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Subject: Games that improve gaming skill. rss

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Dave H
United Kingdom
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My gaming buddies just aren't as good as me. This isn't a boast, I'm just that little bit better, but it results in me winning about 80% of games we play. I like winning but it's not so great for everyone else and I'd prefer some tougher opposition. One route would be to pick games that have a much higher element of luck but they're not really that satisfying.

Is there such a thing as a game that makes you better at gaming in general at a faster pace than most other games? If so what are good 3/4 player ones?

I won't ask for a similar to x or y as I don't want to narrow the field down too much.

Edit: perhaps a good 2 v 2 team game might be good for allowing me to share tactics.
 
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Thanee
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Maybe you could play an occasional game, where you do not play, but only give the other players some hints.

Bye
Thanee
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Dave H
United Kingdom
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Thanee wrote:
Maybe you could play an occasional game, where you do not play, but only give the other players some hints.

Bye
Thanee


It's a interesting suggestion but I'm not sure my friends would appreciate it (sort of like having an alpha player) but it does give me an idea that maybe a 2 v 2 team game might be an idea
 
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marc lecours
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I come from a go (the game) background. If you are in a smaller club, then in 90% of the pairings, one of the players is heavily favored. In fact in most of the games the weaker player has 0% chance of winning. The solution, in go, is that the weaker player gets to play extra moves (stones) at the start of the game. If the weaker player refuses to take the extra stones then it is a bit impolite to the stronger player (the stronger player is allowed to have a fun challenging game also).

How many extra stones? Enough to make the game a 50-50 game. When I was a beginner I would receive 9 or more stones on my first move and win 50% of my games. Now I usually give starting stones to other players BUT I still only win 50% of my games. The enjoyment of a game does not come from winning but from trying hard to win. If one player is stronger than the others then that player no longer has to try hard to win (the stronger player wins without trying). This sucks the enjoyment out of a game for the stronger player.

In most games you can usually find some way to make it harder for the stronger player. The easiest to implement is usually victory points. Give yourself -10 victory points (or some such number) before starting. Adjust the number of points up or down after each game(assuming you play the same game often). But adjusting the victory points is a bad way of giving a handicap. The reason is that at the end of the game the winner (if not you) can just subtract the victory points from their score and say that you are the real winner.

Therefore instead of adjusting victory points, it is better to lower starting strength of the stronger player. For example when playing San Juan with my daughter (30 years old) I start with only one initial card in my hand which is enough to even out the game. In games with money I start with less money. etc. This does not translate directly into victory points so there is uncertainty as to whether you would have won without the disadvantage.

The problem with all of the above is convincing the other players to let you start with a disadvantage. Players that are not from a go (the game) background usually resist handicap systems. If they believe that winning is more important than trying to win, then they will not see how winning 80% of the time is lowering the fun for you.

Many players see games as a test of self worth. If you start with a disadvantage then they feel that if they win it is now less meaningful. In fact they might feel that letting you start with a disadvantage is conceding a certain superiority to you before the game starts.

If the others won't go for letting you start with a disadvantage then you can always give yourself a secret disadvantage. For example in Agricola you might have a secret rule that you never use the first 3 occupations and the first three minor occupations that you pick up at the start of the game (just put them aside). Or in Puerto Rico you might have a secret rule that you have to use all the roles as evenly as possible (including craftsman).
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I also am favoured against most of my gaming partners.

The best way for me to help them get better is to debrief with them. That way we can debate what made me win, what made them lose, what were the turning points of the game, and how to get better in the next game.

The one game that made me get better was Magic: The Gathering as a semi-competitive game. You get eaten so much that you don't see gaming the same way once you've learned the ropes.

Learning is a process of trials and errors. If your players don't learn from them mistake, then you might have to lecture them into better players.

Playing against a player that's better than you is usually a good way to get better too, as you learn the ropes by seeing them play. My players sometimes try what I did (and fail hum) the previous game, and simply counter me by taking what I need and attacking me most of the time.

Gateway games are pretty good to make players understand how other games might work. Sushi Go! helps them to understand drafting, for instance.

But I'm not convince a game will help. Repetitive plays of whatever game will, though. That and the will to get better. If they don't want to get better, they probably simply won't.

Handicaps are a good idea. Games where you don't play is also a good idea.
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Chris Hayes
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This isn't the answer you were looking for, but......

