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Subject: How to deal with super competitive players? rss

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secoAce -
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We have this one older woman in our play group who is otherwise very nice and friendly but annoyingly competitive. There are only a few classic games she's willing play and she keeps reminding us how her family and friends use to play those particular games all the time and for money and how good she is. When we refused to play for money, she still tries to occasionally suggests we can play for play money (chips) instead.

During the game, she'd like to throw out a light taunt here and there and teasingly say how close she is to winning. When she wins, she puffs up as if in confirmation how good she is. That's not too bad.

But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.

Maybe it's only me, but I find this behavior and attitude extremely distasteful. It reminds me why I prefer to play solo.

I'd rather not play with her, but it doesn't seem like anyone else has a problem with it. I end up just going through the motions of playing and not even trying hard to win.

Or do I just need to develop a more ruthless competitive streak?
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Games are supposed to be for fun. If you don't enjoy playing with her, don't. Life's too short.
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The Grinch wrote:
If you don't enjoy playing with her, don't.

Seriously. Don't let her join in your games, and if she asks why, tell her. I don't understand folks who would rather know how to "deal with" certain things instead of just talking to folks about them.
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Rob P
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The Grinch wrote:
If you don't enjoy playing with her, don't.


Yup. Just don't.

There are plenty of people who like to play games who aren't going to be jerks about it.

And there is a difference between being "super competitive" and being a bad winner/ sore loser.
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How to deal with super competitive players?


I defeat them. devil
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Greg Austin
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secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.


After a certain amount of history with a player I wouldn't be above saying "Or it could be I just played better than you did."
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secoAce -
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Verkisto wrote:
The Grinch wrote:
If you don't enjoy playing with her, don't.

Seriously. Don't let her join in your games, and if she asks why, tell her. I don't understand folks who would rather know how to "deal with" certain things instead of just talking to folks about them.

This is not a casual acquaintance; we see her all the time.
Plus it doesn't seem like anyone else has a problem with her; just me.

By the logic of the replies so far, it'll just be easier for me to extract myself from these games and stick to playing solo.
 
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Rich Shipley
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When I have one of these in a group, I make sure to target them as much as I can in-game. If they are the best player, it makes sense and can be entertaining. If it gets them to calm down a bit, even better.
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secoAce wrote:
By the logic of the replies so far, it'll just be easier for me to extract myself from these games and stick to playing solo.

Or talk to her about why it annoys you. That's sort of the point I was trying to make.
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secoAce wrote:

But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.


That's it? Hehe, that seems rather tame from the experiences I've had with overly competitive players.

I guess I am fairly used to hyper-competitive gamers. I like them for the fact that they will bring their "A" game every time. They aren't messing around. I kind of like that.

The after affects of that however, I find comical, only because I am used to it. I love watching hyper-competitive types whine ever so much about how they are screwed after the first round of the game, of huff and puff by games end.

I come to expect it from some people. I'd be more worried if they didn't...who knows what they'd do when they go all quiet...shoot up the place?!
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Bryan Thunkd
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secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.
Just agree with her... when she says that the deck wasn't shuffled enough just say "Of course it wasn't, dear" in an overly sympathetic voice. Use that tone of voice that you use to comfort a child when they lose. If you do it right she should realize that you're patronizing her without being able to say anything about it.

Then the next time she wins ask her nicely "So the deck was well shuffled this time, huh?"
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Joel Eddy
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secoAce wrote:

But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.


Talk smack right back to them when this happens. Explain how you or whoever won played EXCELLENT! Just GUSH over whoever won, especially if it wasn't you. It's much easier if it wasn't you. Just talk them down.

I've had to put up with an attitude just like this. Not someone that necessarily puffs themselves up when they win, but they were definitely sore losers, and won "a lot". They never talked about how great they are, but if they lost, holy cow... freaking Niagra Falls.

If they do puff themselves up about winning, tell them to clam it! Tease them about a game they usually don't win. There has to be one or two.

I've found that confronting a bully is the best medicine. This person isn't really being a bully. But, it's borderline. They seem to have inherent lack of respect for the rest of players (friends?) at the table with them, without whom they would have no one to game with. Shut 'em down... or as others have said... don't play with them anymore.
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J H
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Verkisto wrote:
secoAce wrote:
By the logic of the replies so far, it'll just be easier for me to extract myself from these games and stick to playing solo.

Or talk to her about why it annoys you. That's sort of the point I was trying to make.


