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Subject: When you can't win, what do you play for? rss

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J C Lawrence
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When you know you can't win, what substitute goal do you play for? Do you adopt a form of win-approximation?

Poll
Which of the following scenarios, all from the same game is the right choice? You have the last decision in the game. In each of the cases the results are completely guaranteed and the move you choose will guarantee one of the above scoring patterns.
You can come third with final game scores of 100, 90, 80, 70. (Maximum score)
You can come second with final game scores of 100, 3, 2, 1 (Maximal rank)
You can come last with final game scores of 50, 49, 48, 47. (Maximal percentage of winning score)
You can leave your rank and score unchanged but ensure that the player who helped you most during the game improves their position (Helper: improved rank, score or percentage)
You can leave your rank and score unchanged but ensure that the player who hindered you most during the game loses position (Enemy: worse rank, score or percentage)
      620 answers
Poll created by clearclaw


What about control of game length?

Poll
You are coming dead last in a game but can control how much longer the game will play. What do you do?
Extend the game, maximising any possible opportunity to possibly improve your position, futile though you know it to be.
End the game as quickly as possible, possibly sacrificing score or percentage in the process but maintaining your dead last position.
Ignore the ability to control game length and play for my choice of score, rank or percentage.
      609 answers
Poll created by clearclaw


There's a similar debate in the 18xx regarding deliberate bankruptcy:

Poll
You are coming dead last in an 18xx game and have no possible way of improving your rank or significantly affecting your percentage of the winning score. Do you deliberately drive yourself bankrupt as fast as possible, thus peremptorily ending the game, or do you continue to play through for what little you can do for for your final score or percentage position? Remember: You are dead last and have no possible chance of changing that.
Go bankrupt as fast as possible.
Play through.
      498 answers
Poll created by clearclaw
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J C Lawrence
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Are there games for which your answers would vary? What are they? Why would your answers change?
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Andres F. Pabon L.
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I usually try to run in second. Or third. Or at least not dead last. However, if (and when, trust me... there are a lot of "when"s) I actually come dead last, I shrug it and ask for a rematch cool

The score itself, and the percentage, are not as important to me; and I usually don't help, nor hinder other players intentionally. That sorta ruins the fun experience for everyone involved!
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David Tome
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While I did answer the poll, I honestly have to confess I often attempt to annoy the other players once I can no longer win..

Yeah I know, what a jerk!

For me I like to incorrectly play a game at this point, hopefully causing the other players to deal with this sub-optimal play. Those that can overcome (if in fact the sub-optimal play can impact the other players), should be proud to have achieved victory with a jerk causing issues. Not to mention it is no fun (IMO) to play the game as others *deem correct*, once those correct choices can no longer yield a victory for oneself!
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J C Lawrence
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My answers FWVLIW:

Which of the following scenarios, all from the same game is the right choice? You have the last decision in the game. In each of the cases the results are completely guaranteed and the move you choose will guarantee one of the above scoring patterns.

Answer: You come second with final game scores of 100, 3, 2, 1 (Maximal rank)

You are coming dead last in a game but can control how much longer the game will play. What do you do?

Answer: End the game as quickly as possible, possibly sacrificing score or percentage in the process but maintaining your dead last position.

You are coming dead last in an 18xx game and have no possible way of improving your rank or significantly affecting your percentage of the winning score. Do you deliberately drive yourself bankrupt as fast as possible, thus peremptorily ending the game, or do you continue to play through for what little you can do for for your final score or percentage position? Remember: You are dead last and have no possible chance of changing that.

Answer: Go bankrupt as fast as possible.
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Eric Jome
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From a previous thread, my philosophical proof of why playing for rank is the right answer;

Quote:
In the rarefied air of the highest ivory towers of gamer ethics, I am convinced there can be only one real answer; the goal of a game is to try to win it. Victory points are only a means to an end - place is what matters. So clearly number 2 is the most morally pure choice... and also practically rather distasteful.

In real practice, I feel most people would feel happier with 1 or 3 as these make it appear that the game was closer. That is something that soothes our wounded ego when we lose and perhaps more accurately reflects the result of the action of the entire game. It tells the story better, that is.