Some online sites, such as en.boardgamearena.com allow users to watch
replays of games. They could watch games between the best players.

BGG also has strategy forums, session reports, blogs, videos where all kinds of options are presented.

Repeated plays of games to explore them.

1 vs 1 is also a nice option.
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Rusty Patterson
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Razoupaf wrote:
But I'm not convince a game will help. Repetitive plays of whatever game will, though. That and the will to get better.

Yeah, this. Are you playing repeated plays of the same games? The post-game debrief is a good idea. Or maybe some subtle in-game coaching. "You do see I'm collecting knowledge tiles, right? That was how I won last game."

I don't win the majority of my plays. But I find pleasure in playing the game and particularly in trying to play alternate (read 'unconventional') strategies to see if I can pull out a win that way.
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RustyInRT wrote:

I don't win the majority of my plays. But I find pleasure in playing the game and particularly in trying to play alternate (read 'unconventional') strategies to see if I can pull out a win that way.


Yup, that's a fun thing to do. Pushing a mechanic to the limit, even if it's not supposed to be viable and will make you lose, is fun. And it might give a chance to the other players.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Like going mono-blue in Star Realms.
Wait, now that makes you win big time actually


As you make it clear what you're going for, they can easily cut your supplies if there is any amount of interaction in the game.
I know I usually go for alternate victory conditions, because I usually get screwed by bad luck, or because I wasted time trying to build a slow engine.
It's usually pretty easy to see and to counter unless I have some amount of control over the game.
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James Arias
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We had a player like this back in high school, only order of magnitude better than test of us. Our solution was either asymmetric 1 vs. all (like Fortress America or with teams as others have suggested, with the uber stategist teamed with a weaker player.

More recently, when I play my kids in a competitive game with roles, I'll let them min-max but give me a random.
 
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John
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I don't know, many games probably improve general gaming skill but if you play them too then will it help?

Thanee wrote:
Maybe you could play an occasional game, where you do not play, but only give the other players some hints.

Perhaps without the hints part (that could be annoying).

If the other players can get more practice then that should even things up a bit. So in Race for the Galaxy suggest that other players download Keldon's AI (and don't download it yourself), in Star Realms mention that there's an Android app.

2 v 2 games are a good plan too.

Have you played the games more than your friends? Are you playing the same game a decent number of times? If not it might be that you pick games up than them but things would even up if you played the same game a few more times.

Are there any kinds of games you are less good at but still enjoy? That's another possibility.

Games with ways of bashing the leader?
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Stephen Williams
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Vodkaman wrote:
My gaming buddies just aren't as good as me. This isn't a boast, I'm just that little bit better, but it results in me winning about 80% of games we play. I like winning but it's not so great for everyone else and I'd prefer some tougher opposition. One route would be to pick games that have a much higher element of luck but they're not really that satisfying.


Are all the games being brought to the table yours? If so, perhaps you have an advantage in familiarity? If any of the others collect games as well, I would recommend encouraging them to bring their own games to the table. If they don't collect, at least let them pick the games to play more often. Maybe you'll still trounce them, but at least they got to play the game they wanted.

I also agree with the idea of doing a little debrief of the game session afterwards. When I got started in modern gaming, the members of the club I was attending liked to do this, and it really helped me wrap my head around the more complex strategies of these games (as compared to the "mainstream" roll and moves.)

When playing with newbies myself, I also make a point of offering suggestions when I see possibilities, regardless of whether it helps or hurts my own position. I try not to come off bossy, I just point out that they COULD do X or Y if they wanted to. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't. (I also suggest terrible ideas that would be legal, but stupid - and highlight that it would be stupid to do so - but I think it helps to illustrate how the rules work.)

I don't think there's any one game that's better than another at teaching people how to "play games" in general. Certainly playing one game multiple times should yield improvement on that game, but improving in general boils down to the player's desire to improve.

You could also try splitting up into multiple smaller games, instead of one big game. That way you yourself can only win ONE game, and someone else will win the other(s).
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I'd recommend co-op games. Just be careful you don't become the alpha player.
 
