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Subject: I won, but I lost?? rss

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David Griffin
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I heard this said by someone playing the new Nemo's War 2nd ed (which I have ordered but not received yet )

It refers to the victory conditions of the game. You can survive till the end (the "I won" part) yet by the victory conditions of the game lose the game in pretty "extreme" language (the "I lost" part). It's like when you Terraform Mars but don't get very many victory points I suppose.

What games do you know of where you can play the whole game through and be pretty pleased with yourself on how it went, having a pretty good feeling that you "won" yet when you total up the VPs, the game wants to tell you that you lost? Do you like this mechanic? Does it make you want to play again or does it cause you to question the designer's sanity?
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Zac Jensen
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Legendary: Marvel is sorta like this.

If the villain deck runs out, then you survive the scheme (I won)

But if you didn't defeat the Mastermind, then he escapes (I lost)

I like the system. I'd probably never feel great about just surviving unless the scheme is very difficult, but it's cool to have a built in timer of sorts.
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Chris in Kansai
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People have been playing Friday for years assuming that when you clear all the aging cards out of the deck you're pretty much home free.

The app just came out and, surprise surprise, the designer's intention is that when you clear the last aging card from the deck, you die and you LOSE.
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Call it a marginal victory
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marc lecours
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Good designers like to innovate. The unwritten rules that a game should end with a single winner (the player with the most victory points) is a straight jacket which limits creativity. It is very hard for a designer to go against an unwritten rule precisely because it is unwritten. When a designer tries an alternative victory condition, there are tons of complaints because it breaks the unwritten rule.

Ex: The Republic of Rome tried a two level victory condition. If Rome (the players as a group) falls then all the players lose. The players must avoid this at all cost. If Rome doesn't fall then the single player with the most influence wins. In practice a lot of players could not accept this rule. They preferred having Rome fall rather than have a single winner. The unwritten rule was more powerful than the written rule. This sort of problem also occurs in most nuclear war games where players are supposed to value avoiding destroying the world more than beating the enemy.

Ex: High Society has the rule that the player with the most victory points wins unless they have spent the most money. In most games I have played, the player with the most victory point also has spent the most money. This annoys players who love to maximize VPs.

Ex: Emperor of China has a rule that when things are going bad you could join the player attacking you, and become the junior partner in their empire. Because of the unwritten rule, becoming the junior partner was the same as losing in our minds (so we never did it.)

exceptions:
1, Team games. This is a single winner game with a team being the single winner.
2. Cooperative games: which is a team game with one team.
3. Meta games: Games with money at stake (poker), games within a campaign, games within a tournament.

The case you mention goes against the unwritten rule because the game often ends without a winner. Hence no "single winner". In a multiplayer game this can be a problem when the players who are not in the lead start playing for a "nobody wins" end of game.
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Joe Kell
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I have a very different example. Sometimes you win in a game but you still lost in terms of social experience. This happens for me a lot when I play a game with my parents. Even one they understand. My mom loves playing the Parker Brothers game Aggravation, every time I play that I lose. Even when I win by the games rules. This same experience will happen if I play a social deduction game with them (will never do this again) they just entirely didn't understand the concept.

I'm not usually picky about who I teach which game but I'm scared to teach them Sushi Go.
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carbon_dragon wrote:
I heard this said by someone playing the new Nemo's War 2nd ed (which I have ordered but not received yet )

It refers to the victory conditions of the game. You can survive till the end (the "I won" part) yet by the victory conditions of the game lose the game in pretty "extreme" language (the "I lost" part). It's like when you Terraform Mars but don't get very many victory points I suppose.

What games do you know of where you can play the whole game through and be pretty pleased with yourself on how it went, having a pretty good feeling that you "won" yet when you total up the VPs, the game wants to tell you that you lost? Do you like this mechanic? Does it make you want to play again or does it cause you to question the designer's sanity?


This sounds like life, so it seems the designer was quite clever.

