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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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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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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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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2015, 08:49:12 pm »
+1

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 think this is the wrong way of looking at it and can contribute to false accusations of kingmaking.
Because in any game with victory points you are perfectly justified in taking any action that increases your final victory point total regardless of whether it improves your final standing.

So, for example, in a three-player Dominion game if a player is in third-place and is 7 points behind the second-place player, I think it is still unfair to call it kingmaking if they buy the final Province.
They know that in all likelihood one of the other two players is about to end the game, so they can either buy a Duchy and come last by 4+ points or buy the last Province and come last by only 1 point.
To me it is obvious that one of those choices is better for the third-placed player and the fact that it prevents the second-placed player from winning is irrelevant.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2015, 09:01:26 pm »
+2

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 think this is the wrong way of looking at it and can contribute to false accusations of kingmaking.
Because in any game with victory points you are perfectly justified in taking any action that increases your final victory point total regardless of whether it improves your final standing.

So, for example, in a three-player Dominion game if a player is in third-place and is 7 points behind the second-place player, I think it is still unfair to call it kingmaking if they buy the final Province.
They know that in all likelihood one of the other two players is about to end the game, so they can either buy a Duchy and come last by 4+ points or buy the last Province and come last by only 1 point.
To me it is obvious that one of those choices is better for the third-placed player and the fact that it prevents the second-placed player from winning is irrelevant.

What if the choice was between maximizing highest potential score and maximizing highest potential rank?  Example:

3 player game of Dominion.  One Duchy and  one Province remain.  Alice has 7 points more than you, Bob has 5 points more than Alice (12 more than you).  You know that Alice can probably afford to buy a Province whereas Bob is stalled out.  You can afford a Province now, and your deck is strong enough that you'll probably be able to afford it next turn as well.  Your two main options:

1. Buy Province.  You maximize your score but you come in third.  Bob wins.
2. Buy Duchy.  If Alice can buy the last Province now, she will win.  But in the off-chance that she can't, you will probably secure second place.

Different people will have different opinions of which of these is king-making.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2015, 09:19:58 pm »
+4

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 think this is the wrong way of looking at it and can contribute to false accusations of kingmaking.
Because in any game with victory points you are perfectly justified in taking any action that increases your final victory point total regardless of whether it improves your final standing.

So, for example, in a three-player Dominion game if a player is in third-place and is 7 points behind the second-place player, I think it is still unfair to call it kingmaking if they buy the final Province.
They know that in all likelihood one of the other two players is about to end the game, so they can either buy a Duchy and come last by 4+ points or buy the last Province and come last by only 1 point.
To me it is obvious that one of those choices is better for the third-placed player and the fact that it prevents the second-placed player from winning is irrelevant.

What if the choice was between maximizing highest potential score and maximizing highest potential rank?  Example:

3 player game of Dominion.  One Duchy and  one Province remain.  Alice has 7 points more than you, Bob has 5 points more than Alice (12 more than you).  You know that Alice can probably afford to buy a Province whereas Bob is stalled out.  You can afford a Province now, and your deck is strong enough that you'll probably be able to afford it next turn as well.  Your two main options:

1. Buy Province.  You maximize your score but you come in third.  Bob wins.
2. Buy Duchy.  If Alice can buy the last Province now, she will win.  But in the off-chance that she can't, you will probably secure second place.

Different people will have different opinions of which of these is king-making.

But my point is that neither is kingmaking.
I think option 2 is better, but option 1 is a perfectly valid choice.

And that's what annoys me about people who throw around accusations of kingmaking.
Basically it usually boils down to "you played poorly and that helped the other person win".
And getting annoyed at someone for playing poorly is super obnoxious.
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eHalcyon

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2015, 09:38:39 pm »
0

But my point is that neither is kingmaking.
I think option 2 is better, but option 1 is a perfectly valid choice.

And that's what annoys me about people who throw around accusations of kingmaking.
Basically it usually boils down to "you played poorly and that helped the other person win".
And getting annoyed at someone for playing poorly is super obnoxious.

Sure.  My point is just that different people have different expectations for how you should play in that situation.  When those expectations are broken, they may be upset.  It's all very subjective. 
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2015, 09:43:44 pm »
+3

I just don't have time for people who get annoyed or upset about how other people play.
Unless someone is obviously trying to disrupt the game, in a ruining the fun sense not in a ruining your strategy sense.
You just have to let other players do their thing.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2015, 09:55:55 pm »
+1

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 think this is the wrong way of looking at it and can contribute to false accusations of kingmaking.
Because in any game with victory points you are perfectly justified in taking any action that increases your final victory point total regardless of whether it improves your final standing.

So, for example, in a three-player Dominion game if a player is in third-place and is 7 points behind the second-place player, I think it is still unfair to call it kingmaking if they buy the final Province.
They know that in all likelihood one of the other two players is about to end the game, so they can either buy a Duchy and come last by 4+ points or buy the last Province and come last by only 1 point.
To me it is obvious that one of those choices is better for the third-placed player and the fact that it prevents the second-placed player from winning is irrelevant.

What if the choice was between maximizing highest potential score and maximizing highest potential rank?  Example:

3 player game of Dominion.  One Duchy and  one Province remain.  Alice has 7 points more than you, Bob has 5 points more than Alice (12 more than you).  You know that Alice can probably afford to buy a Province whereas Bob is stalled out.  You can afford a Province now, and your deck is strong enough that you'll probably be able to afford it next turn as well.  Your two main options:

1. Buy Province.  You maximize your score but you come in third.  Bob wins.
2. Buy Duchy.  If Alice can buy the last Province now, she will win.  But in the off-chance that she can't, you will probably secure second place.

Different people will have different opinions of which of these is king-making.

