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Subject: Recording RT for 80 rss

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Donald Dennis
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We will be recording for Episode 80 on Wendesday April 11th about game endings.

Any questions or observations we'd be foolish not to include?

What game has the best ending?

What kind of ending is awful?

What gives a meaning ending?

Answer here or send me an email if you like.
 
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Eric Hansen
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I like how Forbidden Island ends, what with everyone making a run for the helicopter pad. Any game that ends with a process like that makes for an exciting conclusion. It's what I like about racing games too.

I also like games that end with one player triggering a game ending condition and everyone getting one last turn to pull ahead and win themselves. I'm thinking strategy games like Kings and Things where someone builds a citadel and has to hold it for a full turn.

I don't like it when games just end by surprise. As much as I love Runewars, that game is the king of "Oh. I won. Huh." I think it has to do with random events that provide too high a reward or penalty. BSG, another favorite game of mine, has ended in, "Oh, we lose no matter how well the crisis vote goes" a few times. What killed Betrayal for my wife was her finding the wall switch, which dropped her into the furnace room, thus killing her character and losing the game for the explorers.
 
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Joe Pastuzyn
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You guys should discuss whether you like endings where a significant number of VPs comes from hidden objectives. I think Stone Age has an issue with this because a significant number of VPs can come after the real scoring is done. On the other hand, Troyes handles this well in that all players can get the end game victory points if they figure out which character card their opponents have. It's sort of a game within a game.

I think abrupt endings are awful. Once a game ends, one more turn around the players should be allowed, even if it's limited to only playing the cards in your hand, for example.

On the plus side, no one game has a universally terrific ending, but many games I've played have had terrific endings. If the players are close in skill, a tight game coming down to the last turn can be thrilling. We've had games of Fresco go like that. More consistently, our games of Power Grid are usually very tight once the step 3 card is turned. We sometimes see a player rush the end game one turn sooner than you wanted, much to his joy and our sadness. We also frequently tie and have to resort to money as the tie breaker.
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Randall Bart
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I think the two worst things at the end of a game are:

1) Too much luck
2) Not enough luck

The first is when some lucky occurrence late in the game counts more than the whole rest of the game. I am not referring to when someone catches up by a few points, but when someone catches up by too much.

The second occurs when you get behind early, and you are looking for some clever action that will give you a small chance of winning, but you are out of luck because there is not enough luck.

Note: As a game gets longer, these become irreconcilable without making the early game meaningless, but you didn't ask about early game problems.

Also ending a game then waiting for someone to crunch the spreadsheet before you know who won (eg Agricola) is a let down.
 
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Jason Moslander
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The end of game dice roll is always exciting. I hear that Lords of Vegas does this really well. The last game of Alien Frontiers had this effect. I also like the surprise ending. You think player x is for sure going to win, but player y ends up pulling the victory. This is especially fun when you are player y.
 
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Chris Berger
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Barticus88 wrote:
Also ending a game then waiting for someone to crunch the spreadsheet before you know who won (eg Agricola) is a let down.


I kind of like an end game where everyone totals up their score and no one is really sure who won until someone says, "oh, and I have 208." And everyone sighs and throws their victory points at him in disgust.

That's not really the most dramatic ending, though it beats the way that Yggdrasil usually ends. Which is, "okay, two enemies are over the line, the Vanir track isn't far enough along and we're two away from completing any runes... I guess we lose. *pause while everyone comes to the same conclusion* Okay, let's pack it up." Or even when you win, it's "and we draw the last card... yep, it's the Jormungandr that we knew was there, he doesn't advance far enough to matter, so I guess we win." And that's a game I like, it's just that the ending always seems to be a let down.

It's always dramatic when a game comes down to a final die roll (which seems to happen more often than not in BSG), but that type of game usually falls into one of two categories: a) much of the time it doesn't come down to a final die roll and it's more like the Yggdrasil situations I mentioned above, or b) it seems to always come down to a final die roll, which makes you wonder why you bother to play the rest of the game that apparently didn't matter at all (if the winner is determined by random chance, then let's just roll a die at the beginning and then play something interesting). Though I do think that BSG threads the middle of that divide pretty well.

