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Subject: Scoring victory on three stats by least worst rss

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This Guy
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I am toying around with a game idea. Part of it requires you to gather three types of resources, then declare you are launching a space ship to trigger end of game. Remaining players have until the end of the round to launch, too. As people launch, they keep track of the launch order.

At the end of the round, all players who successfully launched compare propulsion, structure, and supplies to see who makes it to the target planet first. Setback tokens represent how well you do against various obstacles without playing out the whole trip.

Scoring looks like this:
Least propulsion, take 1 setback token
Least structure, take 1 setback token
Least supplies, take 1 setback token

For each resource, players tied for least all take a setback token.

The player with the fewest setbacks will arrive first and win. If players are tied for the fewest, resolve ties in launch order. The closest to first wins ties.

I'm curious if anyone sees any flaws with this approach, statistically. I don't want to resolve ties by treating the resources like rock-paper-scissors.

I started with something more like Samurai's scoring, but it felt more like trophies in this setting. Also, you can't give tied players trophies as easily without forcing more ties.
 
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Corsaire
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Seems doable, my biggest concern would be the last few rounds grinding to a painful slowdown as everyone continuously recalculates their lead and others' potential gains before deciding to launch. It may also depend on how nuancial the levels of structures are.
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Oliver Kiley
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You could also do it like in Tigris & Euphrates where your score at the end of the game equals whatever of the three characteristics you're the lowest in. Avoids having to deal with setback tokens.
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This Guy
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Corsaire wrote:
Seems doable, my biggest concern would be the last few rounds grinding to a painful slowdown as everyone continuously recalculates their lead and others' potential gains before deciding to launch. It may also depend on how nuancial the levels of structures are.
I'm worried about that, too. I haven't actually gotten this into a prototype form yet. It's been in my head for a while, but I never could find the right hooks mechanically to make gameplay itself interesting.

Mezmorki wrote:
You could also do it like in Tigris & Euphrates where your score at the end of the game equals whatever of the three characteristics you're the lowest in. Avoids having to deal with setback tokens.
That's where I was going when I came up with the setback idea. It may be silly to want a physical representation of what having the least propulsion does to you, but I'm going to leave it and see how it makes the game feel.

To both of your points, any least-worst scoring would require hidden resources to reduce AP and grind.
 
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B C Z
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Ingenious uses 'worst track' scoring, and that's 100% open information.

You do not need to have hidden resources.

Not knowing I'm 'safe', but thinking I'm not will extend the game as people attempt to be not-worst even if they don't have to.
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Peter S.
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If the information is open or trackable, then the flaw is that no one would rationally choose to trigger the game unless they are certain to win. That is, the scoring is a calculation folks are performing before, not after, they trigger the end of the game, and it's really a "non-decision" to pull the trigger.

If there's a "hidden cache" or similar source of uncertainty it might work, though it'd still be a little transparent. For that style of scoring you really want a fixed game end rather than a player-triggered one.

EDIT: gah! Took too long between draft and post, heh.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Is it hard to launch any ship at all? If launching at all takes a lot of work, then it seems like there's a good chance that someone wins by launching the minimum viable ship exactly one round before anyone else is ready and bypassing the whole scoring system. (That might be what you want.)


On the other hand, if launching something is trivial and everyone is delaying to try to get the best stats, I think you're going to have major kingmaker issues, as follows:

Suppose Adele hurries and launches first.

Bodica knows she will lose a tie to Adele, so she makes sure she is ahead on propulsion and tied on structure and supplies, so that Adele will take more setbacks and Bodica can win.

But then Cecil launches a ship with even worse propulsion. Now Adele isn't taking a setback for having the worst propulsion anymore, so Adele and Bodica get the same number of setbacks and Adele wins the tie.

All it takes is 1 player with a really bad ship to take all the setbacks and force a tie between all other players, and then whoever launches first wins. But if the bad player can choose not to launch at all, then suddenly the scoring changes radically. That gives the bad player a lot of power to control who wins. And if the decision to launch or not happens at the very end of the game, then they are basically just picking between 2 possible winners at the very end of the game.


