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Top 5 Best Auction Games

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Auction games require players to bid against one another to obtain the things they need to win. These games are about resource management -- but you also have to respond quickly to market forces.

1. Ra

Ra Game Board
Image courtesy of Rio Grande Games
For 3 to 5 players, ages 12 and up. Designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Rio Grande Games.
I've probably played Ra more than 100 times through the years, and have come to appreciate it as an absolute masterpiece. In each of three rounds of auctions, players have a limited number of bids (the exact number varies depending how many players are involved). Some of the items being acquired have short-term value, some long-term, and a few in between. You can't ignore any of them, but you also can't focus on them all. The random elements in Ra are more pronounced than in some other auction games, which I view as a good thing. There's more ability to take big chances and either succeed grandly or fail miserably.

2. Hollywood Blockbuster / Traumfabrik

For 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Uberplay.
The Golden Age of Hollywood. Alfred Hitchcock. Marilyn Monroe. Jimmy Stewart. And with Traumfabrik (German which translates to Dream Factory), you are the head of a studio trying to put together the best movies by hiring directors, stars and crew members. You might wind up with Monroe starring in King Kong, but if it earns you points that's a good thing. Note: The U.S. edition, Hollywood Blockbuster, uses fictionalized actors and films. The original German version, Traumfabrik, uses real names.

3. Pizarro & Co.

For 3 to 6 players, ages 12 and up. Designed by Thomas Lehmann, published by Rio Grande Games.
Francisco Pizarro was an explorer in the early 1500s. In this game, players bid for the services of Pizarro, Magellan, Columbus, Marco Polo and other famous explorers. Three rounds with lots of auctions make it an auction-lovers dream. The game also features double-sided game boards, enhancing its replay value.

4. Modern Art

For 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Mayfair Games.
Knizia, who also designed Traumfabrik, has created a variety of excellent auction games. In Modern Art, the trick is that there are many kinds of auctions (open, "in the fist," once-around, etc.) and the final scores depend on the relative popularity of each artist. Another Knizia auction game worthy of mention is Medici.

5. You're Bluffing

For 3 to 5 players, ages 7 and up. Designed by Rudiger Koltze, published by Ravensburger.
Players try to collect sets of four identical farm animals in this clever little game. On a turn, you can auction off the top face-down card on the deck, or you can compete with one other player in a blind-bidding contest in an effort to acquire some of their animals. The blind bidding system is the strongest part of You're Bluffing.

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