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Subject: To Finish or Not to Finish... That is the Question rss

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Joel Velez
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So I was recently playing a game of Russian Railroads... and anyone who has played should have a good idea of where this is going. About 70% of the way through the game, we knew who the winner was. The majority of the group had decided that it was pointless to continue and wanted to just end the game. I usually prefer to play games to completion; not that I thought I would come back, but mostly because it sucks to play 70% of a game. Also, I wanted to learn the WHOLE game, including end game scoring.

Is this a common problem in other game groups?
Do you just end a game once it's clear that you either won or lost? I find this kind of lame. I feel like being a good competitor is seeing something through to completion, whether the results are a win or a loss. Can't see this happening in almost any other situation - maybe little league baseball.


Is this a problem with the game itself or with the people playing the game?
I think games should actively try to eliminate this "runaway leader" problem. I mean, imagine if you knew who the killer was half way thru a movie? Not sure if it's bad game design, but its certainly not compelling. Games that have secret scoring or catch up mechanisms can lead to exciting end game moments.

OR

Are there people in your groups who always try to end a game once they see the end. I think some people don't enjoy piling on, so they would rather just end a game. I respect that they don't want to hurt feelings, but it could also feel condescending sometimes.


Are games with open scoring and limited catch up mechanisms okay to just quit half way thru?
IF so, feeling like I'm not a fan. I know this can happen in chess and I'm not fan of chess.


What are your thoughts everyone?
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J C Lawrence
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The game is over as soon as the winner is clear. Sometimes it takes but a few moves to reach this point, sometimes all the way into final scoring.
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Thom0909
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kayEFjay wrote:
Also, I wanted to learn the WHOLE game, including end game scoring.


If you are trying to learn the game, I can see wanting to play the whole thing. Not sure how much of a burden this places on others.
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Joel L
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It's foolish of the players to think they know all the paths to victory, especially if they are new to the game. Always play to the end. You may discover a scoring opportunity you didn't know existed.
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Kristopher Hickman
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Absolute nonsense. Just because a game seems all but decided is not a reason to pull out. Theres always a value in fighting to take 2nd place. Or 3rd, or 4th.

Honestly, even if someone is way ahead, you can always learn more about the game and improve your own strategy for the next play. Sometimes, its interesting to try out new strategies when the finale seems predestined.

I cannot count the number of times that our group was "sure" someone was too far away for anyone else to challenge them, only to watch that person fall a bit short at the end of the game.

Quitting early seems to cheapen the victory of the lead player. Congrats... we give up, you win. This reminds me of far too many games of Monopoly with my father and those are not my favorite gaming memories. If you have been bested, give credit to the one who beat you and allow them to make the most out of their victory.

The only exception that I can think of has to do with group enjoyment. If the game has soured in everyone's mind and no one is having fun anymore, then the game should be allow to conclude prematurely.
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M Smith
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I suppose it is down to the commitment and mentality of the people that want to drop out.
Although personally I have only conceded to the person or team winning due to injury.
Perhaps during a boardgame I could give up by falling off the chair rolling around holding my ankle?
Joking aside the biggest issue is probably time available. As a working family guy I play solo or two player games during the week.
If I am at the dedicated game night and ALL players agreed to nominate a run away leader to sneak another game in ,I'm with the group.
Sometimes for most gamers in the hobby it will be the only opportunity to play a game with 3 or 4 + players. So cutting a game short with an obvious winner will make time to squeeze more games in.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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a) I tend towards wanting to finish but I would never go against the group consensus. I like to see how the game plays out but I can also understand the pov that wants to call it. I think players should go with the majority view on this one. (Of course, if the game is going to go on for more than 30 minutes I might switch to the "end it now" camp.)

b) When I saw the headline I knew JC would be the first to respond.
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Kerstin
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I feel you. I'm in the camp of always wanting to play until the end which also actually infuriates me about chess because the rule is literally that you win once you're sure you can beat the king not that you actually ever get to beat him.

