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Subject: Playing to lose rss

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Kai T
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Tonight I introduced a friend to The Skullport side of Lords of Waterdeep. Rather than play a real game, he made it his goal to take every corruption he could (for those who don't know, corruption is a resource worth negative points). He ended up at -70 points, while my wife and I had a very tight, competitive game.

We had fun, especially counting up his negative points, but it wasn't an experience I'd like to have again any time soon. That could get old.

Do you have any experience with playing to lose, or pursuing a ridiculous strategy in an otherwise serious game?
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Leo Zappa
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Yeah, I've seen stuff like this a few times. Hate it. Yes, we are playing a game, so at a macro level, it's not that serious, but within the gamespace, it's generally assumed that the game works best when all players are striving to win. When people purposely pursue sub-optimal strategies, it can warp the entire game for all participants, leading to a lousy night. Given in my case that my gaming time is sometimes difficult to come by, I really don't want to waste any of it by playing in games that are screwed up by a player who isn't making an honest effort to win.
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Christian Kalk
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Yeah, one player pursuing a goal contrary to the aim of the game can really suck the fun out of it.

OTOH, it could make for an interesting variant...one player clearly and openly goes after a different goal, and the other players have to do their best in the rather bizarre gamespace that can result. It can doom the standard "accepted" strategies, and force players to come up with completely new ideas on the fly. Great for a game that gets stagnant and predictable with experienced players.
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Joseph
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Was he also completing quests? Or was he just trying for negative points? Because if he was still trying to score he may have been trying a different strategy. After all, you can get really good stuff when you are willing to take corruption with it.
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David H
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Yeah we have one player in our group who will go out of his way to lose or go against the spirit of a game. Sometimes just because he wants to but most of the time because of a mini-tantrum because he is losing.

Most recently we played The Great Fire of London 1666 and he went out of his way to burn everything he could including his own victory point areas and areas with his buildings in as well as keep moving the trained bands (fireman) away as far as possible so we couldn't put out the fires.

The game didn't play very well because of it.

It can be very frustrating.
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Iceland
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If this kind of thing happened more than once I would not play with this player/group any more. I play for fun, not to watch people having tantrums.

(EDIT: I was replying to Arthur)
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Squiz
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As it was his first game, and you and your wife are presumably experienced he probably felt he couldn't win anyway so would try and achieve something else.

Now he understands how the game works, maybe he will play seriously next time. Maybe give him one more chance before ditching him as others have suggested!
 
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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Yeah, this behavior can be really annoying. Some people do this once they get the feeling that they can not win anymore and/or when they are bored.

Go For Broke or Gloom might be options. whistle
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Tomello Visello
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Maravon wrote:
Rather than play a real game, he made it his goal to take every corruption he could (for those who don't know, corruption is a resource worth negative points).
One possible interpretation is that this is a person who never wanted to play the game in the first place.
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Kai T
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TVis wrote:
Maravon wrote:
Rather than play a real game, he made it his goal to take every corruption he could (for those who don't know, corruption is a resource worth negative points).
One possible interpretation is that this is a person who never wanted to play the game in the first place.


Well, he requested the game, so I doubt that this was the problem. That is a good point though- Heck, I've probably been guilty of it myself when everyone else demands MtG.

I'd guess it has more to do with his lack of experience or the couple of empty beer bottles that were there before we arrived.
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Kai T
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squiz wrote:
As it was his first game, and you and your wife are presumably experienced he probably felt he couldn't win anyway so would try and achieve something else.

Now he understands how the game works, maybe he will play seriously next time. Maybe give him one more chance before ditching him as others have suggested!


I think you're probably right. He is usually very quick to pick up the rules of a new game, but maybe this was just not his night. We'll give it another try, if he feels up to it.
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Steven Baker
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I used to do this when playing Axis & Allies with my friends back in college, but I would only play to lose when it was obvious, and I mean obvious, that I was going to lose. Once it became publicly evident, I would start doing things like invading neutral Switzerland and such to be funny. They deserved it.

Playing to lose in a game that you have an actual chance of winning is seriously frustrating, though. If you are not here to win, then you need to go do something else, please. Let those of us that actually enjoy playing have a good time.
 
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Kev.
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I love all the psych assessments based on partial data. This is entertaining and informative.
 
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The only time I've seen a playing-to-lose strategy not ruin a game is the Tanner villager from One Night Ultimate Werewolf. There it's quite clever actually.
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Christian Kløve
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Scottgun wrote:
The only time I've seen a playing-to-lose strategy not ruin a game is the Tanner villager from One Night Ultimate Werewolf. There it's quite clever actually.


But that's because playing to lose is actually playing to win in that case, so it doesn't compare to the other examples.
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Kløve wrote:
Scottgun wrote:
The only time I've seen a playing-to-lose strategy not ruin a game is the Tanner villager from One Night Ultimate Werewolf. There it's quite clever actually.


