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Subject: Journey's End: Obvious routes to victory rss

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Ben Neumann
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I'm going to use Troyes as a recent example. Players do score points throughout the game, but each player has a secret additional scoring mechanism which every player will benefit from. For those who haven't played it, essentially you get extra points for accomplishing one of six different objectives, and each of those objectives has three different degrees of accomplishment.

How many secret possible objectives is too many? How many is too few? If a game scales between 2 to 6 players, what do you do with the objectives that aren't in the current game? Other thoughts on the subject...?
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Matt Green
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It encourages generalist play, which is not always a great thing. Some players, myself included, like the option of mad crazy specialization as a route to victory. Agricola almost gets the balance right in that I've seen games won with 12 room stone houses and no animals despite there being a known penalty for ignoring elements of the game. That happens less in Troyes from my experience as players have a more even spread- especially with the the tiered reward system.

If I was designing a game with that mechanism I would go with rewards that were positive and negative on the same scale, so one card would give a bonus for having X of an element and another card giving a bonus for having 0 of that element. That should set up some interesting bluff situations so that any unused objectives could be left out of the game. Two objectives (+/-) for each element of the game that be collected by the players? Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery has final round building tiles that award vps for maximizing each of the elements, which is easy to explain to players: "anything you want to collect a load of during the game can be converted into vps in the final round if you get the right building".

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James Hutchings
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In...erm...a game I can't find now (3 player game, Greeks vs Egyptians vs Vikings, lots of fantasy figures)...anyway, in this game players themselves determine how many points various things are worth. That might be something to look at.
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Lacombe
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Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
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apeloverage wrote:
In...erm...a game I can't find now (3 player game, Greeks vs Egyptians vs Vikings, lots of fantasy figures)...anyway, in this game players themselves determine how many points various things are worth. That might be something to look at.


Age of Mythology: The Boardgame?
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James Hutchings
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That looks like it.
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Philip Migas
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Here is my deal with partial secret scoring. The known scoring portions of the game tell players who is in the lead and give immediate feedback to players on how well they play. The secret score provides some uncertainty. Players don’t know who really is going to win until the end. Too much uncertainty makes the known scoring inaccurate as an appropriate gage. Too little secret score doesn’t provide enough suspense until the end of the game. I would say that somewhere between 10% to 25% of the game should be secret scoring.
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Ben Pinchback
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We're running into this exact same question with our latest pick up and deliver design. We want to bake in some amount of scoring that isn't 100% obvious to all the other players. I think we're starting out with something like 20% of your total score for completing your secret objective. It's a guess though. I'll let you know how it feels after some plays.
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Ben Neumann
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I like the insight you're giving here. One of the things that exists with some of these games, as was mentioned above, is that only a portion (say 20%) of a final score would be dependent on these endgame strategies. In your "both direction" system, is 20% an appropriate amount?

I'm worried that a number that low will still make people feel like they're competing for second place.

One of the elements I'm currently working with is the idea of being able to learn what the end game objectives are. If you can find out exactly what you need to achieve your goals, is that still encouraging generalist play? Or is it more your complaint that, with specific goals changing each game, a player can't choose to go down a different or preferred route to victory?
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Ben Neumann
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Philip and Ben, thanks for some concrete numbers. In regards to the suspense, I mentioned that I plan on providing players with the means to discover the end game scoring conditions. Does that mitigate the potential for a higher percentage of end game score?
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James Hutchings
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Something Neu wrote:
I like the insight you're giving here. One of the things that exists with some of these games, as was mentioned above, is that only a portion (say 20%) of a final score would be dependent on these endgame strategies. In your "both direction" system, is 20% an appropriate amount?


The percentage that an element contributes to the final score isn't the only thing to consider.

Another factor is how close or far apart different players' scores typically are for that element. The closer they tend to be, the less significant that element will be.

For example, consider a course where 90% of the mark is for attendance, and 10% for spelling.

If everyone gets between 88 and 90 for attendance, but the scores for spelling range from 0 to 10, spelling will be mostly responsible for deciding who gets the highest score, even though it only contributes 10% of the total.
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Ben Neumann
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I was looking at the Age of Mythology victory cube situation. I haven't played the game, but I was curious to know if the open information of where the cubes were assigned became anticlimactic. I like the idea that the score becomes variant depending on how the players prioritize. Does anyone know of a game where the secret scoring mechanism scales dependent on players altering it?
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Philip Migas
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Something Neu wrote:
Philip and Ben, thanks for some concrete numbers. In regards to the suspense, I mentioned that I plan on providing players with the means to discover the end game scoring conditions. Does that mitigate the potential for a higher percentage of end game score?


I woulds say there should be very little end game scoring. End game scoring is so that players don't know how well they are doing during the course of the game. Players play the game not knowing if they are winning or losing. Partial hidden score is used when scoring is done during the course of the game but the designer wants a degree of uncertainty.
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