So a venal sin to choose 1 or 3, entirely forgivable in any real case. But we are trying to come in first, so closest to first by place is "best".

It is entirely inconsequential if any of the choices change which player will be the winner. Indeed, it compounds a moral failing to pick one of them based on something like who they are... a game is between gamers, all of equal status. Even if they betrayed you in the game, you should be trying to win, not serving vengeance.

Is it acceptable for someone to choose differently? In the sense that I will not drop them as a friend and never speak to them again, of course. It is only a minor disappointment when people choose differently, hardly worth noticing.

But I stand behind my convictions. Number 2 is "best" although the others are tolerable.
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Raymond Glosser
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Mine are dependent upon the situation. If I'm in a game that is the only planned game for the day/evening, I'll try to maximize my position and enjoy the game as long as possible. If it is a planned game day or convention, I may sacrifice position to end early in order to begin another game. I like to get in as much time as possible on a variety of games.
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Jason Sadler
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I tend to roleplay my playstyle in games that it makes sense to do so; try to save as many of my men as possible after a disastrous raid or spend every last action trying to destroy House Lannister at all costs.

When it comes to games that are more abstract, I tend to shoot for the best score possible, kind of like a game of golf. Even if I lose with a really high score, I keep the score in mind for future plays as a sort of goal to shoot for.
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Caleb
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clearclaw wrote:
Are there games for which your answers would vary? What are they? Why would your answers change?


If a game has outstayed its welcome and everyone's tired of it, all bets are off. I'll try to end the misery asap.

I play for rank mainly because some games don't have "scoring" per se, and in some games scores fluctuate quite widely. Though I record all scores and do sometimes take a look at them, for example to find out "how many points will usually win Game X?"

See this link for a mathematical discussion of "scoring" people based on the two main metrics, frequency of 1st place finish, and average finishing place:

http://russcon.org/RussCon/ratings.html

Or see the "PLOPS" system:

http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/PLOPS.htm

PLOPS is simpler but not as mathematically "elegant". Both are useful for ranking players based on average finishing position, which is useful across different games with differing numbers of players.

Score can be misleading as it is sometimes highly dependent on number of players. For example, in the quick word card game My Word, there is a finite number of points that's distributed across all players as they "win" cards. So scores in a 2-player game will be quite a bit higher than scores in a 4-player game. So looking at a player's average score won't tell you much unless you factor in the number of players each score was generated against. The two methods above ignore score and just focus on finishing rank, e.g. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on.

-cannoneer
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Douglas Buel
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clearclaw wrote:
Are there games for which your answers would vary? What are they? Why would your answers change?


The problem I'm having is with the first two choices of the first question.

If getting maximum rank meant raising my score from where it is currently, then I'd be likely to do that.

However, suppose that in order to get maximum rank, I'd have to reduce my score from where it is currently (presumably, also reducing the score of everyone else somehow). Given that I can't win either way, I'm not sure I'd reduce my score and the score of everyone else in order to improve my rank. I don't know that I'd want to give up score or position or whatever we're talking about just to advance from third to second.

EDIT: In fact, I thought of such a scenario. Suppose we're playing multiplayer Magic: the Gathering with four players. The winner is the last survivor. The second-place player is the second-to-last survivor, and so on through the fourth player.

If it's apparent that I can't win because another player will kill me when it becomes his turn, and I can't stop him or kill him, I don't believe I would sacrifice my own permanents or use up my own instants in my hand just to kill a different player. Killing a different player now would mean I don't die first, but that wouldn't matter to me in this particular situation. I would go ahead and be in fourth rather than give up resources to be in third and still lose.
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Mendon Dornbrook
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It depends on the length of the game. If I can end the game and get a couple more in, I'll end it quickly. If I'm playing a longer game, like TS, I'll play through and diligently make an effort to comeback. In a really long and drawn out game, like a one turn per week PBEM of diplomacy, when I'm clearly losing, I go for broke and push my units as aggressively as possible so that I can stop reading those damn emails about my death more quickly.

