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Author Topic: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?  (Read 10286 times)

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funkdoc

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could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« on: August 12, 2016, 06:30:26 pm »
+3

lately i've been thinking about how widely accepted variance is in eurogames, even at the most competitive levels, compared to the utter hatred for any of it it in competitive video games.  i'm sure a number of you are familiar with smash bros. tournaments banning items since they're highly random, and top players in any game get highly frustrated if a 2-out-of-3 set doesn't determine the better player.

i wonder if a major reason for this difference is the fact that IIRC there's no big competitive eurogame with serious money on the line.  i doubt i need to tell you about the prize pools for MOBAs and the like, and that adds an extra "gut punch" angle to losses that are out of your control.

it seems like in this world, luck elements are the only way designers have managed to prevent games from getting old after extensive play.  i suspect the obvious swinginess would limit people's desire to put up money for tournaments or even a first-to-10 against one opponent (a common type of "exhibition" in fighting games).  as my entire reason for learning these games is competition, it makes me wonder just how far even a game as great as Dominion can go in that regard...

Mic Qsenoch

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2016, 06:37:27 pm »
+2

I would definitely play Dominion for money, I don't really know what pairings of $ amount vs # games per match I would be comfortable with though.
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JW

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2016, 06:40:58 pm »
+2

I play Dominion for fun. Making money is what my job is for. Though I could see paying to enter a tournament where there was a prize, the prize wouldn't be the main motivation.

If I wanted to play a game where money was at stake, which I wouldn't do for the purpose of making money, I'd play poker with friends.
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AdrianHealey

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2016, 06:43:59 pm »
0

I would absolutely pay dominion for money, but I will never be at the level that people would pay me to play dominooion.

A competetitive scene for dominion sounds not absurd (similar to like Heartstone, Lol, Moba, Dota, SC, etc.) but the game, unfortunately, isn't popular enough.

I would also imagine tournament organizers coming up with a few rules of their own to minimize randomness. And maybe allow both players to veto any particular number of cards.
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SCSN

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2016, 06:55:56 pm »
+2

I would definitely play Dominion for money, I don't really know what pairings of $ amount vs # games per match I would be comfortable with though.

Bandit Fort cage match.
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Mic Qsenoch

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2016, 06:57:19 pm »
0

I would definitely play Dominion for money, I don't really know what pairings of $ amount vs # games per match I would be comfortable with though.

Bandit Fort cage match.

No point for us, we'll just tie.
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Roadrunner7671

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2016, 07:11:38 pm »
+1

There's a Dominion tournament at GenCon annually with a $1,000 cash prize on the line. So I could see myself playing for money.
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Watno

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2016, 07:22:07 pm »
0

I don't see anyone giving me a significant amount of money for playing Dominion.
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Polk5440

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2016, 07:58:16 pm »
0

it seems like in this world, luck elements are the only way designers have managed to prevent games from getting old after extensive play. 

Adding variance also allows players of a larger range of skill levels to play together and feel like they have a chance to win which usually makes it more fun for everyone.

I entered that Chicago tournament a couple of years ago. There was a fee to enter and a monetary prize to the winner, so even though the prize was not the main motivation, the answer is "yes" to your original question.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2016, 08:00:51 pm »
+4

The money is just for playing? Okay. Who wants to sponsor me?
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2016, 08:19:39 pm »
0

I'd love to play Dominion for money. Now find willing people who want to pay me, or a popular tournament with cash prizes. There's the problem. The problem is lack of popularity. The competitive scene of Dominion just isn't that big. Hopefully Stef's implementation fixes this.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2016, 11:09:24 pm »
+4

I don't think Dominion's level of variance would be an obstacle to playing for money; I'd say poker has at least as much if not more variance than Dominion and people are certainly willing to put money on the line for that.
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Titandrake

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2016, 11:37:50 pm »
+2

On topic: I could see myself playing Dominion for money, but not for any big amounts. It's my hobby, not my job.

Off topic: I want to object to a few points you're implying.

lately i've been thinking about how widely accepted variance is in eurogames, even at the most competitive levels, compared to the utter hatred for any of it it in competitive video games.  i'm sure a number of you are familiar with smash bros. tournaments banning items since they're highly random, and top players in any game get highly frustrated if a 2-out-of-3 set doesn't determine the better player.

One of the main complaints about EVO this year was that it wasn't best of 5 until near the very end. Now, EVO couldn't do that because of time constraints, but it feels like you're implying the winner of every fighting game match is the better player. Which is completely absurd - upsets happen. When you're guessing how the other player is going to act, you're going to get randomness, even if the game doesn't have any randomness in it. What matters for competition is whether the player feels like they have a big enough impact on the outcome of the game.

