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Subject: Kingmamking etiquette rss

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T.J.
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I was playing a four player game and this issue came up near the end, so I thought I'd collect some opinions.

I was playing the L1Z1X, and though I had a dominating fleet and controlled Mecatol Rex, I was a bit behind in points. Jol-Nar blocked me from taking Imperial the previous turn and held on to it another turn using the action card that lets you hang on to strategy card another turn. With this double imperial, Jol-Nar was able to make up for a weak early game in terms of game points and was busy putting up lots of defenses around their home system. In addition, Yssaril was rebuilding a fleet to possibly retake Mecatol (having lost it earlier in the game). Naalu was the greatest threat in terms of victory - being lazer-focused on objectives the whole game they were at 7 or 8 coming into this round with a 2 point public objective to score and holding a secret in hand.
Now, we have decided this would be the last round of the game (we've been playing for around 12 hours, over two evenings, with some food and chat breaks) as it was getting late.


My situation was that I had 5 VPs and knew I was able to score 2vp public objective, and hoped to score a secret I had in hand (blow up someone's flagship or war sun). I knew that Naalu is very likely to win this round as the public objective was in the bag and it was fairly obvious that their secret was to blow up someone's fleet using cannons because they just tried it on a Jol-Nar ship. I knew it was possible for the Jol-Nar to win - they had Imperial in hand, two 2vp public objectives they could score, and a secret in hand (which I knew nothing about). So I decided to do my best and prevent both of them from winning. I moved in on both home systems to try and prevent them from scoring public objectives. Naalua was wide open and so I was able to get there and take one of their home planets, frustrating their plans. Jol-Nar was a different story - I was further away and didn't have warfare. I was able to get to the system near their home system and drew some action cards, hoping to get the unexpected maneuver but didn't get it. Even if I did, I doubt I would have been able to take a home planet - they had 5 or 6 PDSs that can fire at anyone moving into their home system and my dreadnoughts were all damaged. To round the chaos, I also launched an assault on the Yssaril fleet knocking on my doorstep and was able to destroy his flagship and get my secret objective. Naalu completed their secret objective by destroying my fleet with space cannons and Yssaril also completed a secret we weren't aware of. At the round end, Yssaril, Naalu and myself were all at 8 - and I knew Jol-Nar was going to score a public and get to 9. Yet they also had a secret they could score - having all their dreadnoughts out on the map, and so Jol-Nar won.

Now, I didn't know for sure that JN would have a secret they can score but I did suspect it was possible. Naalu was mad at me and said I handed the victory to Jol-Nar - they would have won if I didn't take their home planets because, being the Naalu, they would have scored their objective before the Jol-Nar for the win. I said that I wasn't engaged in kingmaking but doing my best to prevent all other players from winning, and that if they hadn't had that secret - they wouldn't have won. Naalua said that because we decided it was the last round, JN would have won with 9 anyway. I said that I played 'as if' there was another round and preferred preventing anyone from getting to 10.

What do you think? Fair play or pernicious kingmaking?
Note: I am aware that opinions on this issue vary. I have mine, but I don't necessarily think there's one right answer. I think that it's one of these things where it's just important to have everyone around the table on broadly the same page which is why I think it's good to talk about these things. Needless to say, in our case there was no grudge carried beyond the game or hurt feelings - yes, it was frustrating at the moment and there was an emotional exchange, but we've both understood each other's position and packed it in the box with the game. I was just wondering what people thought and was hoping to have a conversation about it, not get a definitive answer to win an argument. Cheers.
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Clayton Threadgill
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Your actions weren't deliberately in support of Jol-Nar, but to improve your own standing within the game. The winner of the game may have resulted from your actions, but it's not really justified to call what you did king-making.

If Naalu doesn't want to lose their homeworlds, they need to defend them. If you hadn't taken one, it sounds like Jol-Nar was poised to do so anyway.
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Sander Stroom
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This is not kingmaking IMO. Kingmaking would be if you trade the support for the throne to someone, making them win. You wanted to prolong the game so you bashed the leader.
 
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Stefan Winter
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In my opinion it goes like this:

A - You can only stop a specific player given the circumstances and do it -> no kingmaking (it's their fault to be "stoppable")
B - You try to stop both, but fail on one player -> no kingmaking
C - You can stop any one of the players and it's equally likely and you can decide freely -> kingmaking.


Your case is a clear B (or maybe an overly optimistic A), so no kingmaking.
The Naalu player lost, because he couldn't defend his homeworld. period.
 
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T.J.
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Thanks for all the responses, not because you think I'm right but I enjoy seeing your reasoning.

hooliganj wrote:
If Naalu doesn't want to lose their homeworlds, they need to defend them. If you hadn't taken one, it sounds like Jol-Nar was poised to do so anyway.


