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Subject: Disappointing kingmaking: outlier or norm for experienced players? rss

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Ben Rubinstein

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Hi all!

Cyclades is one of my favorite games. Maybe my favorite. That said, I've only played it about 10 times, so I wouldn't call myself an expert.

This last game had an unusual ending. Is this how most games by experienced players end?

I wish I could remember exactly how it played out... unfortunately I don't.

But the gist of it was that I was going to win if if I got Athena. I got blocked from that by someone who got 0 gain out of Athena but didn't want me to win. The amount he had to spend on that basically put him out of the game.

The next round, I could win with Athena again, or someone could win with Ares. The 4th player couldn't win that turn, so basically got to decide which of the 2 of us would win.

In most previous games, the winner was someone who had enough gold who could grab his win without being outbid. It seemed rare that someone would spite-out-bid and spend so much that they couldn't recover. That's certainly no fun for them.

So is this the norm with very experienced players? Or an outlier?

Thanks!
 
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epilepticemu wrote:
But the gist of it was that I was going to win if if I got Athena. I got blocked from that by someone who got 0 gain out of Athena but didn't want me to win. The amount he had to spend on that basically put him out of the game.

Perhaps you could tell us which interactive multiplayer games you play where this sort of action by another player wouldn't be possible. Pending that, I think you're talking about social interaction in your group, not anything intrinsic to Cyclades.
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Dennis
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IMHO, bidding on a god that you don't gain much from, simply to keep it from someone else (especially if it would make them win) is a smart move and totally expected.
Deciding who wins by bidding a certain way (ie: classic kingmaking) is a douche move, though.

So in my gaming group, the first Athena bid would be applauded, but deciding the winner in the next round when it was clear the game would end and the only option was to kingmake someone else would be looked down upon.
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Ben Rubinstein

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RindFisch wrote:
IMHO, bidding on a god that you don't gain much from, simply to keep it from someone else (especially if it would make them win) is a smart move and totally expected.
Deciding who wins by bidding a certain way (ie: classic kingmaking) is a douche move, though.

So in my gaming group, the first Athena bid would be applauded, but deciding the winner in the next round when it was clear the game would end and the only option was to kingmake someone else would be looked down upon.


In that next round, I (player A) would win if I got Athena. Player B would if he got Ares. Player C did not have a possibility of winning that round. So he essentially chose who won. How is this a "douche move"? Or is that not what you mean by kingmaking?
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Ben Rubinstein

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Sphere wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
But the gist of it was that I was going to win if if I got Athena. I got blocked from that by someone who got 0 gain out of Athena but didn't want me to win. The amount he had to spend on that basically put him out of the game.

Perhaps you could tell us which interactive multiplayer games you play where this sort of action by another player wouldn't be possible. Pending that, I think you're talking about social interaction in your group, not anything intrinsic to Cyclades.


I think this situation is much more exaggerated in games, like Cyclades, which have instant win conditions. Which definitely aren't all "interactive multiplayer" games. In fact they're the minority.
 
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Consider your opponent's move -- bid to stop you from winning and have a terrible shot at winning, or fail to stop you from winning and have a zero chance of winning.

I've played Cyclades a few times and it never felt king-makery to me, if anything there was a runaway leader a time or two?
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Terwox wrote:
Consider your opponent's move -- bid to stop you from winning and have a terrible shot at winning, or fail to stop you from winning and have a zero chance of winning.


This. He should bid against you and hope next round one of the other players can prevent the winners from winning. Maybe he'll have a chance the round after that.

That's how Cyclades usually goes... players preventing each other winning until someone finally breaks through.

I suppose there could be a situation where you think you can foresee exactly what might happen the next round (and thus feel like kingmaking is happening), but with hidden money, nothing should ever be certain.
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epilepticemu wrote:
In that next round, I (player A) would win if I got Athena. Player B would if he got Ares. Player C did not have a possibility of winning that round. So he essentially chose who won. How is this a "douche move"? Or is that not what you mean by kingmaking?