It's possible you're talking to the wrong people about this. If you ask eurogame enthusiasts, of course they're probably going to say that variance is part of the game, because anyone who doesn't like that part of eurogames isn't going to hang around eurogame communities.

I'm also confused what grounds you're using to generalize this to outside just Dominion.

Quote
i wonder if a major reason for this difference is the fact that IIRC there's no big competitive eurogame with serious money on the line.  i doubt i need to tell you about the prize pools for MOBAs and the like, and that adds an extra "gut punch" angle to losses that are out of your control.

If there was money on the line, I'm sure people would care more, but they'd also heavily object to tournaments that don't give enough games to determine the better player with high certainty. See: Smash at EVO. People just straight up lose games of Magic: the Gathering to drawing too many or too few lands, and there's thousands on the line there.

Quote
it seems like in this world, luck elements are the only way designers have managed to prevent games from getting old after extensive play.  i suspect the obvious swinginess would limit people's desire to put up money for tournaments or even a first-to-10 against one opponent (a common type of "exhibition" in fighting games).  as my entire reason for learning these games is competition, it makes me wonder just how far even a game as great as Dominion can go in that regard...

Luck has never stopped sufficiently devoted players from placing money on the line. There are the obvious examples like poker, but there are also smaller things. Mario Party money matches have happened. I know because I watched a livestream of one, and it was hilarious. There will always be people looking to put their money where their mouth is.

As to designers relying on luck elements to get replayability: can you think of any alternatives? I can't. In eurogames, players have to implement all the rules themselves (meaning they have to be simple). You also can't rely on forcing more mechanical skill, on players pushing each other to get better at hitting frame-perfect timings, because eurogames are almost always turn-based. Adding randomized setup is a simple way to get replayability without changing the complexity of the base rules - it's no wonder that so many games do it.

From your post, I get the feeling you believe that
1. More people will play competitively if there's money on the line.
2. Luck makes people more hesistant to put money on the line.
3. Therefore, luck is bad for the development of a competitive scene.

To which I'd say,
1. More people play competitively if the game is fun. The vast majority of players will never be net positive in money after a tournament. They're there to challenge themselves and become better players.
2. I've never heard people say they didn't want to enter a tournament because the game was too luck based. They don't enter because the game isn't fun anymore. And yes, sometimes that's because they lost from bad luck.
3. So, I don't think luck stops competition at all, as long as it's reasonably small, and I'd say it is reasonably small in Dominion.

There are many more important factors for growth in a scene. Barrier to entry, easy to follow for spectators, whether there are storylines for famous players, and so on. Dominion is held back primarily by the first two.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2016, 11:43:00 pm by Titandrake »
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2016, 12:21:32 am »
0

If it was possible to make money through playing Dominion, I would certainly at least try. Dominion probably doesn't even have as much variance as Hearthstone does, and HS has a pretty good competitive scene.
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JThorne

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2016, 10:10:36 am »
+1

Actually, it seems to me that one of the greatest design elements in Dominion is the randomization of the kingdom itself, which is utterly irrelevant, since all players have access to the same cards. Sure, some of the cards are "swingy" but shuffle luck only plays some part in determining the outcome. There are pretty big CCG tournaments out there, and the shuffle luck aspect doesn't seem to hurt those.

Luck elements can be significantly reduced in games which spread out the per-player randomization over a large number of turns, meaning that the amount of good luck and back luck for each player will tend towards the mean, and the outcome will ultimately be determined much more by the decision-making skills of the players. Backgammon is one of my favorite examples of this. Download GnuBG and crank it up to "World Class" (or "Supernatural" if you're curious) and play a few games. No, play a few dozen games. Unless you're a Backgammon Giant, you'll be hard-pressed to win even a single game against it, much less a 17-point or 9-point match. The Internet is full of Backgammon "expert" players who absolutely swear that it's cheating, some of whom write extensive "proofs" of this. Except that it's open-source. And you can roll your own dice if you want. It won't help. You will be crushed. GnuBG is the king of YMYODL.

I've stopped cursing my luck when I lose at Dominion and started looking much harder at where my mistakes were and what I could have done to prevent the problem. One issue is that I've stopped buying cards while imagining the best possible shuffle, and started buying cards while imagining the worst possible shuffle. It changes the order in which you buy things and significantly improves your game over the long run.

