The Jaded Gamer

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Kingmaking: The return

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
Lincolnshire
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
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"She said the same thing about waffles."
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Microbadge: Offline from The Geek for a while
Hi. It's been a while.

This began as a response to "Why is king making so frown upon by experienced gamers?" But is too long and too self important to go in a regular forum.

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Ooh boy. This old thing?

It's "frowned on by experienced gamers"?

I'm an experienced gamer (unless we are gatekeeping against decade-long BGGers) and I don't frown on it, but the spirit of the question requires the response - "it's what people who have just lost from an apparent winning position claim just happened in order to make themselves feel better".

Sometimes (far more rarely than the term's use suggests) their complaints are valid - occasionally someone is a douche and arbitrarily takes your victory away for no reason. This is incredibly rare in the over-thirteens demographic.

However, in all but those rarest of cases, it's a phenomenon exclusive to those who believe they are entitled to the W by playing "better" but some whippersnapper came in and took the decision on who would win away from the deserving leader. Know your role, plebians!

It's very simple; if you* don't want there to be any chance of kingmaking, go play something on your own.

I split kingmaking complaints into three categories: deliberate, accidental, and inherent.


1. Your buddies deliberately smashed you up / handed someone else the lead to stop you winning

a. Check that this isn't the whole point of the game (Diplomacy, King Of Tokyo, Take That card games etc). Recall that in a lot of games, stopping someone winning is the only chance of not losing.

b. Make it less obvious you are in the lead, either by managing your obvious or immediate inflow of points until later (subterfuge) or distracting in other ways (negotiation).

c. Defend your leads better. Maybe the other players were only appearing to be "behind" until now because they actually spent effort defending their position.

d. It's a game group expectations problem. Some groups are just like this. My twice yearly Cosmic Encounter crowd has "be massive d**ks to each other" on our metaphorical house crest.



2. Your buddy accidentally handed someone else the game

a. This is a phenomenon also known as "losing". It happens a lot, so learning to get over it is probably a good idea.

b. Perhaps remember that the other players are also playing a game to their best (or some percentage of the best) of their abilities. They are not acting as rubber stamps to your inevitable dominating genius. People make mistakes; not all of those mistakes will benefit you.



3. The game seems to inherently make your victory dependent on the actions and behaviour of others but somehow, in this play, that behaviour led to the victory of someone other than you.

a. This is called "playing games".


I repeat: the only way to avoid kingmaking is to play games where players cannot affect each others' scores, ensuring that the play is really about optimising your own particular performances and subsequently comparing those against given criteria.

It's much like the difference between Snooker/Golf/Bowling and Football/Rugby/Basketball. Even then, your victory or loss could depend more on your opponents mistakes than your skill.

I'm minded of high level chess and the way that games can be won by the person who didn't make a mistake, rather than the person who simply played great chess (which they both would anyway)

Remember: If the third party doesn't kingmake so the second place player wins... they are therefore kingmaking so you win!

You just wouldn't notice that because it would have turned out in your favour and we ALL tend to attribute success to ourselves and failures to outside factors. The trick is not to get in a situation where your victory over your closest opponent is entirely dependent on the actions of a third party.

TLDR: You Lost. Get Over it.**

*This is a rhetorical "you", placed here because every time I use the word "one" to denote a non specific subject of a point, I sound like I'm in a costume drama.
**Yes, I've only put this here because it is the only time I would ever deem it appropriate #remoaner
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