Even if players are roughly even, if there's more than about 3 players in the game, then ties are pretty likely. Unless there's a tie for worst in a specific category, you're only giving out 3 setbacks total, so in a game with 5 players there's basically guaranteed to be at least 2 players tied with zero setbacks. That's probably not very effective for deciding who had the best ship.

You could consider giving positive tokens for the best in the category instead of (or in addition to) negative tokens for the worst. Then it's basically an area-majorities game.

You could also just add up a player's scores in all three categories and look for the highest sum (maybe with a bonus for launching earlier), but then you just have VPs and the individual categories don't matter at all.


On a tangential note...story-wise, this is pretty weird. It's hard to see how a space ship that runs out of supplies or suffers a structural failure is going to be delayed rather than dead. (Unless their path is littered with highly-developed colonies that could send rescue, but then why is there a space race in the first place?) I suppose you could handwave that everyone arrives but that the team with extra supplies can work more quickly once they get there...
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This Guy
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Story-wise, you are an alien microrganism trying to evolve the best species to send back home to satisfy a challenge. I am currently at really raw rules, so however many resources you need is TBD.

To win you:
1. Must evolve a species that meets all of the goals
2. Send it home by space travel

The three-or-however-many-it-takes resources are intended as a choice for players: balancing what it takes to evolve the right organism with the practicality of getting it home. A player could spend all of their actions making the best organism and be dominating the board, but if they don't send it home, they will lose the game.

Right now, I'm thinking, of all people to launch in the round, compare their lowest score on resources. If two people have the same worst score, break ties in order of launch.

Edit to add: thanks for all the input.
 
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I fail to see how your two parts correspond.

Quote:
A player could spend all of their actions making the best organism and be dominating the board, but if they don't send it home, they will lose the game.
If you need a certain type of evolution to satisfy the goals, why would people go beyond these goals?

Is it not the same thing to satisfy this goal of evolution and to have a certain amount of the resources?
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This Guy
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Lil Blue Spider wrote:
I fail to see how your two parts correspond.

Quote:
A player could spend all of their actions making the best organism and be dominating the board, but if they don't send it home, they will lose the game.
If you need a certain type of evolution to satisfy the goals, why would people go beyond these goals?

Is it not the same thing to satisfy this goal of evolution and to have a certain amount of the resources?
It is not the same. You need to evolve an organism and build a spaceship. These are two separate vectors in the game, requiring different actions.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I imagine this is like "building your economy" versus "gathering victory points". Certain kinds of upgrades make you more efficient at the game, while other kinds of upgrades don't make you more efficient but you need them to win.
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Aetheros wrote:
Lil Blue Spider wrote:
I fail to see how your two parts correspond.

Quote:
A player could spend all of their actions making the best organism and be dominating the board, but if they don't send it home, they will lose the game.
If you need a certain type of evolution to satisfy the goals, why would people go beyond these goals?

Is it not the same thing to satisfy this goal of evolution and to have a certain amount of the resources?
It is not the same. You need to evolve an organism and build a spaceship. These are two separate vectors in the game, requiring different actions.
Sure, if all you needed to do was the same action, there would not be much game to it.

But it does not change the fact that you need A + B (consisting of B1;2;3) to win. If you have only A, you will not win. If you have only B or miss one or more of the sub-categories, you will not win either. So technically, A and B work the same.
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This Guy
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Lil Blue Spider wrote:
Aetheros wrote:
Lil Blue Spider wrote:
I fail to see how your two parts correspond.

Quote:
A player could spend all of their actions making the best organism and be dominating the board, but if they don't send it home, they will lose the game.
If you need a certain type of evolution to satisfy the goals, why would people go beyond these goals?

Is it not the same thing to satisfy this goal of evolution and to have a certain amount of the resources?
It is not the same. You need to evolve an organism and build a spaceship. These are two separate vectors in the game, requiring different actions.
Sure, if all you needed to do was the same action, there would not be much game to it.

