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Get Into A Bidding War With Friends: An Auction Game Menu for ITTD

Get Into A Bidding War With Friends: An Auction Game Menu for ITTD

Auction games are often more cutthroat than the most vicious dudes-on-a-map style title. They can make you curse your friends in ways that no “take that” game can match. And International Tabletop Day is the perfect time to get in tune with your inner auctioneer. Best yet, auction games come in everything from quick, light titles to massive brain burners. Here’s a great menu for ITTD.

Appetizer: For Sale

for saleIt’s best to start off with something light. Something easy to learn and with a history of being a crowd pleaser. And that something is For Sale. In this title, up to six players compete to corner the housing market. Each round, one property per player is dealt to the table. Then you bid on those properties. After they have all been acquired, it’s time to get paid.  Payments of different amounts are dealt to the table and the players use their properties to get money. At the end of the game, the one with the most money wins.

What makes For Sale so much more interesting than other light games is the way the bidding works. Rather than sell each property one at a time, you simply put out a bid. Then the next person has to either bid higher or pass. If they pass, they get the worst property on the table. If they bid, then it’s the next person’s turn. In this way, you never want to be the first to pass – but it also may not be worth it to pay too much for the top property.

It also encourages you to bid up the prices. If you pass and there are still properties out there, you get half your money back. Only the player with the highest bid has to pay full price. This means that you can usually up the ante a little – especially if the player to your left feels the need to win a larger property.

The whole thing takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes and then you’ll be ready for the main course.

Main Course: Ra

priestsAnd when it comes to auction games, there is nothing better than Ra. Or perhaps Priests of Ra which is the same exact game with a slightly different scoring system. What makes Ra unique is that you don’t bid with money or points, you bid with position.

Ra uses a set of chips from 1 to 16 and each player gets three. The “1” chip is placed in the center. One at a time, tiles are drawn from a bag and placed for bid. On their turn, a player can start the auction and you bid with your chips. Highest bid gets all of the tiles. But they also get the “1” that was sitting in the middle. And that will be one of their three chips next round. The chip they used goes to the middle. So the winner of the next auction will get that chip. And so on.

The result is an amazing game that strips away a linear bidding structure and makes players focus on what’s really important – your position. After all, having 100 coins only matters if that means you have more than your opponent. And as the tiles come out, different combinations can result in different scoring opportunities. This means that players will value the lot differently and can result in some very tricky maneuvering.

Ra has everything you need in an auction game. Deep play, strong competition, and a focus on positioning.

Dessert: Modern Art

Modern ArtWith the main course over, it’s time to turn to perhaps the purest auction game available today, Modern Art. Each round, the players get a hand of cards of paintings from various artists. On a turn, the players play one to the table and it gets auctioned off. Importantly, the winner doesn’t pay the money to the bank, they pay it to the player who auctioned the card. At the end of each round, owners of paintings are paid money based on how many paintings of each artist were sold at auction.

Modern Art is fabulous because the economy and demand are entirely player created. In some games, Karl Gitter might be the hottest artist whose paintings command a premium. In other games, he barely registers on the market. And knowing what cards could come to market (the ones in your hand) can help to inform you how best to bid.

But the fact that you are paying your bid to the other players changes the whole dynamic. It is often more profitable to sell a card than to keep it in your hand. And with its free-flowing auction style, you can try to bid up the other players and force them to pay more for their auctions than they otherwise might.

Because everything is self-contained and there are few complicated rules, it marks a perfect end to your auctioning day.

Do you plan on playing any auction games on Tabletop Day? Tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Eagle-Gryphon Games, Rio Grande Games, and Mayfair Games

Featured Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games

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