Matt D
United States
Peachtree corners
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My heart was a bit saddened today when I found yet another otherwise good (great?) game that is completely broken by one and only one strategy that prevails hugely over the others in just about every way (including, even, being the tie-breaker!).

Edit to clarify: I don't sit down and try to figure out how to break games (unless I am specifically play testing for someone). I'm talking about when you are playing a game, and someone whips out a strategy on you that they read up on in a BGG forum. And you can't "unsee" it. Like when Sigurd ate the heart of a dragon and lost the ability to hear the song of the birds, but as if by accident.

That got me thinking -- when you find a game is thoroughly broken like that, do you just give up on it? Or do you try to find either a gentleman's agreement/house rule to prevent it from happening? I'm not sure how people would feel about not taking a more beneficial strategy just because it makes the game suck for anyone else.

Poster child for this is probably A Few Acres of Snow and the Halifax Hammer.

I'm not necessarily talking about cards that you can just remove from a randomized setup to prevent abuse (ie the Selurian in Thunderstone or the +2 Sphinx in Egizia).

I mean like if "Big Money" really did completely break Dominion (it didn't, but it sure tried). Or like in .. I forget what year, but one of the years of John Madden football had what we called "the cheese play", which was a long pass guaranteed to be a reception no matter what you did on either side.

I'll make this a poll, but I am curious to hear comments and thoughts as well. I understand that some people may want to respond by saying that no games have these kind of clear cut strategies, and it's just a matter of people not understanding them well enough. While that may be fair for a lot of (most?) games, there are certainly some that have no viable alternate strategy if one player uses the "cheese" tactic.

Poll
When you find that a game has a clearly dominant strategy that negates the others (although designed to have multiple paths to victory or ways to earn points), how do you handle this?
Tell everyone new to the game what the strategy is before you play.
Only play the game with new players and you don't use it yourself.
Establish a courtesy agreement with your group to not use that strategy.
Create a "house rule" to block that strategy.
Research the strategy to try to find if there is a way to counter it.
Play the game using that particular strategy when possible.
Don't play the game again.
      187 answers
Poll created by hestiansun
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jerbear
United States
Loveland
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
1 Million Shogoths Killed and Counting.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another option -

Go out of your way to NOT figure out what that strategy is.

I typically do not look at strategy for games and if this type of thing comes up you usually hear about it without having to know exactly what it is. I really like A few Acres of Snow and I play it semi regularly with a friend. All I know is that it is called the Halifax Hammer and it is good for the British, but I don't know what it consists of (I can make some assumptions.) Typically I play as the French and I don't worry about Halifax.

Now, if I knew I was going to be in a competition of some sort I would look it up and then would see what I can do to counter it or possibly make use of it.
21 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Keiser
United States
Waunakee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I would prefer to enjoy what the game had to offer, rather than be in constant search for the singularity of gaming perfection.

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Randy Miller
United States
Westminster
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
This is kind of like when we play MtG multiplayer (EDH) and one player has a deck that can consistently win on turn 6 or 7 while the rest of us have more casual decks. My response is "feel free to play that deck, but don't be surprised to be the main target for everyone else." Can "politics" be used to counter the lead player in the game? If so, that's probably the best (maybe even designer intended) route.

Otherwise it'd probably be a combination of 2 & 3. What game were you thinking of, btw?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt D
United States
Peachtree corners
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
darthhugo wrote:
I would prefer to enjoy what the game had to offer, rather than be in constant search for the singularity of gaming perfection.



I'm going to edit my post because I think I was unclear, since you both pointed out the same thing.

I didn't active seek out said broken strategy. I was playing a game I enjoyed and someone used it in the game, and I was like, "Is that legal?" And they said, "Yeah, I can't believe it either. I researched it on BGG and found it in the forum, and I've never lost since."

So I didn't really try to find it. It found me.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gilman
United States
The Dalles
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wouldn't ever favor giving up on a game just because of a broken strategy. I'm the type that finds subreddits for games to research strategies because it genuinely interests me, so my first thought would be to look for a counter-strategy or come up with my own.