If you like luck-free games, though, here's an interesting question: Have you ever tried Dominion with deck stacking? Eliminate the shuffle luck entirely and allow each player to stack their deck instead of shuffling. Heck, you could actually play a "Lucky Chancellor" deck! (In fact, Chancellor/Messenger/Scavenger become insane power cards.) But more likely, both players would be trying to figure out the optimal engine and points/turn, points/shuffle issues, possibly with some second-guessing of each other about attacks. Junking is no longer relevant, but discard certainly is. It would be a different game, with a kind of puzzle flavor to it. I'm not sure I'd want to play that way against Celestial Chameleon.
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dedicateddan

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2016, 10:49:35 am »
0

Absolutely. A bigger prize purse might help grow and support the tournament scene
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mameluke

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2016, 11:41:22 am »
+1

Actually, it seems to me that one of the greatest design elements in Dominion is the randomization of the kingdom itself, which is utterly irrelevant, since all players have access to the same cards. Sure, some of the cards are "swingy" but shuffle luck only plays some part in determining the outcome. There are pretty big CCG tournaments out there, and the shuffle luck aspect doesn't seem to hurt those.

Luck elements can be significantly reduced in games which spread out the per-player randomization over a large number of turns, meaning that the amount of good luck and back luck for each player will tend towards the mean, and the outcome will ultimately be determined much more by the decision-making skills of the players.

I still don't believe this. The problem is that in many kingdoms, shuffle luck has a snowball effect: if I have better shuffle luck now/towards the beginning of the game, my deck is improved and there is less chance of having a bad draw on subsequent turns. If we both open Witch/Ratcatcher and you draw both of yours on T3, then you've both improved your deck and made mine worse at the same time through no particular strategic decision. And if mine are the bottom two cards of my deck after the first shuffle, or worse I draw the Ratcatcher dead with my Witch (and then shuffle to draw the second card), then man, game over. There's no recovery mechanism.

I mean yes, the name of the game is indeed improve your deck in order to afford Provinces, and this is a card game so yes, shuffling and draws are part of the game, but let's not pretend that luck is not a large part of the game. You can get destroyed despite making all of the correct decisions.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2016, 01:42:58 pm »
+1

Actually, it seems to me that one of the greatest design elements in Dominion is the randomization of the kingdom itself, which is utterly irrelevant, since all players have access to the same cards. Sure, some of the cards are "swingy" but shuffle luck only plays some part in determining the outcome. There are pretty big CCG tournaments out there, and the shuffle luck aspect doesn't seem to hurt those.

Luck elements can be significantly reduced in games which spread out the per-player randomization over a large number of turns, meaning that the amount of good luck and back luck for each player will tend towards the mean, and the outcome will ultimately be determined much more by the decision-making skills of the players.

I still don't believe this. The problem is that in many kingdoms, shuffle luck has a snowball effect: if I have better shuffle luck now/towards the beginning of the game, my deck is improved and there is less chance of having a bad draw on subsequent turns. If we both open Witch/Ratcatcher and you draw both of yours on T3, then you've both improved your deck and made mine worse at the same time through no particular strategic decision. And if mine are the bottom two cards of my deck after the first shuffle, or worse I draw the Ratcatcher dead with my Witch (and then shuffle to draw the second card), then man, game over. There's no recovery mechanism.

I mean yes, the name of the game is indeed improve your deck in order to afford Provinces, and this is a card game so yes, shuffling and draws are part of the game, but let's not pretend that luck is not a large part of the game. You can get destroyed despite making all of the correct decisions.
Dominion has both a lot of luck and a lot of skill. Is there enough skill relative to luck that the best players tend to come out on top? Well as it happens we have a lot of data there. For example you could look at the final standings in the league (http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?board=60.0), which has had 16 seasons.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2016, 01:49:42 pm »
0

If anyone has bitcoins and wants to try some games, send me a pm!
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mameluke

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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2016, 02:03:21 pm »
0

Actually, it seems to me that one of the greatest design elements in Dominion is the randomization of the kingdom itself, which is utterly irrelevant, since all players have access to the same cards. Sure, some of the cards are "swingy" but shuffle luck only plays some part in determining the outcome. There are pretty big CCG tournaments out there, and the shuffle luck aspect doesn't seem to hurt those.

Luck elements can be significantly reduced in games which spread out the per-player randomization over a large number of turns, meaning that the amount of good luck and back luck for each player will tend towards the mean, and the outcome will ultimately be determined much more by the decision-making skills of the players.

I still don't believe this. The problem is that in many kingdoms, shuffle luck has a snowball effect: if I have better shuffle luck now/towards the beginning of the game, my deck is improved and there is less chance of having a bad draw on subsequent turns. If we both open Witch/Ratcatcher and you draw both of yours on T3, then you've both improved your deck and made mine worse at the same time through no particular strategic decision. And if mine are the bottom two cards of my deck after the first shuffle, or worse I draw the Ratcatcher dead with my Witch (and then shuffle to draw the second card), then man, game over. There's no recovery mechanism.

