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Subject: TGIF Women's Poll #394: Games that Punish rss

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kat costa
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Welcome to the 394th TGIF poll, live and exclusive to the Women & Gaming forum. If you are male, I respectfully ask that you please avoid voting in the poll below and take this week's general poll instead. I promise that the questions are exactly the same, and you can still make your opinion known there. We’re trying to limit the TGIF polls posted in the women’s section to respondents whose gender is female and/or gender-diverse so that we can see patterns in the data that might otherwise be dwarfed if we had to combine our responses with those of the overwhelmingly male population on BGG. If you identify as neither male nor female, then welcome and please take whichever poll you feel best suits you.



So I have this thing about games that penalize you. The thing I have is that I don't like them. They make for an un-fun gaming experience, and if harsh-enough penalties happen during play instead of just at end scoring, they make me feel like it's not even worth taking my turn. I just start feeling demoralized and don't see the point of lifting my hand to make a move because the game has taught me that it will stomp me down as soon as I do. (Note: Of course I do take my turn anyway so the game is not ruined for other people.)

This little vexation of mine came to a head when my husband and I were playing our newly-acquired copy of FUSE this week. Over and over we drew four dice from the bag, each took the one die that it was possible to take, and then—because the two-player rules were written with this penalty—had to re-roll the two leftover, unusable, dice to see how much progress we had to lose. Much of the time we ended up losing the same amount of dice we had just added to our cards! Sometimes we even lost not only this turn's progress, but progress from previous turns as well, due to random die rolls. We were making absolutely no headway, and meanwhile the clock was ticking down. This system of penalties seemed too harsh, and I no longer wanted to play our shiny new game.

So I was wondering if this objection to punishing-style games put me in the minority on BGG. And, regardless, exactly which kinds of penalties cause this negative reaction in those of us who are bothered by them? Because some penalties feel fair and don't bother me at all. Below is a list of penalties that different games apply to players. How do you feel about them?

Note: A vote of "This bugs me" signifies not just that it feels unpleasant to have the penalty happen to you in the moment, but that you feel that the penalty brings the game down in some way—that the game could have been designed with some some alternate rule replacing the penalty such that the game in question would have been more enjoyable to play while maintaining the same level of challenge.

