Brilliant scoring systems
David B
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Chesapeake
Virginia
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In this geeklist, I would love to see geeks submit games with scoring systems that give the corresponding games a wow factor, i.e. scoring systems that attract us to that game.
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1. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:170]
David B
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Chesapeake
Virginia
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Many have complained the scoring is wonky and hard to explain. I explain it this way: There are only three points to be claimed in the game. You get one point if you have more buddhas than anyone else, one point if you have the most warriors, one point if you have the most rice paddies (no ties). Two points is an automatic win. If two players are tied, remove the figure you dominated. Whoever has the most remaining figures wins.

The scoring system is what drives the strategy and timing and I personally think it is brilliant.
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2. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:133]
David B
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I find this game to be the perfect balance between positive scoring and penalties and also a perfect balance between short term and long term goals. The use of god tiles as points or as use of claiming a single tile off the auction rack is a good feature. Finally, the fact that the bidding tiles themselves have to be manged for end game score makes the system a razor sharp balancing act that works.
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3. Board Game: China [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:626]
David B
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Virginia
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This game is a basic area control game, but the scoring raises it above many other games in the same genre. I love how second, third, fourth place players in any province can leech points off the player scoring ahead of them. The ability to score roads makes every placement important as it can serve two purposes at once. Finally the alliance/emissaries present opportunities that cannot be overlooked. As Calandale said in his excellent review, the scoring is tight and feels very intertwined; not of it feels tacked on or forced. The simplicity of the rules and the brilliant scoring system is what makes this game a gem.
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4. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1005]
Michael F
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Albany
OR
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Might as well mention this one. Love it or hate it, it's a pretty interesting scoring system. I like that there are so many things you can do to score points, but depending on the choices the players make, some things may be worth more or less points than normal. I know a lot of people are more interested in seeing the story unfold, but I think I'm in the minority who can compartmentalize the story and the scoring to make sure I'm taking full advantage of both.
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5. Board Game: Bazaar [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1814]
Tomello Visello
United States
Reston
Virginia
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You exchange a combination of 1 to 4 colored stones to obtain 1 to 4 other stones, according to a market exchange rate that does not make any particular color more valuable. You win a visible card by matching the combination printed on the card. Your objective involves collecting cards to gain points, but collecting the most cards isn't the objective.

Cards do not have a fixed rate assigned to them. Higher points are awarded for having a smaller count of leftover stones when the card is claimed.

Paying with exact change is the ideal.

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6. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:482]
Tomello Visello
United States
Reston
Virginia
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collect higher multiples of a particular card color to score in an escalating fashion. But collect high multiples in too many different colors and it starts to count against you ... in an escalating fashion.

and it surely seems that colors you want are almost always joined with colors you'd rather avoid.

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7. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
Kyle
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San Diego
California
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I expect Knizia will dominate this list. Guy knows his scoring systems. This is one of a group of the doctor's games with "Your worst category" as your final score.
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8. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:328]
Kyle
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San Diego
California
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Probably even more so than with T&E, the scoring system IS the game in this one. Without it this would be a tension-less abstract.
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9. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1266]
Ben Pinchback
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Leonard
Michigan
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I'm just gonna pile on with more fantastic Knizia designs because he is my all time favorite.

Here's a game where you basically play Tetris. Except that each of the 4 rounds has a completely different and fun scoring system that gets progressively more difficult to excel at. Really cool family game here with well thought out scoring that drives the action.
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10. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:583]

Lacombe
Louisiana
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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Both the subsidies for bidding and endgame scoring on the island are genius.
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11. Board Game: Thingamajig [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:4767]
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The clue-giver gets one point for each player's correct response unless all players got the answer correct -- then it's zero. So, the scoring mechanism discourages making your clues too good.
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12. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:189]
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of some of the intricate Euro style scoring mechanisms. You know, score 3 points for every sheep that you have near a clay pit with a prime number of jewels shown on it's resource card. Multiply that by Pi if you have alien artifacts on the king's offering track.....