In that case, I'd argue the win is between A and B, so those are the ones that should decide it. As a third party, you should not make a move merely to decide between them. That's kingmaking (with all its negative connotations) for me.
So if player C bid on Athena, because he'd rather have B win than A, I'd see that as a bit douchey, yes.
 
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Ben Rubinstein

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Terwox wrote:
Consider your opponent's move -- bid to stop you from winning and have a terrible shot at winning, or fail to stop you from winning and have a zero chance of winning.

I've played Cyclades a few times and it never felt king-makery to me, if anything there was a runaway leader a time or two?


Oh for sure! There was no other move for him to make. But he ended up having to bid twice the next highest god's bid just to block me. Which meant that he was EVEN MORE behind on the subsequent round, with nothing to gain for it (other than not immediately losing).
 
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epilepticemu wrote:
Hi all!

The next round, I could win with Athena again, or someone could win with Ares. The 4th player couldn't win that turn, so basically got to decide which of the 2 of us would win.


So what would have happened if you bid on Ares? You could have inflated the price to a point where the Ares player who outbid you wouldn't be able to afford enough island units or hops. Then, you could be pushed to Athena at a lower price. If you had won Ares, you could have delayed a win and reinforced yourself for next round's offensive. Better yet, you could have taken someone's island and weaken their income.

What about Zeus? Couldn't someone cycle the monster cards to the Pegasus and take an unprotected metropolis? If the Pegasus was was discarded, what about the Manticore? Defensively, someone could have brought the Kraken down on the Ares player's offensive ship line. Or Mermaid it. Or Medusa their island. Or Minotaur their own island. Or Polyphemus to scare away all of the ships. You could also use the Griffon to really mess up someone's financial plans.

Even Poseidon could be used to break an Ares ship line.

Of course, this is all based on various specific circumstances regarding money, turn order, god order, and monster order but my point is, there are tons of options in any given scenario.
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Ben Rubinstein

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Ducttape2021 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Hi all!

The next round, I could win with Athena again, or someone could win with Ares. The 4th player couldn't win that turn, so basically got to decide which of the 2 of us would win.


So what would have happened if you bid on Ares? You could have inflated the price to a point where the Ares player who outbid you wouldn't be able to afford enough island units or hops. Then, you could be pushed to Athena at a lower price. If you had won Ares, you could have delayed a win and reinforced yourself for next round's offensive. Better yet, you could have taken someone's island and weaken their income.

What about Zeus? Couldn't someone cycle the monster cards to the Pegasus and take an unprotected metropolis? If the Pegasus was was discarded, what about the Manticore? Defensively, someone could have brought the Kraken down on the Ares player's offensive ship line. Or Mermaid it. Or Medusa their island. Or Minotaur their own island. Or Polyphemus to scare away all of the ships. You could also use the Griffon to really mess up someone's financial plans.

Even Poseidon could be used to break an Ares ship line.

Of course, this is all based on various specific circumstances regarding money, turn order, god order, and monster order but my point is, there are tons of options in any given scenario.


The way I remember it, I was pretty high on Athena, and the guy on Ares had bid very high as well, and would also win on his turn. I don't remember if the Kingmaker had the option to go Zeus in turn order above both Ares & Athena, but even if he did, he could realistically only stop 1 of us with a monster cycle, definitely not both of us, and I don't think any of the monsters would have given him the win that turn.
 
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so, if the other player C outbids you on Athena, why didn't YOU then stop the Ares player?

(or the other way around, depending on bids and available money)

did one of A and B did not have enough gold to stop the other player? then I don't see a king making problem, just that one player had a slight edge over the other one (even though they SEEM to be both close to a win on first glance)
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epilepticemu wrote:
RindFisch wrote:
IMHO, bidding on a god that you don't gain much from, simply to keep it from someone else (especially if it would make them win) is a smart move and totally expected.
Deciding who wins by bidding a certain way (ie: classic kingmaking) is a douche move, though.

