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theJester

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About kingmaking
« on: May 20, 2015, 05:40:48 am »
+2

Kingmaker (in the context of gaming) = player who can decide the winner of the game while having no chances of winning himself.

Ok, I realize this is a niche subject, as it encompasses rare scenario in already rare multiplayer Dominion; but I think it would be an interesting topic to discuss, as it touches upon fair play, etiquette and ever-loved edge cases.

I firstly encountered it years ago, while still unfamiliar with the term and while playing a different game. It was a 4 player Ad Astra game where, in the end, only leading two players had the chance of victory, while myself and 4th player were way far behind. So, in the last round where everybody was prepared to cash in points, I played in a way that completely screwed up one of leading players and enabled his rival an easy victory. It was not my intention, of course - I simply played in a way which would maximize my own score (regardless of having zero chances of winning), while messing up with other guy's plan was just a side-effect. After the game we had a discussion of whether this was a fair play from me or not.

I found myself on the other side of this case a while ago, in a 3P Dominion game. Basically, Player B was much ahead of me, but my deck was quickly catching up. Problem was, Province pile was running low and Player A, whose turn it was and who had no chances of victory at all, could effectively decide the game by buying penultimate Province and a Duchy. That way, I wouldn't have enough VP cards to buy to catch up with Player B. However, Player A, whatever his motive was, bought only Duchies, which enabled me to Double Province and tie for first with Player B.

So, how should I and Player A have played in our respective cases? Was it right for us to play our best, or was it more important not to mess up with the players vying for victory. I personally think the former is more fair, but I've met people who don't share this opinion. Hence, I'm asking - and I'm interested in hearing your opinions on this subject.
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Awaclus

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2015, 05:47:11 am »
+16

It doesn't really matter at all. If you're in a situation where you can kingmake someone, the decision to not do it is kingmaking the other person.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2015, 07:00:36 am »
0

Ok, I realize this is a niche subject, as it encompasses rare scenario in already rare multiplayer Dominion

I don't think it's rare at all. Decisions that are close to neutral for the acting player but that disproportinally benefit one of his opponents have come up a lot during the small amount of 3p games I've managed to sit sleep through.

The best play in such a situation is of course to benefit the player you expect to reward you the most for it in future iterations when the roles are reversed. Is that fair? I don't know. You could argue both ways, but I'd say it's just structurally broken. It'd be like arguing over if you give me a tip about a bank with weak security and I decide to rob it, what would be a fair division of the money? You can argue about it endlessly, but I think any notion of fairness is fundamentally misplaced.

Likewise, if you care a lot about fairness you shouldn't be playing 3p Dominion, or at least not with the expectation that you'll experience the game as being in any way fair. I've felt annoyed by actions of a player that didn't benefit himself in at least half the 3p games I've played, while knowing full well that there's no reason at all he should be doing something differently. To me that's the second most off-puting aspect of 3p games (their snail-like pace being the first).
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DG

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2015, 09:02:37 am »
0

If you're playing against friends then you sort it out between yourselves.

If you're online against unknown opponents then it really doesn't matter a great deal. If you want to be courteous then just play as your opponents would expect you to play. Remember that in multiplayer you can feel like you're kingmaking as early as turn 1. You just have to deal with it.
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werothegreat

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2015, 09:06:11 am »
+2

3-player game, one opponent has Lighthouse out, the other doesn't.  I play KC-KC-Familiar-Saboteur-Goons, then a Bridge Troll and a Relic for good measure.

OOPS
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2015, 09:41:52 am »
+2

This is one reason I don't play multiplayer Dominion unless it's just a friendly game.

Dominion is a different animal from most games in this respect.  It is one of a very few games where a player who is not in the lead can deliberately end the game with no recourse for the other players.  Most games end based on a timer that isn't affected by the players (e.g., 7 Wonders, Carcassone) or end when a winning condition is reached (e.g., Settlers of Catan).

In my opinion, the most courteous play is the one that maximizes your own score without respect to the scores of others.  I've been on both ends of this playing Terra Mystica (where it's possible to lower another player's score while increasing your own).  It's hard to argue that your primary objective should be anything other than maximizing your own score in the endgame.  Causing the game to end while you're behind is the polar opposite of this in most games where the trailing player can end the game (e.g., Puerto Rico, Power Grid).  In Dominion, though, it's not the polar opposite.  Hence the answer is to not treat multiplayer Dominion as competitive.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2015, 09:49:43 am »
+1

This is one reason I don't play multiplayer Dominion unless it's just a friendly game.

