Games that Avoid King Making
Tom Emmons

Washington
Dist of Columbia
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We've all been in each others shoes on this one. In Puerto Rico, someone decides to ship his coffee instead of indigo allowing me to ship my coffee instead of my competition shipping Indigo. His decision gives me the game. In Power Grid, the player before me buys all the coal, keeping me from powering all my cities. His decision causes someone else to win. In Age of Steam, I ship the red cube instead of the blue cube, taking a cube away from one of the two leaders and thus choosing the winner.

While few enjoy pure king making, it is a common side effect of player interaction. None will deny that there are other incentives at work in what decision the players make. And, some enjoy the aspect having to manipulate other player's incentives. But, with that game play, the inevitable time comes when a decision has little barring except who wins.

We can debate endlessly about what players who cannot win should do in their decisions. But, we can also play games that avoid the problem. That is where this geeklist comes in...

It should be noted that there are a lot of subtleties in king making. This list is looking specifically at end-game decisions made by a player who knows he cannot win.
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1. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:504]
Tom Emmons

Washington
Dist of Columbia
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This is a rare example of a game where, despite significant player interaction, the ability for losing players to influence the outcome is surprisingly small. This comes through the mechanic of units linked to supply centers. As a country gets smaller, they have fewer units to influence the game with.

Moreover, good players are good in part because they reduce the ability of countries they stab to fight back. A "good" stab in diplomacy so reduces the countries ability to fight back that they cannot influence you. A bad stab takes one center and only makes a strong country mad at you.
 
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2. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Tom Emmons

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Dist of Columbia
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Probably due to low amounts of interaction, this game avoids the problem. They only ways to have influence are competing for cards and ending the game. I find most games end on provinces, and it is never wrong to end the game there, though I guess a player could pass up buying a province to let another player get 1 more turn. However, this is so egregious that it is little worry.

Perhaps more common is competing for cards. But, here decisions are often early enough that they cannot be made simply to choose a winner.

I have not played Intrigue. Given that they tried to increase player interaction, it is possible the problem creeps up there.
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3. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
Tom Emmons

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Once again, there are really two main channels through which end of game king making can occur. The first, controlling game length, can have a strong effect. However, every player usually has a clear position on game length, such that you rarely can criticize the player who ended the game for doing so.

You also could influence the game by choosing a role that significantly helps one player over another. But, I have never seen a player make this decision with influencing the winner in mind.
 
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4. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:119]
Tom Emmons

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Dist of Columbia
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This game has subtle interaction. No doubt a player has substantial influence over the course of the game. But, the ability to swing the game in a single decision is quite limited. The last turn generally consists of very scripted plays, as players add their last works. Recruiting cards can make a difference here, as could the final auction. But, I find these problems to be few and far between.
 
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5. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:339]
Tom Emmons

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In racing games in general, if I am in a position to screw the winner, I am in a position to compete for the win.
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6. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
Tom Emmons

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Want to fully avoid the problem? Play a 2 player game!
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7. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Tom Emmons

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Or a cooperative game
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8. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Tom Emmons

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Or a semi-cooperative game
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9. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Murray C
Canada
Vancouver
British Colombia
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The ability to help another player win is somewhat muted in Stone Age as the bonus cards provide a hidden wealth of points that is often hard to add into your equation.
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10. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:129]
Murray C
Canada
Vancouver
British Colombia
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Typically, people are doing their own things and very rarely get the opportunity to do something that would hinder another player in favour of a third.
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11. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:3200] [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
Murray C
Canada
Vancouver
British Colombia
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Party games often don't have any opportunity at all for king making, despite having lots of interaction. In Apples to Apples, this is because of blind judging, but in others it is often because it is a skills game or a team game.
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12. Board Game: Blue Max [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1660]
Steve Bachman
United States
Colonie
New York
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You're on a team in a dogfight to the death. If you make someone else win by shooting down an enemy, it's hardly kingmaking.
 
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