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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Is aiming for 2nd acceptable strategy? rss

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tibbles von tibbleton
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I know there's the helping another win thread below, but I think this case is different enough.

My game group has been having a debate over this case:
It's turn 8ish and 1 solid player is in 2nd place with 4-5 castles, but looks at the board and realizes that w/o someone making an unlikely major mistake, he's not going to overtake the #1 player. Rather than playing it out to round 10 for the small chance at first place, he deliberately makes his moves such that the #1 player can take the 7th castle from him to win and end the game turn 8, but such that he still holds 2nd place. Meanwhile, the rest of us expecting 2 more turns of game time are caught out of position and place pretty much randomly.

My opinion is that you're playing these games to try for first place (let alone the background theme of you win or you die), so it's better to try for the unlikely turnaround than throw the game to come in 2nd.

He argues it's good strategy since his odds of placing first by round 10 are much smaller than the odds that someone will knock him below 2nd by round 10 when everyone does their last minute backstabs, so he's taking advantage of our unpreparedness to take the highest expectation move.

What are your thoughts? Go for first or go for best average placement?
 
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Jonathan Challis
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I wouldn't do it, since to me 2nd is not much better than last, but if he sees that as an acceptable position for him, then yes, his strategy is right.

For me I want to win or it doesn't matter...
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Matteo Angioletti
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Could be accettable only if using a tournament like system, where every game final ranking awards points which are tracked to form a persistent ladder.
In that environment getting 2nd and having a "lower" player win may be the best choice.

If your approach is that every game is isolated you should play only for the win(or when winning is impossible, maximise your own final position).
Anyway in the end there should be 1 winner and 5 losers.
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Kuba W
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Kraków
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"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Cersei Lannister
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Matt Epp
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It's all or nothing for me. 2nd place is relatively meaningless. So much can change in this game over 2 turns, I would shake my head at this guy and seriously reconsider ever having him participate in a game of this nature in the future. It's king-making, pure and simple, and it's basically giving up.

And yes, it COMPLETELY goes against the modus operandi of this game in particular.
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Radosław Michalak
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Tychy
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He was 2nd with 4-5 - not so dangerous for others.
Another player had chance for getting 7 castles in that round? Everybody should concentrate on that player. That means there is always a chance to earn something.
I must say that guy is not very smart. He is a loser. He is the stupid loser who made his own loss.
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Chris K.
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Well, there is no such thing as second place in Game of Thrones. There is a winner and everyone else looses.

And I have never seen a game where someone giving the game to one of the other players like that didn't result in mostly everyone else being slightly to majorly pissed off and it tends to leave a bad feeling for a game that probably even was fun for everyone up till then.

And "noone makes mistakes" kinda sounds like your group isn't big on helping one another out, allying against someone for a turn and similar stuff. If you don't play the game as multiplayer-solitaire but as an actual game of shifting alliances then there is no such thing as "I won't be able to do something".

Also in this game a LOT can happen in two rounds ... so yeah ... I'd assume that your second place player was rather fed up with the game for some reason and just wanted it to end.
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Paul Evans
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What is this 2nd place you are all talking about? You either win or lose. if your positions is not 1st then you lost. Done.

More to the point - it's not just thematically sound to have only one winner, but also keeps the game inherently balanced. No matter the circumstances if someone is about the win they are your enemey and must be pulled down.
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Marcin Woźniak
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Radziol wrote:
He was 2nd with 4-5 - not so dangerous for others.
Another player had chance for getting 7 castles in that round? Everybody should concentrate on that player. That means there is always a chance to earn something.
I must say that guy is not very smart. He is a loser. He is the stupid loser who made his own loss.


I totally agree. Once players abandon goal of trying to achieve first place and start doing other things, they begin playing some other game.

If everyone agrees it is cool, than it is. For example, players may suddenly quit playing bridge and just start building house out of the cards they have left in hands. Or throwing with them against each other counting "hits". But if one person only feels like doing this, this person will ruin game nighr for all the others.