Jol-Nar should have done that to secure the win but actually they were so busy defending their own pie slice that I don't think they were in a position to get there (though they had lots of movement technology including the ability to ignore other people's ships). So just to make that point clear - if I hadn't done that, Naalu probably would have won because the JN wouldn't have done it themselves.
 
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Badoux Jerome
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I think you did the right move (maybe not going on Yssaril how I see how you explain, but going on Jol-Nar was definitely the right move.

Kingmaking for me is 2 things :

1) either you intentionally help someone to win at the expense of someone else that obviously could have won otherwise. In this case you indead helped someone to win but not intentionnaly you did the best move for YOU!
(If you were obviously out of the race for victory whatever you do that might have been a kingmaking move, but there was a small chance you might have won, and you are right to treat the game as if you were playing the full game... you did well !)
 
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T.J.
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I attacked Yssaril because
(a) it gave a VP as I scored my secret objective (he was the only one with a flagship on the board). and
(b) he was planning to attack me to take Meactol as was evident by the fact he just used an action card to blow up my PDSs on MR (I'm not sure why though, I tried convincing him to attack Jol-Nar) and it was better for me to fight half his fleet instead of all of it.
 
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Federico C.
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There is no 'kingmaking etiquette', there is 'kingmaking' and there is 'don't fucking do it'.

Specifically, kingmaking is deliberately handing someone a victory *without in-game reasons* (usually spite, 'i have to drive home' or 'i feel like wasting people's time today').
You had a plan and you went for it. No kingmaking there.
I'd even say handing someone a victory to prevent a long-stabnding enemy to win could be an in-game reason at times. There was a post a while ago where someone described basically opposing the entire board by he end and being defeated purely by the fact that people pooled their Support for the Throne - that, to me, is perfectly viable. Make lots of enemies stand together and you will lose. Total TI.
Kingmaking is usually more nonsensical and therefore frowned upon. Not because 'it's not fair', but because it's not FUN.
 
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Adam McLean
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Your actions may have had a king making like effect, but king making is a deliberate attempt to help another player to win even at your own demise. It simply sounds like you tried to play as normal and it happened to help one more than another.

That will probably happen in nearly every game of TI simply because the only way to victory is through points ... In order to gain many of them, it has to come at the expense of another player, and that inevitably helps out a third party (or parties).
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Avery Bailey
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If ever I'm in the similar situation, I ask myself one question: Is my action my best choice to maximize my chance of winning the game? It's the same question I ask myself in the beginning and middle of the game. Whether I'm on the brink of victory or in a distant last.

I have no problem with people "playing for place" (trying to advance from 4th to 3rd, etc.) and I have no problem with people not attacking to purposefully avoid being the deciding factor if they are theoretically eliminated. All I ask is for consistency.

If you are a person who plays for place one game, but then pounds the leader the next time even though it doesn't advance your ranking, THAT is kingmaking in my opinion. If normally you bow out and let the leaders decide it on their own, but you would rather see Amy win than Tom so you crush Tom to hand Amy the win, THAT is kingmaking.

If you are well out of it, but your race is the Muatt, and you send your whole fleet to obliterate Jol'Nar for enslaving your people, I will invite you over every time. It's time for those fish to pay.
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nicholas nicholas
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Avemo3 wrote:

If you are well out of it, but your race is the Muatt, and you send your whole fleet to obliterate Jol'Nar for enslaving your people, I will invite you over every time. It's time for those fish to pay.


In character decisions make for the best games
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Poland
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It doesn't sound like kingmaking - rather it sounds that Naalu player is a sore loser. In my opinion it would actually be kingmaking if you didn't take Naalu's home system and allowed them to win.
 
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james herbby
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They call that kingmaking?

Not even close. I'm sorry, but that is just sour grapes from the nalu.

If the Nalu left their home system that open that you could easily take it then that is on them. Jol-Nar defended better.

Hell, in my group had you attacked the JN before Nalu when the Nelu were in the lead, and not for points mind you, then you would be accused of kingmaking.

Plus, let's be honest, most games involve kingmaking of some sort or other. You decided to Take out the person you KNEW would win and hope the other guy who COULD win wouldn't be able. At that point you kneecapped the leader and then relied on luck to see if you could gimp the other player in contention. Luck wasn't on your side. It happens.

As far as I can tell and as my peeps would say, you did nothing wrong.
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T.J.
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Thanks for all your thoughts. I'll just say that the Naalu wasn't at all a sore loser - yes, we had a disagreement. I happen to think the perspective is wrong but it's not unreasonable. In any case, there were no grudges or anything and we all laughed about it immediately afterwards. I just wanted to take the temperature of the room and I'm not surprised to see that BGG is generally on my side. I think it's partly that people like us, who love games, have a similar view on this kind of etiquette.
 
