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Subject: Win or Die! : When winning the game is all that matters... [with POLL] rss

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Dan Edelen
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Recently, I posted a Geeklist (Hype bomb: The 2011 game that most failed to live up to its hype) in which someone commented on the supposed brokenness of A Few Acres of Snow due to the infamous, unbeatable "Halifax Hammer" strategy (see Item for Geeklist "Hype bomb: The 2011 game that most failed to live up to its hype" ). The comment said that if such a dominant winning strategy existed, a player was obligated to play it or else that player was disrespecting the opposing player.

Elsewhere on BGG (though I forget which forum/news/Geeklist/etc.), 52% of BGGers said winning was the most important aspect of gaming.

Now as someone who is a social gamer, I may not have the most authoritative voice, but to me, the mentality displayed in the previous two paragraphs seems...well, a little nuts.

What do you think? And why?

Poll: Win or Die! poll
When I play a game, I'm thinking...
Win at all costs!
Get a grip; it's only a game!
      238 answers
Poll created by edelen
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Adam Alleman
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I do everything I can to win, but I'm still playing to have fun. Win or lose.
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Adam Alleman
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Now that I've had time to read those comments. I have to say I would just not play that game. Not a fan of that designer in general (sorry most of BGG), or 2 player games, so never played that one, so can't comment specifically. If I did run into that in any game I would trade or sell it.
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I agree. I play the game because playing (not necessarily winning) is fun.

But everyone should be playing to win. Playing is fun because everyone is trying to win. It provides a challenge, a medium for trash talk, and great memories of epic battles or clever moves. If everyone isn't doing what they can to provide a challenge for their opponents and friends, then the game loses much of its fun.

That's not to say that you can't experiment with untested strategies or try something new in an effort to win. You don't have to use the "Halifax Hammer" if you want to explore another strategy you think might work better.
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Dan Edelen
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Daddys_Home wrote:
Now that I've had time to read those comments. I have to say I would just not play that game. Not a fan of that designer in general (sorry most of BGG), or 2 player games, so never played that one, so can't comment specifically. If I did run into that in any game I would trade or sell it.


So what you're saying is that you WOULD feel obligated to play that absolute winning strategy if "forced" to play the game?
 
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I daresay that most of us fall between those 2 extreme choices that you offer. If you are truly interested in people's opinions and aren't just trying to make a point, I think you'll have to flesh out the poll a wee bit.
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George Falconer
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I always play to win. I enjoy loosing though. It can be even more stimulating. Although pulling off underdog wins is great too.

Oh, and inflicting merciless massacres, those are great too....

Oh, oh, and the bloody revenges, can't forget the bloody revenges...
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Jason Carlough
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MyParadox wrote:
I agree. I play the game because playing (not necessarily winning) is fun.

But everyone should be playing to win. Playing is fun because everyone is trying to win. It provides a challenge, a medium for trash talk, and great memories of epic battles or clever moves. If everyone isn't doing what they can to provide a challenge for their opponents and friends, then the game loses much of its fun.

That's not to say that you can't experiment with untested strategies or try something new in an effort to win. You don't have to use the "Halifax Hammer" if you want to explore another strategy you think might work better.


This pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject.
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Jason Carlough
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Gwfalcon wrote:
I always play to win. I enjoy loosing though. It is can be even more stimulating. Although pulling off underdog wins is great too.

Oh, and inflicting merciless massacres, those are great too....

Oh, oh, and the bloody revenges, can't forget the bloody revenges...


Bloody revenges are definitely the best.
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Jeff G
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edelen wrote:
Daddys_Home wrote:
Now that I've had time to read those comments. I have to say I would just not play that game. Not a fan of that designer in general (sorry most of BGG), or 2 player games, so never played that one, so can't comment specifically. If I did run into that in any game I would trade or sell it.


So what you're saying is that you WOULD feel obligated to play that absolute winning strategy if "forced" to play the game?


