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Subject: A Final Battle or last chance to steal the win rss

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Rick Lorenzon
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First off, are there any published games out there that successfully make use of a final battle concept, or some mechanic that allows players who were behind throughout the game to have a last chance to steal the win?

My reason for working on implementing something like this is NOT just a "catch up" mechanic to help poor players to win (even though that could happen). It's more about a theme that involves being the first to create something - in my case it's the Philosopher's Stone. But once you create it and win, wouldn't it be cool to actually be able to USE it for something?

Same would go for any game or theme that involves a race or competition to complete an ultimate weapon or achievement - we want to do something with it! At least that's what I'm finding in the play testing of my game.

So are there any games that you folks know of that do this? And if so, how successful is the concept?

I'm looking for a way to get this to work where winning players don't feel "robbed" if they lose the final battle. Instead, i want it to feel like an important completion of the win - maybe llke a win without a final battle would be a hollow win, and winning or losing that battle is all about how you use your ultimate power at the end.
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Rick Lorenzon
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Also, just wanted to make note that in my particular game involving Alchemy, I know that the Philosopher's Stone isn't something that you would typically use in a "battle". Instead, it's associated with eternal life, healing, and transformation to gold. So my particular concept would be more like a battle using spells of Alchemy - Chaos against order and creation.

Truth be told, I wouldn't mind bypassing the Philosopher's Stone and just working with spells of Chaos & spells of Order. There are already games of Alchemy out there, and they all deal with the Philosopher's Stone since it's sort of an integral part of the theme, but I want to stand out from that as much as I can - I already have fun Steampunk mini-battles in the gameplay, so there's more to it than just experiments in a lab.
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Phillip Harpring
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The first game that comes to mind is Legendary, where after dealing the last wound to the Mastermind, all players get to play one final hand and the player that generates the most damage gets a bonus to their score.
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Michael Coniff
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In some ways, Talisman has this. After you've achieved the Crown of Command, your goal is to wipe out the rest of the players. Their goal is still to get the crown of command and be the last one standing, but now it's a pseudo final battle of sorts as they all rush to defeat the owner of the crown of command before he can crush them.
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Andrew H
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Monsters Menace America spends most of the game as a tactical movement game, where the players try to move their monster to places to upgrade, or move weak military units to delay their opponents. At the end, it becomes a battle royal, where everyone fights, but the previous efforts may be thwarted by the random chance of dice rolls.

I personally like the idea of it in this game, but don't like the implementation. I'm ok with randomness, but many games give more options to effect this, such as rerolls, bonus values or special cards. MMA does offer some, but the majority seem to only effect the first 3/4 of the game, and not the final battle. I think I would have preferred a RPG type system where the monsters have attributes that are effected by the other upgrades.
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John Wilder
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In a longer, strategic game I would be disappointed if a long game seems to not have relevance to the game and the outcome is just a final battle. Maybe create a quick final battle game. Now I assume to make players not feel robbed their probability of winning the final battle is proportional to how they did in the game, then it is more okay, but I still could find players getting angry if they lose to the worst player.

One example I can think of is in the recent tournament rules update to X-wing miniatures. In that game each player brings 100 pts of ships to the game, so one player might have 8 TIE fighters, and another would have 4 X-Wings. The winner is the player who destroys the most points in enemy ships. A TIE is worth 12 pts, and let us pretend an X-wing is 24 pts. If the TIE player destroys 1 x-wing and the X-wing player destroys 2 TIE fighters and the time limit is reached there is a tie game, but the tournaments no longer allow tie games. So at the end of the game there is a "final salvo" where players add up the attack value of each of their remaining ships. They roll that many dice and whomever rolls the most damage results win. The remaining 6 TIE fighters have an attack of 2, so a total of 12. The remaining 3 X-Wings each have an attack of 3, so they roll 9 dice, meaning the TIE player has the slight advantage. In this game the entire game did actually matter, because a tie is very rare so it means the players both played about equally well. Also, the final salvo will be uncommon.
This doesn't "rob" a player.