"The point of a journey is not to arrive."
-NP

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
-HST
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JPotter
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rubberchicken wrote:
Ex: The Republic of Rome tried a two level victory condition. If Rome (the players as a group) falls then all the players lose. The players must avoid this at all cost. If Rome doesn't fall then the single player with the most influence wins. In practice a lot of players could not accept this rule. They preferred having Rome fall rather than have a single winner. The unwritten rule was more powerful than the written rule. This sort of problem also occurs in most nuclear war games where players are supposed to value avoiding destroying the world more than beating the enemy.


Yeah, that can happen because the players aren't actually facing the consequences presented in the simulation. Their civilization won't actually end, the world won't really be destroyed, if they intentionally drive the game into the ditch. The players don't automatically have sufficient skin in the game to play as intended.

You can solve that by requiring all players to deposit 20 bucks (or however much it takes) with a 3rd party. If the world ends, the money goes away in some undesirable fashion.
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David Griffin
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rubberchicken wrote:
...
Ex: The Republic of Rome tried a two level victory condition. If Rome (the players as a group) falls then all the players lose. The players must avoid this at all cost. If Rome doesn't fall then the single player with the most influence wins. In practice a lot of players could not accept this rule. They preferred having Rome fall rather than have a single winner. The unwritten rule was more powerful than the written rule. This sort of problem also occurs in most nuclear war games where players are supposed to value avoiding destroying the world more than beating the enemy.
...

I find this particularly interesting. One of the problems we have in life is we "assume" what others believe as being similar to what we believe ourselves. "Of course the players will... get into the spirit of the game and not want Rome to fall even if someone else wins." Of course a President (of the United States) would put the needs of the country before his own. And so on.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. For some people, if they can't win, they want everyone to lose as the next best thing. They'd rather watch the world (or in this case Rome) burn.

Plus, what happens if you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist? If the folks at home are complaining in the tabloids about you taking an extra 30 years to terraform Mars all by yourself, is this really something you should worry about? If Captain Nemo survives to return to his lair having achieved what he thought was his goal, does he really care about whether the 'dwellers on the continents' which he has forsaken "remember" him or not? Surely he has the utmost contempt for them (though truthfully maybe he should care).

This sort of thing is probably intended to just make the game harder AFTER IT IS OVER -- to give the player something MORE to shoot for, but it gives us the new question of whether the victory conditions make sense thematically.
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Mark Herman's brilliant political, quasi con-sim game Churchill offers three different end-game conditions, two offer a win-but-lose opportunity for the player with the most VPs.

Condition 1: If both Axis powers have surrendered and the point spread between the highest score and the lowest score is 15 or less, then the player with the most VPs wins the game.

Condition 2: If both Axis powers have surrendered and the point spread between the highest score and the lowest score is greater than 15 points, then follow this procedure. Roll a six- sided die and add it to 15 (new value will be 16 to 21). If the difference between the high score and the low score is equal to or less than this new value, the player with the high score wins. If the difference between the high score and the low score is greater than this new value, the player with the second highest score wins the game.

In this case, you’ll notice that if the initial score difference is 22 or more then the player with the second highest score will win the game. In tournament games (a mid-length, five-turn game), this rule is even more harsh: If the point spread between the highest and the lowest score is greater than 15 points, the player with the second highest score wins without the need for the die-rolling.

Condition 3: If either Axis power has not surrendered, then each player rolls a six-sided die and modi es their score accordingly:

• The player with the highest score subtracts the die roll value from their score.
• The player with the second-highest score subtracts half the die roll value (round up) from their score.
• The player with the lowest score adds the die roll value to their score.

In case of a tie for first, both players subtract the value of a six- sided die. In case of a tie for second, both players add the value of a six-sided die to their die roll. The player with the highest score after this score adjustment wins the game.

Again, in the tournament game this third condition is simplified: After subtracting 5 points from the player in first place, the player with the high score wins. This means you could have won on game-derived VPs, but still lose.

This mechanic seems to reflect the idea that in the immediate post-WW2 world, the world's states weren't necessarily ready to cede a very highly dominant nation state with the most power, and makes the game rather exciting as you try to balance the need to defeat both Axis powers, but maintain a comfortable but not glaringly obvious win in VPs.
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Andreas
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Chrysm wrote:
People have been playing Friday for years assuming that when you clear all the aging cards out of the deck you're pretty much home free.