I agree with Isaac: talk to her about it. In fact, gaming is a great arena in which to talk about these topics, unlike work or family gatherings, since at the end of the day it is an optional part of our lives, and it is usually horizontal/non-hierarchical in terms of social relations.

Let her know that you appreciate your interactions with her outside of gaming, but that the way she plays detracts from the enjoyment of others. And that, quite simply, this means that people will stop playing with her. Ask her to consider their perspectives.

I think everyone has the right to revel in their victories, and grouse about their failures, up to a point. When it goes on too long, I just say, "That's enough." As you point out, this kind of behaviour can be extremely disrespectful to others.

Emotional control includes knowing when to let off steam, and when to let things go, and gaming is a great way to practice those skills. Giving her feedback on her behaviour will be helpful to her in the long run. If she is adamantly unwilling to receive it, let her know that respecting the feelings of the others in your group is part of the agreement about partaking in your games. As I said, gaming is optional, so no one should feel forced to take part in something that they don't enjoy.

Anyhow, that is how I would deal with it: a mixture of firm and supportive interaction over time. My general policy is that everyone is welcome at the gaming table, as long as they try to be respectful of other players, and always wash their hands after pooping.
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D S
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Thunkd wrote:
secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.
Just agree with her... when she says that the deck wasn't shuffled enough just say "Of course it wasn't, dear" in an overly sympathetic voice. Use that tone of voice that you use to comfort a child when they lose. If you do it right she should realize that you're patronizing her without being able to say anything about it.

Then the next time she wins ask her nicely "So the deck was well shuffled this time, huh?"
I agree that this woman's behaviour sounds irritating, but this is a pretty passive-aggressive response and I'm not sure it would achieve much.

If someone's annoying you but the other players are fine with them, getting into a sniping-match with them won't help and will just make everyone at the table feel incredibly awkward.

My preferred response would be to just not play with them, or put up with it. If you find how they act unbearable and not playing with them means you won't be playing at all, then yeah, I suppose talk to them about it.

But in terms of turning the group sour, I think deliberately patronising them in a way that makes it hard for them to respond is significantly worse than the traditional approach: bitching about it to the other players when they're not there.
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Daniel Fish
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secoAce wrote:

But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.

Maybe it's only me, but I find this behavior and attitude extremely distasteful. It reminds me why I prefer to play solo.

I'd rather not play with her, but it doesn't seem like anyone else has a problem with it. I end up just going through the motions of playing and not even trying hard to win.

Or do I just need to develop a more ruthless competitive streak?


You answered your own question. I think the best way to put this woman in her place is to beat her, soundly and often. I'd probably throw some taunting in there too. She has an over-inflated sense of her own abilities, and if you take her down a peg, she won't talk so much.

I generally play a relaxed game focused on having fun/making sure everyone else has fun. But if one of my regular opponents is taunting too loud, taking too long of turns, complaining too much, picking on someone for no good reason, or doing too much bragging, I turn my game up to 11 and put them in their place.
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Joe Salamone
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Some people just need to loudly and frequently validate how good they are. She's probably just insecure. I tend to use sarcasm when people behave like this. Just agree with her and say (as sarcastically as possible) something like, "Yes, that must have been it. The cards weren't shuffled properly. It's not possible that someone beat you because they played better." Before long, you will be as annoying to her as she is to you! (This won't solve anything, but at least you'll be even).
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Bryan Thunkd
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Obvious Child wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.
Just agree with her... when she says that the deck wasn't shuffled enough just say "Of course it wasn't, dear" in an overly sympathetic voice. Use that tone of voice that you use to comfort a child when they lose. If you do it right she should realize that you're patronizing her without being able to say anything about it.

Then the next time she wins ask her nicely "So the deck was well shuffled this time, huh?"
I agree that this woman's behaviour sounds irritating, but this is a pretty passive-aggressive response and I'm not sure it would achieve much.

If someone's annoying you but the other players are fine with them, getting into a sniping-match with them won't help and will just make everyone at the table feel incredibly awkward.

My preferred response would be to just not play with them, or put up with it. If you find how they act unbearable and not playing with them means you won't be playing at all, then yeah, I suppose talk to them about it.

But in terms of turning the group sour, I think deliberately patronising them in a way that makes it hard for them to respond is significantly worse than the traditional approach: bitching about it to the other players when they're not there.
Of course it is, dear.
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D S
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Thunkd wrote:
Obvious Child wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.
Just agree with her... when she says that the deck wasn't shuffled enough just say "Of course it wasn't, dear" in an overly sympathetic voice. Use that tone of voice that you use to comfort a child when they lose. If you do it right she should realize that you're patronizing her without being able to say anything about it.