Now this seems thematically different to what you want, but it is an example that I think has an end mechanic that works well.
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Rick Lorenzon
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Reading a little about talisman sounds like where I'm at currently in my game. So do players feel "robbed" of their win if the crown of command is taken from them at the end? If not, why - what makes it feel like winning the final battle is more meaningful than being first to get the crown?

The XWING example sounds like a good tie breaker idea, but I'm aiming for something that includes all players, so even those who were behind most of the game have a slim chance to redeem themselves. Either that, or give weaker players an alternate path to win. Not to reward them for poor playing, but more to keep some hope that they still have a chance for something - a reason to keep playing.

I don't really want to drag out a game when there's a clear leader either - just want players to feel that they have choices and options to recover from some bad calls or bad luck earlier on.

I do have good mechanics for mitigating bad luck on dice, and need to read up about that monsters menace America to see how that works in the end.

Keep 'em coming! So many games out there I still haven't tried yet, but still trying to research all I can.

Perhaps I do need to change something about the trigger for my Final Battle. Creating the Philosopher's Stone feels like a pretty fulfilling win, but it's also been done before (just in different ways in different games). That's part of my motivation to go one more step beyond it.
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Rick Lorenzon
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desmothenes wrote:
In a longer, strategic game I would be disappointed if a long game seems to not have relevance to the game and the outcome is just a final battle. Maybe create a quick final battle game. Now I assume to make players not feel robbed their probability of winning the final battle is proportional to how they did in the game, then it is more okay, but I still could find players getting angry if they lose to the worst player.



This is definitely the tricky part - it's about a 2 hr long game, and the final battle is about 10 min. So I want to keep the balance there between what is accomplished in the main game and what goes in to winning the final battle
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Phillip Harpring
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mokheshur wrote:
Reading a little about talisman sounds like where I'm at currently in my game. So do players feel "robbed" of their win if the crown of command is taken from them at the end? If not, why - what makes it feel like winning the final battle is more meaningful than being first to get the crown?

The XWING example sounds like a good tie breaker idea, but I'm aiming for something that includes all players, so even those who were behind most of the game have a slim chance to redeem themselves. Either that, or give weaker players an alternate path to win. Not to reward them for poor playing, but more to keep some hope that they still have a chance for something - a reason to keep playing.

I don't really want to drag out a game when there's a clear leader either - just want players to feel that they have choices and options to recover from some bad calls or bad luck earlier on.

I do have good mechanics for mitigating bad luck on dice, and need to read up about that monsters menace America to see how that works in the end.

Keep 'em coming! So many games out there I still haven't tried yet, but still trying to research all I can.

Perhaps I do need to change something about the trigger for my Final Battle. Creating the Philosopher's Stone feels like a pretty fulfilling win, but it's also been done before (just in different ways in different games). That's part of my motivation to go one more step beyond it.


Well, lots of boardgamers hate Talisman, but the people that enjoy playing it generally don't have qualms about that mechanic because the entire game is dice rolls. People play it for the theme and stories that happen, not as a form of skilled competition.
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Rick Lorenzon
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OK, I think I'm on to something. Instead of a final battle against the leading player, I could have a series of final "spells" that can only be completed when a player is in possession of the Philosopher's Stone.

The first player to create the Stone can get started on the final spells of Alchemy and Order, while other players try to cast spells of Chaos to undo one spell of Order and steal the Stone.

I have the mechanics going well for the battle of spellcasting, but it was too much of a stand-alone mini-game that felt "tacked on" to the end of my main game. But I can see it worked into the main game as I described above, giving me much more of what I wanted - a game of battles and Alchemy, with the Philosopher's Stone being the key to unlocking the final accomplishment, instead of "being" the final accomplishment.

By stealing the Stone, you can keep others from advancing while you hold onto it as long as you can, advancing as far as you can through the final spells before someone swipes the Stone from you.
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Rick Lorenzon
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Of course now the question is - has something similar been done in other games before, and if so, how many times, & how well? I don't necessarily mean in games of Alchemy, but just the idea overall.

I think I would state my goal something like "Be the first to bring Order out of Chaos to your Steampunk Domain".

 
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Garo Brik
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mokheshur wrote:

The first player to create the Stone can get started on the final spells of Alchemy and Order, while other players try to cast spells of Chaos to undo one spell of Order and steal the Stone.