But that's because playing to lose is actually playing to win in that case, so it doesn't compare to the other examples.


I was throwing that out there as an interesting and unusual example. No need to cavil.
 
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Jordan Booth
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It is interesting that you noticed this behavior in this particular game because there actually is a reason to take as much corruption as possible: having the beholder lord card.
I also found myself in a weird position when I was trying to complete the achievements for the iOS game because one of them is to finish the game in first place, but end up in last after final scoring. (and it has to be an online 4 player game) The funny thing was it was one of my best games where I completed some really powerful missions and if I wasn't trying to lose I could have easily won, but I had a larger goal that I cared more about.

I think that speaks to the general topic. People who get upset when others don't play to win are forgetting that not everyone plays games for the same reason. Winning may be the be all end all for you, but some people care more about having fun as defined by their own perspective. Often that point gets returned with "They're ruining it for the rest of us", but anyone with a non-gamer SO understands that there is more at stake when playing a game with your SO than just that one game and most of the time just getting them to sit down and play is a victory worth celebrating, also if you care so much about winning then why are you complaining that you are being allowed to win? If it is because you really care most about the challenge, then let them pick the game they are best at.

This reminds me of when I played Glen More with my wife and in-laws. She decided her goal was to collect sheep because they are cute (even though they are just cubes) but refused to spend any of them for points because thematically that meant slaughtering them. I tried to point out that there was a limit of three per tile and if she made some room she could collect more, she didn't budge.

The point is that people have fun in different ways and if you're really touting the line that the point of a game is to have fun, then let them have their fun. I know plenty of people who play sub-optimally for their own reasons and none of them are playing to specifically lose, they simply don't care as much as you do if they win because often the winning goal is not as exciting or fulfilling as one that they come up with themselves. They are also playing to have fun and when you stomp on that fun they are making a mental note not to play any more games with you.
 
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Christian Kløve
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Scottgun wrote:
Kløve wrote:
Scottgun wrote:
The only time I've seen a playing-to-lose strategy not ruin a game is the Tanner villager from One Night Ultimate Werewolf. There it's quite clever actually.


But that's because playing to lose is actually playing to win in that case, so it doesn't compare to the other examples.


I was throwing that out there as an interesting example. No need to cavil.


It's not a trivial difference when the topic is throwing the game on purpose while the tanner tries to get killed. I do agree that the tanner does give ONUW another layer - is he a bad werewolf or is he the tanner?
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Silver Robert
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If a player realises they have no chance of winning for some reason or another, I'd prefer they set themselves a new goal and follow it rather than become a kingmaker and ruin everyone else's game.
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Kløve wrote:
Scottgun wrote:
Kløve wrote:
Scottgun wrote:
The only time I've seen a playing-to-lose strategy not ruin a game is the Tanner villager from One Night Ultimate Werewolf. There it's quite clever actually.


But that's because playing to lose is actually playing to win in that case, so it doesn't compare to the other examples.


I was throwing that out there as an interesting example. No need to cavil.


It's not a trivial difference when the topic is throwing the game on purpose while the tanner tries to get killed. I do agree that the tanner does give ONUW another layer - is he a bad werewolf or is he the tanner?


Let me suggest that there is enough leeway in the topic to accomodate my observation without the need for a rebuke.
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Bryan Thunkd
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I play with a guy who almost always wins... If he ever feels like he got screwed and can't win, he'll play to get the lowest score he can.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Born-of-Ashes wrote:
The point is that people have fun in different ways and if you're really touting the line that the point of a game is to have fun, then let them have their fun.

That is sort-of the point. If they can have their 'fun' without influencing the rest, then that is one thing. If their actions have important ramifications, like throwing the game to a particular player, or actively withholding it from another, then that is no longer 'fun' for the rest.

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They are also playing to have fun and when you stomp on that fun they are making a mental note not to play any more games with you.

Frankly, I wouldn't want to play games with them anymore, so I guess we'd all get what we want in the end, and be happy about it. I expect people to play to win at my table; but in deference to the awful feeling of being stuck at the butt end of gaming hell I am also more than happy to switch table positions, or even restart the whole thing.
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Pete
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We have a regular in our group who tends to play for "most money" even if that's not the victory condition.

Pete (notes that he usually wins his game)
 
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David Gorski

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I only do this is the very few games of Monopoly I allow myself. It actually works to the benefit of all players since it breaks that stupid cultural deadlock/wait it out gameplay. Since I'm "going to lose" they offer several more propositions, which I respond with legitimate but looser negotiations.
 
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Paul Evans
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I've seen it in Agricola. Fairly new player (and general non-gamer) got caught out with a few too many begging cards by the second harvest. I think it was four - some picked up in the first and second. Anyway - it was clear he was out of the count. He spent the rest of the game growing his family, doing blocking moves and trying to get the most begging cards.

Stuffs it up for everyone else.
 
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