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Subject: Rationale Behind the Tie-Breaker? rss

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Domenic
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In a recent game, two of us ended with exactly 15 points and looked up the tie-breaking rule, expecting to see either 1) most development cards or 2) most gems on hand to be the tie breaker. We were both surprised to see that the winner was the one with the fewest development cards.

I've seen some comments in passing that suggest that this means the winner is the one who bought development cards most efficiently, but that's an entirely different question from being the player who used the available resources (actions) most efficiently.

I saw in another thread that the designer proposed using number of nobles (higher is better) and number of gems on hand (higher is better) as additional tie-breakers, but I don't understand the rationale for switching from lower-better to higher-better in adding those elements. If it is better to have fewer development cards, showing that the player just hit his target without taking anything he didn't need, shouldn't it also be better to have fewer gems left over?

The natural tie-breakers, for me, would seem to be 1) highest number of development cards (permanent resources reflecting ability to buy future VPs), 2) highest number of gems (transient resources for future VPs), 3) highest number of nobles (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs), 4) highest valued card (or number of such cards if tied) (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs), 5) next-highest valued card, etc.
 
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I think the exact tiebreaker doesn't matter, what matters is that it can be controlled by the players and that they know in advance what it is. So in Splendor, if you're ever trying to decide between "buy lots of cheap cards" vs. "buy a few big cards", and all else seems equal - go for the few big cards, because it will win the tiebreaker. But of course if you think the cheap cards strategy is likely to get you even one more point, then go with the cheap cards.

In your case, the tiebreaker wasn't known in advance, so it felt arbitrary and unfair. I think if you play from the start knowing it, it will feel "right." It does to my table, we've played lots of splendor and seen a fair number of ties.
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Richard Sampson
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Fewer cards = greater points efficiency. It basically means they have more higher point cards / nobles.

I think this is a much better tie breaker than rewarding people who just take a bunch of free cards with no value.
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Bryan Thunkd
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dommer2029 wrote:
If it is better to have fewer development cards, showing that the player just hit his target without taking anything he didn't need, shouldn't it also be better to have fewer gems left over?
It's a matter of achievement. If you get 15 points with fewer cards, then you've done a better job with the resources you had. If you have more resources left over, that's even more you did with what you had (the other guy may have gotten just as many resources, but he was forced to spend his whereas you were so efficient, you had stuff left over).

 
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Morten K
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dommer2029 wrote:
In a recent game, two of us ended with exactly 15 points and looked up the tie-breaking rule, expecting to see either 1) most development cards or 2) most gems on hand to be the tie breaker. We were both surprised to see that the winner was the one with the fewest development cards.

I've seen some comments in passing that suggest that this means the winner is the one who bought development cards most efficiently, but that's an entirely different question from being the player who used the available resources (actions) most efficiently.

I saw in another thread that the designer proposed using number of nobles (higher is better) and number of gems on hand (higher is better) as additional tie-breakers, but I don't understand the rationale for switching from lower-better to higher-better in adding those elements. If it is better to have fewer development cards, showing that the player just hit his target without taking anything he didn't need, shouldn't it also be better to have fewer gems left over?

The natural tie-breakers, for me, would seem to be 1) highest number of development cards (permanent resources reflecting ability to buy future VPs), 2) highest number of gems (transient resources for future VPs), 3) highest number of nobles (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs), 4) highest valued card (or number of such cards if tied) (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs), 5) next-highest valued card, etc.


In my 20 plays I think I've ever had a noble tile once or twice. And I win almost 3 out of 4 games. That would be a silly tiebreaker.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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dommer2029 wrote:
The natural tie-breakers, for me, would seem to be 1) highest number of development cards (permanent resources reflecting ability to buy future VPs)
I disagree that "ability to buy future VPs" is a good tie-breaker. Like many engine building games, this is a race and how much you invest in long-term ability is entirely dependent on the time-frame of the game. The game encourages players to aim for 15 points... trying to set yourself up for anything beyond 15 points is working against the primary goal of the game.

dommer2029 wrote:
2) highest number of gems (transient resources for future VPs)
Again, stockpiling resources for a tie-breaker is against the goal of racing to 15 VP's faster.

dommer2029 wrote:
3) highest number of nobles (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs)
The nobles are already important. I don't think you need to make them even more important. This will skew games towards the people pursuing nobles and make the strategy of ignoring the nobles, or at least going for the off-color nobles (the nobles with colors that don't match the colors on the other nobles) less viable. I think that's a mistake.

dommer2029 wrote:
4) highest valued card (or number of such cards if tied) (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs)
This is going to tie more often than number of cards will.

dommer2029 wrote:
5) next-highest valued card, etc.
Isn't this just part of #4?
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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Tigrillo wrote:
In my 20 plays I think I've ever had a noble tile once or twice. And I win almost 3 out of 4 games. That would be a silly tiebreaker.
What player count do you usually play at? And do you always play with the same person/group? I've got 140 plays and nobles are a huge part of the game. I have a pretty high win ratio.
 
