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Subject: Proper Scaling Variant rss

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Steven Metzger
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After about 600 total plays (mostly 2p on BSW or live, but a good chunk of 3p, some 4p, and one 5p), I can safely say that only in the three-player game do the two ending conditions evenly match in frequency. That is to say, about half the time you end on three piles, and the other half you end on provinces.

In 2p, you most often end on provinces.
In 4p, you most often end on three piles.

So here's a solution, based moderately off of the 5-6 player official variant:

The game ends after the turn when either of these conditions are met:

- The Province pile becomes empty.
- X piles are empty (X is the number of players in the game)


In a 2-player game, 2 piles.
In a 3-player game, 3 piles.
In a 4-player game, 4 piles.

With more than 4, I have no problem increasing the pile number because you're really asking for a long game if you're playing with more than 4.

Anyways, what do you guys think?

NOTE: This is not a thread about even turns and phantom provinces. Please don't bring it up.
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Jeff Wolfe
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Well, since you asked:

I've never seen the fact that you might encounter one end-game condition more than another as a problem, So I don't see the need for this solution.

The likelihood of an end-game condition being encountered is greatly dependent on the cards in play. As more expansions are released, the balance may shift slightly one way or the other. It also means that BSW is not a good test, because it only has a relatively small number of cards that don't represent the whole.
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Ted Vessenes
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My four player games most often end on provinces. Perhaps my opponents are building more efficient decks than your opponents?

In any case, I don't see why the reason for game end is an issue. You know potential ways the game can end in advance-- optimize your play accordingly. Are you suggesting Dominion isn't fun when the game never wins from one of the two potential conditions? That's a rather foreign viewpoint to me. I'm not sure why it would matter.
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B C Z
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Why do games have to end evenly on the two game end conditions?
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You can't handle the truth?
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I'm with you Steve. I think having the ability to race for a different end condition, regardless of number of players, is a fine addition to the game. I think I am going to tweak my 2 player games in this direction.
 
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Steven Metzger
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byronczimmer wrote:
Why do games have to end evenly on the two game end conditions?
They don't...I guess I shouldn't have used the word "solution," since that implies the game is broken or has a problem (the game might be broken, but this definitely isn't the reason why).

I haven't tried this, mind you, I just figured that if the scaling rules in place for 5p and 6p were adapted for the basic game, this is probably what it would look like and the endgame might be a little more intriguing more often. Like I said, I find 3p games to be the perfect fit for the ruleset the game has now, so this is a 'logical extension' of the 5-6p scaling concepts to make the effect of those 3p game prevalent across the board, without changing the game too much.

People have complained in the past that the three-piles rule never comes up in their 2p games. Instead of saying that they are doing it wrong (which I think they might be), this could be an option for them?
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Ted Vessenes
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If people complain there aren't enough home runs in baseball, the solution is not to make the field smaller. It's to change your perception of what the game is supposed to be.
 
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Joseph
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tedv wrote:
If people complain there aren't enough home runs in baseball, the solution is not to make the field smaller. It's to change your perception of what the game is supposed to be.


I thought the solution was to change how the balls are made so they go farther.
 
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Jeff Wolfe
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tedv wrote:
If people complain there aren't enough home runs in baseball, the solution is not to make the field smaller. It's to change your perception of what the game is supposed to be.


Not really a good example, because that's exactly what Major League Baseball did at the end of the 20th Century. And in the 1920s, they introduced a livelier baseball because Babe Ruth proved how popular home runs could be.
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You can't handle the truth?
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jeffwolfe wrote:
tedv wrote:
If people complain there aren't enough home runs in baseball, the solution is not to make the field smaller. It's to change your perception of what the game is supposed to be.


Not really a good example, because that's exactly what Major League Baseball did at the end of the 20th Century. And in the 1920s, they introduced a livelier baseball because Babe Ruth proved how popular home runs could be.


Or maybe it now becomes the perfect example.
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Steven Metzger
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crambaza wrote:
jeffwolfe wrote:
tedv wrote:
If people complain there aren't enough home runs in baseball, the solution is not to make the field smaller. It's to change your perception of what the game is supposed to be.


Not really a good example, because that's exactly what Major League Baseball did at the end of the 20th Century. And in the 1920s, they introduced a livelier baseball because Babe Ruth proved how popular home runs could be.


Or maybe it now becomes the perfect example.
For the last few years I've been thinking baseball would be more interesting without an outfield fence like you see in some of the movies.

500-ft pop flies. All home runs are inside-the-park.

NOTE: I think my "Game Designer" badge makes me immune to any harsh criticism you might have regarding this...
 
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Matt Sargent
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Two-player games with Gardens would suck if the game ended with two empty stacks. I have no idea why you would want the two kinds of game ends to occur with equal frequency.
 
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noon wrote:
Two-player games with Gardens would suck if the game ended with two empty stacks. I have no idea why you would want the two kinds of game ends to occur with equal frequency.


Maybe for variation in paths to victory?

I agree with Steve. Most 2 player games will end with the province pile being depleted.

It would be nice to have another viable, reliable path to victory.

Aren't more paths to victory usually seen as a positive?
 
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Gabriel Manasan
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The pawn-estate rush would be interesting to try, definitely.
 
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Brandon Richards
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jeffwolfe wrote:
tedv wrote:
If people complain there aren't enough home runs in baseball, the solution is not to make the field smaller. It's to change your perception of what the game is supposed to be.