Really, I'm struggling to come up with many other games where the ending isn't usually a let down other than the "add up points at the end" style of games. But then, I usually like the middle of a game more than the end anyway, because I'm more interested in exploring tactics and strategy than I am in finding out who actually won.

I guess Through the Ages has a pretty good ending where the last turn usually has a good War or at least an Aggression, and then you have the final Impacts that usually determine the winner.
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Wyckyd
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I really like games to have a natural end: you run out of cards, or run out of space. It is something the players all work at and can influence.
I like Metropolys, even though the game is very abstract, it becomes really tense near the end when any player might 'finish it'.

On the other side of this are the games with a set number of rounds, for example Small World. In the last round, you might play differently just because it feels like your playing time is ending, not that the game is finished. And If you lose by a couple of points, but you ended with a better board position, that feels wrong.

Another topic might by End of game tallying vs Updating throughout. In Ticket to Ride, the rules say to keep track of the amount of points you score by claiming routes, but some friends of mine don't like doing that - they want to save all of the counting to the end.
On the other hand, I've seen people be really turned of by the end of 7 Wonders - they liked the game, but thought ending it with 'the big counting' really ruined the feel of the game.

Personally, I'm a big fan of hidden objectives because you can do the big reveal at the end of the game. A great game of Clans should end with a color controlled by no one getting the most points.

Good luck!
 
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Lance Coffee
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Any questions or observations we'd be foolish not to include?
Some of my observations. You would not be foolish to ignore them all.

Another type of ending is the approximately known ending. Airlines Europe and Pompeii have a game ending card within the last 7-10 cards; so you know the approximate but not the exact ending - is this my last turn or do I have one more. Not saying it is good or bad, just offering another option.

Even though I have not played these, would be curious of how you feel about the accounting portion at the end - Agricola, 7 Wonders, Roll Through the Ages - where one has to count up points from multiple portions of the game. I would be curious of thoughts on this as well.

The way we figure Ticket to Ride points at the end is always pretty enjoyable. The ending if fairly tense wondering if you are going to have that one extra turn to finish or if Player 3 is going to jump in and end the game before I'm ready. Not comparing to other games, but I like the way you have some portion of points accounted during the game with a portion of points unknown until the end of the game. There isn't so much accounting at the end, but there is still some mystery.

There are games where you kind of are not counting VPs - direct conflict games / battle games might fall into this situation. Risk - I don't need to count points, I own all the territory. The Risk Revised edition (which I have played a few times and do enjoy more than I thought I might) offers some anticipation as the victory condition are 3 objectives instead of world domination. So at a certain point, everyone is making forays and attacks trying to get those 3 objectives. Dice rolls are involved so there is excitement involved there. Stretch oneself to see if you can get it because you know if you don't steal the victory now, Player Next is going to win. Memoir'44 may have some similar victory, where die rolls can determine a victory this turn.

Maybe this is the general portion of the game where games that grow and build up to this climax, where one can see the end of the game is near. People start paying attention that little bit more.

So does a good game have a lot of tension at the end?
Maybe even mention Pit


What kind of ending is awful?
Not necessarily awful, but did recently play the enjoyable RoboRally. But at the end, one basically knows who is going to win. Or at least in our experience it was down to 2-3.


What gives a meaning ending?
* Tension at the end; anticipation and hope that you are going to win (or at least believe you have a chance). I am almost talking myself into wanting some portion of hidden point in the end.
* It could be everyone laughing.
* The stand-up die rolls.
* Maybe an ultimate combo move that jumps you to the lead.
* That the journey was worth it. That the journey was rewarding. Even if I did not win the game, was the time playing it fun and enjoyable.
 
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Donald Dennis
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On Board Games » Forums » General
Re: Recording RT for 80
lcoffee wrote:
Another type of ending is the approximately known ending.
One of the earlier games that had this was Löwenherz, and it works really there, because everyone has the same number of turns no matter where it comes up.
 