Dominion is a different animal from most games in this respect.  It is one of a very few games where a player who is not in the lead can deliberately end the game with no recourse for the other players.  Most games end based on a timer that isn't affected by the players (e.g., 7 Wonders, Carcassone) or end when a winning condition is reached (e.g., Settlers of Catan).

In my opinion, the most courteous play is the one that maximizes your own score without respect to the scores of others.  I've been on both ends of this playing Terra Mystica (where it's possible to lower another player's score while increasing your own).  It's hard to argue that your primary objective should be anything other than maximizing your own score in the endgame.  Causing the game to end while you're behind is the polar opposite of this in most games where the trailing player can end the game (e.g., Puerto Rico, Power Grid).  In Dominion, though, it's not the polar opposite.  Hence the answer is to not treat multiplayer Dominion as competitive.

This is why it was so irksome to play the 3- and 4-player bot games on Goko's Adventures - they weren't trying to win, they were just trying to make you lose.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2015, 09:51:05 am »
0

There's an old (VERY old) thread that discusses kingmaking at great length. Don't remember what it was called.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2015, 10:08:33 am »
0

Depends on the game. There are turn-based games where someone's win is imminent, in which case everyone agrees on ganging up on the cyndidate but in the end everyone minds his own business until the burden is on the player sitting on the right, effectively eschewing all profit his move might bring him, only to see the game continue. In these games a win by one party will partly be blamed on the predecessor in playing order. I don't mind this mechanic too much, as the ones working for themselves will become the next candidates for a win, pressing the former candidate into the role of raining on their parade, and so on.

If victory either by one or the other side cannot be avoided, maximising the own position would be the proper way to go.
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GendoIkari

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2015, 10:36:02 am »
+4

I generally define kingmaking like this: Taking any action which you know will not help you win the game, but will affect who does win the game. When a player in a game has become mathematically eliminated, it becomes very difficult, because at that point no action he takes can "help him win"... instead I believe that essentially he should ignore the fact that he's mathematically eliminated and try his best to win anyway.

Anyway, in this case, I believe that player A would not have been kingmaking had he chosen to buy a Province (unless he were buying the last Province for a loss). He may have bought Duchies because he felt that it was his best chance to maximize his score... hope to get 2 Duchies now and still get another turn, instead of a Duchy and  Province now and it be his last turn. But buying a Province and a Duchy would have still given him a chance at another turn, just a smaller chance, so therefore I don't think you can say that it would have been wrong of him to do so.

Actual kingmaking comes up when a person stops trying to win. Whether this is because they are actually mathematically eliminated, or just because they feel like they don't have much of a chance. When a player stops "playing to win"; or at least "playing to do the best he can given that he can't win", and instead makes decisions based on who else he wants to win, that is when I consider it bad sportsmanship. Note that "playing to do the best he can" could hold multiple meanings... trying to get the highest score you can, trying to get the highest placing he can, etc.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2015, 11:02:56 am »
+2

I actually kingmade about a week ago while playing Setback - I was just really tired of playing at that point, so I just fed the points-scoring cards to the guy in the lead so the game could just end and we could play Dominion.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2015, 11:20:51 am »
+1

There's an old (VERY old) thread that discusses kingmaking at great length. Don't remember what it was called.

Was it Decline of civility in Westeros?
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2015, 11:43:28 am »
+2

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2015, 11:50:23 am »
0

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?

In the same way that the rules of Settlers are, yes. Only more so.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2015, 12:47:26 pm »
+11

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?

You seem to have confused Munchkin with a game.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2015, 02:54:39 pm »
+6

For most games where there's a natural ranking, I usually say players should play as if first place is infinitely better than second place, second place is infinitely better than third place, etc.  So you always do whatever maximizes your chances of winning, but if you're 100% sure you can't win, then do whatever maximizes your chances of getting second place, etc.

I don't think it matters what exactly a player is playing for, as long as everyone knows and agrees on what it should be ahead of time.  In theory, kingmaking situations only happen when the rules don't define what players should be trying to do when they know they can't win.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2015, 03:08:55 pm »
0

It can definitely happen.  I was playing a 3-player game once and I was going for Dukes while one opponent was going for Provinces while another was doing horrible.  Three piles were almost gone, and I hadn't quite gotten enough Duchies/Dukes to overcome the Province player, and would have soon, but, because the loser knew I was the best at the game, he helped buy the last few cards and 3-piled the game sooner and made me lose.
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GendoIkari

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2015, 03:13:52 pm »
0

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?