This reminds me a lot of how the end of a game of Munchkins typically plays out. I really didn't enjoy that aspect of Munchkins (or any aspect really ), but that might be worth checking out. Essentially once someone gets close to victory, everyone starts using all their "screw someone over" cards until someone else gets closer to winning than them, then the focus shifts.

Some other similar ideas from other games:

The pudding cards in Sushi Go! have no effect on the current state of the game, but at the end whoever has the most gets bonus points and whoever has the least loses points. So if you feel like you're not going to be able to do well in a round you can just start hoarding pudding instead. I think the mechanic does its job well but it is fairly simplistic.

The Assassin role in Resistance: Avalon also comes to mind. In this game everyone's identity is secret, but if bad guys guess who a specific good guy is at the end of the game then they win even if they lost the main game. The mechanic is great for game balance but I don't think it's horribly paced, since the game ends and then a couple people discuss for a bit while everyone else just waits around and then you suddenly find out you've lost now.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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For what it's worth, I've played a lot of multiplayer Deadlands: Doomtown where that "final" battle occurs, and it can determine the outcome of the game.

For those familiar with game, here's what happens:

The "lead" player has a lot of control points (hence, he is in the lead)

But another player has a lot of influence (which prevents the high-control player from winning).

Those two players will get into a big gunfight, there will be a lot of maneuvering by both of them beforehand.

Meanwhile, a third player is quietly getting into position to:
-- join that big gunfight so they can influence the outcome;
-- move to be able to take over certain control point locations;
-- negociate with the other players.

Case 1: high control player wins the gunfight, reduces the opposing influence, and manages to stay in the lead or wins the game outright.

Case 2: both the high-control and the high-influence player lose a lot of influence at the end of the gunfight. Third player grabs control point locations and wins.

Case 3: high-influence player wins the gunfight, and retains enough influence to keep the game going... or gains enough control to win outright.

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Rick Lorenzon
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Quite a lot of variations out there on the final battle concept! I've never played munchkin but I've read a lot about frustrations in the end, where it evens things out so much that it doesn't matter how well you played thru the game.

Resistance Avalon sounds like a bizarre way to end a game - I'm assuming it's only done that way in a case where an assassin character is involved? Do those results sit well with all players, or is it a frustrating way to end the game?

I'm play-testing thru some variations of my idea, trying to keep it as simple as possible. I don't want a mechanic that "rewards" poor playing. If you make bad decisions, you can try a better strategy in the next game. But - I want players to feel that there are still things they can do to try to make up for some bad decisions - thus keeping some motivation for finishing the game.

If a game has a final goal that is fun and exciting to complete, you don't want to end the game early just because one player is the clear leader, and no one else has a chance of catching up, right? Part of the fun of that sort of a game is accomplishing that final goal, so all players have to have some incentive to stick it out - some feeling of having a chance to catch up and win.

I'm thinking the best way to do that is to have a mechanic that allows players to stall each other's progress, or at least gives them a chance at stalling someone.
 
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Garo Brik
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mokheshur wrote:

Resistance Avalon sounds like a bizarre way to end a game - I'm assuming it's only done that way in a case where an assassin character is involved? Do those results sit well with all players, or is it a frustrating way to end the game?
It's a hidden information game where everyone is on one of two asymmetrical teams. It can be frustrating in the sense that if someone on your team is playing poorly there isn't always a way to tell them without revealing information, so they can screw the whole game up for your team and there's nothing you can do, but that's inherent to the game not the final battle mechanism.

To me the only objective issue is the pacing. There's typically a lot of tension built up towards the "pre final battle ending", and when the good guys win it's a great climax which then continues into yet more tension as the assassin makes their decision. But if the assassin drags the decision out, the tension fizzles out and the game ends up not having any climax at all, instead of two consecutive exciting ones. So unless everyone in your game is actively involved in the final battle, you should keep it short at to the point.


If the main goal of your final battle is to keep players invested in the game even when they're not leading, there's some other ways to accomplish that. Some games have obscure scoring where it's not clear who's leading until the end. Other games have "catch up" mechanisms to help out those not in the lead. We were just talking about that over here: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23371786#23371786
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Rick Lorenzon
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After trying a few different ideas here into my work in progress game, I'm starting to feel thata final battle endgame might not work as well in a game that already has a fair amount of complexity. For me, it's been just adding another layer of complexity that feels like we're going too far.

