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Subject: End of game counting slowdown rss

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Mark Green
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So, after a couple of games we've started to find things are going really slowly at the end of the game. Typically, when a player is about to get their last star they start counting up everyone's victory points to make sure that their last star will win them the game - this after two games in which the player who got the last star did not win.

Has anyone found any way of dealing with this? Can part of the VP score be hidden without disruption or perhaps some kind of continuous tracker added?
 
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Jamey Stegmaier
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It sounds like you need to use the official variant listed in the rulebook on page 28:

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John Huss
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The rulebook includes an optional variant to deal with end-game slow play. If anyone spends too much time counting up end game points, you are allowed to dock popularity. We've never had to use it, but if someone is spotted actually counting coins and doing scoring math, we usually politely ask them to A) please take their turn, and B) do any planning before their turn. It takes away from the fun for everyone if play slows to a halt.
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Patrick G.
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jameystegmaier wrote:
It sounds like you need to use the official variant listed in the rulebook on page 28:


That seems like a very severe variant. Wouldn't it have been more conducive to serious gamers to add a final round for everyone else to fix the "surprise I ended the game" problem? 10 seconds just seems like a great way to punish everyone who isn't a genius. 60 would seem more fair. It just seems like in a game can literally end at any moment after someone places their third star (although I am sure it's technically possible to place 4 on a turn.. I have yet to see anyone actually pull it off in a real game) being given time to calculate score is of the utmost importance. ie... should I use my last move to take a territory from Dan or Jen? Things like that.

But then.. that's why it's a variant. And since I will almost always be playing with my copy I won't have to worry about it.
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Richard Dewsbery
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I like the variant, and explained the game to my group on the basis that this was one of the core rules of the game - slow it down by counting points, you lose 2 popularity.

Of course, smart players might notice that it doesn't affect them, as it won't drop them a category. Even smarter players do all their counting on someone else's turn.
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Eleon Forsht
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That is a horrible Variant. Is this a game of who can memorize long list of numbers in their head, or is this a strategy game.

Figuring out the correct move requires knowing the point spread. If you take that away, then it really is almost multiple player solitary, with like one turn of combat on the last turn.

While we all hate the game slowing down, a better solution would be to have everyone calculate their points after their turn is over and mark it. Then they can think about their next turn. This sure seems easier than EVERYONE trying to do point calculations on everyone's turn.
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Trevor Schadt
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corkysru wrote:
Wouldn't it have been more conducive to serious gamers to add a final round for everyone else to fix the "surprise I ended the game" problem?
Except that's not the problem that this variant is trying to solve. This is trying to solve the "I'm going to take 5 minutes to determine if I'm going to spend 5 minutes determining the optimal move to eke out the win" problem. (Or, put more simply, the "Just follow Wheaton's Law, would'ja?" problem.)
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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corkysru wrote:
Wouldn't it have been more conducive to serious gamers to add a final round for everyone else to fix the "surprise I ended the game" problem?


Two things:

1 - The ending is only a surprise if you are not paying attention to the other players status. Nobody I have played with (all serious gamers) has considered this mechanism a "problem". It only takes a glance at the other player's boards to see how many stars they are capable of getting in a turn. Counting the number of mechs/buildings/upgrades/recruits they need to score stars is a trivial task. If you are playing with serious gamers it shouldn't be a problem to see the end of game coming and prepare for it.

2 - If everyone else gets a turn after someone places a 6th star, that would allow everyone to steal territories from that player without them having any kind of chance to reclaim them.

The "surprise" ending is actually a key part of the game, IMO. Anticipating when the end is coming and forgoing engine building for a terrain grab leads to a lot of exciting finishes in the 20+ games of this I have played.
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Patrick G.
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
corkysru wrote:
Wouldn't it have been more conducive to serious gamers to add a final round for everyone else to fix the "surprise I ended the game" problem?


Two things:

1 - The ending is only a surprise if you are not paying attention to the other players status. Nobody I have played with (all serious gamers) has considered this mechanism a "problem". It only takes a glance at the other player's boards to see how many stars they are capable of getting in a turn. Counting the number of mechs/buildings/upgrades/recruits they need to score stars is a trivial task. If you are playing with serious gamers it shouldn't be a problem to see the end of game coming and prepare for it.

Proper preparing is having a close to assumed accurate number of turns. Plus you need to play for the option to do something better if the game doesn't end. You can't just close up shop and quit trying because the game "might end".. unless you know it will end. It's about knowing when someone can do something and when they should do something.


reverendunclebastard wrote:

2 - If everyone else gets a turn after someone places a 6th star, that would allow everyone to steal territories from that player without them having any kind of chance to reclaim them.

