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Subject: When should the winner of a good game be decided? rss

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Dave Morton
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This is a question I've been thinking about recently.

Stupid question I hear you say, at the end of the game obviously! But let me explain what I mean.

Take chess as an example. If two reasonable players are playing and one of them makes a mistake and loses their queen with no pay back, you can be pretty sure they are not going to win. I'd say the winner was decided when the queen was lost and the rest of the game is just going through the motions, if they bother to play on.

Take Powergrid as another example though. Suppose one player does really well and gets into a strong lead with lots of houses built and lots of cash in the bank. Seems to me that they should win, but the other players can join forces to bring them down either by buying all the fuel that the would be winner needs or building in all the cities. So in this case it's not over until it's over.

Other example are Settles and Civilisation where you can beat the "winner" fairly easily by simply not trading any cards with them for the rest of the game.

Do you prefer the Powergrid way as it keeps the game going until the end, or is that just annoying for the player who worked hard to get into a "good" position?

You could argue that he/she played badly by taking an early lead and getting into that position, but do you want your games to come down to player order?



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Bryan Thunkd
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When the endgame conditions are met.

In a two player game, if one player feels they have lost then they are free to resign. In a multiplayer game, unless the group agrees someone has won and there is no point in playing it out, you should in fact play it out. Things happen, people have been wrong before. I've played in many games where the "sure winner" lost.

And if someone gets a lead and then everyone conspires to stop them, that's part of the game. Play more of an "under the radar" game next time. If this is a persistent/recurring problem you are probably playing the wrong type of game for you.
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Boaty McBoatface
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A good time to decide is when all players agree the game is over.

It does not matter how early someone 'won' until the game is over (or at least at a stage where only one player can win) then no one has won. If a player peaks early he has not won, and should not try to claim victory. It's then up to the other players to prevent his victory, as long as (of course) they are still trying to win, There is nothing more annoying then a player who is just trying to make a game last all night.
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Enrico Viglino
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If a game is completely decided early, then the players can
call it, no? At which point the end of the game is indeed very close
to when the game's winner is decided.

The thing is, there may be other factors of interest - but, if those
factors are enough to keep the players going, I don't see an issue
with the ONE factor of 'who won' having been decided early as an issue.
The only time there is a problem is when a group doesn't have a core
agreement on what constitutes factors of interest.
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Trent Boardgamer
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You've pretty much summarised up my thoughts on this topic in your post.

I guess as a simple answer, I don't like games that take too long to get to their conclusion once it's obvious someone has the win.

A good game to me means that the win isn't guaranteed until near the end. In saying that I do enjoy a few games, where there is still half an hour of play even though it's obvious someone has won, but this is normally because you still have other people playing for other positions.

I view 2 player games different to multiplayer games as a result of the above. It's easy for one side to concede defeat in 2 player games, so it's not really an issue if it would take time to play to conclusion, because you don't really have to.
 
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Liam
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I'd agree when all player consider the game complete.

As an aside in your Chess example - if a player makes an unforced error and exposes their queen in a non tournament setting I would assume most player would ask them to do the favour of reconsidering their move. Winning a game based on an opponents lapse in concentration is not fun.
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Mock Tundra
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I think the only real way to determine the winner is by playing through to the end. With the chess example, while accidentally losing your queen is certainly quite a hit, what shows a skilled player is their ability to adapt to the situation and carry through. Jumping to the conclusion that the loss of a single piece (other than the king) marks the end of the game robs the player of opportunities to learn to adapt beyond their original plan. While I've never played Powergrid, I imagine that the player in a "good position" should be able to then finish achieving victory conditions. Ending the game on the condition of a player reaching a point where they are in a good position to meet the actual victory conditions of the game seems like it could dramatically shorten the game and to me at least take away some of the fun. That's just my thought though.
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Boaty McBoatface
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MockTundra wrote:
I think the only real way to determine the winner is by playing through to the end. With the chess example, while accidentally losing your queen is certainly quite a hit, what shows a skilled player is their ability to adapt to the situation and carry through. Jumping to the conclusion that the loss of a single piece (other than the king) marks the end of the game robs the player of opportunities to learn to adapt beyond their original plan. While I've never played Powergrid, I imagine that the player in a "good position" should be able to then finish achieving victory conditions. Ending the game on the condition of a player reaching a point where they are in a good position to meet the actual victory conditions of the game seems like it could dramatically shorten the game and to me at least take away some of the fun. That's just my thought though.
If someone tried to claim victory before it was obvious they had won (and you seem to be saying only that they might be able to win, not that it is a forgone conclusion) I would say that they are just trying to pull a fast one.
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Mock Tundra
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slatersteven wrote:
If someone tried to claim victory before it was obvious they had won (and you seem to be saying only that they might be able to win, not that it is a forgone conclusion) I would say that they are just trying to pull a fast one.


