Blind Auction Bidding

From DipWiki

Blind Auction Bidding
By Dirk Knemeyer with Pete Dale and Tim Crosby
v. 1.3, November 1, 2011

This bidding variant reflects my personal enjoyment of and desire for determinism in attempting to secure a particular starting power. While Blind Auction Bidding technically gives every player an equal chance at each and every power, the system is designed to accommodate very different strategies: go all-or-nothing for the power you most want to play? Go for a few powers in a balanced way, to make it likely you can play one of a select few? Or avoid that one power you simply do NOT want to play by bidding for all of the others in a conservative way that should help you avoid the one you despise? The choice is up to you.

1. Each player has 100 points to spend on bids for all of the powers in your game

2. You must spend at least one point on every power in your game and no more than 80 on any one specific power

3. You must only bid in whole numbers, no fractions or decimals are allowed

4. You must spend all 100 of your points and will be asked by the GM to re-submit if your total is less or more than 100

5. Your bids will be evaluated from the highest points allocated to the lowest, regardless of the order you put them in. However, in cases where you bid the same amount on more than one power, whichever is listed first is considered your "highest" bid, all the way down to the bottom-most being considered your "lowest" bid, and this ranking will affect the order in which your bids are evaluated (see para. 8)

6. Players not interested in bidding may express "no preference". In this case they will receive 100/x rounded down to the nearest whole number, where x = number of powers in the game, on each power, with their order from "highest" to "lowest" randomly generated (See para. 8)

7. Players may change their bids up until the moment the GM has received the bid from the last player, after which bids may not be changed

8. The GM will then review the bids of all players and identify the most points spent on any power or powers. Where a player has more than one bid of that value for powers not already allocated to any player, only his highest ranking bid of that value will be considered

9. If only one player has the high bid on any of the highest bid powers, that player is assigned that power for the game and both the player and power are removed from the bidding. This process is then repeated for the next highest number of points bid on any power

10. In the event of a tie bid, where two or more players have bid the same high amount on the same power, the GM will randomly determine which player receives the disputed power

11. The process continues until every player in the game has won a power

12. Players are forbidden to discuss their bidding, strategy, or even if they are simply choosing "no preference", with any of the other players in the game. By design this process is intended to be completely blind and force the player to deeply consider risk and reward

In a game of Standard Diplomacy, Joe very badly wants to play Russia. To have the maximum chance at securing Russia, Joe assigns his 100 points as follows:

Russia - 80 Austria - 4 England - 4 France - 3 Germany - 3 Italy - 3 Turkey - 3

As long as no other player submits this precise bid, Joe will get Russia. If one or more other players submit this precise bid, Joe will have a chance to get Russia, but he also has a chance to get stuck with a leftover power at the very end.

Jane has played Austria, Germany and Italy each three times in Standard Diplomacy but has only played each of the other four powers either never or once. If Jane knows one thing, it's that she doesn't want to get stuck with one of her three old standbys. So, Jane decides to bid her 100 points like this:

England - 25 France - 24 Russia - 24 Turkey - 24 Austria - 1 Germany - 1 Italy - 1

Jane is a little worried because she figures that a lot of other players will only bid one on the rarely popular Austria or Italy, but she is optimistic that with 24 or 25 points on four different powers one of them will slip through the cracks to her.

Jerry doesn't want to play Italy in his upcoming game of Standard Diplomacy. Bottom line. No way, no how. He can bid one on Italy but a lot of other people will probably do that, too. He thinks he needs to get creative. England and Russia are the two most popular powers so he is going to just give them one point, too. That gives him 97 points to spend on four powers. Thinking about which of them he likes best he decides to bid his 100 points like this:

Turkey - 51 France - 16 Austria - 15 Germany - 15 England - 1 Italy - 1 Russia - 1

Harvey doesn't care who he plays in the new game of Standard Diplomacy. What's up with this crazy bidding anyway? "No preference," he writes to the GM. So the GM assigns his points based on the prescribed formula:

100 points, divided by 7 powers in Standard Diplomacy and rounded down to the nearest whole number, is 14. The GM randomly determines the order of those powers, making Harvey's bids:

Austria - 14 Germany - 14 England - 14 Italy - 14 Russia - 14 France - 14 Turkey - 14

He is thus most likely to get Austria, least likely to get Turkey.

If you have questions or comments on Blind Auction Bidding please email me, dirk (at)