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Subject: Brief musings on luck and losing rss

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Edwin Priest
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A recent thread about being a sore loser or not started me thinking about my own hot buttons, and I decided that luck, or more specifically the lack of it, can at times be one of those buttons.

For me, the enjoyment of games comes from the intellectual challenges and the social interactions they provide. I tend to have bad luck, and if a game relies too heavily on dice or chance, I will generally lose. Most of the time, I take it in stride and don’t mind. I like the activity of playing games, even when losing, and will usually enjoy pretty much everything, even games that involve a large dose of chance.

What does frustrate me and what can really make me a sore loser are games where bad luck can hopelessly change my fortune. This is especially true when chance and strategy are combined in such a way that I can suddenly and capriciously lose territory or resources that I have just spent a great deal of time and effort building or accumulating. I ask myself why the hell am I wasting my time with this game?

Case in point, my last (and so far only) game of Catan Card Game. I thought I did a pretty good job at the outset of building up my infrastructure with roads, extra settlements and expansions. Then with a combination of bad rolls and bad card draws, my decline began. My wife captured the windmill token and built more knights than I, which she used to cause me to fall further behind. Then with "lucky" card draws, she acquired and played both arsonists and the black knight, decimating my previous hard work and accelerating my spiral of decline. She creamed me. I walked away frustrated and feeling that the game was broken.

Now I will grant that this was my first game and that it probably isn’t really "broken." I am sure that there are ways to mitigate the luck factor in this game, and in most other games that involve chance, and that these come with experience. The problem is that this type of loss is infuriating to me. I don’t want to play it again. If my first game wasn’t fun, why would I choose to play again? Maybe I should start a geeklist, "Games with luck that really piss me off," or something like that.

Well, despite these frustrations, I am certain that I will continue my random wanderings through the wonderful world of boardgames, for the most part generally enjoying myself on this journey.

So there you are, my musings on luck and losing. Now back to your regularly scheduled game.
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Phil McDonald
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If you play games where luck is a big element, then bad luck is merely part of the game mechanic. Bad luck in a deeper game is merely part of life's carousel and is cancelled out by good luck earlier or later in the game (in general).

I've lost games that I've played well in and I've won games where I really didn't know what I was doing. I have learned to treat winning and losing as irrelevances... not what I play games FOR actually. That isn't to say I try to lose.

Losing in an exciting game is fun, winning in a boring game is not. Losing in a boring game is called Settlers of Catan.

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ERPriest wrote:
Then with "lucky" card draws, she acquired and played both arsonists and the black knight, decimating my previous hard work and accelerating my spiral of decline.


Now I don't enjoy the Settlers of Catan Card Game very much either, and agree that luck will play a part in who wins. But losing due to "lucky" card draws should be extremely uncommon if both people are playing correctly. Looking through decks of cards so that you know where key cards are located is an important strategy here and really minimizes any "luck of the draw" aspect of the game.

It has also been my experience that it's hard to go from being in a strong position to being dominated as you describe without poor in-game decisions being made, even when luck does turn against you.

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The problem is that this type of loss is infuriating to me. I don’t want to play it again. If my first game wasn’t fun, why would I choose to play again?


At the risk of sounding patronizing, you might choose to play games again to improve (or at least change) your strategies and see if that afffects the result. You might also be a bit slower to blame a loss on "luck" and see if there are ways you can act differently to improve your odds of winning. Outright dismissing a game after losing once hardly seems like a sporting attitude... and if losing a game to your wife really is infuriating then maybe it's time to take up a different hobby.

That said, maybe your dislike for the game is due to the overall mechanics and flow instead of the role of luck. I don't care for Settlers of Catan Card Game either because it runs a bit long, felt more static than I wanted, and relies more on strategic planning than the tactical action I prefer. So despite lots of depth, the game simply didn't appeal to me.
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Edwin Priest
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Yeah, you both are right I’m sure. I thought I was just venting, but my post does come across as a little whiney, doesn’t it?

I do plan to try SoC the Card Game again, despite my initial reaction, and feel that there may be a good game in there. Or maybe not.

I still contend that the three draws by my wife, first the Black Knight, and then the two arsonists, was lucky on her part and may have cost me the game. I'm sure I made plenty of "poor in-game decisions", but what frustrated me was watching all of my hard work disappear because of her luck, and then being crippled and unable to catch up again. I think others have had a similar reaction, as several threads have commented on the problems with the aggression action cards and a runaway leader problem in this game.

Finally, believe me, if I got infuriated every time I lost a game to my wife, I would have given up on this hobby a long time ago.
 
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jan klimus
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i myself hate luck based games, like to much card drawing, dice rolling etc.

but sometimes some random events spice up games

some examples:
fighting against monster with 4 strengh and i have 8 strengh, we both roll dice (monster six me one ) and i unfortunately loose even if the favor is with me - i hate this

playing arkham horror and gate opens where i am standing, it sucks me in a i die in other world- this is actually fun and laugh a lot with your friends!

in strategic or tactical games that are long and "mediem" to " heavy " luck can ruin whole gaming session,if you know what i mean- you play for 2 hours tie game and for some lucky element of the game you suddenly loose whole game

thats my X cents, excuse my english not native speaker
 
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ERPriest wrote:
I think others have had a similar reaction, as several threads have commented on the problems with the aggression action cards and a runaway leader problem in this game.


Personally, I think the aggression cards are an important part of the game - otherwise there isn't much interaction for most of the game. But if only one person grabs them then it can create problems. I also feel that runaway leader is a very valid concern.

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Finally, believe me, if I got infuriated every time I lost a game to my wife, I would have given up on this hobby a long time ago.


Totally hearing this. My wife wins way more than her fair share of games too. I blame being distracted by her overwhelming cuteness.
;)
 
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p55carroll
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Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
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Reverse the roles, and the initial post to this thread could be about the one and only time my wife and I ever played Catan Card Game. She got so frustrated when I sent in arsonists and destroyed what she'd built that she walked off in a huff. We never finished the game; it sat around for a few years; and I recently traded it away.

I call this the sandcastle phenomenon. It's like you've spent half a day at the beach, building an elaborate sandcastle; and suddenly some kid runs up, kicks it down, and laughs about it.

It often happens to me in Sid Meier's Civilization. Just when I think I've got a good civ going, my formerly peaceful neighbors morph into ruthlessly barbaric bastards and overrun my territory. At that point, I don't even want to play anymore. Even if I can win the war, I know it's going to mess things up and slow down progress--and usually I'm not up for that.

So, I don't mind a game of luck. Backgammon is great, even though sometimes the tables are turned on me.

I don't mind building games either; I like 'em.

Nor do I dislike wargames; I'm fond of games where I can mobilize armies against an enemy and try to out-strategize him (or beat him by brute force).

But I really hate games where you do mostly expanding/building early on, and then it can suddenly turn into a vicious wargame. You're lulled into thinking you're engaged in some kind of pleasant "multiplayer solitaire," and then, Bam! "all your base are belong to us." That's a rotten experience.

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Ray
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Some times bad luck is just about running without a safety net. Do you go fast and trusting to luck or do you spend lots of effort securing resources above and beyond what provides benefit to protect you investment. (for instance having more knights but getting even more knights to cement your lead in knights)
 
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