Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
158 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [7] | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: On Kingmaking rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: dead_horse_rides_again [+] Yet_another_kingmaking_thread [+] [View All]
DB
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A recent thread in the Star Trek: Ascendancy forum crystallized my thoughts on the kingmaking complaint that's often bandied about here and in the broader board gaming world. I never put much stock into the idea that it's a universal faux pas, but I've realized that part of that reaction stems from the inconsistent way the term "kingmaking" is used.

To my mind, true kingmaking involves several elements:
d10-1 Game end is imminent; all players are on their final turn/action.
d10-2 There are players mathematically eliminated from winning.
d10-3 One of the eliminated players uses their final turn/action to sabotage a player who can win.
d10-4 There is little or no benefit to that player for their act of sabotage -- it may even hurt their final score.
d10-5 The sabotaged player has no chance to react.

I can see why this would irritate the player who thought they had the win. What I don't see is how it is different from any other player action directed against someone for no apparent reason. If I have position in Agricola and figured out your strategy, I don't have to wait until the final turn to squat on the actions you need -- it's far more effective to screw with you earlier.

Of course, this definition of kingmaking assumes that scoring and the end game trigger are public information, and that "little or no benefit" is limited to the game state at that moment. If I'm a good ways behind the two leaders in Eclipse, and the one who screwed me several turns ago leaves a connection undefended on turn 9, is it really true there's no benefit to my taking revenge?

So I think true kingmaking is just one sort of pointless antisocial move that happens to occur at the end of a game with public information, not the particular and serious offense it's often portrayed to be. That said, the charge of kingmaking is deployed far more broadly than I've defined it, to the point where it seems to encompass anything a player with no chance of winning does with their final turn, if it has any bearing whatsoever on the outcome.

For example, here was the scenario presented in the aforementioned Ascendancy thread: The Romulan player, whose turn had passed, was in a position to win at the end of the round. The Federation player was the only one who could stop them and thus continue the game, but they needed permission from the other two (Ferengi and Cardassian) to pass through their areas in order to do so. The Ferengi player agreed but the Cardassian player did not, ending the game with a Romulan win.

Was the Cardassian player guilty of kingmaking? The argument was yes, because denying permission to the Federation player decided the game in favor of the Romulan player.

However, that doesn't hold up with me in a few different ways. First, it didn't involve positive action by the Cardassian player -- it wasn't even their turn. Second, since the Federation player wasn't able to win that round, no one was deprived of a definite win but for the Cardassian player's choice.

But most importantly, this was entirely within the scope of the game. Success in Ascendancy depends on your ability to negotiate and direct or deflect the attention of other players. The Federation player needed the connivance of the Ferengi and Cardassian players to deny the Romulan the win; it was their job to make it worth the Cardassian's while to back them, not the Cardassian's to go along with their plan.

In the end I think the charge of kingmaking most often stems from the view that games are systems to be optimized. "If I am in the lead at the end," this view holds, "it is because I am a better optimizer than you, and I am therefore entitled to the win. Denying me the win is irrational and inappropriate." Complaining about kingmaking is really no different than disliking dice or cards, or griping that another player is playing "wrong."

We're all entitled to like the games we like and play with whom we want to play. I just don't find kingmaking to be an offense worthy of enforcing a social norm around.
18 
 Thumb up
1.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Boaty McBoatface
England
County of Essex
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would say it was king making, as whilst it was not an active action it was a passive one that altered the game (in fact it was their decision that (in effect) ended the game).

The federation player may not have been denied a definite win, but the Romulan was guaranteed one.

I do not know the game, what benefit would the Cardasian player get?