Poll: Games that Punish
How do you feel about the following penalties that these games apply to players? If you have not played a particular game, please skip that question.
FUSE: Discarding dice from your bombs because some dice from the draw bag could not be used this turn.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
45.0% 9
Doesn't bother me that much
25.0% 5
This bugs me
30.0% 6
Voters 20
Forbidden Island: Tiles flood during a Waters Rise and are lost.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
86.3% 44
Doesn't bother me that much
11.8% 6
This bugs me
2.0% 1
Voters 51
AquaSphere: Losing KP due to octopods having entered your sector.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
58.8% 10
Doesn't bother me that much
23.5% 4
This bugs me
17.6% 3
Voters 17
Agricola: Negative points in end-game because you lack a sufficient variety of barnyard animals or crops.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
48.7% 19
Doesn't bother me that much
30.8% 12
This bugs me
20.5% 8
Voters 39
Agricola: Negative points in end-game because some of your farm spaces are still un-developed.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
51.3% 20
Doesn't bother me that much
23.1% 9
This bugs me
25.6% 10
Voters 39
Agricola: Having to take a Begging Card for each family member you could not feed.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
53.8% 21
Doesn't bother me that much
25.6% 10
This bugs me
20.5% 8
Voters 39
Ticket to Ride: Negative points for incomplete ticket cards at end-game.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
80.3% 49
Doesn't bother me that much
16.4% 10
This bugs me
3.3% 2
Voters 61
Patchwork: Negative points for each empty space at end-game.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
67.4% 31
Doesn't bother me that much
26.1% 12
This bugs me
6.5% 3
Voters 46
Can't Stop: You roll a bust and must remove all the neutral runners from the board.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
75.0% 27
Doesn't bother me that much
19.4% 7
This bugs me
5.6% 2
Voters 36
Stone Age: Losing 10 points because your people have not been fed this round.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
76.5% 26
Doesn't bother me that much
17.6% 6
This bugs me
5.9% 2
Voters 34
Escape: The Curse of the Temple: Permanently losing one of your dice because you didn't make it back to the starting room in time.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
60.7% 17
Doesn't bother me that much
32.1% 9
This bugs me
7.1% 2
Voters 28
Tales of the Arabian Nights: Losing wealth levels, story points, or destiny points at the end of an encounter.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
63.6% 14
Doesn't bother me that much
13.6% 3
This bugs me
22.7% 5
Voters 22
At the Gates of Loyang: Losing points for being unable to fulfill a customer's order.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
70.8% 17
Doesn't bother me that much
20.8% 5
This bugs me
8.3% 2
Voters 24
Trajan: Losing points due to having failed to fulfill the public's demands.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
68.2% 15
Doesn't bother me that much
18.2% 4
This bugs me
13.6% 3
Voters 22
Galaxy Trucker: Your ship takes more and more damage due to meteor showers/alien combat.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
75.8% 25
Doesn't bother me that much
12.1% 4
This bugs me
12.1% 4
Voters 33
Galaxy Trucker: You have to pay for for those damaged ship parts at round-end.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
48.4% 15
Doesn't bother me that much
29.0% 9
This bugs me
22.6% 7
Voters 31
Pandemic: An epidemic occurs, causing multiple chained outbreaks.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
78.9% 45
Doesn't bother me that much
12.3% 7
This bugs me
8.8% 5
Voters 57
Puerto Rico: Losing your goods to "spoilage" because someone else took the shipping action.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
40.0% 12
Doesn't bother me that much
30.0% 9
This bugs me
30.0% 9
Voters 30
Steam Park: Taking a waste penalty for not being fast enough at rolling your dice.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
46.7% 7
Doesn't bother me that much
13.3% 2
This bugs me
40.0% 6
Voters 15
Bohnanza: Being forced to uproot your field if you draw the wrong card off the top of the deck.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
46.4% 13
Doesn't bother me that much
21.4% 6
This bugs me
32.1% 9
Voters 28
Suburbia: Being taxed for progressing on the population track.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
59.3% 16
Doesn't bother me that much
25.9% 7
This bugs me
14.8% 4
Voters 27
Bruges: A disaster occurs and you must discard all of your workers / coins / one house.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
61.1% 11
Doesn't bother me that much
27.8% 5
This bugs me
11.1% 2
Voters 18
Sagrada: Negative points for each blank space in your window.
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
This is as it should be
80.0% 32
Doesn't bother me that much
17.5% 7
This bugs me
2.5% 1
Voters 40
IN GENERAL...
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
I tend to have more fun playing games that penalize players
8.6% 6
I feel neutral toward games that penalize players
78.6% 55
I tend to have less fun playing games that penalize players
12.9% 9
Voters 70
This poll is now closed.   70 answers
Poll created by kataclysm
Closes: Fri Mar 2, 2018 6:00 am


Make-Up Cover Art Poll:
Poll
Here are the top three winners from last week's poll of 2016 nominees for best artwork and presentation. I have added in Kodama: The Tree Spirits to the top contenders because it was erroneously left out of the poll. Which has the most appealing cover art? (Pick one)
Which game has the most appealing cover art?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
18.8% 12
3.1% 2
50.0% 32
28.1% 18
Voters 64
This poll is now closed.   64 answers
Poll created by kataclysm
Closes: Fri Mar 2, 2018 6:00 am


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Discussion: Which game have you played where the penalties feel the most harsh or unjust? Which game do you feel handles player penalties the best, such that players feel that its penalties are fair and naturally belong in the game?
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Suzan
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There's something weird going on with the polls, votes don't seem to count and the Steampark one looks funky as well




On topic: I thought I didn't like punishing games, but of the games I know in the poll, most things don't bother me, just part of the game.
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kat costa
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Suzan wrote:
There's something weird going on with the polls, votes don't seem to count and the Steampark one looks funky as well


I think they just do that sometimes if they've halfway loaded or something. If you refresh the page, they look normal again.

Suzan wrote:
On topic: I thought I didn't like punishing games, but of the games I know in the poll, most things don't bother me, just part of the game.