If the tactic is so legitimately broken that it can't be countered, it would become a house rule.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jerbear
United States
Loveland
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
1 Million Shogoths Killed and Counting.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
hestiansun wrote:
darthhugo wrote:
I would prefer to enjoy what the game had to offer, rather than be in constant search for the singularity of gaming perfection.



I'm going to edit my post because I think I was unclear, since you both pointed out the same thing.

I didn't active seek out said broken strategy. I was playing a game I enjoyed and someone used it in the game, and I was like, "Is that legal?" And they said, "Yeah, I can't believe it either. I researched it on BGG and found it in the forum, and I've never lost since."

So I didn't really try to find it. It found me.


I guess it would really depend. DO I like the game? Then I would probably try to find a fix. If I didn't really care about the game I would probably just not play it anymore. Though occasionally house rules become a part of some games I play I really don't like them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Berry
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Play Hands in the Sea instead.
2 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm not saying it never happens but, of the games I know well enough that I would be confident about making a claim of brokeness, I don't know any game broken in this in this way. I have seen claims of brokeness for games that I'm pretty sure aren't broken. (I have never played A Few Acres of Snow)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Curt Carpenter
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The problem seems to ONLY exist, even in theory, in 2-player asymmetric games, like AFAOS, as mentioned. But how common is that really? I hear this claimed in (mostly) symmetric multiplayer games, and in than case, usually just knowledge of the issue is remedy enough. I.e. not everyone can successfully go for it. Or are only one person goes for it, the rest of the players can block. Or are there examples in the multiplayer game space?
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Grant F.
msg tools
I read the reviews of a game and if I find if it is broken I don't buy it. So far A few Acres of Snow is the only one and I really wanted it too.

I hope all games have counter strategies.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Buckley
England
Bath
Somerset
flag msg tools
23rd June: Black Thursday :(
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
hestiansun wrote:
My heart was a bit saddened today when I found yet another otherwise good (great?) game that is completely broken by one and only one strategy that prevails hugely over the others in just about every way (including, even, being the tie-breaker!).

That got me thinking -- when you find a game is thoroughly broken like that, do you just give up on it? Or do you try to find either a gentleman's agreement/house rule to prevent it from happening? I'm not sure how people would feel about not taking a more beneficial strategy just because it makes the game suck for anyone else.

Poster child for this is probably A Few Acres of Snow and the Halifax Hammer.

I'm not necessarily talking about cards that you can just remove from a randomized setup to prevent abuse (ie the Selurian in Thunderstone or the +2 Sphinx in Egizia).

I mean like if "Big Money" really did completely break Dominion (it didn't, but it sure tried). Or like in .. I forget what year, but one of the years of John Madden football had what we called "the cheese play", which was a long pass guaranteed to be a reception no matter what you did on either side.

I'll make this a poll, but I am curious to hear comments and thoughts as well. I understand that some people may want to respond by saying that no games have these kind of clear cut strategies, and it's just a matter of people not understanding them well enough. While that may be fair for a lot of (most?) games, there are certainly some that have no viable alternate strategy if one player uses the "cheese" tactic.

Poll
When you find that a game has a clearly dominant strategy that negates the others (although designed to have multiple paths to victory or ways to earn points), how do you handle this?
Tell everyone new to the game what the strategy is before you play.
Only play the game with new players and you don't use it yourself.
Establish a courtesy agreement with your group to not use that strategy.
Create a "house rule" to block that strategy.
Research the strategy to try to find if there is a way to counter it.
Play the game using that particular strategy when possible.
Don't play the game again.
      187 answers
Poll created by hestiansun


Interesting topic. I didn't vote in the poll because the question is very general and I feel like the best answer is "it depends". AFAoS has a particular problem in that between players proficient in the dominant strategy is woefully unbalanced but if you know how to play the Halifax Hammer and your opponent doesn't an obvious solution would be to always play France.

If the dominant strategy is available to all players I might not care. Trying to implement that strategy better than all other players might still make an interesting strategic challenge. Not every game needs "multiple paths to victory".

