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Subject: That's mean rss

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Dave Platt
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How do you guys feel about being mean in games?

I sorta justify it by saying to myself, and even sometimes out loud if I'm feeling mischievous, "It's just a game." However, I still sometimes feel a little guilty if it really damages another player's position or worse still puts paid to their chances of winning.
I ask this because I've designed a game that throws up quite a lot of this kind of thing and I'd be interested to know how others feel about it.
During testing of the game our group played it a lot, so there was quite a lot of scope for payback in subsequent games. We're quite an easy going group of people so we do tend to take and give without any ill feeling, but in the case of a very competitive group or perhaps if the group contained individuals with certain characteristics, then I'm guessing that it could get a little heated.

How do you guys see this aspect of gaming? Do you purposely avoid games that throw up this kind of thing? Do you game with people who take things a little too hard? Do you enjoy inflicting pain? Do you feel any guilt when you do something mean? Do you purposely hold off from doing mean stuff, even when it's the best strategy? Do you go out for revenge in the same or subsequent games?

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mortego
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Citadels is a mean game, imo, I will play it with folks who I know won't get upset playing it. I don't mind them at all.
 
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Pete
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Games are designed so I can be mean to people in a civilized fashion.

Pete (isn't cutting you any slack)
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Tobias
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It is part of the game. Honestly, I feel honored when I get attacked in a game, because typically, it means I am the biggest threat.
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Canada
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If you feel it is being mean then there is a problem.
If you are out of the game then maybe doing a little damage to the guy that took you out is fine.
Make the moves that benefit your game end, just business and fun.
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chris thatcher
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My group likes high screwage in games. Infact they are our favourite types of games. No-one takes it personally, everyone has a good time.
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Stuart Long
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if the game wants me to be cut throat, I will be, if not, I won't. Really depends on the game and if its worth playing. I don't hold post game grudges regardless.
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PJ Cunningham
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I will ruthlessly betray you and wipe you off the game board without mercy, but only because I like you.
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Shotgun Games
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Lifeboats

That is all.

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Matt Brown
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<----
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John Daddona
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I believe being "mean" or "cutthroat" is part of the game and I do not take it personally. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same attitude.

For some, the enjoyment is lost if he/she feels like a target. For the more sensitive players, I would try choosing games that limits either the opportunity to be mean or the drastic affect that being mean might have on that player.
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J C Lawrence
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Dave P wrote:
How do you guys feel about being mean in games?


Players are resources to spend and exploit in the pursuit of victory like any other resource. What else would you like to know?
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Jeremy Gray
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I'm ok with being mean and someone being mean to me in games... as long as there is a reason. It can even be spite (haha) or an actually legitimate strategic reason. But give me something! If I can't understand why you're attacking me (particularly if someone else is winning), then I might get a touch exasperated. Haha.
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I'm the Boss!

Delicious, but deadly.
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Pete Goch
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Play the best game you can. "Meanness" doesn't really enter into it. If the best move you can come up with takes down another opponent then so be it.

However, being petty and spiteful is often contrary to playing the best game you can. If you're trying to take down another player simply because they did that to you the last time you played then you aren't really playing the game. You're playing a meta game.

So, they're two different things.
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John Burt
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I despise "mean" games and won't play them, nor will my wife or the friends we regularly play with. Indirect interaction and competition is more our style. I don't know how many gamers are like us vs. those who like to play mean, but certainly the "carebears" are in the minority here on BGG, judging from the various polls taken on the subject. If you're asking whether the average board game consumer (who likely has never heard of BGG) likes mean games - then you've come to the wrong place to get an answer about that.
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Michael Dillenbeck
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(Sorry for the rambling post - this is more a stream of consciousness writing than a well put together response; but I'm tired as my wife kept getting EMS calls throughout the night and I'm going to just go to bed rather than re-edit this.)

Depends on the group and depends on how you define mean.

I have played in "take-that" game groups where players did a lot of trash talk. However, I have misread groups and put my foot in my mouth before - only to then hold my tongue and be viewed as not appropriate by other players at a group for their play style. (I have no social skills, so I give up.)