For me playing a game in that regards is somewhat like a movie, even if I know how it's going to end, the ending just feels like it's a part of the whole thing and I don't want to skip it even if I know what it's going to be like.

I play with others that feel differently though and it happens from time to time that a game is ended early when the majority really wants to quit.
For us it comes down to compromises, I tend to mention that I would prefer to finish while some others mention once they feel we should quit early and then depending on the situation (e.g. if we plan to play something else after or if it's the last game of the night anyway etc.) we do sometimes quit and sometimes play through it, there's not really a strict rule about it but more of a respectful agreement that we will go along with each others preferences from time to time.
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Chris Graves
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Is the only objective of playing a board game to win? Sometimes, my objective is just not to come in last!

The main reason I play is to have fun and enjoy the "journey". I think it is a great idea to finish the game and gain more experience playing that game. You can discover different strategies, if they work, if they don't. There is a lot of value in finishing.
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Jerry Martin
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As always in things like this, It depends.

If we quit now do we have time to play another game? Who is involved in the game? Is this the first time or the 100th time we have played? What game is it? Are there other people looking to play? How much have we been drinking?

In general I would tend to vote to finish the game, but there are a multitude of things that would change that position.

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Tahsin Shamma
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kayEFjay wrote:
The majority of the group had decided that it was pointless to continue and wanted to just end the game. I usually prefer to play games to completion; not that I thought I would come back, but mostly because it sucks to play 70% of a game. Also, I wanted to learn the WHOLE game, including end game scoring.

Is this a common problem in other game groups?

Is this a problem with the game itself or with the people playing the game?

Are games with open scoring and limited catch up mechanisms okay to just quit half way thru?

What are your thoughts everyone?


1 - I always suggest playing to the very end. ESPECIALLY in a game like Russian Railroads (RR), I want to see what kind of score I can get vis-a-vis the other players. The goal isn't just to finish first.

2 - I don't think it's a problem with RR. I very much think your issue was with the people playing. They need to see the value in the game for the sake of completing what they can.

3 - I would only suggest quitting a game if people aren't having fun. If having fun is only about winning, that's something you need to work out with those you play with.

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Mark Jackson
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If it's a learning game it seems crazy to quit before finishing... Plenty of games have huge point swings at the end and if your just learning the game it seems really counterproductive to not play out the game and see how things shake out.
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Daniel King
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Personally I will never concede either a multiplayer game or a game where it is someone's first time playing. I have conceded one on one games, but only when both players are very familiar with the game (this comes from my chess/hearthstone background). I especially think you all should have persevered in a game like Russian Railroads just because you could see what the winner was doing well and you might have been wrong. I'm not sure how familiar you are with Russian Railroads, but I have been in plenty of games where it looks like someone is going to win, but in the last couple of rounds another players engine really comes together and they manage to squeak by.
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Kyle
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If all players are experienced and agree, I have no issue calling games. Gaming time is precious, why would we waste it on formalities.
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Larry L
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I have only rarely seen games called early, except two player games. I don't have any problem with it, provided I can be convinced of the outcome, but I don't mind playing through either.
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Larry L
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kayEFjay wrote:

I find this kind of lame. I feel like being a good competitor is seeing something through to completion, whether the results are a win or a loss. Can't see this happening in almost any other situation - maybe little league baseball.


I think you are confounding games and sports.
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Eric Knauer
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Personally, I would never play a game again with someone or a group of individuals who wanted to quit simply because they thought they couldn't win. There are exceptions and edge cases of course (clearclaw is his own edge case) like wargames but Russian Railroads is certainly not in that exception camp.
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Doug Hook
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The folks I play games with have never bailed during a game. I've felt like quitting from time to time, but when the final scoring is tallied I have rarely been last. So I hang in there and keep trying to score even with a game that is new to me.
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Posthumous Jones
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It's counter productive, and a bit of a sore loser move to quit. Perhaps Russian Railroads is unique in that the winner is obvious, but most games I play aren't so obvious. You don't learn much by quitting (except how to be a poor game player). We only quit if we run out of time, and that's rare.
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Bill Cook
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I'm playing games because it's fun. When it stops being fun for everyone, why continue? Now if Bob and Susie are still battling out to see who wins, yeah, I am committed to keep playing for "the sake of the game." But if we all think Susie is going to win, and nobody but Susie is having any fun... end the game. It's kind of obnoxious for Susie to insist everyone keep playing so she can revel in her victory.

