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Subject: Endgame 'problem'? Maybe this will work... rss

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Claudio
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Kansas Pacific has been hitting the table quite frequently at our game nights. Winsome’s got a big fan-base, so we usually fill up the full player count (4 of my 5 games have been with 6, the other with 5). We haven’t hit the ‘titanic’ endgame that John Bohrer has commented on in another thread, but we’ve come close. In this endgame, neither the 3 Go West or 4 Across the Line endgame conditions can be met because of track builds by four of the companies (a move I like to call ‘Go Greedy’). Then along comes some sumbitch who controls two companies and chooses not to run them out of cubes until he’s clawed his way back, dividend by dividend, Wall Street by Wall Street, into contention. Now, in theory, I like this possibility. This game seems to be all about making choices about whether to abdicate participation in the endgame conditions, and thus putting the right and responsibility on the other companies. The titanic scenario is a sort of mutual assured destruction that is one possible conclusion of this ‘no, you do it – no, YOU do it’ dynamic. (The other conclusion seems to be having the companies with viable westward trajectories courting the cash leaders who want the game to FRICKIN END RIGHT NOW.) So, in theory I like the titanic scenario. In practice, it doesn’t make for a very fun last two hours of a 1.5 hour game. John suggested in the abovementioned thread that people bothered by this use a 8 Wall Street endgame condition that was toyed with during playtesting. My feeling is that this would be a rather obscene truncation of the game, killing many of the lovely dynamics that play out in lots of ‘viable’ endgame situations. I’m glad they discarded this in playtesting. So, last night, a potential solution came to me that I’d like to offer up to the community to try out, if not on the table, as a thought experiment:

Add an endgame condition stated as follows: “If at the end of a company’s operating turn, a player can demonstrate that it is impossible for three companies to Go West AND for four companies to cross the land grant line, the game ends immediately.” (Yes, I stole this idea from P-O.)

I’m frankly a little concerned about this idea, but I think it should generally feed the type of dynamics that this game seems to treasure: a) ‘Consensus/momentum’ game endings, b) ‘Last one there is a rotten egg’-dynamic that generates the incredible momentum and requires the loser of the race to have a damned good reason for finishing, and c) the aforementioned ‘no you do it’ dynamic. Yes, it dilutes the hairy decision of being the third company to Go West in a game where that third company could decide to just go astray instead. This however only happens in the Titanic Scenario since otherwise, someone else can go. In fact, the variant creates another version of ‘no you do it’ by giving people an incentive to go astray to generate the momentum toward a different consensus (i.e. ‘Go Greedy, everyone!’).

I’m going to try to convince folks to try this out at the next session and I’ll report back.
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maks teper
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I'll give it a try tomorrow - I've played only once and the "titanic" scenario has left me somewhat dissaponited. I really liked the game and I think that your variant may help it a lot.
 
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Claudio
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steady wrote:
I'll give it a try tomorrow - I've played only once and the "titanic" scenario has left me somewhat dissaponited. I really liked the game and I think that your variant may help it a lot.


I'll tell you honestly, I never tried it. I've played a number of times since posting and this issue has not come up. My fear was that it would become the most often triggered endgame condition. The more I play, the more I appreciate the group dilema and how the game end coalesces. Going west and crossing the line are not particularly attractive from an investment point of view. A company typically needs about $100 to Go West. That usually means 3-4 shares. Sometimes 5. The extra $4-7/share typically ain't worth it given the investment and the fact that you will likely only get one or two dividends after going. So going west or crossing the line is usually less about making money and more about trying to make the end happen.

A group that is cognizant of the possibility of locking the game can avoid it. I don't think the game is broken. Just fragile. I'm still curious to find out what happens with the variant though, so if you play, please post a report!
 
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Adam Badura
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After first learning the game I thought it is significantly broken by the end-game conditions. But after reading some more on it I changed my mind.

I think that the only addition needed is that the game should be immediately finished when after a company's operation turn it can be shown that the game will not end due to a decision of a player who will not win no matter how long (s)he would block the game.

Thus it is possible that someone overpays for some shares to become president of deciding companies and now waits enough turns until his larger dividend will make him a winner and then finishes the game. And I think it is a fair game, deep strategy and a good long-term planning (or luck ). After all it was other players fault that allowed the sneaky one to claim victory.

Another issue arises when we have a case that the blocking player will not win however waiting enough turns he might change the winning player. It is a kind of king-making. The rule I gave above does not allow it.

Generally I am not against king-making. For me it just adds another layer to the game. And so in this case I would like to have it as well. But including this one makes the end condition rule even more complex because players would have to show that not only the blocking player will not win but also that he will not change the winner.
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Adam Badura
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Another solution is to decide that a game where a player blocks end-conditions is a draw (providing that player can show that the game is blocked - which is quite easy - and (s)he wants to block the game).

This rule is simplest among all the end-game variants as it is simpler for a player to show that he blocks the game then for other players that blocking end of the game for any number of turns will not make the blocking player a winner.

And the justification is again similar to what I already posted before. If other players allowed the sneaky one to block the game its their fault and none of them deserves to be called a victor.


Note also that variants which let the game end as soon as blocking condition is met make the game shallower and less forgiving. Using my variants a player even when loosing can at least try to aim for a draw. Or with some luck for victory after long blocking. Without those rules a loosing player can only sit there and watch how others have fun while fighting to win.
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John Bohrer
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Excellent suggestions, Adam. Since the Winsome customers are all very experienced, superb gamers, we felt it necessary to give them the 'nuclear option'. I felt especially good when I triumphed over Knut after a really hard fought, titanic struggle. Better luck* next time, Knut!



* there is no luck in Kansas Pacific.
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Knut Krummnacker
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There will be no "next time"... Well, you know the rules John: My appartment, my choice of games.

We will play dice driven Ravensburger games in April all the time. With pink camels. And cats. And flowers. And .... plastic tanks. devil
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John Bohrer
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knurt wrote:
There will be no "next time"... Well, you know the rules John: My appartment, my choice of games.


Looks like more gaming at Lars' apartment!!
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Panagiotis
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adambadura wrote:
Another solution is to decide that a game where a player blocks end-conditions is a draw (providing that player can show that the game is blocked - which is quite easy - and (s)he wants to block the game).
...
And the justification is again similar to what I already posted before. If other players allowed the sneaky one to block the game its their fault and none of them deserves to be called a victor.


Once upon a time, this was the solution that worked best for us. Thanks goes to Adam.
 
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Andrew S. Fischer
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The rules in the Queen Games edition I just bought has the "After 8 Wall Streets" as a mandatory end-game condition.

Players check for this right after a dividend payout, so in practice this means that the black railroad will get an extra dividend payment (unless the game ends in another way).

This seems odd, but black isn't likely to provide a lot of money unless it Goes West ASAP (which it can do without buying the land grant trains).
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