The question in this situation should be, do you play for 2nd or points? I think most people would agree you play for 2nd, unless there is some tournament-related reason to want more points.
But I would not say that buying a Province for more points or a Duchy for a chance at second are kingmaking.
Realising you can influence who wins and basing your decision on that is kingmaking, but if you can inadvertently determine the winner, the other players need to take that into account and try not to allow you to be in that position.
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eHalcyon

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2015, 10:09:34 pm »
0

This could be a matter of semantics then.  The primary goal of a game (other than having fun) is to win.  I consider it king-making when you make a decision that doesn't help with that goal but which influences the outcome of the game.  If you are far enough behind that there's no chance of you winning, then you are forced into a king-making position.  It sounds like you guys only consider it king-making when you are specifically acting with the intent of deciding the winner, not when it's just an inadvertent side-effect.  And that's fair; that narrower definition is probably more useful.

Here's a better question then (and is actually more what I intended in the first place).

3 player game of Dominion.  One Duchy and one Province remain.  Alice has 3 points more than you and Bob has 7 points more than you.  Your deck is extremely reliable, Alice's only slightly less so, but Bob is stalled out.  Your choices:

1. Buy Province.  Bob wins but you come in second.
2. Buy Duchy.  In this case, Alice probably buys the last Province and wins and you come in third.  But if Alice is unable to buy the last Province (unlikely but possible), you will probably be first.

Which is the better option?
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2015, 10:44:29 pm »
+1

This could be a matter of semantics then.  The primary goal of a game (other than having fun) is to win.  I consider it king-making when you make a decision that doesn't help with that goal but which influences the outcome of the game.  If you are far enough behind that there's no chance of you winning, then you are forced into a king-making position.

You can define it that way if you like, but then the term is completely pointless.
Any time you mathematically can't reach first place, you become a kingmaker.
Okay, fair enough, but it's just not worth even discussing as a concept.

Quote
It sounds like you guys only consider it king-making when you are specifically acting with the intent of deciding the winner, not when it's just an inadvertent side-effect.  And that's fair; that narrower definition is probably more useful.

I think I define it that way because the term kingmaker is usually used as an accusation.
Basically, it's one of many catch-cries of the sore loser.
"He only won because you let him. I should have won."

Ugh.
Just don't.

Quote
Here's a better question then (and is actually more what I intended in the first place).

3 player game of Dominion.  One Duchy and one Province remain.  Alice has 3 points more than you and Bob has 7 points more than you.  Your deck is extremely reliable, Alice's only slightly less so, but Bob is stalled out.  Your choices:

1. Buy Province.  Bob wins but you come in second.
2. Buy Duchy.  In this case, Alice probably buys the last Province and wins and you come in third.  But if Alice is unable to buy the last Province (unlikely but possible), you will probably be first.

Which is the better option?

That's an interesting conundrum and it comes down to two factors:

1. How risk averse you are.
2. Your philosophy about how important it is to come first.

For many people, a guaranteed second is a better option than a maybe-first.
For others, the idea of not taking a chance on a win is completely abhorrent.

I personally would prefer to take a chance on first place.

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eHalcyon

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2015, 11:35:14 pm »
0

That's an interesting conundrum and it comes down to two factors:

1. How risk averse you are.
2. Your philosophy about how important it is to come first.

For many people, a guaranteed second is a better option than a maybe-first.
For others, the idea of not taking a chance on a win is completely abhorrent.

I personally would prefer to take a chance on first place.

I find that people usually complain about king-making when it goes against their expectations.  Like, maybe Alice and Bob are both players who think you should always go for the win.  If you take option 2, Alice is happy and Bob doesn't fault you for it.  If you take option 1, Alice may complain and Bob may be surprised.  But maybe you just prefer a solid second place over the slim chance at first.  Both options are fine IMO, but opinions vary.  It also shifts with context.  In a tournament setting, locking in second place may be better for you overall.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2015, 11:36:20 pm by eHalcyon »
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2015, 11:52:22 pm »
+2

That's an interesting conundrum and it comes down to two factors:

1. How risk averse you are.
2. Your philosophy about how important it is to come first.

For many people, a guaranteed second is a better option than a maybe-first.
For others, the idea of not taking a chance on a win is completely abhorrent.

I personally would prefer to take a chance on first place.

I find that people usually complain about king-making when it goes against their expectations.  Like, maybe Alice and Bob are both players who think you should always go for the win.  If you take option 2, Alice is happy and Bob doesn't fault you for it.  If you take option 1, Alice may complain and Bob may be surprised.  But maybe you just prefer a solid second place over the slim chance at first.  Both options are fine IMO, but opinions vary.  It also shifts with context.  In a tournament setting, locking in second place may be better for you overall.

I think complaining in this case is the same as complaining about shuffle luck. At the end of Alice's last turn, she should have known that between Bob and you, you could finish the game before her next turn. Maybe she made the right move, maybe she should have done something differently. Either way, that's how the end game of Dominion works, it's just more unpredictable with more than 2 players.
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Amac

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2015, 04:02:46 am »
+1

The big question in the situation proposed by eHalycon is if the points are a scale of how well you've played. As with dominion, you can win with a +/- 20 point Garden rush, a well played Colony game with some 60 points or a curse game with, say, minus 2 points.

So, does it matter if you score 55 points but still come in third, when in other games, you can win with far less points. Victory points are just the method for ranking: they don't give an interpretation of how well your play was, whereas with munchkin or settlers the scale is always the same. If you score 9 points in a base game you were always one point short of victory, whilst with six points, you are clearly lagging behind even when you finish second. The board obviously does matter for your winning opportunities, but it at least gives an indication.

So, yeah, I don't think it matters how big the point differential is. At least not when the differential is 10 or 20 points.

For the kingmaking as a whole, it totally depends on your game approach.
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SwitchedFromStarcraft

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2015, 08:15:42 am »
0


To me that's the second most off-putting aspect of 3p games (their snail-like pace being the first).

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.

Almost all of my IRL dominion is 3 or more players, most of whom are drinking heavily, so the pace is excruciatingly slow.  Once I know believe I cannot win (a decision that is often made instinctually rather than mathematically), I do nothing each turn.  It speeds up the game, and has as small an effect on the outcome as possible.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2015, 08:45:09 am »
0

I just don't have time for people who get annoyed or upset about how other people play.
Unless someone is obviously trying to disrupt the game, in a ruining the fun sense not in a ruining your strategy sense.
You just have to let other players do their thing.

