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Subject: What Would You Do? Opinions on King Making rss

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J
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So the other day I was watching an acquaintance play a 6 player game of Power Grid (We'll call him player C from now on). On the last turn of the game the players found themselves in a situation where Players A and B were unquestionably going to end it with one of them winning. No other player had a chance of winning.

Although I'm sure most of you are familiar with Power Grid, just to recap for those who might not be familiar, Victory in Power Grid really comes down whoever powers the most houses on the final turn with money as a tiebreaker. Powering houses has 2 steps, first you must build houses, second you must increase your powering capacity to power the houses you've built them. Having more houses built than you can power or more powering capacity than houses you've built means nothing.

Situation A:

In this game
Player A had a capacity of 15 but not a lot amount of money on hand. He could definitely get 14 houses but it was questionable whether he could get 15.
Player B had a capacity of 14 and plenty of money on hand. She would easily have 14 houses with the most money.
Player C had a capacity of 13 with 0 chance of placing first but could still be competitive

We had a slight disagreement on whether he should have built 13 or 14 houses. Building 13 houses would maximize his money and thus his score but seeing as he had no chance of placing 1st there was no real point in playing for a 3rd place ranking. On the other hand building 14 houses meant he would be more efficient with his money and could potentially prevent player A from hitting his 15 houses. Building 13 houses could be viewed as Kingmaking Player A but building 14 houses could be viewed as king making player B.

We were at disagreement on what he should have done. So I ask you geeks, what do you think the appropriate move was in this situation?

Situation B:

This actually reminded me of another incident that happened while playing Power Grind (completely different group). Similar situation with Players A and B vying for the win with player C having no chance at top spot.

In this situation Player C realized that he could buy extra resources from the market. Although player A would be entirely unaffected, player B would be utterly crippled. Doing so would kill his powering capacity on the final turn such that rather than vying for first he would be a guaranteed 4th (behind payer C) and in doing so cement the positions as Player A 1st, player C 2nd. To be clear buying these extra resources would serve no purpose other than to screw over player B but in doing so would improve player C's placing overall (2nd instead of 3rd). In your Opinion what should player C do?

Situation C:

Situation C is not based on any real game but is something I added to hear responses about. Pretend you have situation B again but this time, instead of choosing to screw over player B, you can choose to screw over Player A or Player B but not both. If you choose one they will be knocked down to 4th, the other will be guaranteed 1st, you'll be guaranteed 2nd. If you choose not to mess with either you are guaranteed 3rd.
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Curt Carpenter
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Is this a strategy question, or a game etiquette / metagaming question?
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Barak Engel
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Generally speaking, I believe each player should aim to maximize their personal score. King making only comes into being if they do not. IMO, anyway.
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Michael Coniff
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I'd say in a game like that and in situation B and C I'd shoot for second.

Ultimately king making can be approached two ways:

1. As most people do, screw over someone that has been their rival the whole game.

2. Role play and do whatever would be best for themselves. Thematically, score-wise, etc.

King making is going to happen. It is a part of playing games and without any real world effect, there are no consequences. A saavy competitior plays the group psychologically to ensure that those with the power to make kings, choose them. Of course this is going way in depth and ultimately it's just a part of competitive games at times.

It's the competitive version of alpha gamer in co-ops.
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Francisco Gutierrez
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It may not follow the exact definition of King-making, but I believe King-making has to be intentional.
If I take the action that I believe most benefits me then I'm not king-making, even if it guarantees that someone will win or lose. The way I see it, I'm not doing anything differently if I've been trying to play my best the whole game.
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Selwyn Hope
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Situation A:

I would go for as many houses as I could supply. Especially if the game might go another round (neither of the other two get to 15 houses to trigger end-game).

Situation B:

"Don't be a dick" would come to mind. If I didn't need those resources myself and it would only cut into my spare money to do so, I wouldn't bother.

Situation C:

As per B. Winning is the only goal, and if you can't win tanking someone else to get a slightly better losing place is spiteful and would cause too much resentment within the group I game with.
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Jessica
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joetaco wrote:
It may not follow the exact definition of King-making, but I believe King-making has to be intentional.
If I take the action that I believe most benefits me then I'm not king-making, even if it guarantees that someone will win or lose. The way I see it, I'm not doing anything differently if I've been trying to play my best the whole game.


