Going Once...? :: Games With Unusual/Disguised Auctions
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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When you hear the word "auction" it brings to mind a very well-known mechanic. There's an item (or items) up for grabs, and all the players bid increasing amounts of money. The item goes to the highest bidder. In some cases, the auctions go until everyone passes. In others, they go around only once. Yet in others, all players bid in secret at the same time. In certain games, not all players are involved--typically because they have already purchased their one item in a previous auction.

However, there are games that have unusual or disguised auctions. Unusual auctions have some twist that makes them somewhat unique from the standard auction. Disguised auctions are when games use different mechanisms to implement the bidding or to control what's up for grabs in such a way that it doesn't feel like an auction at first glance.


- Jim

http://ekted.blogspot.com/
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1. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Up For Grabs: All the tiles on the board (can be none), as well as the Sun used to pay for the previous auction.

Currency: Sun tiles.

Winner: Gets all the tiles. Gets the Sun tile on the board for the next epoch (it cannot be used immediately). Plays the bid Sun tile onto the board for the next auction.

Losers: Lose nothing.
 
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2. Board Game: Genoa [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:294]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

This is not technically an auction as the current player doesn't have to offer it to any players. But in practice, the current player tries to see what he can get each time he moves the tower, so it ends up being auction-like.

Up For Grabs: Each move of the tower, the action available at that space (or the space the tower might be moved to) is up for grabs. The current player can always take the action himself, but he can only do this once per turn (unless he has a special tile). The actions available are to purchase goods, draw cards or tiles, complete small/large orders, deliver messages, and place ownership markers.

Currency: Everything. You can offer money, goods, cards, tiles...including a share of anything you would receive as a result of taking the action.

Winner: The current player gets everything offered by the player he ultimately made the deal with.

Losers: Lose nothing.
 
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3. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:481]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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DISGUISED AUCTION

Up For Grabs: The points scored for having the best Party.

Currency: Limited cards in hand. Players must match the symbol(s) on the currnet face up card next to the draw deck.

Winner(s): Get full points for the current Palace.

Losers: Second place gets half points for the current Palace. Other get nothing. Everyone loses all cards played.
 
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4. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:338]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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DISGUISED AUCTION

Up For Grabs: NOT taking the current card. Players "lose" points for every card they possess. You play a chip to avoid having to take the card. If you have no chips, you MUST take it.

Currency: Chips.

Winners: Nothing. Note that "winning" this auction is not necessarily good since you ultimately need chips to continue to compete.

Loser: Takes the card and all "bid" chips.
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5. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:189]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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DISGUISED/UNUSUAL AUCTION

This is one of the most unusual auctions in all gaming. Players may win something even if they don't ultimately have the "most" of anything. Multiple players can win powers. In fact, a single player winning everything is all but impossible.

Up For Grabs: One of more of 6 special powers, bonus cards, goods, and the ability to play palace(s). When a player stops "bidding" (playing cards) they withdraw, their spoils determined by which of the 6 forces they have majority in AT THAT TIME. The rest of the players can keep "bidding" for what's left.

Currency: Limited cards in hand.

Winners: Any powers that the player has cards played for in majority, plus potential influence tiles, bonus cards, and palace(s).

Losers: All players lose cards played, and may lose bonus card(s) if other players with power(s).
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6. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:675]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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DISGUISED AUCTION

Up For Grabs: Control of the current region. The owner of the current region (2nd ed) may pass as often as he likes and enter the "auction" later--if it has not been ended due to a Bishop or Surrender card being played.

Currency: Limited cards in hand.

Winner: Control of the current region. Gets to play Condottiere on next region in conflict.

Losers: All players lose cards played.
 
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7. Board Game: Struggle of Empires [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:190]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Up For Grabs: The player turn order and alliances for the current year. Each player may select 2 unplayed player markers and assign them as alliance A and B when he increases the bid.

Currency: Gold. Players can increase their current amount of gold at any time by adding Unrest.

Winner: The winner of each auction places his selected player markers into the specified A/B alliance locations. He pays the gold bid. He may participate in further auctions.

Losers: Lose nothing.
 
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8. Board Game: High Society [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:620]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Up For Grabs: The current item. If it is a good item, the high bid wins. If it is a bad item, the first player to pass "wins".

Currency: Limited cards in hand. You may increase the bid, but you may not make "change" or take back a lower card when playing a higher one.

Winner: With a good item, the high bidder wins it. With a bad item, the first to pass wins it.

Losers: With a good item, losers lose nothing. With a bad item, EVERYONE BUT THE ITEM WINNER discards their bid cards.
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9. Board Game: Mogul [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2148]
Chris Bailey
United States
Broomfield
Colorado
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Every round a stock certificate is auctioned off. On your turn you have to put in one chip to stay in the auction. If you pass, you take ALL of the chips in the pot.
 
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10. Board Game: Merchants of Amsterdam [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1022]
Richard Irving
United States
Salinas
California
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A Dutch auction game that uses Dutch Auctions.

(An auction where the price is constantly lowered until someone buys the item is called a Dutch Auction.)
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11. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:191]
Chance Folmar II
United States
broomfield
Colorado
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DISGUISED AUCTION

I'm not talking the auctioning of roles, but the combat system.