This is fine over a friendly game; anyone who complains about kingmaking outside of a competitive setting is being a sore loser.  (Though discussion of and/or apologies for kingmaking are reasonable.)

In a competitive setting, it's a problem.  Hence my contention (for at least as long as this forum has existed) that Dominion should not be played competitively except with two players.  Jay and Donald disagree, and hey that's cool, I'm happy not to participate in sanctioned tournaments, it's no skin off my nose.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2015, 09:37:59 am »
+1

I just don't have time for people who get annoyed or upset about how other people play.
Unless someone is obviously trying to disrupt the game, in a ruining the fun sense not in a ruining your strategy sense.
You just have to let other players do their thing.

This is fine over a friendly game; anyone who complains about kingmaking outside of a competitive setting is being a sore loser.  (Though discussion of and/or apologies for kingmaking are reasonable.)

In a competitive setting, it's a problem.  Hence my contention (for at least as long as this forum has existed) that Dominion should not be played competitively except with two players.  Jay and Donald disagree, and hey that's cool, I'm happy not to participate in sanctioned tournaments, it's no skin off my nose.

I agree that kingmaking is part of what makes multiplayer Dominion much more high-variance (or luck based) than two-player.
However, I cannot agree that the game being part of a tournament or other "competitive setting" gives you licence to complain about other player's strategic choices.

If anything, a tournament setting involving strangers requires you to remain far more courteous than you might with a group of friends.
The issue of kingmaking might rankle even more when there is a prize at stake, but there is a reason a lot of games have "fair play" points in tourneys.

Man, at the end of a tournament game with strangers, just smile, shake hands and say good game.
Then, if you feel you need to, go bitch to your friends privately about that noob who lost you the title.
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eHalcyon

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2015, 11:42:59 am »
0

The big question in the situation proposed by eHalycon is if the points are a scale of how well you've played. As with dominion, you can win with a +/- 20 point Garden rush, a well played Colony game with some 60 points or a curse game with, say, minus 2 points.

So, does it matter if you score 55 points but still come in third, when in other games, you can win with far less points. Victory points are just the method for ranking: they don't give an interpretation of how well your play was, whereas with munchkin or settlers the scale is always the same. If you score 9 points in a base game you were always one point short of victory, whilst with six points, you are clearly lagging behind even when you finish second. The board obviously does matter for your winning opportunities, but it at least gives an indication.

So, yeah, I don't think it matters how big the point differential is. At least not when the differential is 10 or 20 points.

For the kingmaking as a whole, it totally depends on your game approach.

My second example is about ranking only.  Guaranteed second place, or risky attempt at first?
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BraveBear

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2015, 02:21:16 pm »
0

I know this has already been touched upon but my friend group cares about not coming in last just as much as coming in first.

Yeah winning is fun and the goal but we always rag on the person who gets last.  Good fun.  So towards the end of most 3-4 player games its never ever thought of king making if someone is buying green to try and prevent them from coming in last
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2015, 02:30:32 pm »
+1

The worst thing about kingmaking to me is sometimes you can't even avoid doing it--there are situations where no matter what you choose to do while behind, it probably affects the winner.  I recall a recent game with Stef and SCSN where I could either allow SCSN a chance to catch up and maybe win or just run a pile so Stef could end the game with me in second.  The only logical choice was for me to take second in that situation--if I let SCSN get another turn I'd be in third for sure--but I would have felt like I was being a jerk toward one of them no matter what I did.

A lot of times you might not even realize you decided the winner somehow.  It's one of the biggest problems I have with IRL tournaments being multiplayer, and it makes the game less fun to me even when it's casual. 
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2015, 03:55:52 pm »
+2

I just don't have time for people who get annoyed or upset about how other people play.
Unless someone is obviously trying to disrupt the game, in a ruining the fun sense not in a ruining your strategy sense.
You just have to let other players do their thing.

This is fine over a friendly game; anyone who complains about kingmaking outside of a competitive setting is being a sore loser.  (Though discussion of and/or apologies for kingmaking are reasonable.)

I highly disagree with this. I complain about kingmaking even when it is I who won because of it. I see it as poor sportsmanship and do not enjoy playing games with people who are known to do it.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #43 on: May 21, 2015, 04:05:50 pm »
+6

Kingmaking in a scenario where you could avoid kingmaking is indeed bad sportsmanship. In general, when I am in an awkward position where I more or less chose who wins, I try to choose whichever gives me a higher ranking, or if I am doomed to last place, whichever I think lets me get closer. I think everyone should try to abide by that principle.
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Amac

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2015, 05:42:56 pm »
0



My second example is about ranking only.  Guaranteed second place, or risky attempt at first?

Totally depends on the situation. How big is the chance to lose out (does Alice have 50%, 70% or 90% chance of buying the province?)? How important is it to finish second? (if that guarantees a championship, go and take the second place)
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eHalcyon

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #45 on: May 21, 2015, 06:43:54 pm »
0



My second example is about ranking only.  Guaranteed second place, or risky attempt at first?

Totally depends on the situation. How big is the chance to lose out (does Alice have 50%, 70% or 90% chance of buying the province?)? How important is it to finish second? (if that guarantees a championship, go and take the second place)

Right, and different people are going to have different thresholds and priorities, especially in a non-tournament setting.
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funkdoc

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #46 on: May 24, 2015, 11:56:12 pm »
+3

this is an interesting topic to see.  i come from power grid/funkenschlag, which is a game where 4-player is the most popular competitive format, and the top players at BSW have a comprehensive set of unwritten rules when it comes to kingmaking.  for those familiar with that game, they're as follows:

- most obviously, don't end the game early if you're going to lose.  people mentioned earlier that dominion is a rare game where this is possible, but i think it's a lot easier in pgrid.  in particular, you'll often see newer players do this accidentally in 5/6 player since they don't remember the lower ending condition.  but then, 5-6 in pgrid is equivalent to 4 in dominion =P

- don't buy out another player's resources at the end if you can't win, unless you actually need those resources to run a plant.  if it comes down to that then they're being dumb and have nobody to blame but themselves.