Then the next time she wins ask her nicely "So the deck was well shuffled this time, huh?"
I agree that this woman's behaviour sounds irritating, but this is a pretty passive-aggressive response and I'm not sure it would achieve much.

If someone's annoying you but the other players are fine with them, getting into a sniping-match with them won't help and will just make everyone at the table feel incredibly awkward.

My preferred response would be to just not play with them, or put up with it. If you find how they act unbearable and not playing with them means you won't be playing at all, then yeah, I suppose talk to them about it.

But in terms of turning the group sour, I think deliberately patronising them in a way that makes it hard for them to respond is significantly worse than the traditional approach: bitching about it to the other players when they're not there.
Of course it is, dear.
*Flips board*
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Daniel Fish
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Obvious Child wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
Obvious Child wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.
Just agree with her... when she says that the deck wasn't shuffled enough just say "Of course it wasn't, dear" in an overly sympathetic voice. Use that tone of voice that you use to comfort a child when they lose. If you do it right she should realize that you're patronizing her without being able to say anything about it.

Then the next time she wins ask her nicely "So the deck was well shuffled this time, huh?"
I agree that this woman's behaviour sounds irritating, but this is a pretty passive-aggressive response and I'm not sure it would achieve much.

If someone's annoying you but the other players are fine with them, getting into a sniping-match with them won't help and will just make everyone at the table feel incredibly awkward.

My preferred response would be to just not play with them, or put up with it. If you find how they act unbearable and not playing with them means you won't be playing at all, then yeah, I suppose talk to them about it.

But in terms of turning the group sour, I think deliberately patronising them in a way that makes it hard for them to respond is significantly worse than the traditional approach: bitching about it to the other players when they're not there.
Of course it is, dear.
*Flips board*


*Un-flips board, back to prior game state*
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thefishman wrote:
Obvious Child wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
Obvious Child wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
secoAce wrote:
But when she loses, it's always something else at fault--she didn't draw the right hand, or was one step away from winning, or someone didn't discard the right card for her. I pretty much had it after this one time when I won, and she proclaimed that something was wrong; that we probably didn't shuffle well enough.
Just agree with her... when she says that the deck wasn't shuffled enough just say "Of course it wasn't, dear" in an overly sympathetic voice. Use that tone of voice that you use to comfort a child when they lose. If you do it right she should realize that you're patronizing her without being able to say anything about it.

Then the next time she wins ask her nicely "So the deck was well shuffled this time, huh?"
I agree that this woman's behaviour sounds irritating, but this is a pretty passive-aggressive response and I'm not sure it would achieve much.

If someone's annoying you but the other players are fine with them, getting into a sniping-match with them won't help and will just make everyone at the table feel incredibly awkward.

My preferred response would be to just not play with them, or put up with it. If you find how they act unbearable and not playing with them means you won't be playing at all, then yeah, I suppose talk to them about it.

But in terms of turning the group sour, I think deliberately patronising them in a way that makes it hard for them to respond is significantly worse than the traditional approach: bitching about it to the other players when they're not there.
Of course it is, dear.
*Flips board*


*Un-flips board, back to prior game state*
I'd have been able to permanently flip the board if it wasn't made of such shoddy materials. This is a stupid game. I'm not playing any more.
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Henry Ho
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If she trash-talks, then it gives me the opportunity to trash-talk back (without feeling bad)! She's lucky she's not playing with our group. We will out-trash-talk her and she probably won't be coming back! If she dishes out, she'd better be able to take some back!
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Thomas K
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How have we got so far without anyone suggesting co-op gaming? While it's not everyone's cup of tea, my girlfriend for one is so competitive that a good co-op is the only way to make sure I am allowed in the same room afterwards.
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Daniel Fish
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This type of "I think I'm better than all of you" gamer seems highly likely to become a "Everyone must do what I say or I tantrum" gamer in a co-op game. Or she might just refuse co-ops, saying they're no fun.

Then again, it might be fun to play a co-op with her and just refuse to obey to her commands. A lot of complaining will likely ensue though.
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Joel Eddy
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thefishman wrote:
Then again, it might be fun to play a co-op with her and just refuse to obey to her commands. A lot of complaining will likely ensue though.


This. Do it.
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