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Subject: Why doesn't the person with the most points win? rss

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Mark Herman
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The question that keeps getting asked is 'why doesn't the guy with the most points win, like all the other games? I just did a rudimentary search on BGG for 3 and 4 player games and there are 50 electronic pages of games (5000 titles) that basically play this way, so if folks want their regular experience, lots of choices, but I did not want to add one more to the list.

First and foremost I am an historical boardgame designer. Not a historical themed boardgame designer. If you are in a military alliance and all you do is run over your Allies the historical precedent is your former partners will ally against you. Review Napoleon's modis operandi to see what I am talking about.

The victory conditions are designed to reflect this historical alliance attitude and structure. You are not held to it as you can just go for the 'get the most VPs strategy', and extend the WWII struggle for national gain that would create the narrative for WWIII. So, its included as it was a serious possibility if some of the Big Three fell off of unconditional surrender which is an American not a European concept.

A key design element is I wanted players not only to cooperate to win WWII, but I wanted them to have strategic options whether it would be an unconditional or conditional victory and how that impacted the peace that may or may not follow.

Last night I played in a really interesting Churchill game where I was the US and won by 2 VP in a condition 1 victory. My goal when I play is to have a good time, so at the beginning of Potsdam the Germans had surrendered by the Western Allies winning the race for Berlin with the Soviets in East Germany. This resulted in Roosevelt and Churchill having gained a net four VPs over the Soviets who had been in first place the entire game by less than 15 VPs. Churchill was now in first by 10 points over my last place US with the Soviets sandwiched in between. So, the war would likely be a VC1 or VC3 (conditional axis surrender) outcome.

We collectively discussed how the war should end to maximize each sides chances to win the game. The key to that discussion was how should the USSR conditional issue be resolved from the perspective of each side. This is the exact conversation that did occur where the USSR won extensive concessions to enter the war, see Marshall's diary on how he felt Stalin had gotten way too much for his agreement.

It was our collective view that the UK wanted the war to end in a VC1 (unconditional Axis surrender) as being in first in a close VC3 game is usually a defeat, which on my part is intentional as you avoid chaos when you are in a close game. Its not that the entire game has come down to one die roll, but why did you let it come down to one die roll where the guy in first is usually disadvantaged. This is how self interest manifests itself in Churchill. As the US I had late game Pacific VP opportunities as a way to climb back into first, so I wanted the war to end as the USSR would likely be in last place after the conference.

The Soviets had no opportunities for any additional military VPs and calculated that he would be in last place, but close enough that the chaos favored him, so he did NOT want to declare war on the Japanese. This is what we discussed in conference mirroring the real discussion around this topic. The USSR needed to win the agenda segment to make that happen. As it turned out it almost happened as the British had no 5 or 4 cards in their last draw and played a 3 card for the Agenda segment. Since both the USSR and the US anticipated a 5 value play we both played our Chief of Staff cards hoping for a 6 strength roll. We were stunned by the UK three play and only found out after the fact that this was the UK high card. As it turned out Zhukov tied with a 3 (I boffed Marshall with a two), but the Imperial staff plus 1 carried the day and the UK won the agenda segment.

We then discussed that the Soviets needed to win the Global issue (the UK had two in their corner for +10) in order to win plus the Soviets put the Abomb on the table and took the sure 3VP with Stalin attribute. The bad news for Stalin and Roosevelt is the campaign card was 10C (Churchill wins the election) and the British had the global issue on their 6 space, so it looked like a sure Churchill victory in the offing.

I (US) needed to divert my two Allies, so I helped the USSR get the Global issue onto their track. On the UK last play they took the Global issue when Churchill recognizing that the US had quietly won three issues and the conference for 3 VPs saw this as his best chance for victory. This was the missing piece that I did not think I could pull off, but this ultimately gave me a 2 VP win once you calculated in my successful advance into Iwo Jima and the Emperor surrender points.

The reason for all of this detail is the victory conditions are a major strategy discussion in Churchill beyond having more VPs. It is not only how many points but the character of the post war world that determines the winner. This notion that VC3 is a defeat for the Allies is an artifact of conversations that do not originate from me. So, when folks ask, "So why was the normal "trailers cooperate against the leader" mechanism not sufficient for this game?" or "I am having problems with the VCs, they make no sense to me." This is why...

From the commentary and the email I have received I think I have found a sweet spot with an audience who likes my take on things. For those who still do not like the VCs, what can I say that I have not said already except there are at least 5000 alternatives.

Good gaming all...

Mark
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Jon Wilbeck
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Thanks for your thoughts Mark. I wonder if some folks' struggles with Victory Points could have been avoided--by not calling them Victory Points to begin with. Maybe Influence Points or something similar.
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Mark Herman
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jondwilbs wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts Mark. I wonder if some folks' struggles with Victory Points could have been avoided--by not calling them Victory Points to begin with. Maybe Influence Points or something similar.
A rose by any other name, but you have a point, not a victory point.
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Chuck Tewksbury
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For me after about a dozen playings in all is that I enjoy the tension that arises from the push/pull of the victory conditions. This will be on my table for many moons to come.
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Mark Herman
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Thanks, very happy to hear this. I hope you rate the game based on your experience.

All the best,

Mark
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Dave Daffin
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You should print this up and include it in the box or the in the rules for the next printing! thumbsup
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shumyum
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♒♒♒♒♎♒♒♒♒ sloooowly sinking
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Victory points at all costs, victory points in spite of all terror, victory points however long and hard the road may be; for without victory points, there is no survival.
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