- don't bid other players TOO high on plants they need at the end if you can't win, but don't let them have those plants for free either.  this is the trickiest issue, but generally you should bid until the plant becomes equal in cost to other available options at the same capacity, OR (if it's an especially godlike plant) you can't build enough cities to make full use of the plant.

- on the final turn, only build as many cities as you can power, and take your cheapest builds.  anything else risks blocking others without benefiting you.

- don't break any of these rules even if it will get you second place instead of last.  BSW only tracks 1st place finishes, so that is all that matters to the top players.


basically the general concept is "do what's best for you as if the other players didn't exist".  this leads to things like being able to get away with not storing resources on a plant, because nobody can buy you out without throwing the game to someone else...so it's definitely not perfect.  i think it's the fairest way to handle this though.

but i'm sure now yall understand why i'm eager to learn a game where nobody cares about multis! =)  i think pgrid is as good as it gets for a serious multiplayer board game (only caylus seems to compare from what i've heard), but i just think the format inherently can't be as competitive as 1v1 since you always have these issues along with others (e.g. how badly the game can be skewed by one lower-level player being involved).
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 04:50:36 pm by funkdoc »
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #47 on: May 26, 2015, 04:08:16 am »
0

- don't buy out another player's resources at the end if you can't win, unless you actually need those resources to run a plant. 

...

- don't bid other players TOO high on plants they need at the end if you can't win, but don't let them have those plants for free either.  this is the trickiest issue,

Are you allowed or required to bid on plants you don't need? If yes, how is it different from resources you don't need?

Quote
- don't break any of these rules even if it will get you second place instead of last.

This sounds strange to me. So if you don't have a shot at winning, you essentially switch into dummy mode? Might as well leave the game and have an algorithm play your last moves?

Quote
basically the general concept is "do what's best for you as if the other players didn't exist".

Sounds rather like "act if you didn't exist". Not competing for rank sounds not like "do what's best for you".

Quote
(only caylus seems to compare from what i've heard)

Caylus is a dry worker placement I haven't managed to get on the table more than twice, but it looks brilliant. I like Through the Ages better, but it also has kingmaking issues that are heavily and repeatedly debated.

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #48 on: May 26, 2015, 06:26:54 am »
0

I think the fact that even Dominion, a game for which the designer specifically avoided political interactions, still has an issue of kingmaking is pretty good evidence that it will be present in some form in pretty much every game with a decent level of interaction and 3 or more independent, competing teams.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #49 on: May 26, 2015, 09:45:21 am »
+1

- don't break any of these rules even if it will get you second place instead of last.
This sounds strange to me. So if you don't have a shot at winning, you essentially switch into dummy mode? Might as well leave the game and have an algorithm play your last moves?
Yeah, I find this rather patronising.
Didn't get first, so stop trying to play competitively?

And, as others have mentioned, this is still a form of kingmaking.
If I don't win because another player didn't play competitively (like allowing another player to get a resource that they otherwise wouldn't get) I am going to be far more annoyed than if I don't win because another player played fiercely to claw into second place.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #50 on: May 26, 2015, 10:29:30 am »
+1

I think the fact that even Dominion, a game for which the designer specifically avoided political interactions, still has an issue of kingmaking is pretty good evidence that it will be present in some form in pretty much every game with a decent level of interaction and 3 or more independent, competing teams.

Posit:  Games or sports that are played as a competitive tournament, as opposed to a casual gaming experience, should have no more than two players/teams in direct competition at one time.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #51 on: May 26, 2015, 10:55:35 am »
0

I think the fact that even Dominion, a game for which the designer specifically avoided political interactions, still has an issue of kingmaking is pretty good evidence that it will be present in some form in pretty much every game with a decent level of interaction and 3 or more independent, competing teams.

Posit:  Games or sports that are played as a competitive tournament, as opposed to a casual gaming experience, should have no more than two players/teams in direct competition at one time.

So only games that can take 2 players or teams should be played competitively?

Also, kingmaking exists in 2-player tournaments. If my position has been decided, I can deliberately lose to help my opponent catch other players.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #52 on: May 26, 2015, 02:17:34 pm »
0

I think the fact that even Dominion, a game for which the designer specifically avoided political interactions, still has an issue of kingmaking is pretty good evidence that it will be present in some form in pretty much every game with a decent level of interaction and 3 or more independent, competing teams.

Posit:  Games or sports that are played as a competitive tournament, as opposed to a casual gaming experience, should have no more than two players/teams in direct competition at one time.

So only games that can take 2 players or teams should be played competitively?

No, games that do not require head-to-head play can take any number of players--this covers (most) racing, golf, and some others.  But I can only think of one game/sport that is routinely watched by spectators that doesn't fall into one of these categories, which is poker--and even a ton of that is now played head-to-head.

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Also, kingmaking exists in 2-player tournaments. If my position has been decided, I can deliberately lose to help my opponent catch other players.

This is only true in round-robin tournaments though, right?  It can't work in an elimination tournament, and the pairing of a Swiss tournament means that your position is not determined anyway.
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Jimmmmm

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #53 on: May 26, 2015, 02:38:35 pm »
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I think the fact that even Dominion, a game for which the designer specifically avoided political interactions, still has an issue of kingmaking is pretty good evidence that it will be present in some form in pretty much every game with a decent level of interaction and 3 or more independent, competing teams.

Posit:  Games or sports that are played as a competitive tournament, as opposed to a casual gaming experience, should have no more than two players/teams in direct competition at one time.

So only games that can take 2 players or teams should be played competitively?

No, games that do not require head-to-head play can take any number of players--this covers (most) racing, golf, and some others.  But I can only think of one game/sport that is routinely watched by spectators that doesn't fall into one of these categories, which is poker--and even a ton of that is now played head-to-head.

Most racing, golf etc are more like a series of solitaire games so avoid kingmaking by having no one to interact with. I was thinking in particular of tabletop games, in which interactivity is generally considered a good thing. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are tabletop games which cannot take only 2 players/teams but are played competitively.

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Also, kingmaking exists in 2-player tournaments. If my position has been decided, I can deliberately lose to help my opponent catch other players.

This is only true in round-robin tournaments though, right?  It can't work in an elimination tournament, and the pairing of a Swiss tournament means that your position is not determined anyway.

