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Subject: Anti-Kingmaking variant rules rss

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Ryan Sturm
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So I LOVE this game. It is my favorite board game. My least favorite part of the game is the politics and king-making discussions that get heated the last couple turns of the game trying to convince the players in fourth or fifth to move cube X or cube y. Because these movements can determine the winner.

In "serious" play I am considering trying out the following two additions to the rules.

1. You may only move a cube if you will move the cube more links on links that you own then links owned by opponents.
2. If you move a cube on another players links, the maximum number of points they can receive is one. (Example 1 - Blue moves 4 links on blue, 2 links on red. Blue receives 4 income points, Red receives 1 income point. Example 2 - Blue moves 3 links on Blue, 2 links on yellow and 1 link on red. Blue gets 3 pts, red and yellow get 1 pt.)

This limits goods movements on opponents tracks to the following possibilities;
2 me, 1 you
2 me, 1 you, 1 him
3 me, 2 you (score 1 pt)
3 me, 1 you, 1 him
3 me, 1 you , 1 him, 1 her
3 me, 2 you, (score 1 pt) 1 him

This removes the possibility of someone doing something ludicrous. Such as move for 6 pts all for another player out of spite. Something I have never seen happen, because I don't play with total jerks, but it is currently allowed by the rules.

More to the point though it takes away those moves that actually do happen by a player out of contention in third or fourth who is moving 3 on him and giving 3 points to other players or 3 and 2 or 4 and 2 which can be a 12 to 18 point swing in VPs if he gives it to one player vs another for each delivery. It shrinks the ability of you to score points for other players and lowers the importance of politics and Kingmaking in the game.

Thoughts?
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I never encountered the problem of kingmaking in this game, as everyone always tries to maximize his own VP count (and I can't remember a game where this would have lead to kingmaking - I guess optimizing my own move cannot be called that ... or can it? [honest question here!])

However, should we ever come into such a situation, I have bookmarked this thread to remember your two rules. They seem reasonable to me and don't think they will alter or disturb the game (although, they probably make it slightly different).
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Jason Reid
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Well, to me, those sound like some pretty drastic changes. I guess it's fine if you have such a king-making problem and want to somehow salvage your play experience, but it's way too much for me.

Your rule #1 I might be willing to try if someone was really pushing for it and I wanted to see what would happen. But I flat out wouldn't play with your rule #2. Sounds like too significant an impact on track-laying...it'd be like trying to learn a whole other game.

An alternative to solving your problem is to all agree to disallow the kibitzing for the last turn or two. Let people make their own plays, and then feel free to discuss the outcomes afterwards. "Let the chips fall where they may", so to speak.

Personally, in my games we don't allow kibitzing at all unless it's a learning game. But my guess is that wouldn't fly in your group.
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I'd prefer Jason's solution: no kibitzing until AFTER the move is done.
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Play Steam instead. It has rule #1 written into the game.
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Ryan Sturm
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Verkisto wrote:
Play Steam instead. It has rule #1 written into the game.


Yes but then I would have to play Steam.
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Bruce Murphy
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RyanSturm wrote:

Thoughts?


Seriously? If I can leave someone so their only good delivery gives me points, that's a problem? How about chipping away at relative point differentials by taking someone's 6 delivery and eating it for next to nothing?

B>
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Bruce Murphy
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Verkisto wrote:
Play Steam instead. It has rule #1 written into the game.


It has rule #1, certainly, but a game I'm not so sure.

B>
 
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Ryan Sturm
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PzVIE wrote:
I never encountered the problem of kingmaking in this game, as everyone always tries to maximize his own VP count (and I can't remember a game where this would have lead to kingmaking - I guess optimizing my own move cannot be called that ... or can it? [honest question here!])

However, should we ever come into such a situation, I have bookmarked this thread to remember your two rules. They seem reasonable to me and don't think they will alter or disturb the game (although, they probably make it slightly different).


One of the reasons for rule #2 is that even in players trying to optimize their own score they are shelling out tons of points for one or two opponents.

This is for one of two reasons. One an opponent has laid track so cleverly as to force a player to use his track (in which he case he should be rewarded) OR Two a player has played very badly in which case they must give points to other players because they have put themselves in a terrible situation and as a result must give another player points and sometimes the victory. And Usually its a combination of the two reasons.

By still giving a pt for using a track but not two or three you still can reward shrewd track building but not overly reward a player for the mistakes of another. Thats how I see it at least.
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Ryan Sturm
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thepackrat wrote:
RyanSturm wrote:

Thoughts?