Oh I definitely agree, which is why I think it's important to play through to the end. I've played against opponents in tavl that have gotten me into a tricky scenario and flat out told me I only had one move that I could make (which would place me in absolute defeat two turns later). I managed to find a way around it and ended up winning. I could have just as easily fallen into another trap later down the line and still lost, but the only way to be sure was to play to the very end. Of course, there is always a problem of having one player in a massively lopsided scenario toying with a losing opponent, but dealing with them is another story entirely.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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MockTundra wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
If someone tried to claim victory before it was obvious they had won (and you seem to be saying only that they might be able to win, not that it is a forgone conclusion) I would say that they are just trying to pull a fast one.


Oh I definitely agree, which is why I think it's important to play through to the end. I've played against opponents in tavl that have gotten me into a tricky scenario and flat out told me I only had one move that I could make (which would place me in absolute defeat two turns later). I managed to find a way around it and ended up winning. I could have just as easily fallen into another trap later down the line and still lost, but the only way to be sure was to play to the very end. Of course, there is always a problem of having one player in a massively lopsided scenario toying with a losing opponent, but dealing with them is another story entirely.
Except that I think there are circumstances where it is obvious someone has won
 
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Mock Tundra
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slatersteven wrote:
Except that I think there are circumstances where it is obvious someone has won


Well, I guess if the person on the losing side is comfortable with admitting defeat and ending the game, that's their choice. Personally, I like to keep trying until the absolute end, in the chess example: where every last one of my moves will result in my king being taken. That's just me though.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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MockTundra wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Except that I think there are circumstances where it is obvious someone has won


Well, I guess if the person on the losing side is comfortable with admitting defeat and ending the game, that's their choice. Personally, I like to keep trying until the absolute end, in the chess example: where every last one of my moves will result in my king being taken. That's just me though.
The flip side is that you can get more then one game in if you decide a player has won,. In some games (such as DBA) you can see if it you could have won with his army.
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Enrico Viglino
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slatersteven wrote:
The flip side is that you can get more then one game in if you decide a player has won,. In some games (such as DBA) you can see if it you could have won with his army.


Presuming the game has little value to you beyond the binary decision
of the winner, this makes sense. Not everyone only wants that
from a game.
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Gary Tanner
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As far as I'm concerned, the winner of a game should be decided when the game is over. Never before. As I've mentioned in several topics like this lately, you never know what might happen, how luck may change, what you might try when losing and actually learn something new, etc.

My ex-wife used to pretty much give up when she'd get behind, it made it miserable playing with her, and I had to keep encouraging her to try to see what she can do, stick with it. Finally, I had to start throwing games to her to keep her into them. I decided that's not going to happen again.

Now, if I'm playing with someone who wants to give in before the game is done, I try to encourage them to keep going. If they refuse, I'm content to watch what games I play with them in the future and pick ones where the winner isn't easily determinable until the finish. Or just not play with them again.

I've seen lots of games that seemed to be a foredrawn conclusion completely turn around in the last couple of turns in a game. To me, there's no point in ever conceding or calling a game before it's done.
 
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Scott
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MortonHQ wrote:
Take chess as an example. If two reasonable players are playing and one of them makes a mistake and loses their queen with no pay back, you can be pretty sure they are not going to win. I'd say the winner was decided when the queen was lost and the rest of the game is just going through the motions, if they bother to play on.


Chess history is replete with games with blunders made by both sides and the initially, apparently disadvantaged side has drawn or won. The only way you can tell there is no "pay back" is if the game play goes on. There could never be "pay back" under your insta-quit regime.
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Ian Radford
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Personally, I'll usually carry on a losing game to its end. In Euros it's generally good practice for further games, and in wargames there's usually the prospect of (metaphorically-speaking) batting out a draw or grabbing a Pyrrhic victory on points by doing something unexpected.

If nothing else, it's usually fun throwing whatever pathetic stragglers you've still got at Napoleon/Hannibal/Abaddon/whoever in the enemy army has the largest hat in the hope of taking them out on the final turn.
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Samo Oleami
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I have no problem in making up some secondary or tertiary goals for myself if win is decided early.

Diplomacy is a perfect example - my goals in order of preference are: win / draw / prevent somebody else from winning / kill the stabber / survive. Someone else could have something like: win, get most SCs as possible. And another: win or everything burns in hell. And funnily enough these subjective decision have strong influence on the metagame.