In the same way that the rules of Settlers are, yes. Only more so.

Can you explain this? While the rules of Settlers certainly allow Kingmaking; in games I've played it's never been an issue. Players avoid trading with the person in the lead; if someone is 1 point from victory they won't even consider it.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2015, 03:20:22 pm »
+1

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?

In the same way that the rules of Settlers are, yes. Only more so.

Can you explain this? While the rules of Settlers certainly allow Kingmaking; in games I've played it's never been an issue. Players avoid trading with the person in the lead; if someone is 1 point from victory they won't even consider it.

Right. In the same way, Munchkin players will use up their disposable items/cards to make sure that the leading player cannot gain their last level. That's the game.

EDIT: Sorry, I should explain further.

Somebody is going to win. In both Settlers and Munchkin, there is a point where the player who appears to be the lead will be ganged up on to make sure they don't win. As a result, somebody else will win. Hence, kingmaking.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2015, 03:22:24 pm by LastFootnote »
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Deadlock39

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2015, 03:34:04 pm »
+2

Settlers is a bit better because there aren't very many ways for other players to directly prevent you from winning the game.  They can only (for the most part) refuse to help you.  Setting your self up to be able to close out the last point or two under your own power (plus the luck of the dice) is an important part of winning the game. 

Munchkin is full of opportunities for players to directly take actions to prevent you from gaining a level. This system is much more prone to the situation where the winner is the first player to get themselves in position after everyone has wasted all their resources blocking other players from winning.

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2015, 03:38:08 pm »
+2

I don't think it's a problem in Settlers. In my playgroup, I'm always the first one to get close to winning the game, and I always win, too.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2015, 06:14:40 pm »
0

I'll admit that I get annoyed when somebody who won't win buys the last province when I would have won had I gotten it.  I don't know if it's really the other player knowingly kingmaking (if they don't keep track of points) or just wanting to get the game over with.  Though I'm sure I've accidentally kingmade before.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2015, 06:25:55 pm »
+2

I guess a counterpoint to kingmaking being a problem is that just like shuffle luck, other players' decisions are something you cannot control. If two players both have a chance of winning, the winner can often be decided by external factors. Just like you can do things to mitigate the effect of shuffling, you can do things to mitigate the effect of other players' decisions. Ideally you build a strong enough deck that you can win regardless of the things that are outside of your control, whether that be luck or other players.

Obviously going out of your way to help someone else win is anti-competitive and not what Dominion is about.
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GendoIkari

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2015, 07:13:58 pm »
+3

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?

In the same way that the rules of Settlers are, yes. Only more so.

Can you explain this? While the rules of Settlers certainly allow Kingmaking; in games I've played it's never been an issue. Players avoid trading with the person in the lead; if someone is 1 point from victory they won't even consider it.

Right. In the same way, Munchkin players will use up their disposable items/cards to make sure that the leading player cannot gain their last level. That's the game.

EDIT: Sorry, I should explain further.

Somebody is going to win. In both Settlers and Munchkin, there is a point where the player who appears to be the lead will be ganged up on to make sure they don't win. As a result, somebody else will win. Hence, kingmaking.

See that doesn't fit my understanding of kingmaking at all.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2015, 08:46:48 pm »
+2

Aren't the rules of Munchkin based on Kingmaking?

In the same way that the rules of Settlers are, yes. Only more so.

Can you explain this? While the rules of Settlers certainly allow Kingmaking; in games I've played it's never been an issue. Players avoid trading with the person in the lead; if someone is 1 point from victory they won't even consider it.

Right. In the same way, Munchkin players will use up their disposable items/cards to make sure that the leading player cannot gain their last level. That's the game.

EDIT: Sorry, I should explain further.

Somebody is going to win. In both Settlers and Munchkin, there is a point where the player who appears to be the lead will be ganged up on to make sure they don't win. As a result, somebody else will win. Hence, kingmaking.

See that doesn't fit my understanding of kingmaking at all.

I think LF's point is that you are kingmaking one way or the other, which is the same point that Awaclus made in the first comment.  First suppose that you are completely out of contention.  If you help the leading player in Settlers or don't try to stop the leading player, then your choice is kingmaking that player.  But if you refuse to help that player or do all you can to stop him, then you are essentially trying to king-make another player.  It's more apparently with fewer players.  Whatever you do (or don't do), your choice is influencing who the winner is, i.e. kingmaking.
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