My wife is totally opposite a player. She dislikes "mean" games, and basically any game where she claims something or owns something and the game or another player takes it away is "mean" in her eyes. The passive-aggresive play of Agricola is fine for her because once stuff is hers it is hers, while a game like Topiary is mean because she can be building to score a line and a proper play can cut off the row of points and eliminate all her hard work. Wargames are obviously out also, and Bios Megafauna (1st Edition) is a bad choice as the game beats you down harder than the other players.

Most of my gaming is done solo or with my wife, so I no longer play "take-that" style. When given the option to attack or not in sandbox or alternate strategy games (such as Conquest of Paradise), my wife's rule is that I can play any way that I want - but if I attack and destroy her stuff I shouldn't expect her to want to ever play again. I know that might sound unreasonable to some, but I find it perfectly fine. If you don't enjoy a play style - say, deck building or social deduction (what I call "lying lets you win" games) - then you might play occasionally but not very often. This is my wife's attitude towards take that, and she is just communicating her honest opinion of the mechanism.

So my view on it is that mean games are fine for groups that can handle it (but I find many of those groups often have a particular member that everyone enjoys picking on, behaving outside their best game interests just to beat on that person - and, yes, I have been that person at times; and it sucks). Thus the style has tarnished a bit.

Also note that there is a fine line in playing a game and being mean in a game, as well as being intentionally mean or accidentally mean. I was in last place in Pillars of the Earth in a game with me, my wife, my sister-in-law, and her husband. Rather than using a damaging card on anyone else, he chose to attack me. Why? His logic was that attacking his wife or his wife's sister would be a bad idea and they would be upset at him for that move, but I was the outsider from these relationships and thus the safest target. Again, I was in last place and it did nothing to further his position in the game and thus was unintentionally mean. It would be like if someone was about to win a game of Munchkin and the player attacks the guy in last place instead of the leader. Meanwhile, if I am leading in Dominant Species I fully expect everyone to pile on the attacks and struggle against it.

I've also been a mean player myself. In one game of March of the Ants a player took an action that knocked me out from having any chance of winning the game early on. I can't lie, I got pissed and I got mean - I made every move designed to ensure that they would not win the game for screwing me over. Mean breeds mean, but in the wrong group mean is just mean and not "good competitive fun". Not proud of that move, but I have to own up to what I did. I had lost the game, and the person who did the move that cost me the game was not going to get to win. Irrational agent behavior in a game is something you have to expect.

A final set example of mean: I won't play Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game ever. Why? I threw in so much to win the game and I kept asking for help to meet my win condition, but no one at the table would help me. Then one of the other all male players said "oh, I figured out your win condition - lets do this to make sure you win" to my wife. Basically I gave everything to help the colony survive and I was rewarded with losing the game with the traitor. "Oh, why didn't you say what you needed to do?" ...because you said I can't say my win condition by the rules. I kept suggesting it repeatedly in the final turn, but one little frown from my wife and you upended the plans to make sure she won. Honestly, that game pisses me off to this very day.

The other is Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition). Those insanity cards are crap. I hate them to their core. They affect the win conditions, and I've seen the player at our table with the most enjoyment of games but the lowest win rate just fade at drawing one. After 2-3 games where I instantly won by going insane and having enough items, I knew what he drew. After trying to win a scenario several times we were on the verge of winning, and on the board there were a ton of locations to search - it had to be he had to look at them all to win the game. I have a rewrite of those insanity conditions so that they now influence player behavior rather than win conditions. The one in this example changed from "no unexplored search tokens left or you lose" to "if there is a search token in sight of the investigator, you must either search or take actions that exclusively move you closer to the nearest unexplored search token" - the player still wins or loses with the group, but the game gets harder as they go insane.

So, yeah, I'm not a fan of mean anymore. It usually serves only to make some people have not a lot of fun - but with the right group it can be a blast.
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Dave P wrote:
How do you guys feel about being mean in games?