Indonesia has one type of VP- cold hard cash baby. And there is only three ways to get it. Produce and ship your goods to market, transport another player's product to market, or sell your company. It's the anti-Lloyd Dobbler scoring system (geekgold for the reference....).

Indonesia has such incredible theme that you feel like you are a commodity producer, shipping magnate, and/or corporate raider. The scoring systm is clean and keeps you focused on the roles you are playing.
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13. Board Game: Dou Dizhu [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:7783]
Keng Leong Yeo
Singapore
Singapore
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Dou Dizhu's scoring system is part of its charm. The bidding for landlord, which decides how many points are at stake, is also a subtle way to gather information about other players' hands. A short explanation of the bidding system:

At the start of the game, the deck is shuffled and 17 cards are dealt to each player. The colour and black and white jokers are included in this game. The 3 remaining cards are left covered in the middle of the table.

Based on the strength of each player's hand of 17 cards, players take turns to bid for the right to be the landlord. The minimum bid is 1, and the maximum bid is 3. A player may pass on a bid. If a bid returns to the player who has previously passed, he/she may still make a new bid. A player wins the bid when the other two players pass consecutively, or when the player makes the maximum bid. The winner of the bid takes on the landlord role.

If the landlord goes on to win the game, he/she collects points equal to the winning bid from both peasants. If one of the peasants goes on the win the game, both peasants collect points equal to the winning bid from the landlord.

The above assumes no bombs or rocket were played during the game. Bombs are four cards of the same number. The Rocket consists of the BW Joker and Colour Joker. Every bomb or rocket played doubles the points at stake.

The landlord uncovers the 3 remaining cards for all players to see, then takes them into his/her own hand. The landlord therefore starts the game with 20 cards, whilst each peasant starts the game with 17 cards.
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14. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:256]
Christina Ng
Singapore
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I find the scoring systems of Glen More interesting.

It rewards efficiency. Too much of a thing is not necessarily a good thing in this game. whistle

Players are awarded VPs at each stage based on what they have vs their opponents in 3 scoring categories. Players therefore need to aim for the maximum difference with the last player of each scoring category to achieve maximum VPs. Anything more does not get rewarded.

At the end of the game, players count their total tiles. Any additional tile over the player with the least number of tiles will result in a deduction of 3 VPs.

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15. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:697]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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In this funky game by Martin Wallace, there are actually three ways to score. One is through being the biggest political connard and dominating the landscape thusly. Usually people would try to 'follow the leader' and then swear quietly because it is hard if not impossible to catch up.

So what is player in losing position to do? He could of course bide his time, conclude the game is broken, and never play it again. He could also channel his frustration and become an extremist, fighting for la monarchie or la révolution. The points obtained in the normal way mean exactly shit when one of those things comes to pass... And all of a sudden, he's got a chance; and all of a sudden, Liberté is a viper's den and actually pretty good gamestuff too.
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16. Board Game: Byzantium [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1519]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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Martin Wallace returned to this more-than-one-scoring-track idea in this game. Players attempt to take shameless advantage of both sides of the conflict in the Middle East at the time Constantinople was a powerful force to be reckoned with. You can therefore also score point for both sides, which are added together provided one score is no more than two times bigger than the other. Otherwise only the highest score counts.

I'm rather afraid I never really liked Byzantium much because its gameplay always felt like sticky molasses, but the fact that you have to decide to play both sides or decide for either one causes a lot of diversification is a good idea, just as it was in Liberté. I wish more games used this principle.
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17. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:108]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Hansa Teutonica has, for the most part, a bland scoring system. Points are added in the usual way, there is no strange twist as was the case in the rest of the games on this list.

Save for one detail: the players decide, based on (amongst other things) the score when the game will end. This simple idea can create a surprising amount of tension as it is possible to 'force feed' a leader points he cannot refuse, but which all the same force the end of the game nearer and nearer. Good play can even block the leader in a spot right before the end which prevents him from scoring at all unless he feels he has a shot at winning the game... which is certainly not always the case.

