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Multiple paths to victory
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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I was suprised nobody had made a geek list about this.

There's this one Games with plentiful paths to victory?, but I didn't really believe some of the entries. I don't have much experience of the top BGG games but I can program, so I decided to just download all the user comments of the top 1000 games and see how often the phrase came up. About 800000 comments. This was done using Java and the XML API guide in the BGG help section.

I've only included games with at least 500 comments. So some of the recent arrivals like Hawaii (which came 4th) have been removed.

Here's the top 25.

I feel that there is a difference between the paths to victory offered in Puerto Rico for example (49th) and Princes of the Renaissance. In PR are the multiple paths a matter of doing the same things but in different combinations? And in PotR the paths involve completely different actions. I haven't played either but like the sound of the options in PotR. I wonder how he balances them?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the type of strategic choice offered in these games. Please add other games you think have better 'multiple paths to victory'.


----

I've uploaded the data in a public dropbox. 1000 files of crude XML with username, rating and comments. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/67615841/top%201000%20games%20-%20us...
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1. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:135]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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6.4% of 710 comments contain the phrase "paths to victory"

"The Roundel which was so succesful in Imperial and Hamburgum is taken on a new course. Simple choices, streamlined mechanics yet deep strategic fun. Many paths to victory but you can't ignore the revenue lest you run out of gold for the last turns. Excellent!" (Faqtotum)

Do more recent games include multiple paths?
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2. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:97]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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6.1%

"Great game. Many wheels turning and interlocking. Many paths to victory, and seems all are balanced. You have to have a plan in mind, but be flexible and opportunistic." (adiamant)
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3. Board Game: Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:113]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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6.1%

"An excellent game with several paths to victory. While the Missionary Method seems to dominate with less experienced players, the Trade Goods and Buckets-O-Cash seems to be the long-term way to win..." (BeyondMonopoly)

So is the balance OK?
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4. Board Game: The End of the Triumvirate [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1112]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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drop to 5.2%

"Try to break through the balance. I'm very impressed with this design. There are multiple paths to victory (senate, military presence & money/purchasing). However, your opponents can move you back in either category. Leaders will be bashed & there will be conflict -- a lot of conflict. It's difficult to just pick one strategy because if you're weak in a category it's much more difficult to harm your opponents. Also, there are many equalizing & catch-up mechanisms. (You may even want to engineer some strategic losses.) This game boggles my mind. In fact, my only worry is that it may be too balanced. Further play is needed." (modboy)

Too balanced?
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5. Board Game: Amyitis [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:687]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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4.9%

"I really like it. It's yet another classical euro, but somehow I find it fresh. There are different paths to victory, you cannot do everything and you have to pursue streamlined strategies.This game requires a perfect mix of tactical and strategic plannig, different strategies ARE viable and it's fun to play!Another impressive design from Ystari.[In my eyes Ystari has rebuilt its reputation after Yspahan and Caylus Magna Carta :-) ]" (jax900)

Can you move from one path to another? If so is it a path, or a smear?
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6. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:134]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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4.8%

"Interesting and relatively fast for a civilization game, and multiple paths to victory that don't simply involve different ways to get points. There is so much going on with every card and tile that it's a massive mental undertaking for me just to focus on one of the paths." (The Eye)

Do multiple paths mean big games?
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7. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:402]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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4.5%

"My first play was very positive. Lots of technologies to purchase. Lots of paths to victory. Solid theme and mechanics. And it doesn't overstay its welcome. I expect my rating to go up." (mjacobsca)

Do games with multiple paths improve over time?

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8. Board Game: Aton [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:727]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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3.7%

"Is there any other game with as many paths to victory? At least three games have had us tied at 40." (tommynomad)
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9. Board Game: Princes of the Renaissance [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:495]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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3.5%

"...PoR is defintely not multi-player solitaire. There are multiple paths to victory, non of which are boring, all of which are Awesome!Since there are so many ways to win, I often fall into the trap of trying out alternative ways of winning. Sometimes players (myself included) forget that the game is all about being a Condottieri! Keep in mind that alternative approaches (such as a heavy Merchant strategy) are more dependant on the other players' actions than if you simply participate in a lot of wars..." (beckeykevin)

This is the game that inspired this list. I want to find something like PoR because it is very hard to get hold of.
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10. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:200]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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3.4%

"...There are some very interesting, innovative mechanics, and these are coupled with well-balanced game play that affords multiple paths to victory. What's more, there are 96 unique Building/Person cards that give the game seemingly endless replay value...." (Anonymous Apathy)

There are multiple cards but are there multiple paths or many similar paths?
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11. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:175]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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3.4%