Seeing how close someone is to being able to place a star at a glance is different to knowing if they are capable of that the next turn. That takes more than "a glance".
reverendunclebastard wrote:

The "surprise" ending is actually a key part of the game, IMO. Anticipating when the end is coming and forgoing engine building for a terrain grab leads to a lot of exciting finishes in the 20+ games of this I have played.

I am never a fan of surprise endings in a game (unless it's a domination game of some sort). Granted its not usually a surprise.. it's easy to see how someone will place 1 or 2 stars but sometimes it's easy to miss how they will get a third on a turn.

 
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Daniel Kearns
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This is a problem I am trying to coming to grips with before I actually try Scythe out with real people.

I think my main problem is that there are two redundant end game conditions: stars and money.

If people are playing well, the game should never end where the person who gets the 6th star should lose. So why have it? Or rather, why punish people for playing well which would involve tracking their position in the game (e.g. what place their in)?

Just feels like poor design to me and until I can come to grips with this issue in my head, I won't feel comfortable introducing it to people.
 
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Daniel: If I've learned anything from playtesting, the only thing that matters is to play with real people. Things play out very differently in our minds than they do in real life, so just give it a try.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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corkysru wrote:

Proper preparing is having a close to assumed accurate number of turns.


This game is designed to have a certain level of uncertainty. If that is not your cup of tea, then this game may not be for you.

dkearns wrote:
If people are playing well, the game should never end where the person who gets the 6th star should lose. So why have it? Or rather, why punish people for not playing well which would involve tracking their position in the game (e.g. what place their in)?

Just feels like poor design to me and until I can come to grips with this issue in my head, I won't feel comfortable introducing it to people.


As mentioned above this game is designed with a bit of "fog of war" uncertainty as an intentional factor. My group, comprised of folks who love an intense euro-style game, have fallen in love with this game. It may or may not be for you, but that doesn't make it poor design.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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corkysru wrote:

I am never a fan of surprise endings in a game (unless it's a domination game of some sort).



But this IS a game of domination!
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Trevor Schadt
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corkysru wrote:
I am never a fan of surprise endings in a game (unless it's a domination game of some sort)
I would think if you were playing a domination game, a "surprise ending" would be quite embarrassing...
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Greg
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Eleon wrote:
That is a horrible Variant. Is this a game of who can memorize long list of numbers in their head, or is this a strategy game.

Figuring out the correct move requires knowing the point spread. If you take that away, then it really is almost multiple player solitary, with like one turn of combat on the last turn.

While we all hate the game slowing down, a better solution would be to have everyone calculate their points after their turn is over and mark it. Then they can think about their next turn. This sure seems easier than EVERYONE trying to do point calculations on everyone's turn.



"Mark it" where? On a private piece of paper or on a public scoresheet? If on a private scoresheet, then it doesn't help people know how their score compares to others. If on a public scoresheet, then I imagine that's like having a score track. I would think that if it were intended to have a score track, one would have been included in the game. But a group of people who regularly play together can create a score track if they want and have each player bump up or down their score after each turn.

I would have no interest in that as it would greatly increase play time with no benefit to me.
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Y P
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dkearns wrote:
This is a problem I am trying to coming to grips with before I actually try Scythe out with real people.

I think my main problem is that there are two redundant end game conditions: stars and money.

If people are playing well, the game should never end where the person who gets the 6th star should lose. So why have it? Or rather, why punish people for not playing well which would involve tracking their position in the game (e.g. what place their in)?

Just feels like poor design to me and until I can come to grips with this issue in my head, I won't feel comfortable introducing it to people.

Your opinion is stars should equal victory points. My opinion is the game is designed such that the requirements for placing stars must be balanced against other factors, primarily popularity, which makes for a much more interesting game. If it were just stars you could plow everybody and everything without the consequences and tough decisions forced upon you by the popularity point multiplier.

Question for people who consider counting points before ending the game a necessity that slows down the game and needs to be fixed: how do you handle this in other games with end game scoring? Agricola, The Gallerist, Snowdonia, or basically any of the point salad-y Euros out there? Do you always math out every last point that everybody currently has before deciding on your last action? More power to you, but I'm also glad we don't play together if so.
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Thom Walla
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Most of the time the player placing the last star in our games has not won. In fact it is rare that they do. They think they're going to but one or two players always score more points. There are a lot of things you have to do to place all 6 stars that use up other resources, like coins or using goods, or not advancing popularity, etc. I doubt that's going to cause us to play any slower because we kind of count the player that places the last star as a co-winner anyway. If they happen to have the most points, clean sweep.
 
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Steve Hope
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I like the optional rule and think it should be mandatory. If people can't be intuitive about accomplishing their goals, THAT'S the design flaw I'd be worried about. When you see someone getting close to 6 stars, grab territory! And if you're popular and have a bunch of territory, get that sixth star! And if you don't win, who cares?

