An auction game design

This link to You’re playing monopoly wrong did the rounds on my timeline earlier. TLDR, monopoly is supposed to involve auctions.

Two thoughts immediately occurred to me.

Firstly: But what type of auctions? What type? I have a little bit of an obsession with Vickrey auctions, so that’s obviously the answer I want.

Secondly: This still sounds like quite a shit game, sorry.

But it got me thinking about how I would design a game around auctions, and this collided with various thoughts in my head to produce the following. It’s not even had one play test, or any thought put into balance, so it may not be at all fun and would probably require heavy redesigning to be good, but it at least sounds interesting to me.

The essential idea is this:

The game set consists of a set of money tokens and a set of hexagonal playing pieces. A hexagonal playing piece has two numbers on it, cost and upkeep. There is additionally a palette of 7 colours, and each edge of a hex may be coloured with one of them. A hex may have the same colour on it multiple times. All hexes have at least two colours on them.

There are additionally a special types of starting hex, which have cost and upkeep of 0 and 6 distinct colours around each edge. There is also an ending hex. More on that later.

Play proceeds as follows:

Every player is allocated a random starting hex and $10. Their starting hex is placed face up in front of them. The non-starting hexes are shuffled together with the ending hex and placed face down in a deck.

They then take it in turns to play, proceeding clockwise.

A play consists of first drawing a hex from the deck. If this hex is the ending hex then the game immediately ends. The person with the highest amount of money wins. If there is a tie for highest money the person with the most hexes in front of them wins. If there is still a tie then the game is a tie between them.

Otherwise, this starting tile is now available to be acquired. If you wish, you may pay its cost to immediately claim it. If not, it goes up for auction.

Auctions are vickrey auctions played as follows. Each player puts some amount of money in a closed fist. Zero is an acceptable bid. When everyone is ready, they all reveal. The person who has bid the highest then pays the amount that the second highest bidder bid. If there is a joint highest bid, then the person closest to the current player (starting with the current player) in the anticlockwise direction wins but pays the highest amount bid (because the second highest is the same as it). This money is then paid to the recipient of the auction (who is the bank in this case, but may be a player in other cases) and that tile is acquired.

An acquired tile must immediately be placed adjoining one of your hexes already face up in front of you. Edges must line up, and your set of hexes must always be connected, but it may otherwise go anywhere.

You may now take up to three moves. A move consists of either:

  • taking one of your tiles in front of you and moving it anywhere else in front of you. The only restriction is that removing it may not disconnect the board, even if where you are going to place it would then reconnect it
  • Placing one of your tiles up for auction. Again, the removal of this tile must not disconnect your grid. You may bid in your own auction, effectively setting a reserve price. Any proceeds from the auction go to you.

You now collect income.

Income is calculated as follows: First gain $1 for every hex. Now count up the number of adjoining edges of hexes which have the same colour and claim $2 for each. So if you have two hexes which share a red border, that gives you $2 for the hexes and $2 for the shared edge. If they have a mixed blue/yellow border that gives you only the $2 for the hexes.

You now pay upkeep.

Upkeep consists of putting a number of dollars on each hex equal to its upkeep score. You may choose not to if you wish, and indeed you may not be able to. Once you have finished placing money for upkeep, anything that has not been paid for is removed from the game and the money you’ve placed on the tiles goes back to the bank. You may not place upkeep in a way that would cause your board to be disconnected once this happens.

Play now proceeds to the clockwise next player.

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