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Morten K
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Thunkd wrote:
Tigrillo wrote:
In my 20 plays I think I've ever had a noble tile once or twice. And I win almost 3 out of 4 games. That would be a silly tiebreaker.
What player count do you usually play at? And do you always play with the same person/group? I've got 140 plays and nobles are a huge part of the game. I have a pretty high win ratio.


Usually with 2 or 3 and not the same. I usually end up having 7-9 cards in my tableau at the end which makes it very hard to get a noble.
 
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Unless tie-breakers involve a steel cage and player death, I'm not interested.
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Domenic
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Thunkd wrote:
dommer2029 wrote:
The natural tie-breakers, for me, would seem to be 1) highest number of development cards (permanent resources reflecting ability to buy future VPs)
I disagree that "ability to buy future VPs" is a good tie-breaker. Like many engine building games, this is a race and how much you invest in long-term ability is entirely dependent on the time-frame of the game. The game encourages players to aim for 15 points... trying to set yourself up for anything beyond 15 points is working against the primary goal of the game.

dommer2029 wrote:
2) highest number of gems (transient resources for future VPs)
Again, stockpiling resources for a tie-breaker is against the goal of racing to 15 VP's faster.

Your position seems to be that the goal is to get to 15 VPs, so doing anything more than that - collecting extra gems, developments, or the ability to gain more VPs - should count against you in case of a tie. But if the goal is to get to 15 VPs first, then one way of looking at it is that if two players hit the goal on the same turn, the game is tied and then the primary tie-breaker in the game is that the player with more points wins. It seems like your tie-breakers would be consistent with a rule that the player with the fewest points (but at least 15) is the winner. That could be an interesting variant.

Also, according to the publisher (Re: Additional tie breakers), more gems is a positive for tie-breaking. The rationale for that is not explained. I agree that if having fewer development cards is better, having fewer gems should also be better.

Quote:
dommer2029 wrote:
3) highest number of nobles (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs)
The nobles are already important. I don't think you need to make them even more important. This will skew games towards the people pursuing nobles and make the strategy of ignoring the nobles, or at least going for the off-color nobles (the nobles with colors that don't match the colors on the other nobles) less viable. I think that's a mistake.

Okay. But the publisher makes having more nobles a higher tie-breaker than I do. Nobles could be integrated into #4 and #5 by treating them according to their VP value.

Quote:
dommer2029 wrote:
4) highest valued card (or number of such cards if tied) (extra weight for difficult-to-get VPs)
This is going to tie more often than number of cards will.

dommer2029 wrote:
5) next-highest valued card, etc.
Isn't this just part of #4?

Yes, but some people would read #4 and then say, "What if we're tied for the highest card? What should we do then?" #5 just spells it out. I don't agree that #4 & #5 will tie more often than number of cards will. To tie with the last two criteria, both players would have to have an identical distribution of point-scoring cards. That has to be more rare than just having the same number of total cards.
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I've seen some comments in passing that suggest that this means the winner is the one who bought development cards most efficiently, but that's an entirely different question from being the player who used the available resources (actions) most efficiently.


Actually, it's the same thing. Both players have access to the same resources to get cards. The player who achieved the same score with less cards managed to be just as efficient with less resources. OR was actually more efficient by purchasing only cards that were actually needed to achieve victory, instead of having unneeded ones
 
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Domenic
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I think you're changing the definition of resources halfway through your argument. Or I've misunderstood what you are saying.

Phaseshifter wrote:
Quote:
I've seen some comments in passing that suggest that this means the winner is the one who bought development cards most efficiently, but that's an entirely different question from being the player who used the available resources (actions) most efficiently.


Actually, it's the same thing. Both players have access to the same resources to get cards.