I sorta justify it by saying to myself, and even sometimes out loud if I'm feeling mischievous, "It's just a game." However, I still sometimes feel a little guilty if it really damages another player's position or worse still puts paid to their chances of winning.
I ask this because I've designed a game that throws up quite a lot of this kind of thing and I'd be interested to know how others feel about it.
During testing of the game our group played it a lot, so there was quite a lot of scope for payback in subsequent games. We're quite an easy going group of people so we do tend to take and give without any ill feeling, but in the case of a very competitive group or perhaps if the group contained individuals with certain characteristics, then I'm guessing that it could get a little heated.

How do you guys see this aspect of gaming? Do you purposely avoid games that throw up this kind of thing? Do you game with people who take things a little too hard? Do you enjoy inflicting pain? Do you feel any guilt when you do something mean? Do you purposely hold off from doing mean stuff, even when it's the best strategy? Do you go out for revenge in the same or subsequent games?

I'm not that aggressive in nature, so I tend to avoid such games. OTOH, if I do play such, it is nice having that justification. Otherwise, fully-co-op games have been my cup of tea

Otherwise, I've noticed a long time ago the irony and hypocrisy how eurogames that tout themselves as not having direct conflict (e.g. Ticket To Ride, Settlers Of Catan, Carcassonne), can still feel very aggressive even if the negative interaction and attacking are non-existent or low. Critics have added that in games with aggression and ameritrash games, at least you have the option to retaliate as an "equalizer"
 
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Ken Marin
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This thread reminds me of my favorite review on this site, about how you get to be the 'biggest jerk in the world' when playing Dune:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/135668/dune-finally-gam...
 
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Crazed Survivor
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I live to force other players to discard their cards and give me their resources devil
 
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Larry L
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It was quite a revelation when I realized that some people are actually bothered by people being mean in games. I like games where everyone gets full opportunity to be mean to each other and I like game groups where everyone enjoys that style of play.
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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90% of the games I play are "mean". However, we're a group of close friends out of gaming. I can see how the dynamic might change in a group that doesn't know each other so well.
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weesh ful
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I LOVE GAMES WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR MEANNESS!

But not for the reason you might suspect.

I had a settlers of catan group back in 2010 that REALLY didn't like being mean, and when a 7 was rolled in the early game, the robber was always sent to a useless hex, or back to the desert, with the understanding that the first person to be actually "mean" with it was playing with fire and was likely to be retaliated against with the next 7.

Of course, we eventually got to a place where one player gets scary, and the robber would start inhabiting their hexes, but not before everyone had gotten a fair start.

I've played several games where the mechanic for being mean was built in...that by mutual agreement just didn't get used much. XD

I tell you what, settlers played with nice people, and with mean people is a totally different game!

Magic the gathering MULTIPLAYER FREE FOR ALL is a game DEFINED by the niceness of the people at the table. In some groups, people harshly take out the people that are weak, and in other groups, people share their attacking love by spreading damage across all the players. Two radically different games.

I don't mind meanness, but I really love brokering politeness in such games even more!

In fact, the last game of werewolf I played, I convinced the werewolves to stop eating people, and convinced the villagers to stop the witch hunt, ending in detante without a load of people dying.

Power is not using the tools you have to punish people...
It's having the tools to punish people...and choosing not to.
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AJ Cooper
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Attacks are part of the game, usually. Still, there are many who don't like it. Thus emerged the market for co-ops and multi-solitaires.
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Chris Puram
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Maybe it's because I grew up playing a lot of team sports but I see most games as having offensive and defensive aspects, both are valid and both are part of the game. A good defensive move that stops someone else from scoring 10 points may be a better option than simply letting them score so I can score 3 points. Of course in multiplayer games you have consider not just the opponent you are stopping and yourself, but your relation to the other players as well.

It's all part of the fun and why my favorite games are interactive euros. Playing against other people and trying to get inside their head is always so much more interesting to me than doing simultaneous solo games.
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