Seriously? If I can leave someone so their only good delivery gives me points, that's a problem? How about chipping away at relative point differentials by taking someone's 6 delivery and eating it for next to nothing?

B>


You can still swallow big deliveries from people you just wouldnt be able to use a majority of other players track to do so. In most cases I dont see this as hampering these moves.
 
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Bruce Murphy
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This is specifically the sort of watered-down rule that gives you railroad tycoon. Being forced to use your own track etc. It removes a lot of opportunities for being a completely terrible person.

B>
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Ryan Sturm
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thepackrat wrote:
This is specifically the sort of watered-down rule that gives you railroad tycoon. Being forced to use your own track etc. It removes a lot of opportunities for being a completely terrible person.

B>


LOL, point taken.
 
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Ryan Sturm
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jasonwocky wrote:


Personally, in my games we don't allow kibitzing at all unless it's a learning game. But my guess is that wouldn't fly in your group.


Yes that is an interesting point. This is of course an important house rule one could implement.

Ironically I sort of like the "social" element in the game I guess it is the stakes of those politics that I object to.

The idea here I guess it is to find a middle ground between 5 guys silently staring at the board and giving a game-changing advantage to the loudest most convincing guy at the table.
 
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There is no variant necessary. Let each player make their own decisions on deliveries without discussion with the other players. Then the chips will fall where they may.

Edit:

Quote:
The idea here I guess it is to find a middle ground between 5 guys silently staring at the board and rewarding the loudest guy at the table.


Just don't talk about their turn on their turn You can debate the efficacy of their plays after they have made them.
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Bradley Hays
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I agree with Jason and Bruce. I think variant number #1 is a fair enough change if this is a serious issue for you. I can't see that making drastic changes, only making it so that you couldn't give yourself 2 and somebody else 4 or some such nonsense. But I agree with others that this is usually not a problem and a rare situation. If I can only give myself 2, I probably can do that somewhere without giving someone else 3 or more. On the other hand, if the only place I can give myself 3 or 4 is to give someone else a couple, I might do that, and I would say that they set themselves up pretty nicely to force me to consider giving them the income. I know I've done this several times, cutting off a route so that people are forced to give me the money, or find another way. Usually they find another way.

The only time where this becomes king-making is when there are several people to choose from, but even then my choices are probably going to reflect something else in the game. Was somebody particularly nasty to me earlier? Well, now's my opportunity for a little retribution and they'll think twice next time about being such a jerk. But my decisions aren't going to be arbitrary. I will probably consider who I think is leading and give it to the other guy. Everyone knows if you take too much of a lead you're going to have other people working against you, so this is all part of the game. If you make yourself a target, don't be surprised when someone takes a shot at you. All part of the game, I say. For a game with no particular negotiation, there is still some diplomacy that naturally happens. As for the kibbitzing of the last few turns, that isn't too much of a problem for my group, but I think it's a fair house-rule to say "Nein" to that.

I would never play with variant #2. I agree with others that would drastically change the nature of the game. To play well I'm going to avoid giving a lot of income to others anyway so this is going to be the natural outcome. If you're just trying to avoid the possibility of some crazy giving all 5 or 6 to somebody else out of spite, don't play with those fools.
 
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Ryan Sturm
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Though I do not think eliminating talking eliminates the problem of kingmaking. Players are still going to decide to move other players cubes for 2 or 3 (perhaps twice for 4 or 6 total income). Either because they don't understand the ramifications of their actions, or they do and are out of spite or for some other ulterior motive select the winner.

The above situation I believe is actually quite common in Age of Steam.

This is what bothers me and what I am trying to address from the above rules.
 
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Bruce Murphy
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If it's that close, it's pretty arbitrary anyway. Make people more aware of the ramifications.

I always take pains to point out "Don't give him the points, he's winning!"

B>
 
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J C Lawrence
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RyanSturm wrote:
So I LOVE this game. It is my favorite board game. My least favorite part of the game is the politics and king-making discussions that get heated the last couple turns of the game trying to convince the players in fourth or fifth to move cube X or cube y. Because these movements can determine the winner.


Where in the Age of Steam rules does it allow negotiation?
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Jason Reid
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RyanSturm wrote:
jasonwocky wrote:


Personally, in my games we don't allow kibitzing at all unless it's a learning game. But my guess is that wouldn't fly in your group.


Yes that is an interesting point. This is of course an important house rule one could implement.

Ironically I sort of like the "social" element in the game I guess it is the stakes of those politics that I object to.

