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Popular Auction Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Auction mechanic.
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Oh boy! I'm a big Knizia fan  - we held a Kniziathon at our local gaming group, and we usually do an all-Knizia night around his birthday. :)

ALL-TIME GREATS (and I mean all-time great games by anyone, not just Knizia)

#Ra - Such a tense game that combines auctions, press-your-luck, and set collection. And you get to yell "RA!" :)

#High Society - An auction game with some similarities to Ra, but nastier. The "poorest person loses" rule and the reverse auctions for bad items are just so mean!

KNIZIA CLASSICS

#Through the Desert - An area-control abstract that puts a lot of balls in the air - reaching oases, fencing off areas, putting out the most camels in a color. And it's very pretty!

#Taj Mahal - Very interesting hand-management game in which you are trying to build the best hand to win auctions. Feels like Euro Poker.

#Lost Cities Board Game  - Multiplayer #Lost Cities with racing on a variable-setup board. Play with the #Keltis rules!

#The Lord of the Rings - Seminal co-op that manages to achieve the feeling of a fellowship with a minimum of rules and chrome.

DEEP CUTS

#Merchants of Amsterdam - Another Knizia auction/area control game - but with a Dutch Auction clock!

#Clash of the Gladiators - Possibly the most un-Knizialike game on the list... Dice rolling! Player elimination! Draft teams of gladiators and pit them against each other. If your gladiators die, you get to control the lions. :D

READING LIST

#Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games , #Dice Games Properly Explained, #New Tactical Games with Dice and Cards - In addition to designing hundreds of board games, The Doctor has also written books about board games. All three of these are full of interesting insights into game design from a master - and they have games in them, too!

Wow, thanks for this! I commented this above, but I've historically been averse to auction games, but I'll have to try one eventually. Possibly #Ra, since as I mentioned above, there's supposed to be a reprint incoming.

There are several in this list I haven't heard of, so I have some research to do!

I had an active week both in person and online!

In person games

  • #Pax Pamir (Second Edition) (solo) - Scraped out a win against Wakhan, I did realize I have been making it harder on myself though. I have not been keeping track of the Overthrow Rule as much as I should be and her courts have been getting much larger than they should be! Here is to learning!
  • #Hansa Teutonica: Big Box (@ 3-players) - This was the test game. Can the one "over powered" strategy be overcome? Yes it can. The new guy to this game actually caught onto it early on and he spammed it pretty hard early on but he left himself vulnerable to me and my other friend to rack up some nice end game points. 
  • #Irish Gauge (@ 3-players) - I was really interested in this one about a year or so ago but it went to the back burners. Thankfully a friend got it and we got a play in and man it is fun! It definitely punishes you for making mistakes but I loved the interaction. The auction and the memories I can see it really building and making. I am looking forward to more plays in the future!

Online plays (mostly the other BGA)

  • #Russian Railroads x 4 at varying player counts - This one is really fun. Snappy turns, satifying scoring and I am seeing that there is a really interesting time frame to shift your strategy along the way while also working to pick the most optimal move in that moment. 
  • #Res Arcana @ 2-players - First time playing this one and it was fun. I am not sure it is ever something I would own but I like some of the decision spaces and ability to slightly mess with your opponents in different way. 
  • #Troyes @ 2-players - Played this in preparation for an in person play of this soon. Hopefully it will come but it will be hard to enjoy the in person game without the super helpful programming on BGA lol. 
  • #Puerto Rico @ 3-players - Man I made a lot of mistakes on this playthrough...I want to get an in person play of this soon. I love the constant flow of the game and how tight it can be!

 

Nifty list! Even a few games I haven’t heard of. Pre-Covid, my wife’s family would participate in a white elephant/Yankee swap in which we would always throw in a small game. Here is short list of games we’ve gifted in the past that should fit in a sock.

#Sushi Go!: Very simplistic drafting and set collecting game that works well with all ages. The artwork may inspire nightmares as the food stuffs are rendered anime style with slightly creepy faces. If more variety desired, go with #Sushi Go Party!, but be warned it comes in a tin that will stretch that sock.

#Parade: Such a neat little game. Basically players add cards to a line (5 suits with values ranging from 0-9) and depending on what they add to the line they may have to take cards from said line and placed in front of the player. The interesting thing about scoring is the player with the majority of a specific suit only counts the number of cards rather than the face value of the cards. Lowest score wins.

#Cockroach Poker: the most pure bluffing game that I can think of. This is another odd one as everyone wins aside from a single loser.

#Biblios: This is like two games in one box. First part is a draft of sorts where a card can either go in front of the start player, in front of an opponent, or in the auction pile for the second part of the game.

#Archaeology: The New Expedition: We gifted the older Z-man version (#Archaeology: The Card Game), but this newer version adds a little more variety via monuments.

#Claim: mentioned the tiny epic games, here is another one from the same designer. Claim is trick taking game that work well with two (which was a shock to me). Each suit or in this case race is unique and this does take a few plays to figure out, but its worth it. Also, there are plenty of little expansions (and a standalone) available for this as well to increase variety.

