Handicapping Redux
Vince Londini
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Handicapping Redux

Doesn't handicapping seem like cheating? I mean, it's one thing to tie your hand behind your back when playing the kiddies, but amongst grown-ups...doesn't it seem "less manly"? Or perhaps the reverse, doesn't it seem like a "gimme" to be sought, even if as an unfair advantage to win the game?

Jim Kiraly, or one of BGGs Go-gamers (can't remember who), has noted that "Go" is handicapped so that both players face a reasonable test of their own skills. This reflects an attractive philosophy. Sure, games are about winning, but some games should also be about the personal challenge and becoming a better player.

True, some games simply take you along for the ride to enjoy the experience. I can't see any point to handicapping Mystery of the Abbey, Bohnanza, or even Settlers (beyond giving newbies a better chance at winning their first game). Enough is decided by luck and the meta-gaming behind the player interaction.

In his geeklist on Handicapping, Scriptorum (Eric Lund) concluded that he prefers handicapping that accelerates the weaker players rather than crippling the experienced. Check it out at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi.... But, is it really "handicapping" if you're aiding the weaker player - shouldn't that be called something else?

Should handicapping accelerate the weak or cripple the skilled?

What makes one good at a particular game, and how could that person be handicapped?
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Vince Londini
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Trivia games require a breadth of knowledge, deep enough on enough subjects to be able to answer more random trivia questions than your opponents.

Suggested Handicap? Require the proven trivia-kings to do more in order to win. In this case, make them win two "pie pieces" on each subject, or at least in the subjects at which they excel.
 
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Vince Londini
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I know I nixed it in the intro, but Bohnanza, like Diplomacy, rewards the diplomats in the group. Not everyone is verbally expressive. Some passive players sit by as the diplomats at the table subtly (or not so subtly) badger the other players into helping them out. While I'm eating my words, Settlers rewards this as well.

It seems harsh to ban the smooth-tongued from talking, should he/she simply be limited to stating their offer once and leave off the cajoling, pleading, wheedling, and "informing" that eventually wins what it wants?
 
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Vince Londini
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Games such as Chess or Feudal are won most often by those who learn to "see" moves ahead.

For those with perceptibly better foresight, you could handicap them by keeping them from looking at the board when it isn't their turn and/or using a timer to limit their turn length.
 
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G. Gomez
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While staying at a ranch in Puerto Vallarta some years ago, we used to play dominoes every night. There was no electricity, not TV or radio or anything.
I've almost always played for fun, but these old guys were absolutely cut-throat, since this is all that they did for diversion once the sun came down. They would never consider handicapping, and I wouldn't think of asking, but it got to the point where I just did not enjoy it at all.
Fortunately I was only there a couple of weeks.
 
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Vince Londini
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How would you suggest handicapping El Grande?
 
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Vince Londini
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How about handicapping Traders of Genoa?
 
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Vince Londini
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What would you do to even up Puerto Rico?
 
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Can E & T be leveled out? Is it worth trying?
 
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