Not really a good example, because that's exactly what Major League Baseball did at the end of the 20th Century. And in the 1920s, they introduced a livelier baseball because Babe Ruth proved how popular home runs could be.


Bring back steroids. The game got a lot livelier with Clemens, Bonds, and McGuire on the juice.
 
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Byron Leung
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Ok. let's bring this back to the designer. I specifically remember seeing him posting or someone mentioning what his design were stating that "Ending on Province" is supposedly the only official ending. The 3 pile ending is in place just in case the game drags too long when no one is able to buy province.


in the perfect ideal world of dominion, no game should end with 3 pile exhausting.
 
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Steven Metzger
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theatog wrote:
Ok. let's bring this back to the designer. I specifically remember seeing him posting or someone mentioning what his design were stating that "Ending on Province" is supposedly the only official ending. The 3 pile ending is in place just in case the game drags too long when no one is able to buy province.

in the perfect ideal world of dominion, no game should end with 3 pile exhausting.
The "official" ending is what you know: Provinces OR any three piles. There's no distinction between what makes a "real" endgame or not because if you've played enough times you know that:

A) Three-pile exhaustion ADDS depth to the endgame, and
B) Three-pile exhaustion is simply necessary in some sets of kingdom cards, or the game drags on needlessly.

The original end-game condition was one-pile depletion, regardless of the type of pile it was, then using this concept for VP piles. After exhaustive playtesting, DXV and his developers and playtesters realized there was an intriguing phenomenon called "The Duchy Rush." Oh, and Provinces used to be worth 5VP.

From The Secret History of the Dominion Cards:

donaldx wrote:
Province: As mentioned in the BGN article, we changed this from 5 VP to 6 VP during development, as part of the fix to the Duchy rush. The Duchy rush was, you buy nothing but Silver and Duchies. At the time the game ended when any Victory pile ran out. If one person went for the Duchy rush you could beat them, but if two people did, you had to join them. My friends found this strategy, but it didn't seem like a problem. It was a boring strategy, so the only reason to play it was if you thought it would win for you. It wouldn't though; it would win for someone at random, since we would all follow suit. You could make the game suck but that's it. So we never did it.

Well would you believe, being able to make the game suck is not so hot. Furthermore, if you're a new player, the Duchy rush may elevate your chance of winning from zero to even. So it was in fact a problem. An anonymous playtester realized this, Valerie and Dale raised the alarm, and in the end, Province changed from 5 VP to 6 VP and the end condition changed from "any empty victory pile" (the end condition we were using at the time, but not the original one, which was "any empty pile") to the one you know. We tried ideas that Valerie or Dale came up with, but in the end happened to go with something that I suggested (which is why I didn't count this when I mentioned Thief as the only card they changed). These two changes were easily the most important changes during development.
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Donald X.
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metzgerism wrote:
A) Three-pile exhaustion ADDS depth to the endgame, and
B) Three-pile exhaustion is simply necessary in some sets of kingdom cards, or the game drags on needlessly.

The original end-game condition was one-pile depletion, regardless of the type of pile it was, then using this concept for VP piles. After exhaustive playtesting, DXV and his developers and playtesters realized there was an intriguing phenomenon called "The Duchy Rush." Oh, and Provinces used to be worth 5VP.

Just to clarify:

Originally any empty the pile ended the game. This was an easy answer to "what if I want to buy a card but it's sold out," and we liked it so I never looked for another end-of-game condition. It stayed like that into development.

Well if any empty pile ends the game, it is still probably going to be a victory pile. It's no fun buying the last Market and then finding out that you lost. Outside of 2-player games, I never pass up buying the last Province, even if I know I'm losing, because man, it's not getting any better (in 2-player games you can still go for your slim chance of winning by not buying the last Province). Anyway you know. A non-vp pile could end it, sure, but it was a lot less common than a vp pile ending it.

In development, a key thing was, could the game be fewer cards. It was a lot of cards. We went with a generous number in the end, but it could have been even more generous. One thing that stuck was, I cut down the Action piles from 12 to 10 cards. At the same time I changed the end condition to "any victory pile." This meant the game tended to end the same way it always had... but every pile could be those 2 cards smaller. You know, if buying the last Lab ends it, you can't buy the last Lab. That's one Lab that just sits there. It may get bought sometimes, but it never gets played. And then if you leave it at one Lab, if someone else knows they're winning, they'll buy it and seal the deal. So you have to leave the pile at 2 Labs. Well now that buying the last Lab doesn't end it, you can buy those Labs. So the pile got to be 2 Labs smaller, while having as many Labs in decks as ever.

Then of course, as recounted in the Secret History, the Duchy rush meant Duchies by themselves couldn't end the game. At the same time you can't count on the Provinces selling out. We can all be weighed down by Curses and struggling to buy Duchies. So, Provinces or any 3 piles. Three piles is enough to stop Duchies from dominating (outside of games where the cards specifically push them, which is fine), and gives people time to actually build decks. And Provinces had always been the most common pile to sell out anyway, from the start.

Once something is a rule, it will matter in other ways. Since the 3-pile ending is possible, it will happen sometimes, and the possibility changes how games play even when it doesn't end up happening. Some cards run out piles and so push the 3-pile ending. Anyway you know. Just because it's there to make sure the game can end doesn't mean it won't end up meaning more to the game. And it does, sure. It's a major factor when certain cards are out.

I don't really want to comment on variants, but there's the extra part of the Secret History of the End-of-game Condition.
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