51 Mechanics: Auction/Bidding

BoardGameGeek (BGG) is a singular repository of gaming information, knowledge and wisdom that has been serving the modern board game hobby since 2000. I consult it regularly and have used its database to manage my own game collection. I also used it when I was writing my 2016 book on gamified instruction, particularly with regard to the game mechanics that BGG identified and organized content into. While there are more than 85,000 games, even now, there are just 51 mechanics. Since every mechanic offers something to the teacher who wants to use games in the classroom, I'm going to use this section of Game Level Learn and my own contributions to it to assess games from each of these 51 mechanics. Next up?

We've finally arrived at Auction/Bidding, one of my favorite of all game mechanics (and one of the very best for beginning gamifying instructors to try in their lessons). In Auction games, players bid something (generally money) in the hopes of gaining some kind of benefit or positional advantage against the other players. Sometimes this mechanic is embedded with other mechanics, forming just a part of the broader story. At other times, it is the central mechanic. In either case, these games are accessible, challenging and fun. A gamifying teacher should have one or two of these under his/her belt without question.

Bausack (BGG Rank: 751)

At its heart, Bausack is a dexterity game, but embedded within that mechanic is a fiendish auction mechanic that makes Bausack unlike any other dexterity game. In the auction portion of the game (most versions of the game, that is), you have a choice to make: select a piece that you want to build into your structure (and that you want to win at auction), or select a piece you want to force someone else to bid (which they win because they can't or won't bid enough to NOT win the piece). Devilish. 

Modern Art (BGG Rank: 222)

A contender for my favorite game of all time, Modern Art is part of a series of auction-mechanic games designed by eminent designer Reiner Knizia. In this game, you play art dealers attempting to buy low and sell high in the competitive international art market. Five artists are in contention. The artist who sold more works gets valued higher than the others. Extremely competitive play but highly accessible to new players.

Princes of Florence (BGG Rank: 95)

A great classic, Princes of Florence features game play where one half of a particular turn is an auction. In that phase, each item available for purchase can be purchased only once. If you don't have the green, you're out of luck, at least that turn. There's a lot going on in this game and its complexity is rich, but it can be hard on beginners. Having said that, its beauty as a game and elegant game play mean that it would pay dividends to give it a go.

Ra (BGG Rank: 123)

Another Knizia auction game, this one themed to ancient Egypt. In Ra, you are acquiring tiles that represent different aspects of Egyptian society (pharoahs, flooded Nile, civilization development and so forth). You acquire these tiles by bidding on them with "suns" you have face up in front of you, each featuring a different number value from 1-16. I can honestly tell you, trying to decide if a series of tiles is worth 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 is a brain teasing exercise of the highest interest. 

Vegas Showdown (BGG Rank: 351)

In Vegas Showndown, each player is trying to buy rooms/salons in their Vegas hotel to make the most agreeable resort. As rooms are left unpurchased, their cost goes down, making them ever more enticing. A straightforward auction game with an economic component.

Cover Image from [https://boardgamegeek.com/image/166617/bausack?size=original]