Honestly - I'm in the "Win or Die" camp. Our rule is do whatever is is necessary to win within the boundaries of the rules. Adding a "well... don't use -that- strategy" only blurs the line between allowed and disallowed play.

And, if someone forced me to play a game with an unbeatable strategy, I would absolutely use the perfect strategy every time I'm able and whine terribly about it if it was played against me. Next time, don't force me to play a broken game.
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Doug Click
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I am more of a social gamer. While I like to win, it really doesn't matter because it is more about playing the game to me. Now, I strive to win, but I don't get mad if I don't win and I sure wouldn't feel slighted if someone else wasn't playing to their utmost potential (ie, trying to win at all costs).

…but, I will not abide by a cheater. We were playing UNO RUSH at the boathouse over the weekend… Yeah, I know, but we were having fun… when someone tried to lay down multiple colors with a card that allows all cards of one color to be played, that person said, “oh, must have gotten stuck”. This person tried this a couple of times and when I asked why the reply was, “It is up to me to win at all costs and up to you all to make sure I don’t cheat to win.”

…well, I don’t plan on playing with that person ever again, while I don’t worry about whether I am making the best move I sure don’t want to spend the entire game making sure someone else at the table is making moves according to the rules.
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It's not about winning, it's about crushing your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

//Crom.
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Dave
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MWChapel wrote:
It's not about winning, it's about crushing your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

//Crom.

You would not believe how many boardgame groups Conan got kicked out of before he found his true calling.
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MyParadox wrote:
I agree. I play the game because playing (not necessarily winning) is fun.

But everyone should be playing to win. Playing is fun because everyone is trying to win. It provides a challenge, a medium for trash talk, and great memories of epic battles or clever moves. If everyone isn't doing what they can to provide a challenge for their opponents and friends, then the game loses much of its fun.

That's not to say that you can't experiment with untested strategies or try something new in an effort to win. You don't have to use the "Halifax Hammer" if you want to explore another strategy you think might work better.

I'll quote this again for truth. I appreciate the poll, but it is a false choice. You play to win specifically because you want other things: the social camaraderie, the shared intellectual challenge and the common experience. Unless you're in a tournament, you're not actually winning anything but that. Unless you're trying to win, you jeopardize that common experience as your fellow players can rightfully feel that you are condescending or patronizing to them. That doesn't mean that you don't ease new players in and try to help them, but it does mean that, once everyone understands the game, that you play it together.

To reference Knizia's famous quote, "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning." When you don't play to win, you lose the shared goal.
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To have fun most games require playing "to win"*. If playing to win isn't fun, the game isn't fun.


*Actually playing to increase your victory margins
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Quote:
When I play a game, I'm thinking...
Win at all costs!
Get a grip; it's only a game!


Yes.

There is clearly a fundamental problem with a game where your chances of winning rise as your strategy asymptotically approaches a dominant one. Trying to accommodate the opposing goals of trying your best to win and not playing the dominant strategy then reduces the game to "how badly must I play in order not to be cheesy", which doesn't seem to be a game worth playing. (I don't know if AFAoS falls into this category.)
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Doug Click
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Brother Jim wrote:

To reference Knizia's famous quote, "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning." When you don't play to win, you lose the shared goal.
That is a good quote. I do play to win, but I just don't worry about the possiblity of not making the best move... No AP with me.
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Brother Jim wrote:

To reference Knizia's famous quote, "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning." When you don't play to win, you lose the shared goal.



I hate that quote. I'd like to drop kick that quote right back down Knizia's gullet for plaguing the world with it, so that I have to read it every ten minutes for the last 15 years.

Here's a better quote:

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? - Vince Lombardi.


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MWChapel wrote:

I hate that quote. I'd like to drop kick that quote right back down Knizia's gullet for plaguing the world with it, so that I have to read it every ten minutes for the last 15 years.

Here's a better quote:

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? - Vince Lombardi.