This player-decided-upon end has been used before, but it works as well as it does in HT because players can also cause points to be given to another, thus denying that other time to build up momentum.
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18. Board Game: Taschkent [Average Rating:6.55 Unranked]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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This is a game most gamers are likely to have never even heard of, and to be honest, I think its qualities have something to do with it. But it does come with a nice scoring twist which literally makes the game.

Players collect money and goods in this game, simply because money gets you the goods which in turn give you points. Ez-pz. But the player(s) who has (have) the least amount of money at the end of the game, automatically lose, irrespective of their point score. This prevents eager overspecialisation, and puts pressure on the players to keep in mind what the others are actually earning and spending. On the other hand, if you have too much cash in hand, you're automatically losing out on points. Choices, choices...
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19. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:757]
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What makes this game interesting, and possibly unique, is the corruption mechanism. Corruption is a shortcut to victory points, but if you have the most corruption points at the end of the game, you're fed to the crocodiles; there's no point calculating your score, because you have automatically lost. Hypothetically, and this is why I think this game might be unique, all the players may end up with the same amount of corruption points, which would mean there's no winner, only losers.

(There's a somewhat similar corruption mechanism in Sobek, also designed by Bruno Cathala, but it has less dramatic consequences.)

EDIT: On second thought, there are some similarities between Cleopatra and above mentioned Taschkent. I don't know if everyone hypothetically may lose in Taschkent, though.
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20. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:994]
Brian S.
United States
Miniapples
Minisoda
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The scoring for this game is similar to that of Liberte. The player who has the most cubes affiliated with the strongest faction on the map at the end of the game wins. But with each player limited to a maximum of ten cubes, there will be tie breakers. The first tie breaker is the most cubes of the second strongest faction on the map. If there's still a tie (and this isn't uncommon) the player who *last* played a card *loses*. Tricky game.
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21. Board Game: Popular Front [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:3088]
Nagato Fujibayashi

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This has a very interesting scoring system.

Apart from being able to achieve an immediate victory by holding six large cities at the end of a round, there is a bar with a black disc in the middle and each edge belongs to one side of the conflict where two other discs are put, each with each sides color respectively.

For every city that is conquered, the colored disc of the side that won the battle moves to the middle so many spaces as the strategic value of the city that is printed on it.

At the same time, for every political victory that a side achieves through proper card play pushes the black disc towards its side of the track.

When the two discs meet or overpass one another, then the side who made it wins.

I think it's a very clever and unique scoring system.
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22. Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:399]
John Rogers
United States
Yakima
WA
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I really like the Power Struggles in 1989. Unlike Twilight Struggle, the tension of scoring carries beyond the revealed card. Should I raise the stakes? Do I have the right leaders? Should I try to win with my Rally in the Square or sabotage my opponent with a Petition? Really good stuff.
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23. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:92]
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
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You get money equal to your income and score equal to your reputation at the end of every turn. As your score increases, you pass red lines that reduce your income and reputation.

So if you load up too much at the beginning on reputation (to score points) or immediate points, then you end up bankrupt and stagnant.
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24. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Florian Liouville
Germany
Kaiserslautern
Rheinland Pfalz
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Stop, don't run away yet! I fully realize that people don't like to actually do the end of game scoring, honestly, neither do I.

But it's still genious. The Scoring system is so important to Lost Cities that I would argue it "is" actually the game. There really isn't much else to the game than the scoring system and despite that fact, it is a very elegant and fun design.

And it is perfect thematically. To go on an expedition requires an initial investment and you need to find a certain amount of artifacts to make your investment back, only then can you start to profit.

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25. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:226]
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Here's how I explain the game: well you roll dice and this and this and this with that and that will get you points, 20 points will win you the game.

here I make a pause

Or you can forget about points and just kill everyone else.

This gets them in the Wow zone, believe you me.
It's so simple it's brilliant.
Eyes open, looks fly over the table, people grab dice with urgency.

See also: Wiz-War (eighth edition) - Get 2 treasures or just kill everyone else
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