Both players have access to the same number of actions, so here, I think you're saying that resources are actions.
Quote:

The player who achieved the same score with less cards managed to be just as efficient with less resources.

Both players used the same number of actions to achieve the same score, but here you're saying that the player who purchased fewer cards used fewer resources, thus now I think you're saying that resources are cards. But even then, it's not true that they used fewer resources(cards) - instead, they ended with fewer resources(cards). To make an analogy, suppose we get in a race to see who can have $1000 in our bank account first. We both hit $1000 on the same day, but I also end up with a nice suit of clothes. Using the Splendor tie-breaker logic, you are the winner.

Quote:
OR was actually more efficient by purchasing only cards that were actually needed to achieve victory, instead of having unneeded ones

If they were actually more efficient at using the resources (actions) available, they would have reached the target score first, not on the same round.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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dommer2029 wrote:
Both players used the same number of actions to achieve the same score
Yes, but one player was more efficient in his card purchases, getting the same score but needing fewer cards to do so.

dommer2029 wrote:
To make an analogy, suppose we get in a race to see who can have $1000 in our bank account first. We both hit $1000 on the same day, but I also end up with a nice suit of clothes. Using the Splendor tie-breaker logic, you are the winner.
That's a bad analogy. Instead let's compare two artists who are trying to evoke an emotion. The artist who is able to do so with a few strokes of his brush is considered more efficient (even if it took him just as long to make) and more elegant than someone who requires a huge canvas and buckets of paint.

The same would be true of debaters trying to convince someone of an argument. The person who is able to convince someone with fewer words and points would be considered more persuasive than the person who has to talk until he's blue in the face just to convince someone.

Let's consider an extreme example, where one player matches the high score, but uses half as many cards to do so (which I've seen done). The player who built a ton of cards was essentially "thrashing around" wildly. The player who built just a few high point cards and matches the other's score does so in a more elegant way. He wasn't running hither and yon building everything under the sun haphazardly. He focused specifically on the cards he needed and executed a very exact strategy. He didn't waste any effort building anything non-essential. From that perspective, he seems to have played a better game. (Of course, this is more noticeable when there's a large difference between how many cards the two players built.)
 
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Domenic
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Thunkd wrote:
dommer2029 wrote:
Both players used the same number of actions to achieve the same score
Yes, but one player was more efficient in his card purchases, getting the same score but needing fewer cards to do so.

dommer2029 wrote:
To make an analogy, suppose we get in a race to see who can have $1000 in our bank account first. We both hit $1000 on the same day, but I also end up with a nice suit of clothes. Using the Splendor tie-breaker logic, you are the winner.
That's a bad analogy. Instead let's compare two artists who are trying to evoke an emotion. The artist who is able to do so with a few strokes of his brush is considered more efficient (even if it took him just as long to make) and more elegant than someone who requires a huge canvas and buckets of paint.

The same would be true of debaters trying to convince someone of an argument. The person who is able to convince someone with fewer words and points would be considered more persuasive than the person who has to talk until he's blue in the face just to convince someone.

Let's consider an extreme example, where one player matches the high score, but uses half as many cards to do so (which I've seen done). The player who built a ton of cards was essentially "thrashing around" wildly. The player who built just a few high point cards and matches the other's score does so in a more elegant way. He wasn't running hither and yon building everything under the sun haphazardly. He focused specifically on the cards he needed and executed a very exact strategy. He didn't waste any effort building anything non-essential. From that perspective, he seems to have played a better game. (Of course, this is more noticeable when there's a large difference between how many cards the two players built.)

We may just be rehashing arguments at this point, but let me suggest this: if the goal is to get 15 points exactly, with the least excess acquisition, then why is the first tie-breaker to have more points?

I suppose anything can be rationalized. (Clearly, more points means a better painting, amirite? But those extra unused tubes of paint are just messy!) My initial point was that we players found it to be counter-intuitive. I played with a different group the other day and I made a point to tell them about fewer cards being better in case of ties up-front. The players who had played before were surprised to learn that it worked that way.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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Re: Rationale Behind the Tie-Breaker?
dommer2029 wrote:
if the goal is to get 15 points exactly
That is not the goal of Splendor, nor have I ever suggested that it was.

The goal of Splendor is to get the most points. And like many games, when two people tie on the primary objective, the game evaluates how they did in a secondary objective. In some games that's maximizing some other factor. In others it is minimizing some category. In Splendor it is building the fewest cards.