Up For Grabs: The current territory

Currency: Limited cards in hand. It involves only two people, but the "starting" bid is based on the troops either attacking, defending, supporting each side, which may involve more than the two actually involved in the combat.

Winner: Player with the Highest total final score. Ties are broken based on positioning in the "fiefdoms" track.

Losers: The loser may suffer loss of troops, or just forfeit the territory.
 
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12. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:191]
Chance Folmar II
United States
broomfield
Colorado
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[color=#0000ff]UNUSUAL AUCTION

Game of Thrones, but here I'm discussing the auction/bid caused by the Wildlings swarming over the wall.

Up For Grabs: All players Win or Lose this auction together. The effects differ.

Currency: Power tokens.

Winner: If players win the auction (beat the Wildling score), the player who bid the most Power returns one played character card back into his/her hand. Everyone else doesn't get anything.

Losers: If players lose the auction (don't beat the Wildling score), all players lose 2 points worth of armies. Except, the player who bid the LEAST loses 4 armies.

Notes: What makes this truly interesting is it is not always in everyone's best interest to beat the Wildlings. It may be to a strategic advantage to LOSE to the Wildlings, but not be the player who bid the LEAST.

I have used this successfully several times, but two memorable occurrences come to me.

First: I once was in second best position, but I and everyone else bid just above the Leading Player's bid and we lost to the Wildlings (We knew he had only 1 Power remaining). The result, the Leading player loses 4 armies. No matter where he lost it weakened him enough the rest of us moved in for the kill. It prevented him from winning and the three of us promptly carved up his territory among us.

Second, I've used this as the player in the LEAST favorable position. Under attack, I could have chosen enough to push above the Wildling's score, but instead bid zero and we lost. I was forced to lose 4 points, and I wiped out my navy, freeing them up to become ground forces later. Everyone else was forced to lose 2 armies, which they chose to be the territories next to mine, as losing armies anywhere else would have weakened them against a stronger opponent. Result, no one was strong enough to effectively attack me and I went on to rebuild my forces. I still lost the game, but at least I could say I was back in the game.
 
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13. Board Game: Santiago [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:349]
N/A
There are two interesting auction mechanics at work here.

1. Bidding for plantation tiles. Players bid once around, clockwise. Identical bids cannot be made. Plantation tiles are selected in descending bid order. A player can pass, in which case their bid is 0. The player who bids the least becomes the Canal Overseer, see below.

2. Biddin for irrigation. Starting with the player to the Canal Overseer's left, an "offer" is made as to where that player would like to see irrigation. Each player after that can made a different offer/bid or increase someone else's bid. If the Canal Overseer accepts someone's bid, he is paid from each player who offered that particular irrigation. If the Canal Overseer wants to irrigate somewhere that wasn't offered, he pays one more than the highest bid. Example:
Player 1 is the Canal Overseer.
Player 2: I'll give you $3 to irrigate here.
Player 3: Yeah, I'll give you $2 to irrigate here instead.
Player 4: *Pfffft*. I'll add $2 to Player 2's bid.
Player 5: You guys are cheap. I'll offer you $4 to irrigate here. Come on, it helps you too.
Player 1 can now do 4 things:
a) Take $3 from Player 2 and $2 from Player 4 to irrigate where they wanted,
b) Take $2 from Player 3 to irrigate where he wanted,
c) Take $4 from Player 5 to irrigate where he wanted, or
d) Pay $6 (($3 + $2) + $1) to irrigate wherever he chooses.

Dig it? I knew you could.
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14. Board Game: Oasis [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:851]
Paul Smith
United Kingdom
Ventnor
Isle of Wight
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Each player takes it in turn to put up an auction of 1, 2, or 3 cards. Coming from a face down stack however you have no control over what cards get offered, just how many.

Once all offerings are made players 'bid' using turn order markers which determine the turn order for next turn.

Actually, it's more like you're bidding for turn order using the cards. A kind of non-simultaneous blind bidding.

Just play it, you'll realise it's an auction, but it certainly is an unusual one.
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15. Board Game: Hunting Party [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:3204]
Cameron McKenzie
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
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I hope this one counts...
The "auction" system for hiring a Hunter may not be as unique as some of these entries, but I still think it's worth noting.

Rather than bidding an actual game money or some other kind of resource, players bid "shares" of bounty, which is basically a promise to give up some of the loot (to pay for the Hunter's services)

Other interesting things are that each player only gets one chance to bid on a Hunter, even if someone else bids higher. In addition, many cards affect the bidding process. Certain Hunters have "hate" for other hunters, which requires effectively makes your bid count for one less than the other player's bid (you have to pay more to hire a hunter that hates you) and a few cards that reduce the cost of a hunter.

Also, one Hunter has an ability that allows you to place your bids secretly, so other players won't know what number they have to beat!
 
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16. Board Game: Azteca [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:6301]
Paul Butler
United States
Glen Burnie
Maryland
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Can't go wrong with a slave auction.
And what's the best use for slaves? As human sacrifices.
(actually, it's the only use for slaves in this game.)
 