Not all the games in the poll were meant to represent ultra-punishing games. In some questions I was just trying to get a baseline. For instance, I don't expect many people to have a problem with busting in Can't Stop, because that's pretty much the whole mechanism of the game. You bust because you took too many risks.
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Gloria Padilla
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I don't mind these types of penalties in games. I wouldn't say I enjoy games that have penalties more or anything but I do feel that for those games that have them, they generally balance out something else (for example in Stone Age, if you didn't get penalized for not feeding your people, who would bother?)

It only really bothers me when it causes undue trouble with catching up. I think a well designed game makes it possible for someone to catch back up despite having bad luck in a round or two. Obviously this doesn't necessarily cover people just playing really badly for a bunch of rounds but if that's the case no amount of catching up will help you

Our group has a funny story about Railroad Tycoon. In this game you can take loans, which penalize you at the end of the game. You can take an unlimited number of loans, but you have to pay interest on them at the end of each turn. In our friend Roosevelt's first game he borrowed WAY too much at the beginning and by the end he was taking loans to pay for the interest on his loans! He ended that game with a very negative score, if I recall correctly
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Suzan
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kataclysm wrote:
Suzan wrote:
There's something weird going on with the polls, votes don't seem to count and the Steampark one looks funky as well


I think they just do that sometimes if they've halfway loaded or something. If you refresh the page, they look normal again.


Ah, I see, thanks.
 
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I generally thought I didn't like "punishing" games, but of the ones I have played in the poll, I think the penalty either adds to the game, or doesn't bother me.
It is funny to me that there are so many Agricola questions. I've always said Agricola is not a game where you win, but one where you try to lose the least.
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kat costa
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tlh878 wrote:
I generally thought I didn't like "punishing" games, but of the ones I have played in the poll, I think the penalty either adds to the game, or doesn't bother me.


I was trying for a range of scenarios that would cover a spectrum of really-unfair-feeling to absolutely-necessary-and-reasonable. The examples were just based on games I knew and had played, so I'm sure they're skewed in some way. I myself only voted "This bugs me" for about 10 of the 24 questions.
 
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LJ
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With Trigirl being this lock consensus good read for so many people, I find it really bizarre that she's alive. Just don't lock clear her for tone. There's a threshold where if she's still alive she should probably just be murdalated.
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I don't really think these games punish. There were maybe one or two on the list that fit that, but for the most part, those aren't what I'd call punishing games. They have consequences for not playing well, but that's not punishment.

Punishment involves randomness to me, like a bad draw in Bohnanza, a big asteroid the one column you don't have a laser, or being 1 shy of defeating the monster in Kingsburg (especially if in a 2 player game and a lot of the monster stuff was blocked by the dummy player).
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I'm fine with these (the ones I've played), they are known beforehand and you can do your best not to be hurt (too much) by them.
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Funny thing is I don't see it as "punishment", but as creating challenge to overcome. Except in Agricola...I refuse to play that game anymore because I feel the economy is too tight for the game to be fun for me.

A game with a penalty that I love is Cleopatra and the Society of Architects. There are ways of managing the corruption you take (including trying not to take any at all), so you have some control over the penalty, but the cards you draw make that difficult at times.

Side note - one of us is playing the two player version of Fuse incorrectly...I'll have to look the rules up again. We've always played it that you draw four dice, each player takes two. If you are unable to use all four dice the one(s) that can't be used at all get rolled. Then you remove a color or number matching die. I'm hoping we're doing it right and you can try the game again and maybe like it better. I LOVE Fuse
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Cthulhumom wrote:
Side note - one of us is playing the two player version of Fuse incorrectly...I'll have to look the rules up again. We've always played it that you draw four dice, each player takes two. If you are unable to use all four dice the one(s) that can't be used at all get rolled. Then you remove a color or number matching die. I'm hoping we're doing it right and you can try the game again and maybe like it better. I LOVE Fuse :)


No, that is totally how we were playing FUSE. It's just that, with only two cards apiece, there are only 4 possible cards where a die can be placed. Compare that to a four-player game, where there are 8 possible cards on the table where a die can be placed. The reason we keep getting stomped down by the penalty is that in a 2-player game, it happens SO OFTEN that some of the dice can't be used. Typically it's two dice, where each of us is just barely able to take one die, and the other two, un-takable dice, get rolled to determine what we must lose. The game seems terribly weighted against 2-player games in this respect, because the probability that you'll be able to find a place for all of the dice is so much lower in 2-player games. I have been able to win FUSE handily with the solo rules, where you have four cards in front of you and you take only 3 dice from the bag. The designer seemed to think through the possibilities with one-player games, but made no accommodations for two-player games.