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Russ Williams
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There are many possible approaches. I would ask your friends directly to find out whether

(1) it is actually a problem in the first place (i.e. are they even bothered that you play better and win more often?) and

(2) if they are bothered, what do they want to do about it:

play games with more luck,
play handicapped games as is common in Go,
play games with you as an observer offering strategy ideas,
play learning games where you all discuss strategy together,
do post-game analyses/discussion,
read strategy articles,
etc etc...
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Bart R.
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In my group, the winning ratio is tied to the type of game we play. My wife might still have a slightly higher number of wins overall, but playing a good mix of games ensures everybody gets a good chance to be game night hero .
 
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Dave H
United Kingdom
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Wow, so many responses. Too many to quote everyone, but to sum up answers to some of the questions.

Am I more familiar with the games?

No, we've only been regularly playing board games for about 6 months and don't play them outside this group. The only familiarity advantage I may have, is that I usually get the job of teaching the games and if possible watch playthroughs/tutorials on YouTube beforehand.

Do I pick the games we play?

I have the largest collection, but it's completely democratic and the other players bring their own games and have just as much choice in what we play.

Are we playing the same games enough?

We've accumulated quite a few games, but there are few (Lords of Waterdeep, Five Tribes, 7 Wonders, Pandemic) that have had 10 or more plays.

Are there any types of games that I'm less good at?

I want to make clear that I don't consider myself to be a really good player compared to my friends, only slightly better, but enough to win "too often". The only sort of games where I don't have a significant advantage at are things like Betrayal at House on The Hill and Uno, which are very random games.

It is actually a problem?

I don't think it's a major problem. We play socially and share banter rather than sitting there poker-faced and there's no gloating or whining. I'm just interested in what might improve an already good situation. I suspect we'll become more evenly matched as time goes on.
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John
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Vodkaman wrote:
It is actually a problem?

I don't think it's a major problem. We play socially and share banter rather than sitting there poker-faced and there's no gloating or whining. I'm just interested in what might improve an already good situation. I suspect we'll become more evenly matched as time goes on.


Well not worrying about it is probably fine. A new game probably isn't the solution (though that's probably heresy on BGG).
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Felix Brause
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Maybe try some "gateway" games that would otherwise be frowned upon by your "advanced" group.
e.g. Splendor (for "engine building") or Seasons (for drafting AND finding card combinations)... Codenames (for basic reading skills) or whatever

Since you´re not saying what you normaly play to keep it more open... I´d check for gateway games with an familiar and popular theme amongst your group. Maybe something funny, that the experience is still enjoyable, even if the game is "too light" for your skill level. And try not to dominate in these games, but let your group discover a winning strategy by giving them a win (maybe you can be close second ).
Or play a genre you´re not good in. One of my best euro and ressource management gamers discovered that he is a total failure in "dudes on a map" like blood rage. Or another very analytical player (and magic nerd) can´t grasp the concept of deckbuilders and fails miserably everytime

In short. Learning goals are easier achived with some positive reinforcement. Seeing success of a strategy... Let your friends win once in a while or choose games where you can improve too.
And if you´re still always the winner anyways... play descent/imperial assault and be the dungeon lord and see the maximum fun of your group as "winning" the game
 
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Paul Evans
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I think this is a great question.

A key piece of information is not available - how interested are the rest of the group in getting better? One of the groups I used to play with was mainly content to meet once a month and see how it goes. They favoured lighter weight games, and enjoyed the evening. These were mostly smart blokes and if it had been important to them they could easily have got much better - but they simply didn't chose to prioritise their personal time that way. I had another group that was keen to get better, and better they got.

Stuff that I think makes gamers better:
- knowing the rules - watching video tutorials out there, before the evening
- reading BGG strategy postings (I do not do this any more. I got too good, relative to my group, at certain games).
- playing on-line games where there is time to think things through between moves.
- playing two player games. Easier to work core details out when you don't have to consider multiple opponents
- post-game analysis. I love working through a game afterwards - looking for those key mistakes. Not everyones cup of tea.

There is no cure for stupid, but assuming a decent degree of smarts a person who is keen to do better will learn.

And finally - back to the OPs actual question. Personally I think playing more abstract games helps develop an awareness of efficiency and dependency.
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Pas L
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I'd suggest these solutions:

1. Handicapping.
2. Play the same game over and over until they get better.
3. Play high luck games.
4. Play team games.
5. Play negotiation or high interactions games.

#2 is probably the best solution for your situation. I have experience with this working quite well. I often win games with certain people I play with, but that's mostly because I pick things up quicker. Once other get a bit of experience that bridge narrows (took about 10+ games of RotW before I stopped winning most of the time).
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