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Committing resources in a competition against others to determine who can make a specific purchase or trade.

A Bidding instance is a process consisting of several parts: the bidding where players invest resources with the hope to achieve a outcome, the determination of the outcome of these investments, and the distribution of possible rewards.


In Poker and related games, players take turns on bidding on the value of their card hands. Players are part of those that can win as long as they match previous bids or increase the bid each time it's their turn, and players give up the bidding lose what they have bid. The player with the best hand of those left when everybody has stopped increasing the bids wins.

Furnace provides players with four tokens each turn that are used to bid on a number of drawn cards, thereby supporting bidding on multiple rewards simultaneously. While the highest bidder gains the card bid on for the rest of the game, those that had bid less on that card gets a specific resources or possible action as compensation.

In the Game Theory two-player game Dollar Auction, both players lose what they have bid and this feature is used to show how localized rational behavior can lead to long-term irrational behavior.

Kicking out a player from an open game instance of team-based multiplayer games, e.g., Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, typically requires that a certain amount of players have voted for kicking the player out.

Using the pattern

The basis for creating a Bidding Resources Rewards

who gets the rewards, what is the distribution otherwise Furnace

possibility to raise if bids must always be increased

who pays Dollar Auction

Bidding is often structured according to some form of Turn Taking - this helps players engage in Tactical Planning and make Bluffing function - but it can also be done by letting all players bid whenever they wish.

Bluffing can emerge in all types of Bidding since players can make bids they actually don't want to succeed. However, Bluffing can be

Can Be Modulated By

Asymmetric Information, , Direct Information, Negotiation, Symmetric Information,

Alternatives to using Bidding include Drafting and Token Placement.

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narration Aspects


Bidding is a form of Betting, although the Uncertainty of Outcome it provides typically mainly comes from the uncertainty of how much players will bid. It is a Competition among players, most typically a Resource Competition, where winning bids provide Rewards that typically are Resources but can relate to other things, e.g. Area Control. This means that Bidding can support Transfer of Control through a form of Capture or can play the role of being Converters. Bridge shows how Bidding can modulate games regarding Trick Taking and Trumps (rather than being a form of Transfer of Control), and here the Bidding can be seen as a way to determine which player may enforce a Player-Defined Goals on the game. Since Bidding is won by eliminating all other players for wishing to bid or being able to bid, the goal of Bidding can be seen has have an Eliminate goal besides the typical Gain Ownership one. The also allows Bidding to support the Social Role of being a Dominators

Being an elective action, Bidding provides players with a Freedom of Choice as long as they have enough Resources to be able to raise the bid. That the cost varies means that players can have to deal with Trade-Offs in that the Resources used for bids may not be able to be used for other things and this can cause Internal Conflicts. Handling these aspects typically requires players to engage in Tactical Planning.

Given that Bidding requires several potential bidders, it is a way to provide a shared activity with Multiplayer Games. These activities are Collaborative Actions even if they are not cooperative. When players are bidding not because they actually want to win the bid but rather force others to pay more, the Bidding activity for those specific people become a form of Push Your Luck activity relying on Social Skills.


Can Instantiate

Area Control, Betting, Capture, Competition, Converters, Collaborative Actions, Freedom of Choice, Internal Conflicts, Player-Defined Goals, Push Your Luck, Resource Competition, Rewards, Social Skills, Social Roles, Tactical Planning, Trade-Offs, Transfer of Control, Uncertainty of Outcome

Can Modulate

Eliminate, Gain Ownership, Multiplayer Games, Resources, Trick Taking, Trumps

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Asymmetric Information, Bluffing, Direct Information, Negotiation, Symmetric Information, Turn Taking

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Bidding that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[1].


  1. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.