I understand not everyone wants to play that way, but that's definitely how I prefer to play games. And I'm super-competitive...just not so much that I want to slow a game to a crawl so everyone can know just where they stand constantly.
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Gareth Roberts
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Corvette wrote:
we kind of count the player that places the last star as a co-winner anyway.


Eh, i feel like doing that would derail the whole tension of the game.

For me the whole game is

A- plan a strategy that will give me a game winning score window.

B- Close the game out during the window i've created.

A stark example of this is Saxony. These guys can get out of the blocks so quickly due to their starting resources, (yummy oil and metal) and can conquer land en masse before anyone else can hope to get as much territory. They can then can close the game out 2 stars ahead of anyone else if they trick their way into one combat win that doesn't cost much power and one extra objective score, but that play leaves them down on recruit and buildings, which in turn means if they dont shut the game down quickly they start to fall behind.

-so they'll always have the chance to close the game out first, but they have the tension of, did they do it fast enough? If they didnt they lose. -but by your logic you'll almost always hand Saxony co winner status because their faction allows them to place star 6 first generally (when played well)

To me that misses the point of the faction balance.





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Greg
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So far in 11 plays with 3, 4 or 5 players, and several combinations of different people, nobody has been bothered about not knowing the scores before the end. So it hasn't been an issue me or the people I game with.

Either a player is efficient and makes some smart decisions or they don't.

For me, I enjoy the counting of points to see who the winner is. Like Concordia or Snowdoni, there isn't a score track, and it's fun for me to see of I did enough to get the win. There are plenty of games out there with score tracks, so for me, there is room for some with unknown exact scores.
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We had a really exciting game recently where for at least five turns I avoided burning resources to get a 5th (and eventually I did get the 5th so 6th) star, or which would take an extra turn to pay for themselves.

Partly I didn't pay enough attention as there was a turn or two where no one could end the game.

But then I knew one of them could if they could meet their secret objective. So I kept pushing to maintain and/or extend my territory lead and prevent others from gaining points.

We ended up waiting each other out to some extent until player number three started gaining in popularity at which my point my opponent decided they'd better end the game then rather than risk the other player catching up.

I ended up winning even though I wasn't the one who placed the last star but a lot of that game was spent trying to figure out who could finish the game and when they would choose to do so, and gambling on what the other players would do between opportunities.

PS there is no way the rest of the players would play again with someone who calculated everyone's scores in full after every move. So I guess the slowdown would be self-rectifying even if we didn't convince them to smarten up mid-game.
 
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Evil Jello
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corkysru wrote:
Wouldn't it have been more conducive to serious gamers to add a final round for everyone else to fix the ...


Every time I hear or read the phrase "serious gamers" I know whatever follows is going to result in an eye roll.
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Thom Walla
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ilovedawkins wrote:


To me that misses the point of the faction balance.



Agreed. It does to a certain extent. However at the moment we're still learning the combination of boards and best strategy for each combination so not exactly a competitive game yet.
 
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Greg
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Back to the OP's post.

There is already some level of hidden information with regard to coins. While they are not hidden behind a blind, you can have them piled in ways to make it more difficult for someone to easily count them. You can have it spread into a couple spots on either side of your player board. So that allows for some level of keeping the exactness out of quick counting. You can also change out coin values here and there to make it more challenging. Though, with all that, players should still be able to get a rough idea of what you have at a glance, give or take a few coins. But there's no need for them to always know exactly what you have.

As far as things slowing down, I suppose it depends on at what point does it start. Are people counting points every turn after 2 stars are out, or is it only their last turn? I played a 5 player game last Monday night and the player to my right knew I could place my last star on my turn. He asked if I was and I shrugged "maybe". So he spent a couple minutes trying to make the best final turn. Nobody cared. He chose to risk attacking me because if he won the combat he would place his final star and cost me points from a star. My Scout ability let me draw a decent card from him and I won the combat and ended up winning the game and beating him by only one point.

So there should be some accepted amount of time allowed, and in particular during some crucial decisions. I would think that a combined addition of 5 minutes to the overall time of the game shouldn't be a big deal, as it could just be the final round of people trying to maximize their last turn when they recognize that it could be their last turn.
 
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Mark Green
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It tends to start when players have 5 stars. Getting the 6th star then losing is a kick in the teeth that no-one wants to face, and the extra 6-or-so coins generated by the extra star isn't enough to remove doubt. Furthermore it's too easy to spread out workers when the game is ending to maximize territory control points and ensure the leader doesn't want to attack you because they'll lose popularity. I'm just waiting for the moment when somebody deliberately loses a combat against someone to force them to take their final star..
 
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