But my problem with the FUSE design is also that you have to roll these dice for two completely different purposes: once to see what you get, and then again to see what you must lose. For a good sense of flow, especially in a real-time speed-based game, there shouldn't be die-rolling for both of those things. I brought FUSE to a game night last week, carefully explained the rules, and one person in the group kept spotting what she needed in the penalty-rolled dice and trying to take those dice onto her card. Because, of course, visually, the two rollings are the same. It was very frustrating for her to have the dice she had erroneously grabbed taken away because we were in a different phase.

Plus, the whole die-rolling thing to see what you must lose is a penalty on top of a penalty, a salt-in-the-wound kind of thing. FUSE is a speed-based game. The clock is ticking down. You roll dice, and you unfortunately lose time determining that your group cannot use those dice this turn. This is already a penalty of sorts--you're losing time. But then the game inserts a second penalty on top of that, which I find unnecessary.

What if you were playing Escape: The Curse of the Temple and needed to roll keys to enter a room, and the rules stated that every time you rolled something other than a key, you had to stop what you were doing and roll your dice again to take a penalty? Not only would the game be less fun, but it would be less fluid, because now you're rolling dice for two completely different purposes, which can be jarring when you're playing the kind of ten-minute, real-time game that Escape is.

FUSE makes you switch gears, disrupting fluidity, AND its penalty REMOVES YOUR PROGRESS. Progress should be sacred. If a game knocks down someone's city that took time, resources turns, and planning to build, that person won't want to play anymore. What's the point of building? Their next thing will probably just get knocked down, too. That's the feeling I get with FUSE. It's not an I'm-Not-Winning thing, because I lose tons of games and have a blast doing it. It's an I-Can't-DO-Anything feeling. Penalties that make you feel that way are not doing players or designers any favors.
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Kathrin
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I've played FUSE solo, with 2, 4 and 5 and didn't find 2-player any more frustrating than the others. I think with 2, choosing which bomb card to take next becomes more important - picking one that complements the ones already out well, so that you prevent ending up with too many dice that you can't place. Pick one with a lot of wilds if you have one or two difficult ones already, for example. Losing dice a lot would be frustrating - but the trick is not to end up in that position too often.
With 4 players, the negotiations about who gets to take what take longer and it is harder to keep an eye on all cards that are out. I think this evens things out in terms of overall difficulty.

Oddly enough, I find Escape: The Curse of the Temple more frustrating than FUSE! Trying to roll golden masks to make up for a cursed mask...and rolling more cursed marks, and then having someone else interrupt what they are doing to save me. Or lose dice permanently! I feel that is more punishing than anything that FUSE does.
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kat costa
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marble911 wrote:
Oddly enough, I find Escape: The Curse of the Temple more frustrating than FUSE! Trying to roll golden masks to make up for a cursed mask...and rolling more cursed marks, and then having someone else interrupt what they are doing to save me. Or lose dice permanently! I feel that is more punishing than anything that FUSE does.


That is very interesting!
 
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I really like that Stone Age punishes you for not feeding your people. In fact, we houserule it that you HAVE to use resources to make up for not feeding your people. I do not think it's okay to starve your people for gain.
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anjulka wrote:
I really like that Stone Age punishes you for not feeding your people. In fact, we houserule it that you HAVE to use resources to make up for not feeding your people. I do not think it's okay to starve your people for gain.


Yes, the Stone Age penalty is one of the ones that feels totally reasonable. In fact, I'm far more bothered by the Begging Cards in Agricola than the 10-point penalty in Stone Age even though they are nominally the same. The reason seems to be that Stone Age makes it very easy to feed your people, whereas in Agricola someone could have taken the only spot that would have worked for you and you'd be screwed for food that turn.

(In our games of Stone Age, nobody has ever done the starve-your-people strategy. We like our tribes fat and happy.)
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