The app just came out and, surprise surprise, the designer's intention is that when you clear the last aging card from the deck, you die and you LOSE.


In the german version of the game there are no "aging" cards, just "jerk" Cards...
Are these the same? I do not remember reading that you die when all "jerk" cards are gone...
Maybe I have an old Version of the game?
 
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Christopher Peters
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For the first couple playthroughs, surviving Nemo's War until the end feels like a victory.

It took three playthroughs before I understood how to survive. Once to learn the rules, once to learn that you can't take a pleasure cruise, and once to learn to leave the peaceful ships alone as to not accelerate the end game timer.

Then, I had to learn how to scrape together a point here or there. Alan Emerich says you need to shoot for ten(!?!?!?!?) a turn to win.

There have been games where I felt like ten a game was really something as Nero fell into insanity.
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Klaus Gunther Herzog
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spicyqueso15 wrote:
I have a very different example. Sometimes you win in a game but you still lost in terms of social experience.


That's the first thing that came to my mind, too. I was teaching a group of first time players Emergence: A Game of Teamwork and Deception, a game where a bunch of androids have a devious human trying to cause trouble in their midst.

I emphasised during the instruction phase that the androids absolutely have to come up with a plan and work together as a team, or the human will run away with the game. I was planning to reinforce this during game play. I drew first player.

Then, I drew the human as my secret role.

Did the androids work as a team? No not really. Were they shocked when I turned out to be the human player and it was way too late for them to do anything to stop me, because they weren't prepared. Yes.

Have any of these people been willing to play this game ever again? Sort of. 33% success rate. Not what I was hoping for, since one is a friend I game with regularly Alas, win but lose.
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DaveyJJ wrote:
Mark Herman's brilliant political, quasi con-sim game Churchill offers three different end-game conditions, two offer a win-but-lose opportunity for the player with the most VPs.......


This is the most thematic and brilliant game end victory condition I've seen. I flipping love this game.
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Michael Debije
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I managed what I thought was a pretty great game of Ambush! in the 2nd scenario, only to find out that I had actually lost. Dammit! It would have been hard for me to do better. And, for Sc3, getting a guy run over by a tank almost in the first couple turns made an eventual win neigh impossible, but we fought it out anyway.

I love these types of games.
 
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Przemyslaw Kozlowski
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carbon_dragon wrote:
rubberchicken wrote:
...
Ex: The Republic of Rome tried a two level victory condition. If Rome (the players as a group) falls then all the players lose. The players must avoid this at all cost. If Rome doesn't fall then the single player with the most influence wins. In practice a lot of players could not accept this rule. They preferred having Rome fall rather than have a single winner. The unwritten rule was more powerful than the written rule. This sort of problem also occurs in most nuclear war games where players are supposed to value avoiding destroying the world more than beating the enemy.
...

I find this particularly interesting. One of the problems we have in life is we "assume" what others believe as being similar to what we believe ourselves. "Of course the players will... get into the spirit of the game and not want Rome to fall even if someone else wins." Of course a President (of the United States) would put the needs of the country before his own. And so on.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. For some people, if they can't win, they want everyone to lose as the next best thing. They'd rather watch the world (or in this case Rome) burn.

Plus, what happens if you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist? If the folks at home are complaining in the tabloids about you taking an extra 30 years to terraform Mars all by yourself, is this really something you should worry about? If Captain Nemo survives to return to his lair having achieved what he thought was his goal, does he really care about whether the 'dwellers on the continents' which he has forsaken "remember" him or not? Surely he has the utmost contempt for them (though truthfully maybe he should care).

This sort of thing is probably intended to just make the game harder AFTER IT IS OVER -- to give the player something MORE to shoot for, but it gives us the new question of whether the victory conditions make sense thematically.


