Just some thoughts on a 4–player 1830 private auction, using my last playthrough on Board18 as an example.
— privates’ powers don’t matter
— you’d rather not get P6 (the only unsellable private, so you can’t transfer money from a company’s treasury to you)
— P5 + priority deal + at least $335 is a very strong (if not game winning) combo (it allows to float PRR in the first SR and consequently sell P5 as soon as possible)
I don’t have any particular thoughts on first bids; I’ll only say that bidding $200 on P5 is viable since it won’t go for cheaper anyway and it may ever make someone not join the contest.
So in that playthrough, after 6 moves, the situation is as follows:
Now it’s up to PlayerC. They bid 50 on P2, which obviously prompts PlayerD to buy P1 since they get P4 for “free”. Then there is an auction for P2 between PlayerA and PlayerC, PlayerA lets it go. Then it’s P3 between me and PlayerC. I bid as much as it seems reasonable, then pass since my objective is P5 + cash to float a company. The next thing is an auction for P5 between me and PlayerA which I win at $245 (theoretically I could go up to $265 and still have $335, but I’m not sure if it would be worth it). PlayerA buys P6 because they don’t have any revenue so if everyone passes, they would find themselves behind the rest in terms of cash.
I’m in position to open PRR, which normally is great, but in this case I think PlayerD is in a better situation since they’ve gotten something comparable (the same revenue—$25—and not much smaller value—$130 vs. $160) for a significantly lower price ($245 vs. $135).
I think that PlayerC made a mistake. I’d say they should have used the following rule of thumb (and actually that’s what I did on my second move):
— if someone “pulling the plug” (buying the cheapest private) doesn’t grant me any “free” private, I bid on a private that has only one bid on it. If there are more than one, I choose the one where the sole bidder is relatively first to act after me in the player order*.
That’s what I did and this made pulling the plug not attractive to PlayerC. If they did the same (i.e. bid on P4), then PlayerD probably would bid on P2 and we would have an auction on every private which should result in ~fair prices. And even if PlayerD wouldn’t do that, then PlayerA would get “only” P1 and P2 for “free”—a combination much weaker than P1 and P4.
When we were auctioning P5, PlayerA and I didn’t have any other private. And here comes another observation: since I act immediately after him, I am in a much better position. It’s almost certain that the looser of the auction gets P6. Should I be the looser, the priority deal would go to PlayerC (so no P5 + priority deal for PlayerA). In other case, it’s me who gets the priority deal. And that’s what happened.
*My previous rule of thumb was to bid on the most expensive private among those with only one bid. I think it’s justifiable, but I found my new approach more reliable: the player that got overbid now isn’t that prone to pulling the plug and probably will do the same to the next sole bidder and so on.
(posted on my miniblog as well)