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What a cool topic

A specific game with a cool endgame is actually not coming to mind, but I like endgames with anticipation, so I guess games with some kind of hidden information in the scoring (hidden stocks Acquire), or games with so much going on you can't really calculate it until you actually do (Dominant Species). The endgame for High Society is particularly intriguing as it's totally unpredictable and can dictate the value of things in the game. I also like games where you can extend or shorten the game to your liking (as in Lost Cities).

On the other hand, unpredictable endgames are something I don't like. It works in High Society because even if the bottom card is the endgame card, it will last only 10-20 minutes. But games like Fluxx or Monopoly where the endgame is just whenever the players get there irritate me because I don't feel I have a say in getting there. Likewise a game like Fortune and Glory has a particularly miserable endgame where a player gets 1 point from winning and is then beaten on by the table until every player is one point from victory and someone just sneaks by when no one has a counter to them winning. That last example went on for 2.5 hours.

A bland endgame that comes to mind is in Catan. Points, aside from VP cards, are open, so the push to the end game shifts to "Don't trade with that player" when someone gets to 7 or 8 points and then hope the dice don't come through for them.

I think what gives an ending meaning is the tension built within the game between the players and where they think they are in relation to one another. If scoring is too transparent the final turns of a game can be tedious (2p Dominion comes to mind).
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Eric Hansen
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lcoffee wrote:
Even though I have not played these, would be curious of how you feel about the accounting portion at the end - Agricola...

The one thing I've found about Agricola, is usually the person with the farm that looks the best (most organized, most variety, etc) is the one who wins. While we do tally points, it's not usually a surprise unless two people are only a couple points apart.
 
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Eric Hansen
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schwarzott wrote:
On the other hand, unpredictable endgames are something I don't like. It works in High Society because even if the bottom card is the endgame card, it will last only 10-20 minutes. But games like Fluxx or Monopoly where the endgame is just whenever the players get there irritate me because I don't feel I have a say in getting there.

YES. My family loves Farkle, but I hate it because the game has an indeterminate time, and all we're doing is rolling dice. A game can go 15 min or 90+ min--even if we drop the score midgame--depending on dice rolls. Lately I've been trying to get them onto Junta: Viva El Presidente since what they like about Farkle is screwing each other over with dice rolls. And it's working. mwahahahaha!

I don't mind Tales of the Arabian Nights, however, because it's at least entertaining. But otherwise I totally agree with you. Most games without some kind of clock mechanism built into the game need to have an ending the players can achieve through good play.
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Esteban Fernandez
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I hate when someone is having fun, and the someone says

"I move here, and with this, and this card, I win!"
 
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Bob Wieman
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Obviously, this is far too late to have any relevance to the episode, but I thought I'd throw 2 cents in the ring anyway.

Relevant to the previous comments about tallying-as-you-go vs. finding out scores at the end, as well as the bummer of "I do this so I win" endings, is how victory works in a turn-based game. That is, any turn-based game that ends when victory is achieved has a bit of the "I do this so I win" ending, which can feel exciting to the winner but is a letdown for everyone else, not just because they lost but because at the moment of losing they weren't actively engaged with the game. Someone wins, but the loss just happens to you.

One way to strongly encourage a nailbiter ending that everyone's engaged in is to give everyone the same number of turns, sometimes called a "last licks" rule. Roll Through The Ages is usually very exciting, as one person triggers the end and everyone left takes more risks to try to squeak ahead. (This doesn't happen when the last player in turn order triggers the end, though.)

Similarly, I just played a game of Dr. Shark (Thanks for the recommendation Ayrk!) that came right down to the wire. I scored well on my last turn, so my wife went for broke on her last turn, and got the clues she needed...but then realized we both had a pile of unused clues that had to be added up, and my pile looked a little bigger...she hesitatedly announced her final score of 57, and was on tenterhooks as she heard my whisper: "fifty-six".

That's a good ending. Everyone feels like they did well, but the victor's rush is just a little bit more.

(Both these games also usually don't have complete scoring tallying until after the game is over, which might help, but I think the key is everyone anticipating the result of that final turn.)
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