I mean yes, the name of the game is indeed improve your deck in order to afford Provinces, and this is a card game so yes, shuffling and draws are part of the game, but let's not pretend that luck is not a large part of the game. You can get destroyed despite making all of the correct decisions.
Dominion has both a lot of luck and a lot of skill. Is there enough skill relative to luck that the best players tend to come out on top? Well as it happens we have a lot of data there. For example you could look at the final standings in the league (http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?board=60.0), which has had 16 seasons.

No disagreement there. There is a lot of skill and strategy involved. Over enough games the better players definitely win a lot more. My opinion is simply that sometimes (and I would argue more than many people here give credit) when you lose the reason why is simply bad luck and you don't have to microanalyze your play and second-guess your decisions.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2016, 02:06:47 pm »
0

Even with bad shuffles, I don't like blaming losses on those. The opponent can get them too, and suddenly, you're neck and neck. I've seen it a lot.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2016, 02:08:54 pm »
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No disagreement there. There is a lot of skill and strategy involved. Over enough games the better players definitely win a lot more. My opinion is simply that sometimes (and I would argue more than many people here give credit) when you lose the reason why is simply bad luck and you don't have to microanalyze your play and second-guess your decisions.
The broader context of the post you replied to was the suitability of Dominion to money-on-the-line tournaments.
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2016, 02:16:57 pm »
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No disagreement there. There is a lot of skill and strategy involved. Over enough games the better players definitely win a lot more. My opinion is simply that sometimes (and I would argue more than many people here give credit) when you lose the reason why is simply bad luck and you don't have to microanalyze your play and second-guess your decisions.
The broader context of the post you replied to was the suitability of Dominion to money-on-the-line tournaments.

Yeah. I guess I forgot to tie that back in in my original post. Because, IMO, luck can affect one game quite a bit (a bad draw early can snowball), I would prefer a Dominion tournament with money on the line to be something like a single game of Hearts, where each hand is (nearly) entirely independent from each other hand (excepting political moves regarding the score). A typical game of Hearts is probably between 8-12 hands -- this smooths out luck quite a bit. The question is, how many games would you need to play a single opponent in order to smooth out bad shuffles, starting hands, etc.? 10? How about each kingdom -- how carefully manipulated should they be in order to balance out enough luck? Or just full random?
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2016, 02:36:12 pm »
+2

I would play Dominion for money.  I would also pay money as a contribution to a prize pool of which I could potentially win a share of.  I would also accept sponsorship deals in which people actually payed me to play Dominion (a man can dream, right?).  I might even pay my cable company to air high-profile Dominion play on TV, and sit through ads at regular intervals throughout said TV program.

Regarding luck in competitive play..
Luck can highly influence any 1 game, but that's why we play a lot of games.  For those that don't know, in league, you play 6 games against 4 or 5 (usually 5) other people per "season", for a total of 6*5=30 games.  And any 1 game equally influences your overall "score" as much as any other game does (sort of like in golf, how any 1 shot equally contributes to your final score).  So I just don't see the argument that luck prevents truly competitive play, as long as you design a system to limit luck's influence in the long run.  Sure, luck will always be there, but it's just so insignificant.  Just look at who is in which divisions throughout the league's 16 seasons -- clearly, even with the luck factor, the cream rises to the top.

I also think we've hashed out more-or-less very well-designed competitive structures already: the league and bracket-style tournaments.  If money was involved, I would think people would want to stick to one of these systems.  Unless people wanted to get funky with it like "I bet you $x that I can bump my Fairgrounds up to 8vp", but that would feel awfully close to the g-word.

The one tweak from the current systems I could see would be banning card-shaped things.  Rebuild, Cultist, Black Market, etc. come to mind.  Personally, I don't ban things, but I could see the argument either way.  If my Nike sponsorship deal allowed for banning, then so be it :P

I can't imagine >2 - player games being truly competitive though, because it would be possible for multiple players to form alliances so as to screw another player over (which is a thing in Poker, called "collusion").
« Last Edit: August 15, 2016, 07:30:43 pm by Dingan »
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Re: could you ever see yourself playing Dominion for money?
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2016, 02:39:45 pm »
0

If it was possible to make money through playing Dominion, I would certainly at least try. Dominion probably doesn't even have as much variance as Hearthstone does, and HS has a pretty good competitive scene.

I think comparing Dominion to HS in terms of gameplay, and setup and delivery is a fair comparison. However, the fact a competitive scene exists there is largely due to the overwhelming popularity of Blizzard (and their infrastructure). If Hearthstone was the first release from a never-been-heard-of Blizzard I'm not so sure it would be the success it is at all. I mean, the game itself, heavily borrows from an original hit from the same company in order to attract the existing player base.
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