Right, your suggestion would then imply that round-robin systems should not be used in competitive tournaments.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #54 on: May 26, 2015, 07:14:57 pm »
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No, games that do not require head-to-head play can take any number of players--this covers (most) racing, golf, and some others.  But I can only think of one game/sport that is routinely watched by spectators that doesn't fall into one of these categories, which is poker--and even a ton of that is now played head-to-head.

You're not out of the running in poker until you are eliminated though.
The manner in which you are eliminated can certainly have an impact on the remaining players, but it's not really kingmaking unless you deliberately lose.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #55 on: May 27, 2015, 12:18:20 pm »
+1

My experience of chess is that kingmaking is not usually a big thing in all-play-alls or Swisses. Mind you, chess does have well-established rating systems that everybody takes seriously, which helps.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #56 on: May 27, 2015, 12:21:43 pm »
+12

My experience of chess is that kingmaking is not usually a big thing in all-play-alls or Swisses. Mind you, chess does have well-established rating systems that everybody takes seriously, which helps.

Pretty sure kingmaking is a checkers thing, not a chess thing.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #57 on: May 28, 2015, 04:49:09 am »
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My experience of chess is that kingmaking is not usually a big thing in all-play-alls or Swisses. Mind you, chess does have well-established rating systems that everybody takes seriously, which helps.

The only thing that happens sometimes is what we call in dutch a "salon draw", basically a draw that benefits either both players or benefits the player with the better rating in terms of championship chances. But this happens in many sports with league tables, even in football (although a couple of years ago we had a match in the final round of the Dutch domestic league where a team would play in the Europa League if they would win or lose, but not if they would draw, that team lost in the end, but that was because of reasons aside from the league itself, namely the way they dealt with the cup winner.)

I don't think in normal situations kingmaking is possible in a round robin hth tournament, without any externalities. In racing it's quite possible though, especially marathon (swimming) and the most obvious example of road cycling.
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funkdoc

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #58 on: June 13, 2015, 08:58:38 am »
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oh hey i forgot about this thread, sorry!

first off, to address the points re: other games, tournament poker stands out as a unique exception but even that still suffers from the non-kingmaking issues that all multiplayer competitive games have.  if you go on twoplustwo it's not hard to find cash-game pros who consider tournament poker a degenerate form of the game. why?

because oftentimes, the most important skill in tournaments is beating up on the weaker players and getting maximum value from them before they inevitably go down in flames.  you can effectively dodge other top players and come out on top, whereas the elite cash games only tend to have a couple fish at most.

unless you want to restrict your competitive scene to tiny invitationals, you can't really solve this problem with games of this type.


someone also mentioned kingmaking in 1v1...i tend to think of that as a separate thing, i.e. "collusion".  my original competitive games were fighting games (street fighter, mortal kombat, what have you), and this is an issue that's come up a lot there.  Evolution, the largest tournament for these games, used to run round-robin pools of 4 or 5 players each, with the top 2 finishers qualifying for the larger double-elimination bracket.  they did this for a couple of years then switched to double-elimination brackets for the "pools" as well, and i had assumed this was for time reasons since the event was growing.  however, one of Evo's organizers wrote an article breaking down various tournament formats, and he said the main reason they abandoned round-robin was that it rewards collusion much more than other formats do.  this is because more players are directly affected by one's wins and losses, and also because there's more certainty in whom you'll be playing.  the best-laid plans in double-elimination could get screwed by one big upset, after all!

this being said, even with double-elimination as the competitive standard, fighting games have still had countless instances of players throwing matches.  they almost all tend to be at the end of the tournament, when both players are already in the money.  you'd see this with players on the same sponsored team, or just players who are buddies...you get the idea.  a big contributing factor is that fighting game tournaments have historically had EXTREMELY top-heavy payouts - for a long time the standard was "only top 3 get paid, 70/20/10 split".  not only that, but some major tournaments would occasionally add a pot bonus for 1st place on top of that 70%!  easy to see how that encourages splitting the pot, no?  there's also the issue of so many top players being friends nowadays since they get to see each other at every major event - the old days had a lot more genuine rivalries since people couldn't go to many tournaments and get to know each other, so that used to be kind of a counterbalance to all of this.

ok, that got a bit off track.  i guess my tl;dr point is that certain tournament structures incentivize collusion more than others, but you also have to factor in the culture of your game's competitive scene.

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #59 on: June 13, 2015, 09:27:49 am »
+1

Are you allowed or required to bid on plants you don't need? If yes, how is it different from resources you don't need?

the idea is that if you're the only one left who can bid against someone for a top plant, you have to "police" the game essentially.  make sure the plant goes for something close to fair market value.  a lot of high-level power grid is policing, really - think of starting builds and why it's bad to have 3 players right next to each other.

i will say that the auction issue is less widely agreed upon than the others, as i have seen good players not bid on others' plants at all if they're dead.  what many don't like is the element of luck that adds...if some top-notch plant doesn't show up until it's down to one player who can win and one player who can't, not bidding can throw the game to them.  bidding on the plant makes it more similar to what would happen if other players were still in the auction, and power grid has plenty of variance already so people tend to like that.

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This sounds strange to me. So if you don't have a shot at winning, you essentially switch into dummy mode? Might as well leave the game and have an algorithm play your last moves?

yep!  it's about reducing variance (by making the endgame more predictable with this "honor code" stuff) and making the game faster.  a 4P power grid probably takes twice as long as a 2P dominion game on average, so the latter is not an insignificant motivation.