But it does not change the fact that you need A + B (consisting of B1;2;3) to win. If you have only A, you will not win. If you have only B or miss one or more of the sub-categories, you will not win either. So technically, A and B work the same.
It reads like you are arguing with me about how my game functions, without you knowing anything about the mechanisms involved. That angle doesn’t make much sense to me, so I assume I’m not parsing the point you’re actually making.

Would you mind saying it another way so I can understand your concern?
 
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Well, to be fair, you only gave limited information, so maybe we are missing a key part here that you do know but we do not.

As is however, it seems to me that both 'goals', although they might differ in how you get them (as in the actions you do to improve your evolution, propulsion etc.) are the same, but you assert they are of a different nature. Correct?

Instead of labeling them A and B(1/2/3), I could also call them 1-4. Or W,X,Y,Z, since you need all 4 to win. They score a little different maybe, but lack one and you will not even qualify for scoring, right? So they are not as different as you might think, and hence do not actually provide a different challenge in your game based on that ground.
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This Guy
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You start with a single card representing your microorganism. You can use AP to claim other cards from the board and splice them into your DNA. The traits you splice can give your species new traits, give you additional actions, or satisfy an evolution goal. You might not need to make a fast creature to win, but being faster can help you get to the species you need before the other players. You might not need to be able to breathe underwater to compete on the board, but you might need to get that trait to win.

Instead of evolving you can spend AP to prepare for space travel. There are no cards used, unless a trait you've spliced makes you more efficient at gathering and using resources.

So the two vectors are similar in that you move around a board and take actions based on what's in the space.

The triangle of choices is intended to be: survival, DNA goals, and space travel.

Survival needs to be a strong enough driver that satisfying DNA goals isn't always the automatic choice. Sure, you satisfied a goal, but it does nothing for your ability to survive right now. Should you wait to splice in breathing underwater and surround the species to herd it for later use?

Space travel has to be strong driver, too. Right now I think it is, but I haven't made a prototype to even play rough rules.
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So, my point was: it is not so much a triangle, but rather a line.

On the one side you have genetic upgrades to make you more action efficient (so the economic part of the game), on the other you have the four goals you need to satisfy to win: meet certain species requirements, have structure, have propulsion, have supplies.

Right?

That is fine in and of itself, I just wanted to point out that as is, those four goals on one side of the line do not necessarily present a different form of challenge.
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This Guy
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I hear you. Because the DNA is pass/fail, fulfilling it is only a choice of when, not if. Because you need to beat the score of others, or succeed quickly enough to leave them out of the running, the game could end up as a predictable race. The variable setup might not add real choice, just obfuscation.

Finding real choices within the framework is usually where any idea of mine hits a wall.
 
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Aetheros wrote:
I hear you. Because the DNA is pass/fail, fulfilling it is only a choice of when, not if. Because you need to beat the score of others, or succeed quickly enough to leave them out of the running, the game could end up as a predictable race. The variable setup might not add real choice, just obfuscation.

Finding real choices within the framework is usually where any idea of mine hits a wall.
That is a main struggle of most designs when going from concept to execution right? Is there enough to warrant different strategies and paths to victory?

If you succeed in making your map and evolution thing interesting enough, perhaps you can succeed. But maybe you need to allow for different end-game paths. Aka: your species is going to tag along on a passing meteor or whatever back to its home planet. You show at the start of the game when which meteor passes by, but for each you need to satisfy different requirements (cold-resistant, nitrogen based etc.)? If you succeed in tagging along with one, you qualify for end-game scoring?

I don't know, I am just sprouting something here. What I am saying is: don't give up, I think you can spin this base idea of yours into something interesting.
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Realization: I should play out the return to the home planet rather than abstract it through points.

Victory would be determined by who got home first with at least one satisfied trait. If two players get home in the same round, then whoever satisfied the most traits wins. If both players tie on traits, the first to arrive wins.

Then players can choose to balance making the best organism versus getting it home faster or safer. If you make a shoddy ship, you might not die along the way, or during landing.

It seems like it would create more opportunities for choice and risk.
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