This is how I see it as well. So long as you're doing what is best by you, then it doesn't count as king making, regardless of whether it affects the overall outcome between the winners.

We played a game of New York 1901 tonight where in the last few moves of the game, our friend moved into a green plot I needed, essentially blocking me from scoring several more points from the area than I ended up with at the end (Though he didn't plan it well, and I ended up blocking him back and he was unable to use the land at all, making a dead pawn) which ultimately swung the game into my husband's favor by 2 points, leaving me in second. He didn't HAVE to build there, but it would have been a good option if he'd been able to snag more cards to support it. So I wouldn't call it king making, despite his being in last place at the time and unlikely to score higher.

In general I'd figure everyone would be trying to do their best to get their own highest score. It seems petty to me to go after someone simply for the sake of taking a win from them, or to force another player to the top. In a way, I'd think it would be almost against the rules of most competitive games, where you are trying to score the most points, or at least not in the spirit of the game, to decide to artificially aide/attack another player like that. But perhaps that's just because I don't enjoy highly aggressive/competitive games.
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Andi Hub
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Funnily, Power Grid is the only game on which I have a strong opinion about kingmaking. I would always play it this way:

1. There is one winner (unless there is an ultra rare tie) and all other places are non-winners. If I see a chance for winning, I would try to go for it with all means. This could include screwing someone up on the resource market to extend the game for another turn.

2. If I have no chance of winning, I built in the last turn just the number of houses that I can power in the cheapest way and buy only one set of resources to power my plants. (However, it is not always clear if this is the last turn or the one before, so I just might improve my position for the next turn -> However, this would mean that I still see a chance of winning).

With these two principles, I would not cripple anyone (especially potential winners) just that they become last and I become second to last. I would not empty the market to screw them or build additional houses to snatch cheaper spots away from them.

One thing that I would never do is building to 17 houses (or whatever the end condition is), if I know that someone else will power more houses this turn than me. Ending the game without having a chance to win really ruins Power Grid. I did it once in online play and I regret it; it was a little bit due to improve my rank and a little bit out of spite, but it ruined the game for most players. The player that was in the best position for the next turn was stolen their win, the actual winner did not feel (I assume) like they earned victory and in total it was a premature conclusion to all.
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Eric Nolan
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It seems to me that in both situations A and B one player is in a vulnerable position where their plans can be stopped by the actions of another player.

If your victory relies one someone else not doing a certain thing then I think you are relying to some extent on luck and if you lose then you shouldn't complain. Conversely if the other player was relying on a third party to act in a certain way to secure their victory then they also shouldn't complain if things don't go the way they wanted.

In both cases if the loser complained I would have very little patience for them. My response would be to tell them that if they had really deserved the win it wouldn't have come down to what a third party did in the last turn.

I've very rarely taken it badly when someone takes an action that costs me the game even though it doesn't allow them to win. This is part of how most multiplayer games work, you need to manage the risk of what other players might do and accept that sometimes they'll cost you the game. If a game comes down to the last round and I could have won but lost because someone took an action I couldn't do anything about I consider that a very close game and a relatively good result for me. I don't hold with this "there's only one winner and a bunch of losers" attitude.

However if the third party was making a big deal about how they were giving the game to one player or another I'd consider that to be very poor manners.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Since you can't hit your primary objective (winning) choose a secondary objective, whether it be highest score, highest rank, dicking over whoever was mean to you (this is actually a useful goal from a meta game perspective), etc. and make the play that best achieves that objective.

Or to put it another way... Once you cannot achieve your primary goal in the game, winning, you're cast adrift without any purpose. Rather than play randomly you should choose a new goal and attempt to do that. As long as that goal makes sense from your perspective, then it isn't really kingmaking, it is simply just doing what's best for you (given that you can't do the main best thing of winning).
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Mike Jones
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A obviously would go to 14 since money is a tie breaker, it's much less important then the number of connection. If they don't go to 14 just to give someone else a better shot at winning, then they aren't plying their best game and are giving it to someone else.

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Mike Jones
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Situation B, again. There is NO reason they wouldn't buy the extra resources. You contradicted yourself by saying that buying them did nothing and that it would get them 2nd place. What info did you leave out to make you say it wouldn't do anything?
 
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Mike Jones
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As stated before. Situation A and B isn't king making IF they make their best move. If they DON'T make their best move, then they are in effect king making.