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Sounds rather like "act if you didn't exist". Not competing for rank sounds not like "do what's best for you".

it works if you only go by the ranking system that BSW uses, which is what is done there.  people would be far more receptive to your argument if the site gave you points for finishing 2nd or 3rd, but literally the only thing it tracks is who finished 1st.

but yes, this conversation is a great illustration of why i've been playing a lot less pgrid and a lot more dominion lately. ;)  there's nothing really *wrong* with anything you're saying here; trying to be competitive in multis forces you to pick one arbitrary honor code over others.  i gave it a shot for over a year, and power grid is one of my all-time favorite games of any sort, but hardly anybody plays 2P in that and aaaaaggggghhhhh

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Caylus is a dry worker placement I haven't managed to get on the table more than twice, but it looks brilliant. I like Through the Ages better, but it also has kingmaking issues that are heavily and repeatedly debated.

yeah that's my reservation with caylus.  i'm not so sure i WANT a game with "zero luck" or whatever, but plenty of people i know swear by it.  i don't know too much about through the ages, but i forgot that game has netplay now and the theme is a lot cooler to me than dominion's.  for now i'm going to stick with the game that has an established 2P scene though~

Triumph44

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #60 on: June 13, 2015, 05:01:36 pm »
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I might've missed someone saying this upthread and this discussion seems to have largely run its course, but to me if you are in 3rd with no hope of winning, it's your prerogative to end the game as quickly as possible.  On the other hand, if it was close between the other two players, I'd consider it pretty unsporting if the 3rd player ran out a non-victory pile simply to end the game.  But basically if the 3rd player can end the game by greening, he or she should.  Been a while since I played 3p Dominion but this was generally how we played.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #61 on: June 14, 2015, 07:54:42 pm »
+1

it works if you only go by the ranking system that BSW uses, which is what is done there.  people would be far more receptive to your argument if the site gave you points for finishing 2nd or 3rd, but literally the only thing it tracks is who finished 1st.

And that's basically an artificially imposed version of the mindset that a lot of player's have, which is win-at-all-costs because second place is just the first of the losers.
It's not a mindset that I share, and it's one that I feel is not particularly conducive to actually having fun.

Given that it causes players who can no longer get first place to essentially stop playing, that seems like prima facie proof that it's a mindset that ruins fun.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #62 on: June 14, 2015, 08:14:29 pm »
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it works if you only go by the ranking system that BSW uses, which is what is done there.  people would be far more receptive to your argument if the site gave you points for finishing 2nd or 3rd, but literally the only thing it tracks is who finished 1st.

And that's basically an artificially imposed version of the mindset that a lot of player's have, which is win-at-all-costs because second place is just the first of the losers.
It's not a mindset that I share, and it's one that I feel is not particularly conducive to actually having fun.

Given that it causes players who can no longer get first place to essentially stop playing, that seems like prima facie proof that it's a mindset that ruins fun.

But it doesn't cause them to stop playing.  You even said it yourself, "second place is the first of the losers"; that means if you can't get first, then go for second at all costs.  You're still playing and (in most games) your new win con is still well-defined.  It's just different from what it was before.

I think that's actually not what funkdoc is describing though anyway.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #63 on: June 14, 2015, 09:53:47 pm »
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it works if you only go by the ranking system that BSW uses, which is what is done there.  people would be far more receptive to your argument if the site gave you points for finishing 2nd or 3rd, but literally the only thing it tracks is who finished 1st.

And that's basically an artificially imposed version of the mindset that a lot of player's have, which is win-at-all-costs because second place is just the first of the losers.
It's not a mindset that I share, and it's one that I feel is not particularly conducive to actually having fun.

Given that it causes players who can no longer get first place to essentially stop playing, that seems like prima facie proof that it's a mindset that ruins fun.

But it doesn't cause them to stop playing.  You even said it yourself, "second place is the first of the losers"; that means if you can't get first, then go for second at all costs.  You're still playing and (in most games) your new win con is still well-defined.  It's just different from what it was before.

I think that's actually not what funkdoc is describing though anyway.

At least idiomatically, the phrase "second place is first of the losers" doesn't mean "strive to be better than the other losers" it means "nothing matters except first place" (which is perhaps what I should have said to keep my meaning clear).

Funkdoc is describing a scenario in which a game's online ranking system ignores anything other than first place finishes and this has the (intended or unintended) effect that anyone who cannot reach first place stops playing competitively.
I am saying that I think this scenario is the death of fun.

The worst thing about it, IMO, is that it presents a huge barrier to entry.
If you've never played a (well-established) game before, it's likely that you aren't going to start winning right out of the gates.
But here you have a scenario where you don't get to watch your ranking improve incrementally as your fourth-places turn into thirds, then seconds, then eventually firsts.
You get to sit dead last on zero points until you eke out your first win (likely giving up in frustration before that point).
Just awful, awful, awful.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #64 on: June 15, 2015, 12:19:44 am »
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I knew what you meant when you said that, but I was pointing out the flip side of that.

Anyway, I'm not sure if we're really talking about the same thing (my fault if that's the case).  I agree that players should have some well-defined objective when they know they can't win.  I disagree that you shouldn't treat first place as infinitely better than second or worse ranks.  Ideally, you would want someone with 1 first, 0 seconds, and 99 thirds to be rated better than someone with 0 firsts, 100 seconds, and 0 thirds; while someone with 99 firsts, 1 second, and 0 thirds is rated better than someone with 99 firsts, 0 seconds, and 1 third.  I don't know if there's an elegant mathematical system that can handle this when players have played different numbers of games though.

Also, I don't think it's that painful to play a game you lose repeatedly.  It's not the end of the world if you're not getting "credit" for your second/third/etc. victories.  You can still tell that you're getting better even if you don't get to see a number go up.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #65 on: June 15, 2015, 12:48:37 am »
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Ideally, you would want someone with 1 first, 0 seconds, and 99 thirds to be rated better than someone with 0 firsts, 100 seconds, and 0 thirds; while someone with 99 firsts, 1 second, and 0 thirds is rated better than someone with 99 firsts, 0 seconds, and 1 third.

Look, I know this is just going to be one of those agree-to-disagree type deals, but I feel I have to say something to this lest you think that this is a universally accepted truth.
I think this way of looking at things is fundamentally wrong.

To me, it is really obvious that someone with 1st-2nd-3rd results of 1-0-99 is a much worse player than someone with 0-100-0.
In terms of demonstration of skill, being consistently at the second-place level is a much better indicator of a decent player than being consistently third with a single win.
I would dismiss that single win as a fluke, as would any sort of statistical analysis of those datasets.