I have an ECW game that can be played three player (the third player is Scotland) he is unable to do anything but king make (if he picks a side they will most lilly win). But the mechanic for it (in effect the other players bribe him with VP's) does not really give much incentive to get Scotland on your side (if you keep the VP's you still might win, and the Scottish players needs a lot of VP's, not just a token amount). It just does not work.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tobias
Hong Kong
State of Mind
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very well written. I recently played a game of Terraforming Mars where I was brutally targeted by the same player for resource depletion (plant/biomass/whatever) multiple times, and this put me in second place since I had been prevented from putting forrest tiles out each time I was targeted. Sure, I was upset that despite my well planned efforts I still lost, but I did not consider this person as a kingmaker of the winner. They correctly saw me as the biggest threat, and I was targeted, and this meant someone else had to win.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ashley Kennedy
United States
Cleveland
Tn
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Many gamers argue that they want a game with player interaction. Kingmaking is almost invariably a possible result of these types of games. As you noted, it is often only considered an issue when the move the Kingmaker makes is decisive of the winner, and not of direct observable value to the Kingmaking player. Really though, there should not be too much anger at these players as they often have a choice of:

a. do something that will effect the game (Leading player loses)
b. do something that won't effect the game (Leading player wins)

The Kingmaker will make their choice on whatever criteria best suits at that moment.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
As you suggest it is used inconsistently.

A game has a kingmaking problem if it frequently ends with one player having a choice which will determine the winner but they are unable to win themselves.

A player is kingmaking if they choose to aid another player to the detriment of their own position, a clear violation of the implicit social contract that you should broadly play to win.

Both of these are problems, but one of them is a problem with the game and one is a problem with the player.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DB
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
slatersteven wrote:
I would say it was king making, as whilst it was not an active action it was a passive one that altered the game (in fact it was their decision that (in effect) ended the game).

The federation player may not have been denied a definite win, but the Romulan was guaranteed one.

But couldn't the Romulan player make the exact same claim if the Cardassian player had gone along and the Federation player won the next round? The Cardassian player is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Quote:
I do not know the game, what benefit would the Cardasian player get?

The proffered benefit was that the game would continue, the Federation player didn't offer any other inducement. It's analogous to asking the player stuck at level 4 to join the end game Munchkin pile-on...sure, they'd have a theoretical chance to win, but what's the likelihood and how long would it take?

RobertBr wrote:
A game has a kingmaking problem if it frequently ends with one player having a choice which will determine the winner but they are unable to win themselves.

Isn't this an inherent problem with any game featuring public scoring and a public, non-random end game condition? You could say it's a problem only when it happens too often, but how often is too often?

Quote:
A player is kingmaking if they choose to aid another player to the detriment of their own position, a clear violation of the implicit social contract that you should broadly play to win.

I would think it depends heavily on the game and the players.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Look on my works ye mighty and despair
United Kingdom
Huddersfield
West Yorkshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dpbush wrote:
In the end I think the charge of kingmaking most often stems from the view that games are systems to be optimized. "If I am in the lead at the end," this view holds, "it is because I am a better optimizer than you, and I am therefore entitled to the win. Denying me the win is irrational and inappropriate." Complaining about kingmaking is really no different than disliking dice or cards, or griping that another player is playing "wrong."


There's two types of kingmaking here.

The first is kingmaking with out of game motivations. If you choose to have Bob win because you want to sleep with him or make Jane lose because she never paid back the money you owe her, that has nothing to do with the game. And I'd consider that type bad sportsmanship, just as I would if it happened earlier in the game.

The second is a reaction to events in the game. If you make Bob win because you've been allied or make Jane lose because she broke a deal I think that's entirely legitimate.

I'd go further on the type of people you talk about. Any game that has the possibility of kingmaking has at least some negotation elements. And negotation and system optimisation are very different sets of skills. If you lose because of your bad diplomacy you weren't "cheated" of a win like the people you're talking about claim. No matter how well you optimised, you played badly in the overall game. And I think the outrage at kingmaking is often from people who don't want to accept they just suck at games with player interaction.

Arydis4 wrote:
Many gamers argue that they want a game with player interaction. Kingmaking is almost invariably a possible result of these types of games.


I'd extend that to say that it's a combination of a game with high interaction and the falling out of favour of player elimination as a mechanic. The modern concept that everyone should stay in the game right until the end has naturally led to a situation where everyone has an effect on the game. Unintended consequences.