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Will
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The only etiquette I adhere to with respect to kingmaking, is a little saying I adapted from Diplomacy:

"All's fair in love and war. TI is both."
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Peter Knapp
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In the context of what you have said, it sounds like you could have been accused of Kingmaking Naalu if you had done the other option... Which doesn't make a lot of sense...

In other words it sounds like you were playing the game, and with a game like this different decisions affect positively and negatively other players (someone stated pretty much this above)...




 
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Julian Sanchez
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So, a belated $.02: I notice quite a few posts on the TI4 forums (often in the context of folks talking about why they loathe Support for the Throne & house rule it out) where the implicit or explicit premise is that doing anything other than optimizing for your own victory in the current game—and especially choosing to help another player for any reason other than advancing your own victory (which I agree doesn't really describe the OP's efforts at blocking a victory, FWIW)—should be regarded as automatically negative, poor form at the very least, and for some folks an offense nearly on par with cheating.


Certainly I agree that someone who just decides to throw the win to a trailing player out of sheer orneriness or whimsicality is being kind of a jerk, and taken to an extreme it just sort of makes it un-fun if you can't build strategy around the premise that people will act at least quasi-rationally. But it's also very much at odds with what I find appealing about TI to discourage playing with any goals beyond maximizing personal VPs. If I wanted to spend 8 hours on a pure strategic puzzle, I'd play 8 games of Go. But TI is overflowing with narrative elements extraneous to the mechanical gameplay, and a lot of the fun of it for me comes from the fact that it's not *just* a deep strategic game, but has these narrative and social/psychological elements.

So if someone's "kingmaking" for reasons that flow out of the way the narrative of the game has unfolded——because they refuse to let the faction that dropped a bacterial weapon on their homeworld take the throne, or because they'd rather see the neighbor who's been a faithful ally throughout the game take the win if it's out of their own reach—that's perfectly fine with me, and enriches the thematic aspects of the game. (I mean, if you were actually one of these races, you surely wouldn't be indifferent to who takes the throne if you're not going to get it.)

More, I'd say factoring that stuff in is *part of the skill of the game* just as the psychology of bluffing and reading tells (and not *just* calculating probabilities and pot odds) is part of the skill of poker. Have you had to stomp on several other players on your way to the lead, or did you get it by managing to get greater benefit from a bunch of mutually beneficial deals? If you *did* have to stomp on others, did you choose to expend a couple of extra actions to ensure they would be too thoroughly devastated to be in any position to exact vengeance? Obviously if your group prefers to play the pure strategic puzzle, it's your business what sort of informal norms are going to be operative at your table. But to my mind, all those considerations are absolutely part of what makes this game so rich and immersive you'd spend a whole day on it.

And hell, even if you don't care about any of that stuff & think players should only be motivated by victory maximizing considerations (though really then... are you sure you wouldn't have a better time playing Go?) there might be perfectly valid metagame reasons to play in ways that generate beneficial reputation effects if you're playing with the same people over time. Can I count on this player (or maybe this-player-as-Xxxcha/this-player-as-Letnev/etc) to keep their word and adhere to deals, even into the late game when betrayal might be to their advantage? Conversely, can I count on this player to go all-out on retaliation, even to their own detriment (the "grim strategy," in game theory jargon) if I push them too far? Establishing either reputation in one game (whether for the player or the player-as-a-particular-faction) may well be rational from the perspective of maximizing your wins over time, especially once it's clear the player's odds of winning this particular game are slim.

Again, if it's a norm at your table that each game should be played tabula rasa, that's your business and fair enough. But for me, as long as it's not pure whim or people being bad losers, if there's either a meta-strategic or thematic/narrative rationale for it, the choices player make about who else to help or hinder when they can't themselves win are just another layer of the strategy & story & psychology that make TI a unique gaming experience.
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Ronald Cruz
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Just wondering if you and the Yssaril could have concluded a temporary alliance to go after Jol-Nar's homeworld? And even bring in any nearby Naalu ships to help with the assault?

Otherwise I agree with others: defend your homeworld if you must score a public objective!
 
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T.J.
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ronaldsf wrote:
Just wondering if you and the Yssaril could have concluded a temporary alliance to go after Jol-Nar's homeworld? And even bring in any nearby Naalu ships to help with the assault?

Otherwise I agree with others: defend your homeworld if you must score a public objective!


I tried to get the Yssaril to help me but he was stalling and it seemed to me he had some reasons to gun for MR instead. After I attacked him, which was the last thing I did with my last CC, he said he was no longer in a position to go after Jol-Nar and went for MR. It had no consequences on the game that he took it. In hindsight, had he just destroyed one dreadnoughts of the JN, they wouldn’t have won but we didn’t know that.
 
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