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Subject: Recommendation for games with surprise endings rss

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Brian Schwartz
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Hey all,


I played Kingsburg with my family last weekend, and was annoyed. By the end of the game, you know exactly how you are doing, and whether or not you can ever catch up. I realize now that I do enjoy games that have scoring bonuses at the end or hidden agendas that aren't normally configured until the end. I really like the endings of Suburbia, or Ticket to Ride.

What games can you guys suggest that have those type of scoring mechanisms?


Please look at my collection and then let me know based on what I have what would be good games to look out for!

Thanks
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Roberto Pinheiro
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In Cyclades someone wins suddenly... This is one of the things I don't like about the game, but maybe you do. And there is a catch up mechanic that does not break the game, but gives a chance to anyone win the game.
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Mathue Faulkner
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Il Vecchio
Keyflower (a little different than others, but the scoring tiles aren't revealed until the last round)
Egizia
Archipelago
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Brook Gentlestream
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In Arkham Horror, if you do not close the portals (winning the game) by a certain time limit, there's a major "boss battle" at the end where you can give it one last final struggle as the Big Bad tries to come into our world. The odds are usually against you, but its fun to try and sometimes you can beat the boss back and drive him from this dimension.

In Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game you don't "win", so much as survive. It always feels like you are losing until you reach the end of the game, so victory can be quite a surprise.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! involves you rescuing your own color meeples after a disaster destroys Atlantis island. Each meeple, however, has a secret point value on the bottom (that only you are allowed to know), so as you rescue some meeples, let other players kill yours off, or make deals for mutual survival, other players no how many meeples you are rescuing, but they won't know the exact number of points you've scored until the end. If you're good, you'll let your low-value meeples (politicians, lawyers, and the like) die and get your high-value meeples (game designers, artists, etc.) to safety.

Modern Art is a bidding game where players make bids to purchase artwork from different artists. As players buy up more artwork, particular artists become more popular, driving up the value of all their artwork. In the end, the player with the most money wins. Money *can* be tracked if you are carefully monitoring who is earning how much and how much they are spending, but money is generally kept secret behind a screen.
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In Giants you never quite know in which round the game is going to end, and once the end has been triggered, there's still quite some options for everyone to score points. It could be possible during the game to keep track of how many points everyone will be scoring, but the number of variables is large enough that it's not something anyone I ever play with ever does, and so specific outcomes generally come as a surprise.

In Medina you generally have a good feel for how people are doing, but large point swings can still happen during the last few rounds as someone maneuvers just so to be able to connect to a tower last, or eek out a final extension for a largest palace.

In Lancaster the race for largest force of knights and most upgrades to the castle (both providing big point bonuses) generally remains competitive until the very last round.

All three are also absolutely lovely games, with great components, and gameplay quite a bit above average in one or more aspects. (And maybe check my collection for more; I think we have reasonably similar tastes in games.)
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Chris Willett
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Anything with hidden information can hide results during play. You can kind of tell how ticket to ride is going, and the same kind of goes for these recommendations:

Galaxy Trucker
Hidden points help surprise endings be a thing with this one.

Small World
Coin tokens have a side that hides their value.

Homesteaders
Buildings aren't secret here, but everything in your homesteads is secret.

Dominion
Unless someone is counting the victory card buys, Dominion is a good game to count up your points at the end.

7 Wonders
You have to do some math at the end of the game. I have had a good handful of surprises come up from people having a few points across all the categories rather than a lot of points in one.

Basically, most of my favorite board games come into the category you are describing. At least, if you are including Ticket to Ride in this they do. With each of these games, you would have a general idea of who is doing better, but you still can have someone win by a surprise. I feel like I could list a lot of games here simply because some of the stuff is hidden or not centrally located.

For an example, in my recent game of Eclipse, I had enough hidden points from combat victories and a few landmarks worth victory points that I wound up winning even though I wasn't doing the most impressive expansion in the game. Very few games are transparent about the current player rankings as everyone wants to feel like they have a good chance to win even if things aren't going so great at that very moment. Heck, even Settlers of Catan even has people hiding victory point cards in their hands, causing you to have to assume the worst at all times.
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Trevyn Hey
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Dominant Species has a lot of end-game scoring that really win the game for someone. Throughout the game, players pick certain tiles to score, thereby (hopefully) giving themselves more points than any other player. At the end of the game, though, all of the tiles score, meaning a large percentage of points are given out only at the end. It's an interesting mechanic that makes the last turn of the game include a lot of positioning to take advantage of the scoring. Like others have posted, if you really wanted to you could calculate everyone's points, but the thing I like about the game is that every cube that is placed, moved, or removed can change the state of the game drastically at any point in the game, and making the end hard to predict.
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Kai Mölleken
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+1 Archipelago

There's only one open objective card and it only shows you how much victory points you will get for achieving certain goals.

In addition to that every player holds one of the other (secret) objective cards which tell him two things: One of the game ending conditions and an objective for scoring victory points.

But the thing is that in the end every player can get victory points from all the objective cards in the game. So while you only know about one game ending condition and two ways to score victory points there are always more that you don't know about. So in order to have a good chance of winning you have to deduce which goals the other players might be trying to accomplish so that you might get some victory points out of their goals too.
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Byron Campbell
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Innovation has surprise endings in a different way. It's very easy for an early lead to turn into last place or vice versa, and the final rounds of the game tend to contain cards that can completely reverse the status quo (I think there is even one that ends the game immediately when played...atomic bombs). Some people dislike this and call it luck, but I think most of these surprise victories are preventable with good strategic play anyway.

