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JimJammer

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Playing to lose?
« on: May 11, 2018, 09:20:53 am »
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My friends and I have just started playing Dominion and I've noticed that they will often end a game even when they know they are losing, which pisses me off and makes me say bad things.

I had assumed that Dominion is a game where one person wins and everyone else loses, but they seem to see coming in second place as having some sort of value.

Browsing the forums I noticed that tournament rules tend to give points for 2nd, 3rd place etc.

So i was wondering what the consensus is, does it matter who comes second?

I have a lot of follow up questions as well but lets keep it simple for now.
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crj

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2018, 09:28:06 am »
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Personally, if I see a line of play that might let me win and will otherwise make me crash and burn, I'll take it. I'll only play for second place either if there's no way to play for first or if playing for second is my best chance at reaching first.
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JimJammer

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2018, 09:42:39 am »
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The situation that annoyed me was a four player game where one player (the winner) pursued a big money strategy and developed an early lead and tried to finish the game by using up the 3rd supply pile - behaviour I don't have a problem with. What I didn't like is when another player (the loser) realised he was unlikely to catch the winner but ahead of the other two players (who were pursuing an engine strategy and had pretty much nothing in terms of victory points) decides to cut his losses and help the winner end the game.

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JimJammer

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 09:45:29 am »
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Quote
The situation that annoyed me was a four player game where one player (the winner) pursued a big money strategy and developed an early lead and tried to finish the game by using up the 3rd supply pile - behaviour I don't have a problem with. What I didn't like is when another player (the loser) realised he was unlikely to catch the winner but ahead of the other two players (who were pursuing an engine strategy and had pretty much nothing in terms of victory points) decides to cut his losses and help the winner end the game.

Now of course if there is consensus that second place has value then this is behaviour I should have anticipated and shouldn't annoy me (as much). Which is why I ask the question.
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JimJammer

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2018, 10:07:53 am »
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Personally, if I see a line of play that might let me win and will otherwise make me crash and burn, I'll take it. I'll only play for second place either if there's no way to play for first or if playing for second is my best chance at reaching first.

I suppose if nobody assigns any value to anything other than first place then there will always be a question mark over what you should do once you decide you cannot win. You would then being in a position where you effect the game but are without any defined objective. Perhaps the solution is to agree on the honourable cause of action in advance. First things that come to mind are
  • resign
  • play for maximum points
  • play for minimum points difference to winner
  • play to minimise winner points margin over any player
  • play to end game (yuch)
  • play for best position (2nd, 3rd etc.)
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GendoIkari

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2018, 11:12:44 am »
+1

This has been discussed before, I think, and really it's a question that applies to a lot of games; not just Dominion.

If a player knows they can't win, or that it is extremely unlikely that they can't win; they have several options, which you have covered in your last post.

I don't think there's any right answer. I DO think that kingmaking is bad sportsmanship, and will generally not play with those who intentionally do it (if they have other options). But it's not always trivial to define. Ending the game early in a loss could be seen as a form of Kingmaking, but really I think it all comes down to intention. If the player is ending the game because 1) They will get second place; or 2) Because they want the game to be over because they won't win anyway; then I wouldn't see that as Kingmaking. If they are ending the game early in a loss because they specifically want to spite a player who would clearly win if the game continued; but has less points than another player at the moment, then that is kingmaking.

So yes, it can be frustrating that a player not playing optimally hurts your game. It can happen a lot in any game with more than 2 players. But I don't think we can decide that another player should have to play for second, or play for max score, or play for closest to winning, etc; that should be up to the player.
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crj

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2018, 11:18:11 am »
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The situation that annoyed me was a four player game where one player (the winner) pursued a big money strategy and developed an early lead and tried to finish the game by using up the 3rd supply pile - behaviour I don't have a problem with. What I didn't like is when another player (the loser) realised he was unlikely to catch the winner but ahead of the other two players (who were pursuing an engine strategy and had pretty much nothing in terms of victory points) decides to cut his losses and help the winner end the game.
Hmm. To me, that's a difficult grey area.

Two players select a big money strategy, two select an engine. Big money is emptying piles before the engines get going. One of the big money players develops a lead; the other decides to help end the game quickly so they can come second. I see no problem with that.

One player adopts big money, two adopt an engine, one has no real strategy to speak of. Big money player develops a lead, player with no strategy is getting nowhere and decides to end the game as quickly as possible without regard to their score. That's not at all sporting and ruins the game for others.

Trouble is, the two lines of play could look very similar. It's more about the player's attitude and intent than their actual behaviour.
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DG

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2018, 11:28:01 am »
+2

It's entirely up to your group as to how they play when they are losing. There isn't a right answer. You just need to speak to them and sort it out as friends. Remember that they might not care and you might be the odd one out by making an issue of it.
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JimJammer

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2018, 12:40:56 pm »
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It's entirely up to your group as to how they play when they are losing. There isn't a right answer. You just need to speak to them and sort it out as friends. Remember that they might not care and you might be the odd one out by making an issue of it.

Oh, most definitely , but I'm used to that
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JimJammer

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2018, 12:49:35 pm »
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The situation that annoyed me was a four player game where one player (the winner) pursued a big money strategy and developed an early lead and tried to finish the game by using up the 3rd supply pile - behaviour I don't have a problem with. What I didn't like is when another player (the loser) realised he was unlikely to catch the winner but ahead of the other two players (who were pursuing an engine strategy and had pretty much nothing in terms of victory points) decides to cut his losses and help the winner end the game.
Hmm. To me, that's a difficult grey area.