So in my gaming group, the first Athena bid would be applauded, but deciding the winner in the next round when it was clear the game would end and the only option was to kingmake someone else would be looked down upon.


In that next round, I (player A) would win if I got Athena. Player B would if he got Ares. Player C did not have a possibility of winning that round. So he essentially chose who won. How is this a "douche move"? Or is that not what you mean by kingmaking?


Doesn't Player C have option to see how things play out and not kingmake?
Players A and B both get their gods and 2nd metropolis. And they break tie based on money which is hidden.

Player C does have an option to kingmake by denying a god to either player A or B. but he is not neceserily kingmaking.

But I do think this game allows quite a bit of potential for kingmaking.
Like the first cycle you described - does that player kingmake (allow you to win) or do they deny you a chane to win this cycle at the expense of their goals for the benefit of others.
And my last game ended with kingmaking. In a 4 player games Ares was the 1st God (with Zeus hidden) and 2 of us needed him for the win. It came down to Player A controling Ares, Player B controling another god (being outbid by player A for Ares), Player C went to Apollo and Player D had a choice - do they allow player A to win (they coundn't outbid for Ares) or do they outbid Player B and then Player B could outbid player A for Ares.
 
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Ducttape2021 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Hi all!

The next round, I could win with Athena again, or someone could win with Ares. The 4th player couldn't win that turn, so basically got to decide which of the 2 of us would win.


So what would have happened if you bid on Ares? You could have inflated the price to a point where the Ares player who outbid you wouldn't be able to afford enough island units or hops. Then, you could be pushed to Athena at a lower price. If you had won Ares, you could have delayed a win and reinforced yourself for next round's offensive. Better yet, you could have taken someone's island and weaken their income.

What about Zeus? Couldn't someone cycle the monster cards to the Pegasus and take an unprotected metropolis? If the Pegasus was was discarded, what about the Manticore? Defensively, someone could have brought the Kraken down on the Ares player's offensive ship line. Or Mermaid it. Or Medusa their island. Or Minotaur their own island. Or Polyphemus to scare away all of the ships. You could also use the Griffon to really mess up someone's financial plans.

Even Poseidon could be used to break an Ares ship line.

Of course, this is all based on various specific circumstances regarding money, turn order, god order, and monster order but my point is, there are tons of options in any given scenario.


^^ and THIS is why I love Cyclades. There are just so many possibilities to try and nab the win
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Sphere wrote:
Perhaps you could tell us which interactive multiplayer games you play where this sort of action by another player wouldn't be possible.


Late to this thread, but the above is pretty much the answer for me.

I can't think of any decently interactive multiplayer games where the winner in a very tight contest wasn't decided by some sort of kingmaking. It's the nature of the beast.
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Ben Rubinstein

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lamaros wrote:
Sphere wrote:
Perhaps you could tell us which interactive multiplayer games you play where this sort of action by another player wouldn't be possible.


Late to this thread, but the above is pretty much the answer for me.

I can't think of any decently interactive multiplayer games where the winner in a very tight contest wasn't decided by some sort of kingmaking. It's the nature of the beast.


Did you disagree with my answer to this question above? I'll repeat myself.

"I think this situation is much more exaggerated in games, like Cyclades, which have instant win conditions. Which definitely aren't all "interactive multiplayer" games. In fact they're the minority."
 
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What's the significance of instant win vs win at end of round/count scores at end of round? Not much I can see, they'll still have you knocking down players in contention.

My last three games of Indonesia came down to kingmaking shipping decisions, purely because whenever players are close and other player actions advantage or disadvantage others differently this stuff happens.

Now some games are so effective at knocking down the leader so the kingmaking comes down to more of a musical chairs and you're just lucky of the music stops on you,.. but that's a different issue.
 
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RindFisch wrote:
In that case, I'd argue the win is between A and B, so those are the ones that should decide it. As a third party, you should not make a move merely to decide between them. That's kingmaking (with all its negative connotations) for me.