In Splendor the winner is the person with the most points, or if multiple people get the most, then the player with the most points who was more efficient with card building.


Why'd they choose that one? Probably because it puts you in a conundrum. You generally want to increase your capacity to get more cards, but if it is potentially a factor in who wins, then you have an opposing desire not to increase your capacity. It forces you to think about whether it makes sense to expand your tableau or not, instead of always building cards.

This mirrors the tension of the game where in the early game you generally want to build cards to increase your capacity to build, but at some point should stop increasing your capacity and should focus on getting points. All of which makes for interesting decisions about which cards you should build (or not).

Ultimately, if two players get the same number of points and one just indiscriminately built everything he could, while the other also thought about how to get just as many points while still minimizing the number of card builds he made, then that second player played a better game and should win. He focused on the primary and secondary objectives which was harder than just focusing on the primary.
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Thunkd wrote:
Ultimately, if two players get the same number of points and one just indiscriminately built everything he could, while the other also thought about how to get just as many points while still minimizing the number of card builds he made, then that second player played a better game and should win. He focused on the primary and secondary objectives which was harder than just focusing on the primary.

I agree, but it sounds like you might be suggesting that somehow inherently it is better play to finish any game in first place while "efficiently" buying fewer cards instead of "indiscriminately" buying many cards, as if that player with more cards was a bit of a slow-witted clod incapable of subtler strategizing.

(If I misunderstand that undertone, sorry.)

But it's worth noting that the winner's play (taking fewer cards) was only "better" play because of the way the tie-breaker is defined. The winner in this example played better exactly because their playing took into account the game's defined tie-breaker.

If we were in an alternate universe where the Splendor tie-breaker was in favor of the player with more cards, then the tying player who has more cards would (tautologically) have played better, exactly because their playing took into account the (alternate) tie-breaker that says you want more cards in a tie.

(And one might try to rationalize it by saying that the winner "vigorously" bought many cards while the loser "hesitantly" didn't buy enough, or some such innuendo-laden adverbs about their playing styles...)
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russ wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
Ultimately, if two players get the same number of points and one just indiscriminately built everything he could, while the other also thought about how to get just as many points while still minimizing the number of card builds he made, then that second player played a better game and should win. He focused on the primary and secondary objectives which was harder than just focusing on the primary.

I agree, but it sounds like you might be suggesting that somehow inherently it is better play to finish any game in first place while "efficiently" buying fewer cards instead of "indiscriminately" buying many cards, as if that player with more cards was a bit of a slow-witted clod incapable of subtler strategizing.

(If I misunderstand that undertone, sorry.)
That's not what I'm trying to suggest. I'm suggesting that it's harder to get a good score while simultaneously trying to build as few cards as possible. So if someone manages it, they've done something harder than the person who just focused on getting a good score and didn't constrain themselves by building fewer cards. (Of course, it's also a valid strategy to make a mad dash to 15 or more points ignoring how many cards you build, assuming you can get there undisputed).

russ wrote:
But it's worth noting that the winner's play (taking fewer cards) was only "better" play because of the way the tie-breaker is defined. The winner in this example played better exactly because their playing took into account the game's defined tie-breaker.
Of course. I thought that was an obvious point. If the tie breaker had been defined as having the most cards, then minimizing the number of cards you built would be inferior play. However, I think the actual tie-breaker, fewer cards, is a good one because of the way that forces you to balance your desire to increase your capacity to build more cards (by building cards with virtual gems) against a possible win condition. It makes it more difficult to win the secondary objective as the secondary objective makes the primary objective harder. If the tie-breaker were simply most cards, there'd be fewer hard choices of whether to build cards or not.

russ wrote:
If we were in an alternate universe where the Splendor tie-breaker was in favor of the player with more cards, then the tying player who has more cards would (tautologically) have played better, exactly because their playing took into account the (alternate) tie-breaker that says you want more cards in a tie.
Obviously. I never said anything contrary to this.

russ wrote:
(And one might try to rationalize it by saying that the winner "vigorously" bought many cards while the loser "hesitantly" didn't buy enough, or some such innuendo-laden adverbs about their playing styles...)
I guess you're objecting to my choice of words... they were chosen given the actual tie-breaker condition. If the tie-breaker were otherwise, I'd have used different descriptors.
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OK - so we are on the same page, and I just misunderstood the nuance you intended.
 
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