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Subject: End-game bonus scoring rss

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Michael Iachini
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I'm working on my tile-placement / worker movement game, Alchemy Bazaar, and I'm planning to add some secret end-game scoring elements. This is similar to several other games, though the only one I think I've played myself is Lords of Waterdeep (where the Lord cards give you bonus points mainly for having completed different types of quests).

I'm interested in other designers' views of the pros and cons of this sort of thing. Here's what I see:

Pro: Additional replayability (the game will play a bit differently when you have a different bonus goal)
Pro: Variety in player goals (not everyone is trying for exactly the same thing)
Pro: Interesting choices (do I give up some in-game points to help my end-game points?)

Con: Complexity (though in Alchemy Bazaar, these will be left out for first-time players)
Con: Balance (very, very, very important and difficult)
Con: Additional luck (if balance isn't perfect, players can feel that the winner just happened to get the "good" bonus card) - though this can be a "pro" in certain cases, too

Basically, I feel like it's a fun thing to have, especially for repeat players, but I know that the balance has to be really, really good.

Any thoughts? Any tips from having developed this sort of thing in your designs?

Michael Iachini
Clay Crucible Games
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Jeremy Lennert
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If your biggest concern is that these will unfairly benefit some players relative to others, you could also consider having scoring rules that are randomly determined each game but that apply equally to all players, similar to Kingdom Builder.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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You probably already know of these examples... but for the sake of making sure the readers are in the loop:

Carcassonne: Farms. Yes, it's not really "secret end game" ... but new players almost never figure this out. Whenever I teach the game, I try to show them the tricks behind farms. So, maybe for the first 3 games of Carcassonne, farms can be hard to "read" and stay a "secret" end game.

Ticket to Ride: Destination tickets. You can definitely put this in the "secret end game" category. And for probably 80% of players, they won't even try to figure out what tickets their opponents might have, and so the end-game bonuses make for some exciting come-from-behind scoring.

7 Wonders: the purple Guild cards. This one is interesting because the cards are "secret" until you find out what they are during the 3rd age. You might have been building up your civ to take advantage of a specific guild card, only to fnd out that it's not there.


Do I like them, heck yeah! I like how they encourage players to look for ways of maximizing these "secret end game" scores. It encourages people to become better players, rather than just be casual players.
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Christopher Dearlove
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SoRCon 11 23-25 Feb 2018 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk
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OK, you asked for designers, and I'm not. But I'll throw in first a comment I think is definitely true, then an opinion.

The comment: It matters what sort of game you are designing, and hence what sort of players you are expecting.

The opinion: In general I don't like secret end game conditions. They are, for example, my least favourite aspect of Troyes - a game I like - even with the sharing out that all apply to all players. I prefer variation created from e.g. start position and different scoring options available up front to all players. Tzolk'in being a current example that does both. But while it would be easy to add secret scoring bonuses to, say, Puerto Rico, that would be a mistake.
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