You do not have the luxury of this argument. Games with multiple players aren't zero sum; and all players have been doing nothing else but kingmaking in the rounds leading up to this ultimate climax. All of a sudden stating that it is wrong to decide who wins is actually the douchey bit. Neither A nor B had been playing strong enough to force the game to end on their own terms, so having player C making the decision for them is really their own fault. Technically it's a win of course, but frankly I'd consider it a stalemate which got resolved just to avoid a pointless continuation of moves which wouldn't have contributed to the game experience up to that moment. On the bright side, the game is now done and can be restarted, hopefully with the players realising they ought to play a little differently next time.

@OP: In my experience base Cyclades inevitably ends in such a pillowfight... with indeed the occasional kingmaking.
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Essentially all interactive multiplayer games are like this, just some have greater layers of obfuscation that makes it harder for people to realise where these points occur.

Every act in a multiplayer game has an impact on every other player, and the position of players at the end of the game is the result of a multitude of decisions made up to that point. Focusing on only the final decisions as "kingmaking" is missing the entire point of these games, in a sense.

The whole point is for someone to become the winner by best navigating the decisions made available to them in the face of decisions made by other players, other players decisions are not incidental to your personal outcome but fundamental. The idea that your own decisions are more significant, or should be more significant, than the decisions of another player is just flat out wrong: it is the collective that determines the result, not the individual.
 
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lamaros wrote:
The idea that your own decisions are more significant, or should be more significant, than the decisions of another player is just flat out wrong: it is the collective that determines the result, not the individual.

Well, to be honest this is not entirely true. It is actually a matter of skill to be able to make your decisions matter more. That's what makes a person good at a game, and better than his opponents.
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cymric wrote:
lamaros wrote:
The idea that your own decisions are more significant, or should be more significant, than the decisions of another player is just flat out wrong: it is the collective that determines the result, not the individual.

Well, to be honest this is not entirely true. It is actually a matter of skill to be able to make your decisions matter more. That's what makes a person good at a game, and better than his opponents.


Not necessarily. If I make good decisions and another player makes bad decisions, then my ability to win is a result of both my good decisions and the opportunities provided by the poor decisions of the other player.

In a game with four good players and one poor one, the decisions of the poor player could be viewed as guiding the outcome beyond any good player's individual power to overcome (I think this is also the wrong way to look at it).

You might think of this as a philosophical quibble, and perhaps it is. But the decisions in a game are inextricably linked, and only isolating the end game "kingmaking" decisions for analysis is a fundamental misunderstanding of how a game has played to that point - which is a consequence of this way of thinking about things.
 
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lamaros wrote:
You might think of this as a philosophical quibble, and perhaps it is.

It is. There are people who are very good at certain games (because they win more often), irrespective of the opposition. Therefore that player must, by definition, have a greater skill at making the right moves than others despite decisions being inextricably linked as you put it. His win record cannot be due to luck and opponent ineptitude alone!

Note that I say 'the right move' and leave it at that. Sometimes the right move does not directly deal with one's own position, but is it meant to cause two or more opponents to turn on each other. Perhaps it's a combination. Perhaps it's about temporarily teaming up, and then betraying the trust once the opposition has been eliminated. There are many possibilities here. And the end result of all those moves, summed up over many games, is that a player wins more often... which gets summarised as his decisions evidently mattering more. It's a very practical and perhaps somewhat circular way of looking at things, but to my knowledge there is no other save through brute forcing the entire game state tree.

However we agree that it is wrong to look only at the end game for kingmaking analysis.
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cymric wrote:
lamaros wrote:
You might think of this as a philosophical quibble, and perhaps it is.

It is. There are people who are very good at certain games (because they win more often), irrespective of the opposition. Therefore that player must, by definition, have a greater skill at making the right moves than others despite decisions being inextricably linked as you put it. His win record cannot be due to luck and opponent ineptitude alone!