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17. Board Game: Aladdin's Dragons [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:569]
Kdad the Muck Dweller
United States
Kirkland
Washington
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This is a blind bidding game with a slight twist. Everyone has tokens 1-9 (less the 3) and bids on various places on the board, ties are broken by who's closest to the start player. Pretty standard blind bidding. But where it gets really interesting is that throughout the game you collect items and spells that can influence the bids, and even change who is first influencing who bids first/last and how ties are broken (again through a bid). You can use any item as soon as you get it, again changing the course of a single round. Lots of strategy, and I've never heard so many groans elicited from a single game.

My new, must play again as soon as possible game.
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18. Board Game: Das letzte Paradies [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:8362]
フィル
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
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Pushing a lesbian old growth union-approved agenda since '94.
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Up For Grabs: Tiles to be placed on the board.

Currency: Coins, of which you must finish with more than you started.

Winner: Gets the tile, but pays the runner-up's bid... which is a blind bid. Unusual, eh?

Losers: Lose nothing, while giggling evilly at having made the winner overpay.
 
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19. Board Game: Princes of the Renaissance [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:369]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Besides the usual actions for city cards you actually auction off who will be the attacker and defender for battles using influence points the other auctions are usually done with money.
 
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20. Board Game: Queen's Necklace [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1315]
William Hostman
United States
Eagle River
Alaska
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Gaming in Greater Anchorage area, Alaska since 1978. Looking for Indy-willing RPG players in Eagle River (or willing to drive to Eagle River). Geekmail me if interested.
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Yes, this really is what I looked like when I uploaded that avatar. Not that it's quite current anymore.
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Unusual Auction - Multiple simultaneous blind bid
Up For Grabs: Victory Points, in four separate simultaneous sealed bid auctions. Value of each auction depends upon total bids across the auctions; auction with lowest total bids gets most points added to points for fashion
Currency: Gem Cards. Each auction is one suit only; bids must be in suit.
Winner: Gets points for winning that type... 0-60+
Losers: Get nothing.
The Twists:
You might win a high value auction and still get nothing if someone played a King with their bid.
After bids and rarity, an alchemist will let you move a card to boost a bid in a different auction.
There are four "fashion values" open and known to all before bid assigned to suits: 30vp, 20vp, 10vp and 0 vp. Rarity adds to these: suit with fewest total bid is +30vp, second fewest is +20, third fewest is +10, and most total bid is+0.
Fashion values changeable between the three vp auctions.

Unusual Auction - Reverse Auction
Up For Grabs: Gem Cards and special cards; continuous reverse auction of 5 items, which 5 varies continuously.
Currency: budget of 10 gold each turn. Playing a previously purchased courtier adds 3 to that turn's budget only. Cards range from 6-4-2-1 to 13-11-9-7. May buy up to budget but unused budget is lost at end of turn
The Twists:
Items out have 4 values printed. When first out, at highest value. Value drops one place each player turn unless purchased. If not purchased in fourth turn, discarded.
Purchased or discarded items are replaced from draw stack.
Items purchased are used as currency in the important point auctions, which are randomly triggered....
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21. Board Game: Rise of the Luftwaffe [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1470]
Kristoffer Lindh
Sweden
Stockholm
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Up For Grabs: Cat cards

Currency: The same kind of cat cards that are up for auction

Winner: Gets to trade their bid cat cards for the new cat cards

Losers: Lose nothing.
 
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22. Board Game: Boomtown [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1002]
Keith M. Sandler
United States
Marlboro
Massachusetts
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Unusual Auction: Seems like a pretty straight-forward auction, at first...

Up for Grabs: Mine cards which are used to produce gold, contest mayors, and give end of game victory points. Special cards which are used take or eliminate other players' mines or gold.

Currency: Chips representing gold coins. These are also VP's at the end of the game.

THE TWIST: Winner pays his gold to the player on his right. That player gives half the winnings to the player on his right, and so on around to the last player. The winner gets first choice of the cards in play. Second choice goes to the left, and so on around. Makes for some very interesting bidding situations.
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23. Board Game: Bausack [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:588]
Paul Boos
United States
Falls Church
Virginia
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UNUSUAL AUCTION

Up for Grabs :: The piece with which you will build (or not build).

Currency :: Beans - cute beans...

The Twist :: Not sure about the real Bausack, but the Bandu version you have a "pot" of beans with which you start. Each turn, you can offer a piece up for auction for others (including yourself) to include in your structure OR you can offer bidding in order to AVOID using it in your building. If you run out of beans you can never get a piece you want, nor can you avoid a piece you don't want.
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24. Board Game: Ys [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:593]
Arne Thomi
Germany
Hamburg
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Unusual auction - Semi-blind bidding

Up for grabs: Gems, gold, action cards, gem value

Currency: Wooden brokers

The twist: You have to make open bids as well as blind bids, trying to either scare off your opponents or to make a bluff.
 
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25. Board Game: Zahltag [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:7373]
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Unique Element: Contract Auction (Win Construction Bids while meeting payroll - lowest bidder wins).
 
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