For a real world demonstration, have a look at how international tennis rankings work.
To keep it simple, we'll pretend that those are all wins, runners-up and semi-finalist results at the Grand Slam level (and ignore the loss of points over time).
1-0-99 gives 73,280 points, 0-100-0 gives 120,000 points.

Golf is similar.
The winner gets 100% of the tournament's ranking value, second place gets 60%, third gets 40% and so on.

So, really, it is absolutely contrary to standard thinking to say that 1st is "infinitely better" than 2nd which is "infinitely better" than 3rd.

Don't get me wrong, I feel very strongly that you should play as if this is the case, and I am fairly sure that professional athletes would also.
You should always strive to come first and if that's not possible you should try just as hard to come second.
But if the rankings are so heavily weighted in favour of wins that a single win outweighs 100 second-places, where is the incentive to keep trying once the win is impossible?

TL;DR Yes, first is better than second, but consistency is more important than fluking a win.
Also, sorry that this has gotten so far off-topic.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #66 on: June 15, 2015, 01:03:42 am »
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No I don't think it's a universally accepted truth, nor do I necessarily think it should be (and it depends on the game too).

I disagree that the 1-0-99 player is worse than the 0-100-0 player.  The 0-100-0 player is clearly playing for the wrong objective, that's why they haven't won yet.  The 1-0-99 player is playing to win, and screwing up a lot, but hey, they got it once.  That's what you're really going for.  The example is unrealistic, because at that point the single win could just be a fluke, but you get the idea.

Tennis is a 1v1 game, so I assume those are just tournament results?  Again, it depends on the game, and I think this is a case where it would be silly to have a "winner-take-all" ranking system.  I think what I'm saying mostly just applies to "free-for-all" competitive board games.  You only need that kind of thing to keep players on track when they know they've lost so you can avoid kingmaking (hooray, we're back on topic for a second).

In fact, it looks like you even agree that players should play as if first is infinitely better than second, etc.  If the rating system doesn't reflect that though, then you're in a situation where you have to decide whether you should be playing to maximize your rating, or playing how you "should" play.  I mean, isn't the rating system supposed to be a direct reflection of how good you are at playing the game?  If there was $1 million on the line for the player with the best rating, then something like I described (that just uses second place as a tiebreaker for the same number of firsts, etc.) would result in players playing that way, treating first place as infinitely better than second, etc.  Anything else would result in players valuing second place higher than they're supposed to.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #67 on: June 15, 2015, 01:41:19 am »
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1-0-99 vs 0-100-0 is clearly an unhelpfully unrealistic example.

What you're really saying is that you think someone with a record of 10-0-20 is a better player than someone with a record of 9-21-0, which I think is fundamentally wrong and completely devalues the concept that second place is better than third.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #68 on: June 15, 2015, 01:45:59 am »
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Well, even if you are convinced that a 9-21-0 player is better than a 10-20-0 player, my point still stands, that any rating system which reflects this will encourage players to NOT play as if first is infinitely better than second, and second infinitely better than third, etc., which you seem to agree should be how players should play.  If you want players to play this way, the rating system needs to give them a reason to.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #69 on: June 15, 2015, 02:31:51 am »
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Well, even if you are convinced that a 9-21-0 player is better than a 10-20-0 player, my point still stands, that any rating system which reflects this will encourage players to NOT play as if first is infinitely better than second, and second infinitely better than third, etc., which you seem to agree should be how players should play.  If you want players to play this way, the rating system needs to give them a reason to.

But the whole point is that a rating system that devalues second-place finishes doesn't give players a reason to play hard for second!
Your system says you need to get first, or you might as well not bother.
Which is the exact opposite of believing that first > second > third.
It basically means that first > second and second = third.

Yes, under your system 0-10-0 is better than 0-0-10.
But if 0-10-0 is trumped by 1-0-9, why would you ever bother to try and get second?

And as I said at the beginning, this is going to be an agree-to-disagree type thing, so I don't even know why I am still trying to explain my position.
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blueblimp

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #70 on: June 15, 2015, 02:47:02 am »
+2

But if 0-10-0 is trumped by 1-0-9, why would you ever bother to try and get second?
Well, obviously you'd try to get second in any situation where you can't get first at all, for example.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #71 on: June 15, 2015, 03:11:13 am »
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Right, I think we're just repeating the same things right now.  I understand if you think second place should be more important relative to first than what I'm saying; that's reasonable (though obv. I have reasons for liking a system with first infinitely greater than second infinitely greater than third).  I just don't understand how that could be consistent with this:

...1st is "infinitely better" than 2nd which is "infinitely better" than 3rd.

Don't get me wrong, I feel very strongly that you should play as if this is the case...

Any rating system which uses second place as anything more than a tiebreaker for equal number of firsts is encouraging players to play differently from how you're saying you feel very strongly they should play.  The rating system defines the win conditions; if the rating system does something else, like 100 points for first, 10 points for second, etc., then the objective has changed.  Your goal is still to get first, but if you have a guaranteed chance at second and only a 5% shot at first (and risk getting third otherwise), under the new rating system, you wouldn't go for it.  I feel like you're saying two contradictory things; you want the objective to be the same thing I'm advocating, but you want a rating system that defines a different objective.

If we continue this discussion any further maybe it should be forked off into a new thread.
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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #72 on: June 15, 2015, 04:21:50 am »
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Are you allowed or required to bid on plants you don't need? If yes, how is it different from resources you don't need?

the idea is that if you're the only one left who can bid against someone for a top plant, you have to "police" the game essentially.  make sure the plant goes for something close to fair market value.  a lot of high-level power grid is policing, really - think of starting builds and why it's bad to have 3 players right next to each other.

i will say that the auction issue is less widely agreed upon than the others, as i have seen good players not bid on others' plants at all if they're dead.  what many don't like is the element of luck that adds...if some top-notch plant doesn't show up until it's down to one player who can win and one player who can't, not bidding can throw the game to them.  bidding on the plant makes it more similar to what would happen if other players were still in the auction, and power grid has plenty of variance already so people tend to like that.