Also: When I am clearly losing, I like to help the most disadvantaged person at the table (that is not me). Maybe someone who hasn't had a win in a while or who doesn't play very often. I'll throw my resources at other players in such a way to help out the other underdog.
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1. Helper

2. Ignore the ability to change the game.

3. Play through.

A couple reasons for these choices:

1. If I'm new to a particular game, I want to learn how it's really played. I'd rather not manipulate the game or force an end by tanking it if I really don't understand it that well. Or even if I do but other players aren't so familiar with it.

2. Meta considerations: Since I often play in a group, sometimes social considerations can creep in: Help the new guy/guest out. Encourage a future ally if neither of you can win a particular game this time around.
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Eric Jome
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BeatPosse wrote:
I tend to shoot for the best score possible, kind of like a game of golf. Even if I lose with a really high score, I keep the score in mind for future plays as a sort of goal to shoot for.


This is a very interesting statement.

In any real game, the points are intended to be accumulated over time and reflect the entire performance of the players over the course of the entire game. To work for the highest score in the hopes of having the highest rank (winner) in the end is the goal, but most people don't watch the rankings. They try to maximize their score because that is the operation that makes them the winner usually.

The example given at the start contradicts or throws into relief the difference between points for points sake and points as a means to an end. It often is the right thing to do to work to maximize your points as that is what will give you the best rank; it takes a contrived example like this to show what the points really are though.
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Eric Jome
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dbuel wrote:
I don't know that I'd want to give up score or position or whatever we're talking about just to advance from third to second.


You have in hand a card that reads;

"When you play this card, you choose to lose a number of points. Everyone else loses double that number of points."

Play it?
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Lance Hampton
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Answer to the first one:

I will punish a player who cost me during the game.

Helping another player who helped me is crossteaming if it no longer helps me and is unfair to the other players.

I will not punish the leading player unless they had a hand in me going down.
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Douglas Buel
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cosine wrote:
dbuel wrote:
I don't know that I'd want to give up score or position or whatever we're talking about just to advance from third to second.


You have in hand a card that reads;

"When you play this card, you choose to lose a number of points. Everyone else loses double that number of points."

Play it?


Yeah, something like that.

I don't believe I would play such a card just to advance from third to second (assuming we're ending the game right now).

I would play it in an instant to advance to the lead.
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Gerry Smit
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Quote:
When you can't win, what do you play for?
For FUN!

clearclaw wrote:
Are there games for which your answers would vary? What are they? Why would your answers change?


"Are there games?" Maybe. "Are there situations?" Definitely!

I had to click on questions and change my answer, TWICE. That's how hard it was to decide which I do. And the true answer is "all of the above" from time to time.

In a co-operative (yet competitive game) game play of something like 18xx or Supremacy or Catan, where everyone "got along" and minimized friction, I'ld probably go for choice #1 , build as much as I can within the empire building rules.

In a game where someone has above and beyond gone for bat for me, I may help them place better in the end. But not if I perceived it to be "bought". Perhaps I was last, and they traded me 4 sheep for 1 wood or some such.

In another game where someone repeatedly stomped me into the ground, it would be to "gun for the enemy at all costs". The robber cost me 15 sheep and 6 stone over 5 rolls, I blame you and your knights.


Perhaps it's the meta-game of playing with the same friends. Stab me in the back, I go psycho on you. Co-operate with me, I'll co-operate with you. They get to know I'm like this, and I get treated more in line with what I prefer in later games.

Gerry
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Philip Thomas
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Interesting. I made my answers in terms of what I would do in Here I Stand. Picking a game makes it easier to think things through of course, and it had to a game that was multiplayer and in which the players choices could affect when the game ends: Here I Stand is the game I play most often that has those features.

Now, I normally play Here I Stand (by email) with more or less the same group of people from game to game. For the first question the last option, that of harming your worst enemy. Apart from the satisfaction involved it has obvious metagaming benefits, especially if the enemy betrayed you earlier. It can also feel more "in character" for, say, the Pope to attack the Protestants rather than the French.