If I considered a strategy to ruin an otherwise great game I would look to try to come up with some house rule, either by thinking up one by myself or by browsing the variants section of the game specific forum. I like the game that triggered this thread and don't agree that it needs fixing. However there are plausible variants proposed by people who do agree with you that one is needed.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryce Nelson
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Nikisknight wrote:
This is kind of like when we play MtG multiplayer (EDH) and one player has a deck that can consistently win on turn 6 or 7 while the rest of us have more casual decks. My response is "feel free to play that deck, but don't be surprised to be the main target for everyone else." Can "politics" be used to counter the lead player in the game? If so, that's probably the best (maybe even designer intended) route.

Otherwise it'd probably be a combination of 2 & 3. What game were you thinking of, btw?


I have had the sad, opposite experience of a group of self-claimed casuals that like the slower, Battlecruiser type decks turn this in to an arms race, so every game of edh I played was ending as early as turn 3.

In response to the original question, I have only had this happen with a single game, Storm the Castle! and my response was to get rid of the game in a trade, because the game just wasn't fun enough, and when the broken strategy won the first two games I played, one out of nowhere, and one with everybody gunning for the faction with the power I decided to let a guy have it for five bucks because he was really interested in trying it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Oiler1 wrote:
I read the reviews of a game and if I find if it is broken I don't buy it. So far A few Acres of Snow is the only one and I really wanted it too.

I hope all games have counter strategies.


I still play AFAOS despite the Halifax Hammer. Most of my opponents are unaware of it, and I can barely make it work, so I don't try it.

There was one other game from decades ago that reportedly had a fatal or near-fatal flaw: Panzergruppe Guderian. According to one S&T contributor, he found a practical use for the sole German cavalry division in the OB; by placing it on the map edge hex of a particular RR line crucial to bringing Soviet reinforcements into the game, those reinforcements were delayed a turn and had to then enter at the far end of the map, delaying their advance to the frontline. Thus, that one cavalry division could virtually secure the entire flank of Panzergruppe Guderian.

I've never attempted this myself, so I don't know how effective it was, or if TAHGC found a way to alleviate this when they published the design later.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Buckley
England
Bath
Somerset
flag msg tools
23rd June: Black Thursday :(
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Tell everyone new to the game what the strategy is before you play.


This is a possibility. For some games it might be the right thing to do. although these days I'm a bit reticent about coaching new players in strategy for two reasons. (a) some people prefer to discover strategies on their own and (b) I risk perpetuating group think.


Quote:

Only play the game with new players and you don't use it yourself.


I'm not too keen on this one. Firstly if I'm reasonably experienced I want to play with other players who are. Secondly I don't like deliberately playing sub-optimal moves.
Quote:

Establish a courtesy agreement with your group to not use that strategy.


Ugh! If you don't want me to take a particular course, introduce a house rule to stop me. Not some vague, wishy-washy grey-area prone "courtesy agreement".

Quote:

Create a "house rule" to block that strategy.


A very sensible solution. Perhaps devaluing a strategy might be better than blocking it entirely. The possible disadvantage is that we enter "playtest territory" perhaps tweaking the game several times before the best way to balance the game is established.

Quote:

Research the strategy to try to find if there is a way to counter it.


An option. I prefer to "research" the strategy by thinking about the game and experimentating to see whether I can come up with something to compete with the dominant strategy. If I can't come up with anything on my own then fine. I'll read a strategy article or two.

Quote:

Play the game using that particular strategy when possible.


So long as the existence of the dominant strategy doesn't spoil the game this would normally be my choice. The problem is that games between me and people who don't know the strategy would become uncompetitive but perhaps this could be fixed by handicapping me in some way (fewer starting resources?)

Quote:

Don't play the game again.


If the alternatives prove unsatisfactory.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Andrews
Canada
flag msg tools
Hello,

My answer depends greatly on the competitive level of the group I am playing with.

I've played with gamers who are just playing for fun. In which case house rules and gentlemanly agreements work. Usually it is a silent agreement, as these gamers love to branch out, and find new interesting strategies.