#Fleet: Another odd one. Mix multi-use cards, auctions, and tableau building with the veneer of that deadest catch TV show (is that still on?) and you get this game. Will note that I refuse to play without the #Fleet: Arctic Bounty Expansion as it has those neat “going fishing cards” that really help those turns when you either can’t or don’t want to buy a new license. Also crab meeples. CRAB MEEPLES!!!

#Hanamikoji: I’ve heard this described as I pick you choose. What’s neat about this is it is both thought provoking and short. I think it was the last game we played where I was beaten in the first round.

#Port Royal: Basically building a tableau of sorts while pressing your luck with pirates.

Great unboxing! I love the mix of worker placement and auction of #Godspeed.

Finished up more games on Yucata with . We had another great game of #Underwater Cities and a game of #The Castles of Burgundy with .

And of course as pointed out, we played game of #Res Arcana on Board Game Arena with and . Would definitely play it again with them on there, but I started up a game of #Draftosaurus instead just to switch it up.

Also played a 3 player game of #Guild Master on Tabletopia with and 's "flesh vessel" Steve. :P Had a really good time despite my best losing efforts.

In real life, Sarah and I played a game of #Linko which she didn't quite understand. I won it in a Games for Geek Gold auction on BGG. It was nice in that it cost me nothing of value and immediately was used as trade fodder with a few other games to BoardGameCo for a copy of #Cooper Island which I've had my eye on for awhile.

We also played more #Fabled Fruit and had a very close game of #Gizmos to end the week.

Played #Qwixx and #Black Market on game night.  My neighbor received Black Market some time ago as a gift and it wasn't actually in the database here at BGA, so I added it.  It's an auction/betting game.  Interesting.  I'd have to give it another try before I make up my mind on it.  We had fun interacting, but I wasn't very good at the game.

What's your interest level on Glory to Rome? Would you ever spend $250 for your "grail game"?

I would definitely dish out $250 for #Glory To Rome if I had that laying around, but I’d rather not sleep on the couch. Is the game worth it? One could argue that it is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. I do wish I had backed it originally, but I do feel that it will eventually be reprinted despite its complicated history. I have spent some money on some Kickstarter projects like #Tokaido Collector's Edition, but never on a single game without some extras. It is not lost on me that I’ve spent way more collectively on games like #Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game which brings to mind that marshmallow test by Mischel (2014).  Aside from Glory to Rome and #The Palaces of Carrara, I don’t think that there a many grail games that I want that won’t get reprinted. I had my eye on #City of Chaos, but it looks like a second edition will be on Kickstarter some point next year as will #ZhanGuo.

Which game did you enjoy playing the most this year and why?

This year was a little odd for me as I did not have a lot of extra time to play as much. I would honestly say Covid minimally impacted that fact. I will say playing simplified versions of games with our youngest was one highlight. The better half and I did manage to get #Rajas of the Ganges to the table at some point. I feel like the game is a bit open with two and we would be interested in playing with higher player counts. I do think it is neat that the end game is the same for everyone, but how a player arrives to the end is varied.

As we end 2020, what are your current Top 5 games and why?

I feel like I keep bringing up the same games. I am terrible at ranking so I’m just going to throw my picks out there:

#El Grande: I don’t think I would ever turn a game of this down (unless it includes the expansions and or has less than 4 players). This has a little of everything, hidden information, area control, and action selection. Game is still as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1995. I do wish that just the base game would get reprinted as the current big box is a waste of space. I am not so hung up on the mini meeples vs cube debate.

#Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game: Probably my most played game at this point. I have most of the expansions aside from the Spider-man homecoming and the villains’ standalone. I was a big marvel fan growing up and this game is able to conjure up comic scenarios. It is deckbuilding a team rather than playing as a single hero which I do not mind. With all of the current expansions, the game is infinitely repayable. Downside is that it is difficult to store of the cards at this point. While it is listed as a semi-co-op, we strictly play it as co-op because some of the schemes and mastermind combos are taxing that not working together makes the game much harder than it needs to be. I also won’t play this with more than two because the difficulty does not scale well with more people.

#Ra: My favorite Kniza design. I normally don’t like auction games, but this one is so elegant and streamlined how could I not like it. The game also has that press your luck and set collection element along with the calamities to keep everyone on their toes. Everyone needs to try this one at least once.

#The Castles of Burgundy: This is another one of those games where I dislike it with more than two. This is an example of where the quality of the game does not match its components. Dice placement at its finest. Game is flexible and it mixes strategy and tactics well. There is one sure path to victory here which makes it difficult to solve.

#Seasons: Game plays like a TCG/CCG so it scratches that itch for me. Does have a bit of a learning curve as figuring out which cards to draft together is paramount to success. Wish they would make at least one more expansion.

#Twilight Struggle - I love the Pax series of card-driven games. I also really enjoy tense 2P experiences. There's enough geopolitical flavour here that I feel I would enjoy this immensely. 

#Power Grid - I enjoy auction games, I am not very good at economic games. I would like to at least give this a shot once.