In C, they do have a king making situation. I'd would expect my opponent to still make their best play. I'd predict they would pick the person that would whine the least.
 
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Markus
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King making is a term made up by poor losers who want to excuse their losses by claiming that other players played incorrectly. whistle

(This is not an entirely honest opinion, but I really really wanted to post it. Sorry if I offend anyone.)
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Pete
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Situation A: I would do whatever I want.
Situation B: I would do whatever I want.
Situation C: I would do whatever I want.

Pete (might just throw in a "nya nya nya boo boo" for good measure)
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Jesse West
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Player C should play as if they have zero knowledge of player A or B's score and maximise their own score.

The mistake is thinking that the game comes down to the last move. Every move every player made led to the outcome.



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Peter Karis
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Detail Brush wrote:

The mistake is thinking that the game comes down to the last move. Every move every player made led to the outcome.


This.

If you have played so poorly that you winning or losing is the decision of another player on the very last turn of the game, then you deserve to lose. devil
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Larry L
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allstar64 wrote:
...Power Grind ...


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Keith B
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Situation B is easy. Get the resources, claim 2nd place. The fact that player B ended up 4th because of the action of player C only confirms that player B didn't plan properly. You have to plan the whole game, not up to the last turn.
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Christian Gienger
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This is normal with Power Grid.
I usually lean back at that moment as player C and wait for the offers to come. I mean who doesn't want a new watch, car, house, or whatever

Seriously though. if in a tournament, hurt the person standing better than you/threatening you in the overall standings. In a normal game, help the one that you think has played better. If playing with a really sore loser, tell him you would have let him win, if he could handle losses better, but I think playing to your own score (money left is tie breaker and so the score behind the point), but position comes first. Even though I don't really care if coming in 2nd or 4th in a non-tournament environment, I play as it mattered.
 
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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Interesting discussion.

I agree with many others that your primary objective is to maximize your score without bothering about the other players' score. If you can't win in situation B and C, screwing other players sounds right.

But should you in situation A trigger the end of the game if you have no chance of winning or try to prolong the game to reach the 1st place? In a transparent game like Power Grid, where I can be certain that another player will trigger the game end and win, I'll maximize my score. In less transparent games, I'll trigger the game end if I a) think I'm winning or b) think that the other players will benefit more from a prolonged game (due to more efficient engines).

With the risk of digressing, there are games where maximizing your score can be perceived as kingmaking. One such game is Puerto Rico, where your actions may give other players victory points so minimizing other players' score is also important. (And yes, I often end up not getting those kingmaking points when I play Puerto Rico...)
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Roland Wagner
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If I have zero chance of winning, I try to be a good sport and will neither hinder nor help the leading players, I will only defend my current position. I have played obviously not so well, so I am out. Let the better players decide for themselves who is the best. Playing games should be fun after all and be not taken THAT seriously. Just my opinion.
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Christian Gienger
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Roland Wagner wrote:
If I have zero chance of winning, I try to be a good sport and will neither hinder nor help the leading players, I will only defend my current position. I have played obviously not so well, so I am out. Let the better players decide for themselves who is the best. Playing games should be fun after all and be not taken THAT seriously. Just my opinion.


I disagree. You're out as soon as you're last and can't improve, but as long as you can get in front of another player, you should try. The game isn't over before it's over and the nth turn should count as much as each n-1 turns before that.
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Per Sorlie
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DeePee wrote:
King making is a term made up by poor losers who want to excuse their losses by claiming that other players played incorrectly. whistle

(This is not an entirely honest opinion, but I really really wanted to post it. Sorry if I offend anyone.)


Uhhh??

Games with the "kingmaking" problem usually got a design flaw. A famous game like Catan really suffers from this. Its usually even between at least 2 players in the end, and the other players can decide who wins = kingmaking game. Main reason I stopped playing it. Kind of sad.

 
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Noah Taylor
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In every situation I would try to get the best possible score that I could get, doesnt matter how it effects others. If I have a chance to be 2nd instead of 3rd, Im trying for 2nd. As others have said, if you put yourself in a position where what I would do could lose you the game, then that is your fault. Over the course of the game you didnt put yourself in a situation where you had control over the outcome.

If I were to basically not do anything on my turn isnt that also a form of "King Making" as I am not playing the game fully?

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