RobertBr wrote:
A player is kingmaking if they choose to aid another player to the detriment of their own position, a clear violation of the implicit social contract that you should broadly play to win.


I'd disagree that's even an implicit social contract. Because if you're out of contention for first place, it's not possible to play to win, even broadly.

Most games have a winner and everyone else. Basing your end game decisions on a nebulous concept of "second place" is no more supportable than doing so for revenge or even sheer whim.
25 
 Thumb up
0.15
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Terence Aries
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Kingmaking:
Through action, or willful inaction, deciding who of the other players will be the winner in a game.

There may be a whole host of reasons, in this Ascendancy case, maybe the Cardassian player wanted to go home, or maybe he just disliked the Federation player for things earlier in the game.

Kingmaking in and of itself isn't wrong, the motivation may, however, be something that could lead to irritations and arguments.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DB
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Trence wrote:
Kingmaking:
Through action, or willful inaction, deciding who of the other players will be the winner in a game.

That's fundamentally no different than a game being decided on the roll of a die -- except that you can't ascribe motivation to a die. If you haven't attained enough of a lead to win regardless of what else happens, you haven't won yet.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
marc lecours
Canada
ottawa
ontario
flag msg tools
mbmb
Kingmaking can occur in almost all multiplayer games that have some degree of player interaction.

Picking on the leader is perfectly acceptable during most of the game but on the last turn or two it is socially preferable to let the player in second place deal with the player in the lead. But that is kingmaking also.

But as you said: "damned if you do and damned if you don't"

Personally I always play to win even if the odds are microscopic. When I am totally out of the running for first place, then I might take revenge on the player that took me out of the running. If it is balanced between the two leaders then I publicly flip a coin.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Lam I Am
United States
Highland
UT
flag msg tools
To play is human; to win, divine.
badge
There is no shame in losing, if you remain unafraid to play again. -Losers
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice summary of kingmaking elements. Is #4 necessary for kingmaking, though?

Quote:
d10-4 There is little or no benefit to that player for their act of sabotage -- it may even hurt their final score.


In an area control game (El Grande or Small World fit the bill), Player C is no longer in contention. On his last turn he can attack one other player, and C's attack will improve C's score and move him into second place. But-- If C attacks A, B wins. If C attacks B, A wins.

You see something similar in Coup. Player C must assassinate A or B, but will then lose to the remaining player.

I'm not ready to say this is a game flaw - it is a natural effect of any mechanism that allows you to attack one and only one other player - but it is something I dislike, and I'm less likely to want to play that particular game if that's how the game often plays out.

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DB
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
samlamiam wrote:
Is #4 necessary for kingmaking, though?

Quote:
d10-4 There is little or no benefit to that player for their act of sabotage -- it may even hurt their final score.

I think it is, at least for the version of "kingmaking" that's thrown around here as social disapprobation. I agree with you on the "kingmaking" that's a consequence of certain design choices; how you react to that is a matter of taste.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Feathers
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting thread (which I'm sure has been done before, but alas not all of us are around for whenever those were).

In general I'd agree with you (the OP). Whatever thing people usually refer to as kingmaking, I'm really skeptical it is anything negative. Indeed I mostly see it as the OP does--in games that feature some interaction between players, there will be opportunities where a player decides the winner based on their actions. Complaining about their motivations or feeling cheated out of the win is pretty silly.

The situations can get pretty nuanced though depending on the exact circumstance, but for the most part I feel kingmaking isn't a problem I find in games or players. In general I feel those complaining loudest about kingmaking are those who aren't very good at negotiation, or else they're just not good at evaluating the other players for what they are likely to do. The Diplomacy player inside of me thinks many players could benefit from playing a bunch of Diplomacy and really learning some negotiation skills (or any heavy negotiation game for that matter).

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julian Wasson
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
DAD JOKES
badge
Never trot when you can prance.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
samlamiam wrote:
Nice summary of kingmaking elements. Is #4 necessary for kingmaking, though?

Quote:
d10-4 There is little or no benefit to that player for their act of sabotage -- it may even hurt their final score.