My last game, one player decided, that he will play metagame instead, metagame that was called: "nobody will win who betrayed me" and nearly achieved his goal. Of course, neighbours of a traitor allied against this traitor with "mad avanger" who at the moment of his decision (Round 3) had a fair chance of winning, but who spent it all at (fruitless, as time told) on trying to stop me from winning.

Since this moment, though finally by sheer luck I won, I did not enjoy the evening. Nor did other players, even those that benefited on this "RPG".

And player who RPGed this evening, was just angry for not winning hs own game. At the end he still had an army of 3 Knights, and King's Landing.
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Josh Lacey
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Sounds like 2nd player just became the new Kings Hand while the rest of you had your lands and titles stripped.

Thematically it fits, and in most games the point is to finish in the best position possible so it seems like a good strategic move.
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United Kingdom
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I'll think of something witty to put here...
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The goal of the game is to win, and the rules say you win by having 7 castles. If you don't win, you lose.

You Win or You Die

Heads, spikes, walls.

yuk
coal
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tibbles von tibbleton
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I do want to be clear that in his defense in this case he was between me (prob the next most solid player, though I swing more wildly in position each game) and the #1 guy. So even I could see pretty well his only shot of winning was if both I and the other neighbor of #1 took down the #1 and ignored him, which is unlikely. We'd already passed the most game changing deck cards, like Web of Lies and the biddings. 2nd place was likely his top finish.

I just dislike the idea of suicide kingmaking and worry it'll come up again or more people will start position jockeying early instead of taking risks for a win.
The game is designed so players can temporarily ally to halt the top player from expanding to the win. You can't do a thing to prevent a player from walking out of 1 of his own provinces.

I do like the point about him becoming the King's Hand and thematically fitting. Never thought about that.
 
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Matteo Angioletti
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Well actually I envision it as him being appointed Lord and King's Hand, then dying under suspicious circumstances whistle
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ken carson
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If he is just playing for second, that is pretty lane. If he is playing a meta game, then good on him. For example, if the player in first place had an established alliance with another player who let him get away with minimal garrison forces and refused to intervene while the top player expanded control while this player was actively trying to stop him without effect. If he uses it as a way to show the allied player how prolonged non-aggression doesn't work, it's a strategy that may help his subsequent games.

Otherwise, it is pretty lame.
 
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Moshe Sulamy
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uncle benjen wrote:
If he is playing a meta game, then good on him. For example, if the player in first place had an established alliance with another player who let him get away with minimal garrison forces and refused to intervene while the top player expanded control while this player was actively trying to stop him without effect. If he uses it as a way to show the allied player how prolonged non-aggression doesn't work, it's a strategy that may help his subsequent games.


While metagaming is fine, and IMO it's ok to put yourself in a worst condition thinking about the long term and subsequent games, handing the win is taking it too far (again, IMO).

For a game to be fun, all of the players MUST try to win at all times - even when they're last with barely any chance, and even when they're second. If you're not the first, you're the last - and should do anything to be first.
 
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Mattias R
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No.
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Chris Barbs
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There is no such thing as second place in a stand alone game. The only way this is acceptable is in a league or tournament type system where you have to have some sort of way to differentiate performances over a long period of time, etc., etc. If he realized he couldn't win, the strategy for him should become, make whoever gets close to 7, not get 7 if it's within your power. Under no circumstances should you just let someone win by emptying out a castle.

 
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Shaun S.
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Going for 2nd is pointless. It's just as bad as 6th. Often someone who almost wins ends up last or 2nd last if everyone tears him down. I would say that is a more respectable finish than someone who gave the game up and ended in 2nd.
 
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David Douglas
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God among Men, Ricky Bobby wrote:
If you ain't first, you're last!
 
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Rick
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I definitely feel better about a loss if I came close to winning, but I would never ever do this and would be upset with my friends if they did.