The idea here I guess it is to find a middle ground between 5 guys silently staring at the board and giving a game-changing advantage to the loudest most convincing guy at the table.


Well, I feel like I play in a middle ground. We're certainly chatty at the table. We just try to not influence each others' game-moves.
 
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Adam Badura
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clearclaw wrote:
Where in the Age of Steam rules does it allow negotiation?


They do not disallow it. And since it is not forbidden then it is allowed. Look it that way: do the Age of Steam rules allow you to breath while playing?

I tend toward a "meta-rule" that says that things related to changing state of the game (as described by its components) are forbidden unless explicitly allowed by rules. Things that do not change state of the game (as described by its components) - and negotiations are such - are allowed unless explicitly forbidden by rules.
 
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adambadura wrote:
I tend toward a "meta-rule" that says that things related to changing state of the game (as described by its components) are forbidden unless explicitly allowed by rules. Things that do not change state of the game (as described by its components) - and negotiations are such - are allowed unless explicitly forbidden by rules.


Then Kingmaking shouldn't be a problem, then?

EDIT: Sorry, that was flippant.

Anyway, another way to look at things is that players' mental models of the game, in addition to its components, are all elements of the game. They're invisible, but they're certainly things players strive to manipulate in service to the goal of winning the game.

Looking at things that way leads me to put more thought into what is allowed and disallowed for manipulating those models, rather than defaulting to "Anything goes".
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J C Lawrence
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adambadura wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
Where in the Age of Steam rules does it allow negotiation?


They do not disallow it. And since it is not forbidden then it is allowed.


Game rules are permissive, and thus describe what may be done with everything else disallowed.

Quote:
Look it that way: do the Age of Steam rules allow you to breath while playing? ;)


Breathing is not game-affecting and thus not subject to the rules.
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jasonwocky wrote:
RyanSturm wrote:
jasonwocky wrote:


Personally, in my games we don't allow kibitzing at all unless it's a learning game. But my guess is that wouldn't fly in your group.


Yes that is an interesting point. This is of course an important house rule one could implement.

Ironically I sort of like the "social" element in the game I guess it is the stakes of those politics that I object to.

The idea here I guess it is to find a middle ground between 5 guys silently staring at the board and giving a game-changing advantage to the loudest most convincing guy at the table.


Well, I feel like I play in a middle ground. We're certainly chatty at the table. We just try to not influence each others' game-moves.


Us too. I've never even thought about adding negotiation variant in the game. We talk plenty during our games and often about the game (in the abstract), but there's no wheeling and dealing and table talk in that fashion. With new players we will often offer helpful suggestions and try to discuss their ramifications of certain moves, but after a game or two those suggestions would seem a little insulting to that player.
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Ryan Sturm
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Any game with three or more players in which your actions have an impact on another players action will naturally lead to table talk, convincing, diplomacy, negotiation, whining etc.

You guys are more virtuous gamers than I if you are able resist employing any of the above tactics during multi-player games especially age of steam. And actually as I mentioned before I think some of that can add to the experience of the game, of course your mileage may vary.

I do wish this was explicitly stated in the rulebooks of not just this game but others of the intended allowed behavior during gameplay. Players could always adjust this to their tastes but it would be nice to get a firm statement from the designer on their intention. For one exception to this I remember Caylus actually explicitly states the allowance of players negotiating and discussing the movement of the provost. (Which I know several groups of players disallow)

Anyway its an interesting discussion thanks for all the feedback gentleman, I may try out these variants, if you have similar concerns I welcome you to try it out and let me know what you think. Though it seems many of you do not
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RyanSturm wrote:
Any game with three or more players in which your actions have an impact on another players action will naturally lead to table talk, convincing, diplomacy, negotiation, whining etc.


I wonder if this has to do with one's gaming history. Many of the folks I game with come from backgrounds with games like Chess or trump taking games (like Euchre). Table talking in these games is not only prohibited but considered rude and usually would only elicit glowers from the other players.

In contrast, I find that players who grew up playing Monopoly/Risk games with tons of wheeling and dealing (often not sanctioned by the rules) try to transform everything into an explicit negotiation game.

In the Midwest I grew up with a few folks who played Risk weekly for many many years. When we were young the games were full of diplomatic gestures but as we got older and go to the age when most folks our age where playing Spades or Hearts. Perhaps for this reason our games of Risk gradually lost their diplomatic element. Or, its possible that with experience the best moves were usually pretty obvious and there was just not that much to argue over.

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