In an area control game (El Grande or Small World fit the bill), Player C is no longer in contention. On his last turn he can attack one other player, and C's attack will improve C's score and move him into second place. But-- If C attacks A, B wins. If C attacks B, A wins.

You see something similar in Coup. Player C must assassinate A or B, but will then lose to the remaining player.

I'm not ready to say this is a game flaw - it is a natural effect of any mechanism that allows you to attack one and only one other player - but it is something I dislike, and I'm less likely to want to play that particular game if that's how the game often plays out.



Your Smallworld example is not universally considered kingmaking, because moving from third to second place is sometimes-but-not-always considered "little to no benefit."

Your Coup example is fairly uncontroversially "little to no benefit," but also they have no choice but to act. I think you'll find it is another grey area that is not universally considered kingmaking, and often when it is it's considered somewhat distinct from when the action is voluntary.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Lam I Am
United States
Highland
UT
flag msg tools
To play is human; to win, divine.
badge
There is no shame in losing, if you remain unafraid to play again. -Losers
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ranior wrote:
aren't very good at negotiation


Yep, and I don't enjoy negotiating. I prefer some nice, quiet number crunching and worker placing.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Feathers
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
samlamiam wrote:
Ranior wrote:
aren't very good at negotiation


Yep, and I don't enjoy negotiating. I prefer some nice, quiet number crunching and worker placing.


Which is totally fair! I should be clear that there really isn't anything wrong with disliking kingmaking in games.

What I think is wrong is to act and decry like kingmaking is either a design or player problem. I generally think disliking kingmaking is mostly stating you don't want or enjoy negotiation in your games, which is a very valid view to have. But to go so far as to state that kingmaking is somehow always a bad element in games is to go too far in my mind. Some of us are quite content to get into games where we have to cut deals with players or else face the potential outcome that another player will ensure someone else wins.

(Although I actually do prefer the quiet number crunching and worker placing games as well. I just also enjoy negotiation games sometimes too.)
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Plaid Dragon
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just because someone is "mathematically eliminated" doesn't mean they don't exist.

If a player with such a degraded status is still able to act and have an impact within the rules and spirit of the game, they should do so. If that mindset knocks a leader down a rung, then so be it.

It's up to the leader(s) to account for the capabilities, potential, and reach of all his/her opponents regardless of score.

There is no entitlement.





18 
 Thumb up
1.10
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jimmy Smith
United States
Tavares
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've always felt that Checkers has a huge kingmaking problem
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C M
msg tools
mbmb
dpbush wrote:

Quote:
I do not know the game, what benefit would the Cardasian player get?

The proffered benefit was that the game would continue, the Federation player didn't offer any other inducement. It's analogous to asking the player stuck at level 4 to join the end game Munchkin pile-on...sure, they'd have a theoretical chance to win, but what's the likelihood and how long would it take?


If the choice of allowing the federation through did nothing to improve the Cardasian player's chance of winning then prolonging the game would be irrelevant to them. It was up to the Federation player to offer something tangible beyond giving them more turns in which to lose. I would say the Federation player lost in the negotiation aspect of the game rather than the romulan player won through kingmaking.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ashley Kennedy
United States
Cleveland
Tn
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Abiezer Coppe wrote:
I'd extend that to say that it's a combination of a game with high interaction and the falling out of favour of player elimination as a mechanic. The modern concept that everyone should stay in the game right until the end has naturally led to a situation where everyone has an effect on the game. Unintended consequences.


Right on.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett Jordan

Anchorage
Alaska
msg tools
I like the OP's constructed definition. But had a thought about:

d10-2 There are players mathematically eliminated from winning.
d10-3 One of the eliminated players uses their final turn/action to sabotage a player who can win.

Does there have to be a consensus about each player being in or out of contention? In other words, if a losing players feels like they are out of the game and take actions to benefit one of the players that have a chance, but other players don't see that player as out of contention, does that count? What about the reverse situation?

A second thought is that "kingmaking" is a loaded term with strong negative connotations that typically speak to the design of the game, rather than to the actions taken in the last turns of a game.








