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I have recently moved away from most of my gaming friends and taken to playing by email. We have played a few rounds of Age of Steam but the bidding at the start of each turn takes many emails just to get through. With a time zone difference it can mean a week to do one round of bidding.

Does anyone know a similar mechanic that can work like bidding? Or a way to do bidding through email that would be faster than each player saying their bid one at a time?

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Well in a normal (at the board) game, you will find that the person who starts the bidding has the advantage, because the following players need to beat, rather than equal the first player's bid.

So, one option you have (and the one I would use) is a blind auction, where if there is a tie, then the order of bidding is the person who wins. Obviously, the way you do a blind auction is difficult over email as you cannot prevent the other person or persons from seeing your bid, unless you do one of two things

  • Have a 'referee' for want of a better word, who collects the bids until all are received and email the results once collected.
  • Have a player (possibly the final player in the bid order) act as the referee, who cannot bid themselves, but collects all blind bids.

However, I would suggest looking for one of the online board game sites that allow you to play turn-by-turn. There are a few that do this (I believe there are already questions on this topic), but I am not sure if there is one for this game.

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    Agree on finding a website. The Axis and Allies Members Club (AAMC)(aamc.net/bunker) has a PBEM site that supports blind auction bidding. Each player puts in the number of their bid and the site automatically sends emails to both players indicating the winning bid, which starts the game. – Adam Wuerl May 26 '11 at 11:38
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    You can handle the blind bid without a third party if you use a cryptographic hash function (e.g. SHA-1). All players send the hash of their bid with some password (e.g. "adaf1621b49b6d32e4a66e74fc67312380d4caa6"). Once all the hashed bids are in then all players can reveal what their bid and password were (e.g. "5-Chimp"). Using a sealed bid website is probably the simplest option though! – tttppp May 27 '11 at 7:20

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