For the second question I chose to extend the game. In Here I Stand you can extend the game in only one way: by preventing someone else from winning. If possible, I will usually try to stop the winner. However, if that involves helping someone who betrayed me earlier I'm less likely to take it.

The third question of course is about 18xx, so Here I Stand is irrelevant. I chose to prolong the game- I play games to learn and enjoy myself as well as to win, and those objectives are best served by keeping the game going.

edit: significant rider to above Here I Stand comments; I will honour any existing promises/diplomatic comittments over and above taking an enemy out.
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Can I choose every answer?

Different games and different situations see me do all of those things and some things you haven't covered.

How about "I follow my strategy to the bitter end. Even if the scores are (100, 99, 98, 1)".

Ultimately I do whatever feels 'right'.

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How about the scenario where you have a tiny chance to win, otherwise come in last....or a guaranteed 2nd place finish?

I know lots of gamers that take the sure 2nd place finish. Knizia (and I) disagree with that approach though. The goal is to win. Its not the winning that is important, its the goal.

I always try to win, if its at all mathematically possible. When it becomes IMpossible, I'll try for 2nd...or if there is a real jerk playing I may start to subtly hurt his position (but that's only happened once or twice in my life).
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dbuel wrote:
cosine wrote:
dbuel wrote:
I don't know that I'd want to give up score or position or whatever we're talking about just to advance from third to second.


You have in hand a card that reads;

"When you play this card, you choose to lose a number of points. Everyone else loses double that number of points."

Play it?


Yeah, something like that.

I don't believe I would play such a card just to advance from third to second (assuming we're ending the game right now).

I would play it in an instant to advance to the lead.

Fascinating. I wonder if you are in a minority in not playing the card if it wouldn't make you win - I suppose so.

And what if you had the card earlier in the game, when its implications on the final result are not so clear? Would you play it then? I'm guessing that you would (but I don't know), and I wonder why that would feel different for you.
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Douglas Buel
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russ wrote:
And what if you had the card earlier in the game, when its implications on the final result are not so clear? Would you play it then? I'm guessing that you would (but I don't know), and I wonder why that would feel different for you.


That seems completely different to me. Early game, I would surely consider it. It might cause me to win in the long run. That almost seems like a different question.
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I guess my attitude rejects the premise of the question. I never accept I've really lost until I actually have. I will determine the paths to victory still open, however improbable, and play for whichever of those I deem most obtainable, lettingthe chips fall where they may as the saying goes.

To give an example from Castle Risk, if I'm left with nothing but my castle and have armies massed on all sides, I will if possible use anadmiral card to throw everything I have at taking the attacker's castle. I've won from the edge more than once this way. If I don't have an admiral card in such a situation, I'll attack to try and at least eliminate the ability to make a crushing attack.

I suppose this is my I strongly prefer games with player elimination. Having to continue a game in which one has no possibility even theoretically of winning is a fun-killer. Better to be eliminated in a glorious defeat.
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Eric Jome
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GerryRailBaron wrote:
Quote:
When you can't win, what do you play for?
For FUN!


You stabbing me in the back and playing kingmaker might be loads of fun for you. It is absolutely no fun for me.

Before you go off and start having fun at someone else's expense, it might be a good idea to consider how that "fun" impacts the situation.
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Poll: Very risky gambits to win
We often say that as long as we have a chance to win, we should play to win. But what if that chance is vanishingly small?
1. Which of these 2 actions (your only choices) would you pick:
1. The "risky gambit" action that has a very small probability (let's say 0.000001) of making you win (1st place) and a very high probability (let's say 0.999999) of dropping you into last place of a multi-player game.
2. The "safe" action that will definitely make you come in 2nd place.
3. I'm not sure - it might vary depending my mood or other circumstances.
2. If you picked answer 1 (very risky gambit for the win) or 2 (safe second place), what do you think of someone picking the other choice?
1. No problem, it's reasonable - I can see it argued both ways.
2. I think the other way is rather indefensible or wrong, but it wouldn't bother me.
3. The other way is definitely wrong, and I don't want to play with someone who would do that.
4. I have no idea, it's all too confusing!
      174 answers
Poll created by russ
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