Note that I say 'the right move' and leave it at that. Sometimes the right move does not directly deal with one's own position, but is it meant to cause two or more opponents to turn on each other. Perhaps it's a combination. Perhaps it's about temporarily teaming up, and then betraying the trust once the opposition has been eliminated. There are many possibilities here. And the end result of all those moves, summed up over many games, is that a player wins more often... which gets summarised as his decisions evidently mattering more. It's a very practical and perhaps somewhat circular way of looking at things, but to my knowledge there is no other save through brute forcing the entire game state tree.

However we agree that it is wrong to look only at the end game for kingmaking analysis.


I think the point might be about significance. I think all decisions are equally significant, which isn't to say all decisions help that player themselves get to the best possible end game state. (I.e. decisions can be more or less skilled but not more or less significant).
 
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lamaros wrote:
What's the significance of instant win vs win at end of round/count scores at end of round? Not much I can see, they'll still have you knocking down players in contention.

My last three games of Indonesia came down to kingmaking shipping decisions, purely because whenever players are close and other player actions advantage or disadvantage others differently this stuff happens.

Now some games are so effective at knocking down the leader so the kingmaking comes down to more of a musical chairs and you're just lucky of the music stops on you,.. but that's a different issue.


Sorry, I should have been more precise. It's not that instant-win increases likeliness of Kingmaking, it's when the player who triggers the win is automatically the victor. I.e. Cyclades is more prone to kingmaking than Scythe.
 
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epilepticemu wrote:
lamaros wrote:
What's the significance of instant win vs win at end of round/count scores at end of round? Not much I can see, they'll still have you knocking down players in contention.

My last three games of Indonesia came down to kingmaking shipping decisions, purely because whenever players are close and other player actions advantage or disadvantage others differently this stuff happens.

Now some games are so effective at knocking down the leader so the kingmaking comes down to more of a musical chairs and you're just lucky of the music stops on you,.. but that's a different issue.


Sorry, I should have been more precise. It's not that instant-win increases likeliness of Kingmaking, it's when the player who triggers the win is automatically the victor. I.e. Cyclades is more prone to kingmaking than Scythe.


I've been thinking about this lately too.
Its probably the most anticlimatic and annoying part of the base game - as soon as someone has played ares (+/- zeus to letter extent) and has 2 metropolises, not much point carrying on, and everyone else loses their last turn AND cannot do anything about it.
And on top of that is how that can lead to increased kingmaking (not sure about this yet, still thinking about all your posts).

This is slightly reduced with the expansions, since someone with Cronos (in Titans) or Hades can still possibly do something about it, but not if they've come before ares (although then it maybe some fault on players not being aware of board state).

I think some DOAM games now address this problem by requiring a player that reaches victory goals to survive a period of time with them intact (kemet addressed this in the expansion by changing victory rules; Runewars Revised edition did this, which really improved the game, Discworld etc etc )

Ive liked this approach and wonder if it will work for cyclades:
Eg once a player has 2 metropolises (pi?), then he wins if he still has 2 at START of his next turn (in the following cycle)
- even if this could mean he/she simply tries to win the first Entity on the turn track in next cycle, but other players at least have a chsnce by outbidding him etc etc.
- Downside is prolonging the game, but I don't think it will be that long, since (as a fellow BGGer once best described) cyclades is like a dam bursting, the players are generally all advancing, cracks showing who will lead, engineers (other players) patching the dam to prevent the flood (victory), but eventually too many cracks appear and one person will cause the flood and win. So by this stage more than 1 player will probably have a chance to win soon after.
- IF it does become a problem, u could rule that maximum only 2-3 more cycles can occur, and then victory according to victory conditions (1 metropolis, ties based on gold etc)
- Upside is this way there is more player agency, the Victor deserves it more, the drama is sustained to the climax.

Damn, I started wanting to make a simple point, now I'm gonna have to post this again under variants! Lol

Sal
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