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This sounds strange to me. So if you don't have a shot at winning, you essentially switch into dummy mode? Might as well leave the game and have an algorithm play your last moves?

yep!  it's about reducing variance (by making the endgame more predictable with this "honor code" stuff) and making the game faster.  a 4P power grid probably takes twice as long as a 2P dominion game on average, so the latter is not an insignificant motivation.

Thanks! I think I am getting your argument, and while I don't agree with jaketheyak that a winner-takes-all rating takes all the fun out of the game, I would still think that a game with a "don't molest the winners honor code" mindset could be improved by actual and clean player elimination.

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Caylus is a dry worker placement I haven't managed to get on the table more than twice, but it looks brilliant. I like Through the Ages better, but it also has kingmaking issues that are heavily and repeatedly debated.

yeah that's my reservation with caylus.  i'm not so sure i WANT a game with "zero luck" or whatever, but plenty of people i know swear by it.  i don't know too much about through the ages, but i forgot that game has netplay now and the theme is a lot cooler to me than dominion's.  for now i'm going to stick with the game that has an established 2P scene though~

Through the Ages has a healthy 2P culture, and whereas people disagree whether 2P is the One True Way or a degenerate form of TtA, they all agree that it's a quite different game.
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jaketheyak

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #73 on: June 15, 2015, 10:00:53 am »
+1

...1st is "infinitely better" than 2nd which is "infinitely better" than 3rd.

Don't get me wrong, I feel very strongly that you should play as if this is the case...

What I really meant to say is that a competitive player who can't get first place should be playing as if second place is the greatest possible glory.
If you can get first, playing to try and get second is lame, but if first is unattainable you shouldn't act as though the game no longer matters because you have already "lost".
If second place is little more than a consolation prize, and that is reflected in the ranking system, then a lot of players will get to the point where first is no longer attainable and then just give up.
And in my experience, playing a multiplayer game with someone who is sitting there not trying very hard because they are too busy grumbling about not being able to get first place is not very much fun.

The scenario described playing Powergrid where the end-game involves those who are not in the running for first sitting around just waiting for the game to end, sounds like the most horrible board-gaming experience possible.
Seriously, it doesn't just suck for the losers in this scenario.
It kills a lot of the fun for the winners too.
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SwitchedFromStarcraft

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #74 on: June 15, 2015, 03:58:37 pm »
0

I agree that players should have some well-defined objective when they know they can't win.
I don't play 3p (or 4p) much, but when I do, if I am shut out of 1st, the objective I work toward is ending the game as soon as possible, so we can start another one, in which I will have a chance of winning.  Obviously, this is not the same as:

What I really meant to say is that a competitive player who can't get first place should be playing as if second place is the greatest possible glory.

Be that as it may, I don't have much sympathy for the winner who did not have as much fun as he otherwise might have, because hey, at least he won:

And in my experience, playing a multiplayer game with someone who is sitting there not trying very hard because they are too busy grumbling about not being able to get first place is not very much fun.

The scenario described playing Powergrid where the end-game involves those who are not in the running for first sitting around just waiting for the game to end, sounds like the most horrible board-gaming experience possible.

Which is why I do everything I can to end a game quickly, when I can't actually win it.
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luser

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #75 on: June 15, 2015, 04:20:10 pm »
+1

Quote
Ideally, you would want someone with 1 first, 0 seconds, and 99 thirds to be rated better than someone with 0 firsts, 100 seconds, and 0 thirds; while someone with 99 firsts, 1 second, and 0 thirds is rated better than someone with 99 firsts, 0 seconds, and 1 third.

Thats silly, one reason that I don't like bsw.

As mathematican a correct system would be something like use trueskill and objective would be maximize expected gain to qualify value of second place depending on opponents.

Main problem that winner takes all isn't boring endgame, its that it takes skill out of game. In dominion a 1-0-99 player would be newbie that only learned to play treasure-map bm and one win comes from baker board where he collided his maps on turn 3.

On other hand 0-100-0 player is much better, he didn't win just because he plays versus Stef.

That gets worse with number of players, on 5 player game where winner takes it all everybody would open treasure map if present. Then depending on luck you would early see one who first connect these as winner.

That indeed leads to more boring games as winner is decided early by risky gambit and in rest of game its hard to overcome early lead.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #76 on: June 15, 2015, 11:34:36 pm »
+1

Man, I could make exactly the opposite argument.  Rankings are weird in Dominion.  The BM player who has no chance of winning will usually come second against two megaturn engine players (on a board where the megaturn engine is going to win), because he's steadily accumulating VP, even though it's not enough VP to win.  Both engine players are playing correctly, but one of them is doing slightly better than the other.  That's why first place is really what matters.  If second place matters too, the strategy of the game is completely different (that could potentially be a good thing, but I don't think it is in this case).

I think you should play riskier with more players.  In poker, you're a lot more willing to play hands like 7-6 suited in a pot with lots of other players, because even though it's unlikely to payoff, when it does, it will usually beat everyone else (contrasted with a hand like pocket Aces, which usually beats 1 or 2 players, but can get into trouble against lots of other players).  Same thing in Dominion.  If you're playing against a lot of other players, you have to take risks, because you need to get lucky to win.  If you reward second, third, and fourth place, you just take strategies that steadily accumulate VP (i.e. big money).  I think knowing when to take risks and what risks to take requires more skill than playing big money.

And, well, I'm not a fan of multi-player Dominion anyway.  I was mostly talking about competitive "free-for-all" games in general (and like I said 5 million times, it depends on what game you're talking about).  I think in most cases though, a "first infinitely better than second infinitely better than third etc." is best.
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funkdoc

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Re: About kingmaking
« Reply #77 on: June 18, 2015, 04:37:08 pm »
0

oh hey, lots of discussion here!  it's been pretty well-covered so i'll just say that power grid happens to be very well-suited for the type of kingmaking rules i talked about.  reason being, it's a game where you usually aren't out of the running until the end.  Step 3 is the great equalizer with all the monster plants that become available, and one drop can singlehandedly vault you from worst to a potential winner.  thus, there isn't normally a long period of being dead and playing out the string - basically everything i mentioned only comes into play on the final turn.

i definitely see how it could be bad for a lot of other games, though
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