As for game design... the key is making the game fun to play even if you have no chance in winning. That's much better than an artificial catch-up mechanism or secret scoring.

>>> I think games should actively try to eliminate this "runaway leader" problem. I mean, imagine if you knew who the killer was half way thru a movie?

The old tv show Columbo started off showing you who the murderer was. The joy of the show wasn't figuring out who done it, but it seeing Colombo nail them. As I said, I'm fine continuing a game where we know who is going to win as long as it is fun watching it play out.
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Larry L
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eknauer wrote:
Personally, I would never play a game again with someone or a group of individuals who wanted to quit simply because they thought they couldn't win. There are exceptions and edge cases of course (clearclaw is his own edge case) like wargames but Russian Railroads is certainly not in that exception camp.


Drift Marlo wrote:
It's counter productive, and a bit of a sore loser move to quit. Perhaps Russian Railroads is unique in that the winner is obvious, but most games I play aren't so obvious. You don't learn much by quitting (except how to be a poor game player). We only quit if we run out of time, and that's rare.


This isn't at all about someone quitting because they can't win, but calling the game when the single winner is decided.

In every multiplayer case (not many) I've seen, it is the clear winner who offers to call the game and the losers who decide whether to see the game through or not.
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Radu Stanculescu
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I like playing games more than I like winning them. If a game made me want to stop it would likely be because the game's so bad I'm not interested in playing it ever again, not because I'm losing. There are a lot of games without a catch-up mechanism, yet I still can't imagine wanting to stop playing before the end even when the winner's obvious. And I also played quite a few games where the "obvious" winner didn't actually win.
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Alexandre Santos
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Like others, I think it depends:

If it's a two player game, and the losing partner wants to quit, why not?

If it's multiplayer, only if a majority agrees to it, and I would be in the minority (you can always aim for not being last). I like to play the game till the end to learn about the late game.

Again if everybody has played the game ad nauseam and is not interested, why not...
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Joel Velez
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I would definitely agree that if a game isn't fun or everyone agrees then it would be fine to end the game. On On to the next.

Not speaking about RR in particular, but it seems that scoring can have a strong influence on the enjoyment of a game. Less so in games that are light and play quick, but more so in heavier games. I would think that secret scoring or "rubberbanding" would keep all players involved from beginning to end. Why have scoring in such a way that a game can be over half way thru?
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Jessica
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I usually like to play all the way through for the same reason- it just sucks to get most of the way through and not finish it.

But, as someone who loses fairly frequently, it can be a huge drag to play through a game you clearly have zero chance of winning. Especially when it's a demoralizing defeat, or you've found you dislike the game entirely. I generally want to quit when:

1. Multiple people have discovered they just don't like the game. We recently had this happen in Bios: Megafauna, our first and only time playing it. I knew the game was going to be incredibly brutal and random, and had warned my husband as well. Brutal and random is simply an understatement as those words just don't do the situation justice, and we were quite unprepared. You can be fine in one moment to completely dead and starting from scratch the next. One other at the table was getting frustrated as well, and my husband darn right furious with it. It also didn't help we were completely confused the entire time, it was very obtuse.

2. We dun screwed up! There have been several times where someone clearly grasped the game way better than everyone else the first time we played it, and steamrolled. Or worse, we were all doing something drastically wrong and playing incorrectly. Either way, you know who's gonna win at this point, and you also know that now you've seen it played, you'll actually be able to compete next time. We've called games in those situations.

I've also had games where it's been completely demoralizing that you're just so far behind, and it can really kill the fun. Sometimes, especially when you know the game is going to take a while yet to get through, it can be better to just call it and be done, rather than letting one person (or several) sit there bored and frustrated. Just move on! Do something everyone is having fun with!
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