Then I have your winning solution. Don't tell the players a critical rule in each game. Play with gamers who have drunk six beers each. Only play with toddlers. Your winning record will be unmatched.

Would you have fun?
 
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Ken Chadwick
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I'll play to win, but I won't walk away angry if I lose. I've been on the losing end of some of my most memorable gaming experiences:
- being the only one to drown in Lifeboat when my girlfriend's brother wouldn't help me because I didn't back him up during the last fight, and his father refusing to not throw me a life preserver - just because he didn't want to - despite my attempts to bribe them both!
- losing 1960: The Making of the President to my girlfriend by one cube - the last one pulled during the election
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I play for fun. I have fun when I win. -My mother.
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TheFlatline wrote:

Winning by a landslide is pretty much one of the most boring outcomes of a board game. I don't get people who get off on it. The only thing that's worse than that is getting ganged up on arbitrarily and *then* losing by a landslide.

I'd rather lose by a point than win by a landslide.


Blech. Scores that end up within a couple points of each other are about as satisfying as a flat Tecate.
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I play for fun and don't care much about winning, but if a game doesn't give me the chance to win then that isn't fun.

In regards to A Few Acres of Snow, it's a tricky situation. If you use the Halifax Hammer, then your opponent will just think "Here we go again." Seeing the same outcome in every game is boring and not fun. However, if you don't use it, then your opponent will just think "He's fooling around." It's the same feeling you get when you realize that your opponent is playing poorly on purpose. It makes you feel dumb and feels like your opponent doesn't think you can handle it.
 
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Boardgaming, for me, is at its core a competition. Now, don't get carried away. Competition does not imply that the only thing that matters is winning a game. I enjoy playing games to win. I enjoy playing games well. I enjoy trying to play better than I played previously. I enjoy playing opponents who push me to improve my play style because they are also playing to win.

I play sports in the same vein. Whether a competitive playoff game in an Ultimate league or pick-up basketball, I play to compete and win. I still congratulate my opponents on good play. I have a smile on my face even when I lose (most of the time!). But I always play hard. I just love to compete.

I know we have all met and played (sports, games, etc.) against people who are overly agressive, mean, argumentative, etc. People are not like this simply because they are competitive and love to win. People are like this because they are poor sports and haven't matured as a competitor. There is room for someone to be passionate about competing (and winning) and still be pleasant and enjoyable to play against.
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Brother Jim wrote:
MyParadox wrote:
I agree. I play the game because playing (not necessarily winning) is fun.

But everyone should be playing to win. Playing is fun because everyone is trying to win. It provides a challenge, a medium for trash talk, and great memories of epic battles or clever moves. If everyone isn't doing what they can to provide a challenge for their opponents and friends, then the game loses much of its fun.

That's not to say that you can't experiment with untested strategies or try something new in an effort to win. You don't have to use the "Halifax Hammer" if you want to explore another strategy you think might work better.

I'll quote this again for truth. I appreciate the poll, but it is a false choice. You play to win specifically because you want other things: the social camaraderie, the shared intellectual challenge and the common experience. Unless you're in a tournament, you're not actually winning anything but that. Unless you're trying to win, you jeopardize that common experience as your fellow players can rightfully feel that you are condescending or patronizing to them. That doesn't mean that you don't ease new players in and try to help them, but it does mean that, once everyone understands the game, that you play it together.

To reference Knizia's famous quote, "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning." When you don't play to win, you lose the shared goal.


Well said. The way the poll was worded led to it's results. Most people cannot agree with the statement "win at all costs" because it is too open ended.

I play to win. I like to win. I also help new players with strategy so that they have a chance at winning and can better understand how the mechanics work with the game. Furthermore, if a game has a strategy that always wins I am going to take it. I am playing to win and if a strategy tends to work then I will use it and if it "always" works than either the game or the group think of the games players are broken and it may be time to get a new game.

Happy winning,
Redward
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