Generally somebody else winning early (or so they think) opens the door to risky manoeuvres and over the top plans. I'm in it for the ride, so suits me fine.

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The Great Sun Jester wrote:
If nothing else, it's usually fun throwing whatever pathetic stragglers you've still got at Napoleon/Hannibal/Abaddon/whoever in the enemy army has the largest hat in the hope of taking them out on the final turn.


+1
Glorious defeat comes before a boring victory in my book.
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Trent Boardgamer
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The Great Sun Jester wrote:
Personally, I'll usually carry on a losing game to its end. In Euros it's generally good practice for further games, and in wargames there's usually the prospect of (metaphorically-speaking) batting out a draw or grabbing a Pyrrhic victory on points by doing something unexpected.

If nothing else, it's usually fun throwing whatever pathetic stragglers you've still got at Napoleon/Hannibal/Abaddon/whoever in the enemy army has the largest hat in the hope of taking them out on the final turn.


Agreed, but losing and lost are still,slightly different. In chess if a player has a queen and a rook on the table and I'm down to my king, I've lost, all I can do is move my king out of check a few times. There is no chance of a win (well I guess some might argue they could move the queen or rook next to your king, but I know the people i play won't do that). In this case I'd concede.

However whilst I still have a single pawn in addition to the king left, I'd wait until the pawn is captured, as you just never know, I might get him to the line and a queen back. (obviously if the other player king is already blocking the space or something it's still a concede, I'm just trying to highlight, I'll, play until its obvious I have lost).
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Enrico Viglino
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The Great Sun Jester wrote:

If nothing else, it's usually fun throwing whatever pathetic stragglers you've still got at Napoleon/Hannibal/Abaddon/whoever in the enemy army has the largest hat in the hope of taking them out on the final turn.


Meh. I get a lot more out of trying to withdraw under difficult
circumstances. Move the goal-posts as it were to prevent a complete
rout.
 
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Ian Taylor
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I'm not sure Powergrid is the best example. This game has huge catch-up mechanics, meaning that often one of the worst things you can do is 'get into a strong lead'.
 
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When you get to the end of the game.

For me only part of the enjoyment of board gaming is the possibility of winning, I would rather play and lose than not play at all.

Losing your queen in chess does not mean that you are going to lose but if you lose your king....your chips are up!
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S J
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This is a true story.

A couple of days ago my wife wanted to play Settlers (Seafarers). We hadn't played board games for a week or two and I just wanted some paper and cardboard in my life again, so I agreed (even though I've long since lost my enthusiasm for the game). We played once and I won. Close game. She wanted to play again, and because the game was so good I decided to play again.

I had a lousy start. My wife settled on triple 9s, and then proceeded to roll 9s 5 times in a row. I was woefully behind. At one point the gap was as bad as 6 to 11 (we played to 13). At that point I looked at her, and in a sour voice said, "You're gonna win." She got a big smile on her face and... put off winning the game. Because she had such a big lead that she felt she could afford to let the game drag on.

...Yes, she likes the game that much.

I kept playing pretty passively, pursuing my strategy but not putting too much energy into it. Strangely, at the same time, my wife's luck ran out, and I rolled a 7, and placed the robber on her 9 forest for the rest of the game, making it impossible for her to build the last settlement she needed to win the game. At this point she began to panic, but it was too late. She couldn't roll a 9 to save her life, couldn't get enough of one resource to trade for what she needed (and I of course wasn't gonna trade with her).

I ended up winning with a university development card, 13-12.

The moral of the story: if the game is good, you can catch up. Even if it's improbable, it's still possible, and I've found that the best games are the ones where you are woefully behind and then, against all odds, pull off a clutch victory. Those are the kinds of games people remember and talk about for years to come. Don't deny yourself those kinds of games by giving up because "they've obviously won." I've definitely learned my lesson.
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Enrico Viglino
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Sandrockcstm wrote:
This is a true story.

A couple of days ago my wife wanted to play Settlers (Seafarers)...

I had a lousy start. My wife settled on triple 9s, and then proceeded to roll 9s 5 times in a row....


Quote:

The moral of the story:


Don't play with the crappy wooden dice that come with Catan.
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S J
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Yes, I am a bit suspicious at this point.
 
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From personal experience, also includes:

1) when the host's wife is getting a bit "antsy" and "casually" mentions about work tomorrow.

2) When the hosts go to sleep, even though they're fine with everyone else staying to finish a game, so long we they lock up behind ourselves when the last person leaves.

3) when the sun comes up again... The zombies and other forces of darkness wane, the light makes it safer in general, and the local grocer is now open, so not only can you buy groceries, but can include perishables like milk and eggs since now you're going straight home instead of gaming for "a few hours". cool
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