try to narrow it down, what I want is groups oc cards that can be combined in different ways and with a few different factors to take into account (like timing, grabbing a few tokens from a pool on the board early is better than being able to grab lots of them later if the pool is allready emptied), making it less obvious what group to buy and for what price. So I'm looking for a theme that would make that easier and feel natural. Yes, the medieval resources/knights/gold/whatever is the first that pops into my mind, but I would really prefer something a little more original. Of course, if it's a them where auctions would be a natural part it would be even better.

So basicly anything part from the auction/play phases are up for potential change. Maybe there is no board at all? Maybe there are no tokens or any long term goals? Perhaps the players are allowed to save a card to the next round? It all depends on the theme. My only concern is to make the decission making for the players the right tough enough to make the game interesting. It should be neither obvious or analysis paralysis.

Once again, thanks for your input!

padragan's picture
Joined: 09/24/2010
Regarding simplicity: I'm

Regarding simplicity:

I'm thinking along the lines of Knizia's RA or Modern Art in terms of complexity. Both of them have auctions as their main mechanic, and the rest of the game is basicly just there to give the loot you buy a relative value. I would want my play-card-phase to be slightly more complex than the examples I mentioned above, action cards could for instance steal initiative or swap things on the board or something similar.

But still, in my mind the main focus should be the auction, and the rest is a resolve phase. I think of this as a semi light filler, the entire game consist of a fixed number of rounds and should be over in less than 30 minutes. (at least in my head...)

RGaffney's picture
Joined: 09/26/2011
I imagine it going semi

I imagine it going semi comedic and having the player represent heads of wealthy British families in the 19th century, decks represent types of servants.

Of course there are some servants you need like cooks and valets, you must have at least one of each of these cards at the end of the round or lose esteem. but there are others that are pretty unnecessary but merely "in vogue" like Chinese tea men or in-house dedicated florists that only exist to impress your neighbors.

The fluctuating currencies you talked about could be salary budget and esteem, more esteem means you are winning, but also means you need to more than others to keep winning.

Call it Nobles Oblige

padragan's picture
Joined: 09/24/2010
I think that theme sounds

I think that theme sounds very promising! And you seem to have catched on exactly what I was trying to accomplish, I will ponder upon this but it seems rally doable.

My hat is off, thanks for your input.

Joined: 07/12/2012
Dutch Flower Auction

This is from left field - but when I hear of auctions, I think of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction.

It uses a Dutch auction method, which is strange and NOT your mechanic:

but, I put these together with yours, and somehow I am imagining an auction about flowers, of all things. So each player would have their own unique scoring for whatever flowers they might want, and there can also be certain arrangements/combinations of flowers that yield higher VP than normal.

Just a thought from left field.

padragan's picture
Joined: 09/24/2010
Interesting bidding mechanics

Interesting bidding mechanics indeed, and perhaps also a working theme. I think I like the nobles and servants better, but flower was not bad at all.

Thanks for the input!

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