Still thinking things over tho.
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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mokheshur wrote:
First off, are there any published games out there that successfully make use of a final battle concept, or some mechanic that allows players who were behind throughout the game to have a last chance to steal the win?


This typically applies to informal trivia games usually played at church gatherings, sometimes in the classroom. For whatever reason, the person who made/is running the game likes to make the last question worth one more than the difference in score, so that the losing team(s) can still have a reason to participate for it. Poor design? Yes, but the goal is participation, not good game design.

mokheshur wrote:
I'm looking for a way to get this to work where winning players don't feel "robbed" if they lose the final battle. Instead, i want it to feel like an important completion of the win - maybe llke a win without a final battle would be a hollow win, and winning or losing that battle is all about how you use your ultimate power at the end.


I think, if you want this, you would need the game to focus on building up towards this final event without having a way to accurately track scores or success until it is finished. Each player needs to be able to work on whatever strategy they want, without score tracking, or any precise indication of who is ahead. Then, when the final battle/brawl happens, it becomes about who was best prepared for it, and who is able to strategically overcome whatever they are lacking.
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Evil Johs
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I agree that I would feel disappointed. I dont like the idea of a mechanic that allows a player to come from behind at the end and steal the win from someone who has worked for it. If a player is losing, In some cases i agree that it is OK to let them loose.With that being said, games like Risk or monopoly, are horrid to sit threw round after round if you are losing.

What about a mechanic that allows to loosing player to interfere with the winning player. Yet not necessarily win then selves. So they can sway the victory between the winning players.
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Rick Lorenzon
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I agree - never wanted that feeling that other players can rob you of all your hard work. I was thinking more along the lines of having a secondary path to win, but ultimately, I've found that won't work for my game.

Grishhammer wrote:


I think, if you want this, you would need the game to focus on building up towards this final event without having a way to accurately track scores or success until it is finished. Each player needs to be able to work on whatever strategy they want, without score tracking, or any precise indication of who is ahead. Then, when the final battle/brawl happens, it becomes about who was best prepared for it, and who is able to strategically overcome whatever they are lacking.


That's really a good summation of what would make a great setup for a final battle. My current game project won't work with that, even though it is difficult to accurately track everyone's scores throughout the game, but it does give me a great concept for a future project!
 
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Rick Lorenzon
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EvilJohs wrote:


What about a mechanic that allows to loosing player to interfere with the winning player. Yet not necessarily win then selves. So they can sway the victory between the winning players.


This is more what I think works best for my current project. I realized my final "Magnum Opus" experiment was too easy, and by making it more challenging, a leading player would need to consider taking more time to prepare, or just risk it sooner with less preparation.

Opponents would have a way to interfere with some of your preparations - eliminating some safeguards, for example, and thus try to buy some time to catch up. This can either be strategically planned interference, or a desperate effort relying more on luck, depending on that player's choices throughout the game.
 
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Sight Reader
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Hmm... Would it work if an entire game was organized around improving starting position/forces for a final battle?
 
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Andrew Dabrowski
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EvilJohs wrote:
If a player is losing, In some cases i agree that it is OK to let them loose.


Good God, what do you normally do, lock losers in the basement?
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Rick Lorenzon
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Lol, I'm sure he meant game mechanics that leave no opportunities for poor players to redeem themselves, just to try to do better in the next game.

I agree on that for shorter games, but games that need time for more complex strategy and achievements, trailing players need some hope to continue, or else they'll just want to scrap the game and start over.
 
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mark w

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Dark Moon the last few turns are usually intense filled with last ditch efforts on both sides.
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euronoob

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the already-mentioned The Resistance: Avalon was the first thing I thought of.

Another option is Favor of the Pharaoh (which reimplements To Court the King) - you spend the game acquiring dice until someone gets the final Queen die. Then, everyone has a final rolloff - the player who got the Queen can use that in his/her roll.

So, in superficial shape at least, this fits the model of getting-a-big-gun and then using-the-big-gun-in-a-final-battle.
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