Players 3-4
Length 30 minutes
Equipment Required piecepack, pen and paper
Designer IanSchreiber and JebHavens
Version 1.0
Version Date2004-05
License GNU FDL , dual-licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


An abstract auction game


Reviews & Comments

Take Modern Art, strip off the theme, port it to the piecepack, and Bid! is pretty much what you get. Well, almost, anyway. The mechanics are really quite simple. Everyone starts with a suit of tiles, two coins and a pawn. The player who won the last auction (or the piecepack owner for the first auction) rolls all four piecepack dice to determine how many points are up for auction and if any special rules will apply. Once during the game, each player may take a Mulligan and force all of the auction dice to be rerolled by spending his or her pawn. After the auction rules have been determined, every player places a secret face-down bid (usually a single tile, but depending upon the auction rules sometimes two tiles are used, and sometimes coins are needed to break ties). The highest bid scores points (and sometimes coins) based upon what was rolled on the four dice. After each auction, the winning tile passes to the second-place bidder, the second-place tile passes to the third-place bidder and so on, with the last-place tile passing to the auction winner. This way, everyone will always have exactly six tiles, although their values may change dramatically over the course of the game. The first player to accumulate 100 points wins.

The Bid! rules are fairly well-written, and the game is straightforward enough to play. I would have liked a cleaner summary table for the effects of rolling aces, and possibly a score track upon which the pawns could move. As it is, we used markers to keep track of the scores instead of pencil and paper, but a Cribbage board would have also served in a pinch. The required appendix is somewhat better than average among the contest submissions, and indicates a good mix of effort. Mechanically, once we memorized the aces rules table, the game went rather smoothly, except that some rules left us wondering why they were included. For example, no one ever used the pawn sacrifice option to force a reroll of the auction dice in our games. Except possibly as a final turn last resort to prevent a leading player from passing the 100 points mark, the pawn Mulligan just didn't ever seem worth doing to us. Thus, we thought the pawns could be better used simply to keep track of the scores.

But the biggest problem we experienced was a runaway leader in a three player game. This wasn't especially fun, even for the leader, who had somehow managed to acquire a majority of the five tiles. The reason Bid! is much better for four (or possibly more) players than for three players is that the losers' bids tie far too often in a three-player game, meaning they keep the same low-value tiles they had and the winner keeps the advantage. A reasonable but untested fix could be for the tying losers to determine a hierarchy among themselves using coins (just as tying winners already do). This would guarantee a tile passing order and break the runaway leader cycle. Also, if piecepacks with more than the standard four suits are available, there's no reason Bid! couldn't be extended to play with more than four people. In fact, like many other auction games, Bid! might have a sweet spot when played with five or six players, and additional types of auctions could be devised if any additional dice are added to the mix. More than four dice in a given auction might break the game, but keeping only four dice might make the coin economy too tight. Also, allowing the roller to choose which four dice to roll might be both a fun addition and a way to reinvigorate the Mulligan option. These are all topics for future play testing that I hope the designers will consider.

Conclusion: As submitted, Bid! doesn't work well with three players, but it works fine with four (and possibly more) players. The authors would do well to tweak the tie breaking rules so that auction winners don't keep the advantage when the losers all tie, which is really only a problem in the three-player version of the game. They may also want to rethink the pawn Mulligan and add a couple of player aids such as a scoring track and a clean auction reference table. Score: 23.26

-- ClarkRodeffer

Oct 19, 2004

CategoryGame MechanicBettingCategory