Game Heretics
Canada
Surrey
British Columbia
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Played this a few times and the last two times, during the last round, there was a clear overall leader and then a second place player. Third place and fourth place were out of the running.

Since negotiation is completely open-ended (meaning, you can literally negotiate with ANY amount of guns, drugs or cash), the 4th place player has offered ALL of their stuffs to the 2nd or 3rd place players to attack the 1st place player. Which of course is enough incentive and even kind of feels thematic in an emotionally charged, last hurrah, going out with a bang kind of move that a cornered biker gang might make to assure their enemy suffers.

I've found this with every open-ended negotiation game and it becomes a problem because of course players are supposed to play with the spirit of the game in mind and usually this kind of a dick move feels very out of place, but not in this game. But it breaks the game every single time if last place backs either 2nd or 3rd, completely sacrificing everything they have to do so.

I mean, I know I'll get the 'that's not how the game is meant to be played' OR 'maybe you shouldn't play with such players' responses but because of the open-structure of negotiation here (unlike say, Cosmic Encounter which only allows for a 1 new colony for each player and not some lopsided 4-to-1 trade or something silly) it just allows 4th place to ultimately decide the game... every single time, and it doesn't feel unthematic. But it sure feels anti-climatic and makes for a poor 'gaming experience' where solid gameplay should lead to an overall win or at least a good showing.

Anyone else have this problem?
 
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Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
Surrey
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It's up to every group to play how they will.

For me the kingmaking rule is simple: a player can do anything that legitimately advances their position.

If you have a player that does nothing to win, but only plays to undermine someone else, maybe that player shouldn't be in your group?

Personally, I always found this game to be very fun.
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Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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That's a lame move and wouldn't be accepted at my table. No one I game with would want to win that way.
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José Rech
Brazil
Santa Cruz do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul
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You have some options.

-You can establish a fixed amount of guns that can be passed between players each round.

-You can establish the minimum price of 1 for each item.

And unfortunately 'that's not how the game is meant to be played' and 'maybe you shouldn't play with such players' are right answers. We have not experienced that kind of stuff in this game. Well, not that way. Once I and another player provide weapons to the 1st and 2nd place trying to make them spend money and time in order to make our score better. But that was before last round.

I think the main problem is the mindset which 2nd, 3rd and 4th place are all the same. In our group we encourage players to get the best score they can. And also, it's thematic trying to win until the last second.
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Markus Weihrauch
Germany
Frankfurt
Hessen
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Personally I think this game needs no further ruling as this break things more than it would actually help.

The above scenario is just a "dick-move" and shouldn't happen just because "Hey, I cannot win anyway..." ;-) But this can happen practically with any game where trading is allowed, so nothing specific to SoA.
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George
United States
Pennsylvania
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Is it usually so clear who the leaders are? I only played once (and quite enjoyed it) but am surprised since money is hidden that it would be so apparent. I'm not that good at tracking other people's transactions though.
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Marc S
United States
Collegeville
Pennsylvania
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I've run into similar circumstances with different games and I've always felt that maybe to play the game, I need to spend more time playing the people.
 
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ozzy perez
United States
Hialeah
Fl
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Nope. We've never had a problem with that. That sounds like a player issue.
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Gary Masters
England
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This is 100% an issue with the people you're playing the game with.

If somebody in my group attempted such a move they would be shot down instantly due to it being nothing more than a dick move. If somebody tried to do it on multiple playthroughs of different games I'd just stop playing games with them altogether.

You could always point them in the direction of the following paragraph that can be found on page 4 of the rulebook.

"Sportsmanship
Don’t be an ass. We play games to
have a good time. If you’re being an
ass, your friends aren’t having fun.
Remember, it’s only a game. Blood
feuds end when the game does!"

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Jimmy Hsu
United States
Astoria
New York
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I usually try to form alliances against people who we think are leading... the game is fairly cut throat so it's all about how well you can negotiate. If you can't negotiate with contraband, guns or money, you can negotiate with brute force so that people would have to throw down if they needed to exploit areas.
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"Every Board Game I Reach Is Dead"
United Kingdom
Scarborough
North Yorkshire
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We always seem to finish within $5-10 of each other, so the idea of king making is alien to us- we are usually wrong about who was winning when the money is finally revealed anyway. This is something I like a lot about this game.

Unfortunately it seems from the repeated threads on this forum the group is at least as important if not more so then the game for determining how well it plays.

Some groups and people just won't 'play the game right', spoiling the atmos' and making stuff way cheesier and nastier then it needs to be. This is sadly the problem with all negotiation games- the group decides how good the game is. I'm just glad I have a group this plays exceptionally well with.
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