 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Look on my works ye mighty and despair
United Kingdom
Huddersfield
West Yorkshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
samlamiam wrote:


Yep, and I don't enjoy negotiating. I prefer some nice, quiet number crunching and worker placing.


An absolutely valid preference. And the obvious answer is to play number crunching worker placement games with low or no player interaction.

The people I find odd are the ones who claim to want high player interaction and then complain when other players act in a way that stops them winning.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julian Wasson
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
DAD JOKES
badge
Never trot when you can prance.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
thebilliard5 wrote:
I like the OP's constructed definition. But had a thought about:

d10-2 There are players mathematically eliminated from winning.
d10-3 One of the eliminated players uses their final turn/action to sabotage a player who can win.

Does there have to be a consensus about each player being in or out of contention? In other words, if a losing players feels like they are out of the game and take actions to benefit one of the players that have a chance, but other players don't see that player as out of contention, does that count? What about the reverse situation?

A second thought is that "kingmaking" is a loaded term with strong negative connotations that typically speak to the design of the game, rather than to the actions taken in the last turns of a game.


That's the beauty of this definition, because each player's opinion about that will affect whether or not they view it as kingmaking. Those sorts of differing appraisals are where a lot of arguments about kingmaking start, so looking at it in this way can be useful in identifying their precise origin.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DB
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Plaid_Dragon wrote:
Just because someone is "mathematically eliminated" doesn't mean they don't exist.

If a player with such a degraded status is still able to act and have an impact within the rules and spirit of the game, they should do so. If that mindset knocks a leader down a rung, then so be it.

It's up to the leader(s) to account for the capabilities, potential, and reach of all his/her opponents regardless of score.

There is no entitlement.

That subtext isn't always there, but when it is it sticks in my craw. I object to the idea that as the end approaches the most successful minmaxers have the right to demand the other players surrender their agency.

thebilliard5 wrote:
I like the OP's constructed definition. But had a thought about:

d10-2 There are players mathematically eliminated from winning.
d10-3 One of the eliminated players uses their final turn/action to sabotage a player who can win.

Does there have to be a consensus about each player being in or out of contention? In other words, if a losing players feels like they are out of the game and take actions to benefit one of the players that have a chance, but other players don't see that player as out of contention, does that count? What about the reverse situation?

Good question! I think one of the issues in the Ascendancy scenario is that the Cardassian player made the judgment that his chances were nil, while the objecting players felt that as long as they continued he had a chance and thus had no right to refuse prolonging the game.

Quote:
A second thought is that "kingmaking" is a loaded term with strong negative connotations that typically speak to the design of the game, rather than to the actions taken in the last turns of a game.

Just to be clear: I'm talking about "kingmaking" as a charge leveled against players for their conduct at game end, not the design criticism.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
dpbush wrote:

RobertBr wrote:
A game has a kingmaking problem if it frequently ends with one player having a choice which will determine the winner but they are unable to win themselves.

Isn't this an inherent problem with any game featuring public scoring and a public, non-random end game condition? You could say it's a problem only when it happens too often, but how often is too often?


Nobody (with any sense) would disagree that it is a continuum, or that exactly where you put the dividing line is fuzzy. That said confusing the lack of a firm boundary between two categories and the identity of those categories is a pretty basic error that should not be made in even casual conversation (though it does get made even in professional circles).

Take Carcassonne and Nightfall. Both meet a fairly strict disqualification criteria so have clear 2nd, 3rd, etc. places even in a fairly strict philosophical sense, thus giving a player who cannot win some basis on which to base their decision. Both require players to take an action, which in Nightfall literally consists of distributing points between the other players. It is possible in both for the last player to move to have choices which are neutral for their own position but will impact who takes first place.
Those situations arise maybe 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 games of Carcassonne, but closer to 1 in 4 to 1 in 10 games (depending on player skill) in Nightfall. Nightfall has a kingmaker problem, Carcassonne does not. Where between those two you draw the line is tough, but the difference is clear.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [7] | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.