Two players select a big money strategy, two select an engine. Big money is emptying piles before the engines get going. One of the big money players develops a lead; the other decides to help end the game quickly so they can come second. I see no problem with that.

One player adopts big money, two adopt an engine, one has no real strategy to speak of. Big money player develops a lead, player with no strategy is getting nowhere and decides to end the game as quickly as possible without regard to their score. That's not at all sporting and ruins the game for others.

Trouble is, the two lines of play could look very similar. It's more about the player's attitude and intent than their actual behaviour.

I agree that the first is perfectly acceptable so long as Dominion is a game where coming second has value, which from everyone responses on here it looks like I'm going to have to accept is the consensus interpretation.  I had always thought of it as a winner takes all game - that  everyone should play as if everyone except the winner gets executed at the end of the game.

One consequence of it not being winner takes all is presumably that games are likely to be shorter (as you can't rely on everyone who's not winning trying to extend the game), which tips the balance away from combo and engine strategies, which I always thought we more fun.  :'(
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Awaclus

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2018, 01:04:34 pm »
+3

2nd place makes sense in games where the game ends at a predetermined point. It doesn't make sense in Dominion where the ability to control when the game ends is one of the requirements for winning.

Either way, I don't recommend playing Dominion with more than 2 players and this is exactly the reason why.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 01:06:19 pm by Awaclus »
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pacovf

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2018, 01:52:26 pm »
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You play board games to have fun. If the game rules or objectives lead to situations where trying to achieve those objectives isn’t fun, then you need to either change the rules or the objective. In multiplayer games, a player will often find themselves in a situation where they can’t get first place; in the absence of a secondary objective, they can’t have fun, so clearly you need to add something there. I find going for second place (etc) is a good secondary objective that allows that player to still have fun without impacting (too much?) the fun the other players are having. Other games than Dominion will allow “maximizing your score” as a good secondary objective (eg Agricola). Some games, by their structure, don’t allow for secondary objectives, and then I would expect players that can’t win to try to end the game faster, which is usually not fun for anyone involved; but I would say that’s a problem of the game, not of the group.

Of course, this leaves some subjectivity in the hands of the player, since they have to decide when to stop trying to go for first place and focus on second place, etc, which is not present if the objective is “first or bust”, but I think the pros outweigh the cons.
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Screwyioux

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2018, 03:20:37 pm »
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One of the many reasons I think Dominion breaks down past two players.
Kingmaking/"placing" ticks me off a bit too. In every game, not just Dominion.
You win, or you do not win. Second place is a rationalization.
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pacatak

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2018, 05:11:24 pm »
+4

my take, you should play so you will end the best possible.  if first is out of reach, second is better than last. There is real value in seeing you beat the other players.

Any other strategy is playing king maker.  If the guy who could have gotten second prolongs the game to his detriment, then he is helping the engine people with no benefit to himself.  at least with the second place player trying for second he is trying to avoid the shame of announcing the lowest number of points.

at least in my group we give some good natured ribbing to the last place player.
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Donald X.

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2018, 07:35:41 pm »
+11

If someone enjoys coming in second, hooray, someone is enjoying some innocent thing. Being against that is being the enemy of fun. I am not the enemy of fun; have all the fun coming in second that you want. If you want to think of it as "first loser" that's fine too.

It does come up for me personally; sometimes someone else is just winning, there's no two ways about it, and well, I play for second. It's more fun than just passing on my turn.

Playing for second reduces kingmaking issues and that's nice too. They aren't making a decision to kingmake; they're making a decision to try to come in 2nd.

Sometimes a player will try to end the game when they're losing. This is a nasty surprise if you don't know them, but is fine if you do know them. I have a playtester who does that all the time; it's just something to factor in. The piles are lower than they look because that guy will help empty them; points are more important than you'd think because of that too. It doesn't remove strategy, it's just important to know.

I have played thousands of games of Dominion with 3-4 players; somehow we had fun!
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jamfamsam

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2018, 07:54:26 pm »
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Maybe the player realized they weren't winning, wasn't enjoying that set of cards that much and just wanted to move onto the next kingdom.

I love 3 player Dominion. Fun is king unless there is something at stake and even then it might still be king.
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Screwyioux

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2018, 08:28:35 pm »
+1

Maybe I phrased my stance too strongly.
I have more trouble having fun with 3-p Dominion and I get irritated when something inherent to a 3-p game affects who wins. It makes me have less fun, that said, I don't mean to imply at all that anything anyone has fun with is invalid or they should stop. I just think it's more fun when every player does everything they can to come in 1st place the entire game.

That said, I too play 3-p Dominion all the time and have plenty of fun with it because I love Dominion. cough but 2-p is way better cough
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trivialknot

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Re: Playing to lose?
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2018, 12:16:26 pm »
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In addition to valuing 2nd place, players might also value:
1. Winning as many times as possible.  So, whenever victory/loss is assured, end the game as quickly as possible
2. Spend as much time in winning games as possible.  So, whenever loss is assured, end the game quickly.  And whenever anyone else does the same, complain they are being bad sports.  It's true that their behavior is just as likely to help you as hurt you, but overall it makes you spend less time in winning games.
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