An Auction Game in Search of a Theme


Players have an equal supply of bidding cards numbered 1-10. (Each bid card also has a secondary number used to break ties.) There is a deck of goods (stone, wheat, meat, wine, and coins in equal proportion) and a deck of actions in the middle of the play area.

There is also a value tracker board that notes the abundance of Stone, Wheat, Meat and Wine and the relative value for possessing those goods.

Each turn, goods cards and action cards are dealt out in a row in the middle of the play area, starting closest to the deck and working your way out. Deal a number of cards from each deck equal to the number of players, plus one. So a four player game would have a row of five goods and five actions. The first pair of action and good is called the first lot, the second pair is called the second lot, and the third pair is called the third lot. The last lot actually includes both pairs of actions and goods, so the fourth lot is the only set with four cards in it.

Each player chooses a bid card and an action card from her hand and places them face-down in front of her. When all players have made their choice, players simultaneously reveal their bid card and action cards.

In ascending order, each bidding player gets the first, second, third and last lot. In other words…

  • Lowest bid gets the first lot.
  • Next lowest bid gets the second lot.
  • Next lowest bid gets the third lot.
  • Highest bid gets the last lot.

Tied bids are resolved by the smaller parenthetical number at the bottom of the bid card.

In ascending order of bid, each player resolves his chosen action. For example, these include things like:

  • Trade one good with another player.
  • Draw a good from the deck.
  • Draw an action from the deck.
  • Score (x) points for (good).
  • Score points equal to the highest bid.
  • Add +3 to your next turn's bid.
  • Return one bid card to your hand.
  • Gain 1 gold.
  • And more!

They all have a variety of effects that will benefit you in the short term or long-term.

Players must discard their chosen bid and action cards. Move the goods markers along the value track to note how many of each good is currently present. As the game progresses, some goods will be more rare than others and thus retain their maximum value. Others will become more abundant, and thus lower in value.

When each player has played seven bid cards, the round is over.

Players then score points for collecting non-coin goods, meaning Wheat, Stone, Meat, and Wine. By the end of a round, some goods will be rarer than others just by luck of the draw. Note how many of each non-coin good is present in all players' possession.

Score points for each good based on whether you have the most or second-most goods and how abundant that good is.

For example, in the board above, the player with one wine earns 10 pts flat. The player with the most stone earns 5 pts per stone in her possession and second-most stone would earn 2 pts per stone in his possession. The player with the most wheat earns 5 pts per wheat in her possession and second-most wheat would earn 2 pts per wheat in his possession. The player with the most meat earns earns 4 pts per meat in her possession and second-most stone would earn 1 pts per meat in his possession.
So if you had one wine, the most stones (three), no wheat and second-most meat (two), you'd earn a total of 27 points this round. 10 from your one wine (1x10), 15 from your three stones (3x5), 3 from your three meat (3x1).

If there is a tie for most goods, both players earn the secondary point value.

Finally, all players discard all of their non-coin goods. Clear the value tracker. Each player replenishes their bid deck and a new round begins.

The game ends when there aren't enough goods to fill all lots. (I imagine roughly three rounds.)

Players score 1 bonus point per coin in their possession.

The player with the most points wins.

Lots of really good ideas are rolling in on various channels. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Split up the big lot into two lots. Give descending bidders pick of all lots, regardless of their order, as in a more traditional auction. 
  • Resolve actions in ascending order of bid so there are divergent tensions for the bids.
  • Instead of a value tracker, just count how many of each good is left in the goods deck and multiply that by the number of that good you have in your possession. A very elegant way of creating an inverse proportion of abundance and value. The problem is that it just compels everyone to get as few of each good as possible, I think anyway. Needs to be tested.
  • Possible theme: Players are movie execs trying to come up with ideas for movies. The "goods" are characters, settings, plots, and audiences for the movie pitch, resulting in stuff like Snakes on a Plane or Cowboys vs. Aliens.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.