#Caylus - I have the 1303 version but I haven't played it yet. Being the OG worker placement game, and in true classic euro design can also be very interactive with the potential to make some mean moves. Would love to play this.

 

1. Really interested in Glory to Rome but I wouldn't pay $250 for a game that I've never played. Don't think my budget would allow me to spend $250 on any grail game

2. Played much fewer boardgames than normal because of COVID but I enjoyed #Rurik: Dawn of Kiev the most. Still really enjoy the auction programming mechanism and the player interaction as players try and outbid and outwit each other

3. #Bus probably surprised me the most. For a game that first came out in 1999 it's still very enjoyable and stands the test of time

4. My top 5 games would be #Terraforming Mars, #Troyes, #Orléans, #Concordia and #Yokohama  Being a Sci-Fi buff I just like the world and engine building of Terraforming Mars. All the others have a surprising amount of complexity for a reasonably simple ruleset i.e. you get a lot of game for the few rules there are

The aches and pains are setting in as I recover from my 2nd COVID shot.  But that gives me time to type a little and dive into this "perfect game" idea.

has touched on two things that I think are significant.  One being the upgrading of two things for one action, or, I think in broader terms, this would be getting a lot for a little, or each action feeling it has some weight to it.  The second thing is the game not having any major weak points.  This could fall into that subjective category but I think, to some degree, an avid gamer can appreciate even a game they don't really enjoy playing based on it being well designed.  I think of this in terms of judging a beer style I don't prefer but still being able to look at it objectively without taking points away just because of my style preferences.

So let's dive a bit deeper into this rabbit hole, shall we...

I touched on #Gloomhaven and #Scythe has been touched on starting things off with a few "perfect game" features...

1. Game progression that allows each game to feel a little different or have a twist of some sort and matches experience (Gloomhaven)

2. The feeling of accomplishment from turn to turn and no weak areas (Scythe).  Or a higher payout in points or resources than investment (Wingspan).

3. Natural gameplay interactions between players that match well with the theme and don't feel forced.  Even in competition, players must interact successfully with opponents.

4. A pleasant tension (or difficulty) that creates enough challenge to breed stories and memories over the course of multiple games.

5. Art that is captivating, blends smoothly into theme and gameplay and draws the players in further.

#Wingspan has shot up the charts since it came out and has maintained a high ranking despite a theme that might have caught a few folks off guard when it came out.  I think the theme is actually quite approachable and may contribute to its success to some degree.  However, the gameplay seems to be what keeps people coming back to the table.  I think the engine building aspect of this game is its magic with there being several different types of engines that one can build.   I'm not sure it's the engine-building in and of itself that hits the right notes but maybe the same bit from #Scythe in which players can see how their actions pay off and may get a good payout from one action.  I simply added to 2 on this one.

I think with #Brass: Birmingham it comes down to the tight interweaving of interactions that influence point games and resource management.  This likely falls into the lack of a real weak area as in Scythe but also feels like something more social.  I'd add a social factor to the "perfect game" that allows space for self-deterministic gameplay (as in Brass, I can interact with others or try to create my own space on the board to some degree)

#Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is rated very highly and while I have not played it I know there is a glorious tension with this game that draws players back to the table over and over again.  I think I would enjoy playing this but have a feeling that Gloomhaven gives me the same experience with a pit more autonomy of character.  One aspect of Pandemic and other games like #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and #Spirit Island is the challenge and difficulty.  These are all co-op games as well and I am not sure that the "perfect game" would be co-op, but I do think it will be quite challenging and force players to make difficult decisions over the course of gameplay (Do I move and hit the monster with a huge swing or sit here and heal my ally who is down to two health?)

#Terraforming Mars brings my thinking back to Scythe or Brass and the idea that some form of player collaboration is important in the perfect game.  You should have to pay attention to what other players are doing to one degree or another. #Castles of Mad King Ludwig uses this well with the auction mechanic to make income and determine room prices each round.  

#Everdell #Scythe #Brass: Birmingham all have great art.  The "perfect game" would have the absolute best art.  It should be aesthetically pleasing in every way possible.  I would argue that the "perfect" game would use art in a meaningful way in the game.  Something like #Canvas but even better. #The Gallerist has a unique feature the allows the tiles players' place of the art they purchased to blend in with their player board.  Something along these lines should be incorporated.  

 

I could likely go on for a while down the game list.  I will stop here with these five takeaways and a few questions:

1. Game progression that allows each game to feel a little different or have a twist of some sort and matches experience (Gloomhaven)

2. The feeling of accomplishment from turn to turn and no weak areas (Scythe).  Or a higher payout in points or resources than investment (Wingspan).

3. Natural gameplay interactions between players that match well with the theme and don't feel forced.  Even in competition, players must interact successfully with opponents.

4. A pleasant tension (or difficulty) that creates enough challenge to breed stories and memories over the course of multiple games.

5. Art that is captivating, blends smoothly into theme and gameplay and draws the players in further.

 

What game aspect do you think I have missed that would be in the "perfect" game?

Do you think the perfect game already exists, and if so, what is it?

What game falls outside your normal game choices but you have found it is very good despite being outside your preferences?