The Magnates: A Game of Power uses a similar mechanic. Players try to get the most influence but if they get too greedy Poland falls and ceases to be a country for almost two centuries. To someone who grew up in Poland, that is a grim and shameful scenario but someone without the cultural context does not "get it".
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Chris Smith
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DaveyJJ wrote:
Mark Herman's brilliant political, quasi con-sim game Churchill offers three different end-game conditions, two offer a win-but-lose opportunity for the player with the most VPs.

This seems to reflect the idea that in a post-WW2 world, the world's states wasn't necessarily ready to cede a very highly dominant nation state with the most power, and makes the game rather exciting as you try to balance the need to defeat both Axis powers, but maintain a comfortable but not glaringly obvious win in VPs.

I've played this game with some who absolutely despise this end game condition. Thematically, I think it makes perfect sense. I could see a coalition of the lesser states trying to stalwart an emergent, powerful nation.
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First edition A Study in Emerald where you can have a crushing number of VP but if the player in last place is on your faction, you and everyone else in the faction lose.

It makes for some fascinating end game play where you're trying to boost someone you hope you've correctly identified as being on your team (roles are hidden) while maintaining a lead in VP
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Klaus Gunther Herzog
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I'm reminded of a different type of win/lose. I think thus far my favorite print-and-play game is still the undiscovered gem of a game, Tradewinds. Claim parts of islands, try to get the most victory points. Some interesting mechanics, but basically not that unusual in the get-points-to-win method.

Until you apply the optional rule found at the end of the manual, which makes the game really shine...

rules wrote:
Though not terribly common, a neutral color will occasionally score better than all player colors. If this rule is used, this victory represents a successful colonial revolution, and the resulting powerful democracy does not look kindly on the imperialistic habits of its predecessors. Thus, if a neutral color has the most Victory Points
at the end of the game, then the victory is awarded to the player with the least Victory Points.


So basically, play to lose, without making it obvious that you're playing to lose, then win by having the least points instead of the most. Brilliant.
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Dune yet.

At the beginning of the game, the Bene Gesserit player secretly a records a "prophecy," guessing which player will fulfill the win condition and on which turn. If the prophecy is fulfilled, the Bene Gesserit player wins instead of the player or alliance that would otherwise win.

Makes all the other players very suspicious of any offers of help from the Bene Gesserit player.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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In Bruo Faidutti's Terra if there are too many full blown crises everyone loses. If the game ends without this happening the winner is the player with the most points.
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I can't beleave that nobody has mentioned Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game and Dead of Winter: The Long Night!

You win by completing the main objective, but you can easily loose by not completing your secret mission. While it isn't VP points, many fixate on just the main objective, totally forgetting about their own objective.
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I think this effect can be in games, in which the economic engine is separated from the victory point engine. For example dominion, in which you could do cool turns, make your deck more and more effective, and buy the best cards... but no victory point cards. At the end you think that you had a good time, but you did not follow the actual goal. But this could only really happen in your first few plays, before you know what really matters.

Actually, scanning the games that I consider good extremely often do not have this disconnect and give rather well feedback. If you are doing well, you also doing well in regard to the actual goal of the game.

Keyflower would still be a candidate. If you miss out on the good scoring tiles in the last round, you will do very poor in scoring. Games with big end game scorings are also such games. You think you are doing good and then some opponent that you thought was last place gets a lot of point and wins.
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One of my favorite moments ever playing Catan was when during a sessions with Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs. I had sequestered enough oil to get the token for being the most environmentally friendly, then proceeded to use as much oil as possible to destroy catan. I was able to achieve the Pyrrhic victory condition.

I have to admit, I felt a tiny bit dirty after but the win was too creative to make the rest of the group too mad.
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Przemyslaw Kozlowski
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igknight wrote:
I can't beleave that nobody has mentioned Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game and Dead of Winter: The Long Night!

You win by completing the main objective, but you can easily loose by not completing your secret mission. While it isn't VP points, many fixate on just the main objective, totally forgetting about their own objective.


People have been conditioned by zombie movies that not-cooperating and trying to do your own thing is going to get you killed in a zombie apocalypse. Thus the concept of doing a private objective at the detriment of group survival is anathema. No one wants to be the idiot in a zombie movie who gets eaten because he/she has no survival instinct and decides to be a contrarian.
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