"This game has quickly become my favorite game of the year!! It is quick and challenging and so many paths to victory....watch those rats!! Must not let them overrun your town.......I just love this game as it is half the time of Puerto Rico but just as good and perhaps better, in my book. " (nishikawa)
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12. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:382]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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3.4%

"Fantastic shorter Euro with perhaps the most unique use of dice I've ever experienced in a game. Multiple paths to victory and multiple mechanics for acheiving VPs keep players on their toes...a lot of thought-power required for such a quick little game." (cabalzero)
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13. Board Game: Tribune: Primus Inter Pares [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:400]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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3.2%

"I like that there are many variations on end-game conditions and that you generally must meet a subset of specified conditions, both of which will increase the replayability for an otherwise so-so game. You draft cards through various mechanisms, then play melds to take over roles with rewards and powers that (in the right combination) help you earn victory. Given the many possible paths to victory, it's actually somewhat difficult to track who is close to ending the game and whether there is anything you can do about it. " (hedden)

Is this tracking problem typical of multiple path games?
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14. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:221]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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2.9%

"Rating after one play. Interesting mechanic, seems like there are multiple paths to victory, though I can certainly imagine that some will turn out to be more dominant, but it is not immediately obvious which.Some plays later, I still like the game, but I'm still playing it at a tactical level, not strategic. I think it can be played strategically, but I need to know the tiles in order to do that." (Knave)
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15. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:38]
tim p
United Kingdom
Margate
Kent
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2.7%

I think I'll stop here as Caylus is by far the most played of the top 15 (3939 comments) and the number one game listed in the 'plentiful' list above. Is Caylus still considered multiple pathed? Or was it just the first game to offer a certain type of multiple path game? Does that make sense, how varied were the paths?

The next 10 games to make the top 25

Antike = 2.613
Goa = 2.481
7 Wonders = 2.441
Cuba = 2.325
Eminent Domain = 2.314
Phoenicia = 2.218
Endeavor = 2.098
Liberte = 2.020
Ninjato = 2.020
Chaos in the Old World = 2.007



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16. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:10]
☆ ✧ ☆ ✧ ☆
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle
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In PR are the multiple paths a matter of doing the same things but in different combinations?

There are two main paths to victory in Puerto Rico that I know of, and they consist of focusing on different things, but not to the exclusion of other aspects of the game.
Focusing on shipping and focusing on buying buildings I would argue give this game at minimum two paths to victory. They certainly overlap, you will need to buy buildings to play shipping strategy, and you will need to ship (usually unavaidable) when playing a building strategy.

They play very differently from each other even with the overlap. In the building strategy you will be trying to end the game quickly, and keep the shippers from getting their engines tuned up.

In the shipping strategy you will be trying to maximize production, and to ship often.
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17. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:26]
☆ ✧ ☆ ✧ ☆
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle
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The fact few mentioned "multiple path's to victory" in their comments means nothing.
This game is wide open.
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18. Board Game: Legend of the Five Rings [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:928]
Thrift Thopter
United States
Massachusetts
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I can think of multiple collectible card games that have several victory conditions, but I'll stick with Legend of the Five Rings, because its array of victory conditions was the main draw for me to start playing it.

The basic victory conditions in Legend of the Five Rings, are being the last player standing, increasing your honor to 40, or getting all five Rings into play. The basic loss conditions are having all four of your provinces destroyed, or having your honor reduced to -20.

There have also been some sets of cards released over the years, that allow you to win in other ways.
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19. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:33]
Aaron Morgan
United States
Sacramento
California
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Scoring is based on a number of factors - military strength, sciences, trade, building your wonder, etc. With a limited number of turns and a shrinking pool of cards to choose from from each round, players need to decide early on the manner they want to develop their civilization to both score points of their own and deny their opponents scoring opportunities.
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20. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:120]
Duy Lam
United States
San Jose
California
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Although the end goal is the same for everyone (own two metropolises), the three ways you can get a metropolis (building one yourself, creating one with philosophers, and conquering another player's metropolis) have almost nothing to do with each other... and you can focus your efforts however you want. You can legitimately win by spending the entire game attacking everyone, not attacking at all, or any point in between.
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21. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:57]
Jeff A
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Played this one for the first time a week ago.
There are so many ways in this game to get points. You can completely ignore areas of the game and still do very well or win.
Plus this game has a great action selection mechanic.

Oops missed that this was the top 20, oh well.
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22. Board Game: 1936: Guerra Civil [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:2187]
Arturo García

Madrid
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Three different paths to victory by concept:
- Military victory points
- Diplomatic victory points
- Demoralizing the enemy

Then there's a fourth victory condition based on the combination of military and diplomatic victory points.
 
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