On the other-hand, I have experienced very competitive gamers whose only in it to win, and will win at all costs. These gamers have ruined some great games for me. It doesn't mean I'll pass on the game every time, but I will pass on it when certain people want to play it.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete
United States
Northbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If a game is broken, I stop playing.

But what most people call "broken" is merely "having a dominant strategy." This is often false, and a product of groupthink. I don't believe I've ever encountered a multiplayer game that is actually broken (2p games frequently are), but some have dominant strategies that make the games less fun. I'm not above house ruling those, but with 1100+ games in the arsenal, I'm far more likely to just move on to a better game.

Pete (used to "fix" games all the time, but that was before the industry served up hundreds of good ones every year)
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
I + I = 0
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When playing casual tabletop multiplayer magic we had a variety of informal rules to keep the game interesting. Showing up with a vintage deck that would combo out by turn 2 (at the latest) would have been not much fun for the table.

edit: Consider, at the time, more than 2 players in a game required house rules to happen at all.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Up Front fan | In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this | Combat Commander series fan | The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me! | Fields of Fire fan
badge
Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Eldard wrote:
I still play AFAOS despite the Halifax Hammer. Most of my opponents are unaware of it, and I can barely make it work, so I don't try it.

I just reacquired AFAOS myself, regardless of the HH, for the same reason. I enjoy the game and am not playing hard-core, competitive, win-at-all-costs gamers so the game is fine.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Keiser
United States
Waunakee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
hestiansun wrote:
darthhugo wrote:
I would prefer to enjoy what the game had to offer, rather than be in constant search for the singularity of gaming perfection.



I'm going to edit my post because I think I was unclear, since you both pointed out the same thing.

I didn't active seek out said broken strategy. I was playing a game I enjoyed and someone used it in the game, and I was like, "Is that legal?" And they said, "Yeah, I can't believe it either. I researched it on BGG and found it in the forum, and I've never lost since."

So I didn't really try to find it. It found me.


To me, that is a good way to interact with the game. After that point, I think it depends on the fellow players, and if they are in the know on the strategy, and then if its a 2P game, decide if you would allow it or not. If more than a 2P game, then it really is every person for themselves, as more than one person racing to use a "broken" mechanic, would be enjoyable to watch.

Overall, I'm just not that into avoiding games that are "broken"... it is just exclusionary, geek speak like "heavy" or "what is a wargame" that is so, ummmm, high-school and boring.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C B
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
flag msg tools
flying
badge
dutchman
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I voted to stop playing the game only because there are so many games, there's no room for a game that gives grief, even if tons of other people have nothing but praise for it.

Having said that, I can't personally think of a game that is singularly broken. But, as Pete said, there are games that have a "dominant strategy" and those simply aren't fun due to everyone racing to be the one who can secure the dominant strategy first.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Buckley
England
Bath
Somerset
flag msg tools
23rd June: Black Thursday :(
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DaveyJJ wrote:
Eldard wrote:
I still play AFAOS despite the Halifax Hammer. Most of my opponents are unaware of it, and I can barely make it work, so I don't try it.

I just reacquired AFAOS myself, regardless of the HH, for the same reason. I enjoy the game and am not playing hard-core, competitive, win-at-all-costs gamers so the game is fine.


Trying to play the best moves makes one a win-at-all-costs gamer?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Keiser
United States
Waunakee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Buckersuk wrote:
DaveyJJ wrote:
Eldard wrote:
I still play AFAOS despite the Halifax Hammer. Most of my opponents are unaware of it, and I can barely make it work, so I don't try it.

I just reacquired AFAOS myself, regardless of the HH, for the same reason. I enjoy the game and am not playing hard-core, competitive, win-at-all-costs gamers so the game is fine.


Trying to play the best moves makes one a win-at-all-costs gamer?


Methinks he means not trying to be the reductive gamer, stripping all other aspects, but winning, from play.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Challis
United Kingdom
Hungerford
West Berkshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well I'd refute your examples for a start - so if that's the kind of example, I'd research some strategy, and learn to play better...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
If there's a dominant strategy then it isn't a game. If it isn't a game then there's ~no reason to play it.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.