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Subject: Poisoned Pass and Passing the Buck rss

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D.M. Jones
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An interesting situation came up in a game I played recently. There were 5 people left in the game, seated in this order: A,B,C,D,E. I was playing in position 'E.' Player A and B had only roses left and all players were aware of this fact. Player A had passed one challenge already and if he passed one more he would win the game. It is player A's turn to open the bid. He opens with a bid of two roses. Player B passes. Player C passes. Player D passes. I, as player E have played a skull, what should I do? I ended up playing 'policeman' and busting to prevent the easy 2 rose win. But I also made it very clear to the other two players in early position that they should NOT expect that they can always pass the buck in future plays. In other words, I explained that I would be willing to pass and let play A have a really great shot at winning. I didn't suggest that I would always do this, but I certainly didn't want the other players to feel like they could afford to pass the buck all the time (and dwindle my coasters). One of the players seemed to suggest I had no choice, because I should always play to avoid the loss. But I prefer to take the longer view. My action cannot be understood in isolation, but only as part of a game play dynamic and interaction with other players. Obviously I don't want to lose in general, but I think making the others think twice about passing the buck has solid long term benefits....even if it tanks a game in the short term.

I would describe the C and D player pass as 'passing the buck' onto player E. As they have left it up to E to prevent the player A win.

If player E had passed as well, I would describe that as a poison pass. It gives A the win, but it also gives C and D something to chew on.

I am of course open to using differnet terms, but I am interested in hearing what others have to say regarding strategy and tactics.

Any thoughts?
 
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D.M. Jones
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I guess what I am getting at here is the notion that players may need to 'defend' against the win, especially when one player alone has made a successful challenge and he/she currently has the bidding initiative. In this case, the defending players, as a group, cannot afford to let that bid be made on the cheap.
 
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Blank Francis
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I guess it depends on the stakes. If you were playing for the leadership of your gang, you can't afford to give the win to player A, so really you must bust yourself to keep the game alive.

If the stakes are not so high (which is probably the case!), there's nothing to stop you from giving A the win in order to make your opponents rethink their assumptions in future games.
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D.M. Jones
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Point taken.

I guess the conclusion I have come to is that the players in early position can put pressure on the 'cop' (last position before challenge is set) but this pressure dimishes as the player in the 'cop position' has fewer coasters. I mean, a guy with 4 coasters in the cop position will be able to give one up by making a questionable bid. But someone with one or two coasters in the cop position will be less likely to risk it. So, the players in early position need to be aware of when the 'cop' is vulnarable and when he isn't.
 
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Mark Mitchell
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This happens in Condottiere quite frequently.
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Doug Buel
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Reminds me of Kill Doctor Lucky a little bit
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A C
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getdafunkout wrote:

If player E had passed as well, I would describe that as a poison pass. It gives A the win, but it also gives C and D something to chew on.

REALLY liking that term - "poison pass" laugh

While this situation hasn't cropped up for us in Skull, a similar situation comes up occasionally for us in Mascarade; players take it in turn to challenge or pass on a particular player's claim and if everyone passes, it comes down to the final player to either challenge and certainly lose coins or pass and allow the claiming player to take the win.

I'd challenge them and take the loss, but it's definitely frustrating. I guess at least other players can easily find themselves in the same position in games like this where you take it in turn to challenge or pass (anyone could be sat to the right of a player on the brink of winning and thus be the final line of defense).
It's a game like Coup where challenges aren't made in turn order (anyone can challenge at any time) that can be frustrating because some people just won't say anything and hope someone else challenges in those situations where it's needed to prevent a win.
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Rick Dickinson
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As player E in that situation, I think it would make sense to "take the hit", preventing a win by A, and lose my own challenge with my own skull. That way, I gain the initiative in the following round, and also control which coaster I discard.

I wouldn't consider it a bad thing at all, unless I was down to my last coaster and would eliminate myself from the game. In fact, deliberately losing a challenge to gain the initiative in the following round is a decent strategy at times.
 
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