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization has surprise event cards throughout the game, known only to the players who played them. The ones played in the final round count as endgame scoring mechanisms, so you don't know if you will be getting a point bonus for your military unless you played (or discarded) that card.
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Mathue Faulkner
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Are you specifically looking for hidden end-game scoring (usually involving goals that other players are not aware of)? As someone else pointed out above, any game with hidden information (or unknown game length) will make it less obvious who is going to win a given game.

Since both of your examples (Suburbia & Ticket to Ride) involve hidden goals with end-game scoring, I kind of assumed that's what you were looking for...
 
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Graham Walker
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Tigris & Euphrates is exactly what you are looking for. With points hidden and your final score being based on the colour of cubes that you have the lowest amount of, the final reveal is always quite the surprise moment.

It is really a game that you never really know how well anyone is doing and often the guy that you think is in the lead is not because even with high scores in three colours, it makes not a difference in the end game scoring if you can't score well in the 4th colour
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Andreas Krüger
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You maqy like games with hidden winning conditions, like Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. You should be able to guess the winning conditions of the players once you know the game well, but you cannot really be sure.
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Alison Mandible
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Two games from my collection with surprise endings:

Sneaks & Snitches only has scoring at end of game, and the "secret stash" cards are an important element in keeping suspense until the very end. Sometimes they don't matter-- when one person has eight blue items and everybody else has two, you know who's going to win the blue category-- but very often they do.

Factory Fun gives out more than enough bonuses at the end to potentially outweigh the points you accumulate along the way. The rules say to put bonus chips on the board as you go, but there's no real reason to, since they can change. (That said, if you study someone's board you could calculate their bonus in mid-game. But there's no real reason to do that, either.)
 
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Larry Kruger
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Games like The Resistance and Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition can have quite surprising endings, but you definitely need to have the right group for these types of games.

I also like Fury of Dracula (second edition) as they can be quite surprising throughout the game.

+1 on Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. I really enjoyed the game and love the surprise ending resulting from different winning conditions.
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Blank Francis
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I'm just here to second a few great games that people have already mentioned:

Small World
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
The Resistance: Avalon

Check them out!
 
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chris phillips
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Killer Bunnies? We use the alt. version of points but the original way is that random flipping of the carrot cards and never know who win until the end.

Also Agricola?
 
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Kevin Marshall
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I haven't seen any mention of Troyes yet. It is a unique sort of variation on worker placement with secret scoring agendas.
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I second Tigris & Euphrates. It's very difficult to predict the winner with certainty before the final scoring.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and recommend Cleopatra and the Society of Architects. It's quite light, but I like the corruption mechanism: You can take shortcuts which earn you corruption points and these are hidden for you; the player with most corruption points at the end of the game loses automatically regardless of score. Unfortunately, this game is somewhat difficult to get hold of nowadays.
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David
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Inkognito is an older 2 vs 2 game. You move your pawns around Venice and try to deduce information such as who your partner is by asking question in bit of a Clue-like system. Then when you have found your partner you exchange mission information and try to perform your mission. If any of you believes the mission is accomplished you can announce your victory. Which can come pretty surprising to the others in some matches.
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Drew Gormley
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+1 for Troyes. Surprised its only on this list once.
 
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Aaron Kaiser
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bchlax944 wrote:
+1 for Troyes. Surprised its only on this list once.


It's only on the list once because the OP already has it listed as part of his collection .
 
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TS S. Fulk
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+1 for Discworld!

Mission: Red Planet has hidden agenda-like cards that give special bonus VPs for certain conditions.
 
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Pasi Ojala
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Get the Imperial Assault Campaign module for Vassal from http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Star_Wars:_Imperial_Assault
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+3 for Discworld:Ankh-Morpork. One for the hidden identities, one for the fact that is scales well for 2-4 players, and one because it is simple and easy to get into, yet very interesting and no two games are alike. And somehow, the bad things happening to you don't feel personal. Every setback is just what you would expect to happen in Ankh-Morpork. The game also showcases different game mechanics put together without feeling clunky or fiddly. And well, as a bonus it can always be played just under an hour (unless there are players with bad case of AP).
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David B
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gerwalker wrote:
Tigris & Euphrates is exactly what you are looking for. With points hidden and your final score being based on the colour of cubes that you have the lowest amount of, the final reveal is always quite the surprise moment.

It is really a game that you never really know how well anyone is doing and often the guy that you think is in the lead is not because even with high scores in three colours, it makes not a difference in the end game scoring if you can't score well in the 4th colour



Even though the scoring is hidden in T&E, you really do know how well you are doing. If you are getting your ass kicked, its easy to see even though the score is hidden.
 
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Mike Collins
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Stone Age has a mix of open and hidden scoring, and the hidden parts can make up the majority of your score, so it qualifies.

Like Tigris & Euphrates (a truly great game, by the way) and many others mentioned in this thread, the information is theoretically trackable if someone really wants to make the effort, but I've certainly never played with anyone who does that.
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