In my group we do sometimes go after people for an in-game grudge and I find that's alright most of the time. I find it creates a penalty for breaking unenforceable promises. Going to an extreme where you give up any chance of winning yourself is bad for the group. Not fun.

For GoT the game manual makes it really clear that there is only one winner.
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Steven
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If you have a gaming group that accepts this you're fine obviously.

However, I believe that this is one of the games were you have to try to reduce the amount of 'alternative made up victory conditions' as much as possible. The game is balanced around each player trying to win at all costs.

Watching your long-term planning be completely destroyed because one player didn't feel like trying to play to win can invalidate all your decisions and make the whole game feel pointless. It's like sombody blowing over your house of cards.

But, if everybody agrees to it before the game starts, it's perfectly acceptable of course.
 
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Kjetil Nøkling
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2nd place is just the first looser in my opinion. I would rather go for broke and aim for the sky!
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David Xaezero
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Eppic wrote:
It's all or nothing for me. 2nd place is relatively meaningless. So much can change in this game over 2 turns, I would shake my head at this guy and seriously reconsider ever having him participate in a game of this nature in the future. It's king-making, pure and simple, and it's basically giving up.

And yes, it COMPLETELY goes against the modus operandi of this game in particular.

A lot can change indeed. In one of my games; Martell who had six castles, lost 4 in one turn zombie


Tuzzo90 wrote:
Could be accettable only if using a tournament like system, where every game final ranking awards points which are tracked to form a persistent ladder.
In that environment getting 2nd and having a "lower" player win may be the best choice.

If your approach is that every game is isolated you should play only for the win(or when winning is impossible, maximise your own final position).
Anyway in the end there should be 1 winner and 5 losers.

As Tuzzo said. You should go for the highest final position. This is the way to aim for spot number one.
If you let someone else win because you're afraid you'll lose territory of your own, then you're just a coward in my opinion. This game is all about acquiring and maintaining control. If you can't do that, then you're no winner, be it that you're 2nd or 6th...

Otherwise, it would be the same as starting a game and then Stark would say before revealing order tokens at turn 1: "Let's stop playing and I win because I started out with 2 castles Yeey!" wow Seriously, why play this game if you're not going for the win.


On a sidenote... I would deem it acceptable if you're supporting the number one player in his battle for his last castle in the case that the number 1 player gave you his support in previous battles and saved your ass from extinction. In that way you could see your support as repaying a debt you owed him. But this debt would be payed by supporting him with your armies and not by bending over and letting him take your territories untroubled. Repaying a debt is in my opinion not the same as giving out the win. It's just that backstabbing someone who saved your life wouldn't fit in that scenario at that particular moment; unless that backstabbing him at that moment would make you the winner.devil
 
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Xavier A. Perez
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tibbles wrote:
I do want to be clear that in his defense in this case he was between me (prob the next most solid player, though I swing more wildly in position each game) and the #1 guy. So even I could see pretty well his only shot of winning was if both I and the other neighbor of #1 took down the #1 and ignored him, which is unlikely. We'd already passed the most game changing deck cards, like Web of Lies and the biddings. 2nd place was likely his top finish.


Then I have to say that besides him playing "weird", you made a mistake.

In this sort of situation, it was you who had the "obligation" to convince this player that you were going to go around him to batter on the leader, and that you would support him against any attack and such.

If the guy felt that he couldn't go anywhere because he was sandwiched between you and the leader, you had to make him understand that there was hope for him, because you were going to go exclusively for the leader (and if that actually happened, then there certainly was hope for him to score a win).
 
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Scott O'Dell
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Thematically speaking bending knee is a suitable course of action.

Tywin would never fight a battle he couldn't win. Starks, Greyjoys, Tyrells, all of them have bended knee at some point.

How much happier would we all be if Ned and Rob weren't stupidly honorable and learned how to be pragmatic.


Most of the great houses of westereos wouldn't continue fighting a battle they didn't feel they could win.
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