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Subject: On Kingmaking rss

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Ryan Keane
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cormor321 wrote:
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.


+1. This is exactly what I was going to say. If the Cardassian player would not conceivably increase his chance of winning by allowing passage, and the Federation player couldn't or did not offer anything that would conceivably increase the Cardassian's chance of winning, then his best move from an in-game sense is to end the game by his refusal. Asking him to prolong the game to increase the enjoyment of the other players that are still in contention for the win is a metagame argument, and not really that different from him making a metagame argument that he feels the Romulan player has played better and deserves to win.

I enjoy games with lots of interaction, negotiation, a map where spatial proximity is important for your ability to interact with other players, games where players can win at the start of their turn if other players don't actively remove them from meeting their wining condition, etc. If I put myself in a position where I am unable to affect the player(s) I am competing with for the win, that's my fault. I am perfectly fine with games where a player can get stuck in a kingmaking position. I enjoy being in the kingmaking position - it makes for tough, more real-life-like decisions where no choice is a good choice. We sometime might trash-talk someone for kingmaking but it's all in good fun - part of the game. I would laugh in someone's face if they accuses me of kingmaking in an accusatory way - tells me more about their faults than mine.

Collusion kingmaking is a different story, but even then, since I win a lot, when I play with my wife and friends, they often agree out loud in front of me right from the start, somewhat in jest but really in truth, that if anyone other than me wins, it's like a joint win. That's cool - extra challenge for me. I like having to negotiate with players when they are predisposed to help other players more than me.
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Robert Bracey
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Ranior wrote:


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...


I think this is entirely false. Yes, it is true that some people throw around the term as a general negative to express frustration or dislike, but that does not mean the analytic use of the term to denote two particular issues (one with game design, the other with players) is wrong.

Of course the players, like the game design, is a continuum. Everyone deciding to shoot me in the first round of Cash & Guns is not king making (and kind of complimentary); some-one striking a deal in advance of a game to work only to help the other player win (and yes I've seen this) is king making, and fairly egregious.
Getting frustrated that you are largely out of contention and wanting to end the game is in the fuzzy zone.

And here is another fuzzy example. I played in a tournament some years ago which involved multiple games. One of these was Coup. I play Coup without looking at my own hand of cards (its a generally pretty sound strategy and if you haven't tried it you should). One of the other players took umbrage at what he considered 'cheating' and automatically called my claims on every turn. This resulted in him finishing dead last but it probably cost me a place and thus affected my over-all results.
Was this kingmaking? I think it falls in the fuzzy zone. It definitely broke with the social contract implicit in the game but the reasons for doing so were coherent and reacting to game play not favouring particular players, except in so far as players were engaged in certain game play.
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Chris in Kansai
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I often read posts saying if you can't win a game then change your goal - best score you can manage, do better than player B or whatever.

If your goal becomes to end the game though, oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth (and accusations of kingmaking).
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dpbush wrote:
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.
Would the federation have won though, you story says he would not.
Quote:

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?
Maybe I was not clear, what inducements could the federation have offered (assuming he had all options available)? I am not understanding how negotiation works in this game.

Moreover (as I asked) what did the Romulan offer, other then a guarantee that the Cardasian could not win under any circumstances?
 
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Ryan Keane
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RobertBr wrote:


And here is another fuzzy example. I played in a tournament some years ago which involved multiple games. One of these was Coup. I play Coup without looking at my own hand of cards (its a generally pretty sound strategy and if you haven't tried it you should). One of the other players took umbrage at what he considered 'cheating' and automatically called my claims on every turn. This resulted in him finishing dead last but it probably cost me a place and thus affected my over-all results.
Was this kingmaking? I think it falls in the fuzzy zone. It definitely broke with the social contract implicit in the game but the reasons for doing so were coherent and reacting to game play not favouring particular players, except in so far as players were engaged in certain game play.


Not kingmaking at all. Games allow a player to focus their attacks at another player even if may cost them the win. Other players may join, it may upset the normal trajectory of the game and give you a new opportunity, you just feel like it, etc.

In Coup, I've used that strategy but it's boring and if everyone starts doing it, then we're no longer playing Coup but something more like a drinking game. Part of the social contract when we play Coup is that we are actually bluffing or trying to make others think we're bluffing. Since you can't bluff if you don't know what cards you have, you aren't really playing the game Coup.
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Laura Creighton
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I'd like to discuss 'how to get people to be better at Negotiating' a bit, but the particular example I have was from a co op game. Discuss here or
start new thread?

Poll
Let's see if I can get this to work. This is the poll for talk more here vs make your own thread. I wish there was something shorter than '1 day' for limiting a poll. Perhaps that is an indication I shouldn't limit it at all, but I don't want to have a poll on that too. :gulp:
Where should I start discussion on 'how to teach people to get people better at negotiation?'
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Here.
5.9% 1
New Thread.
52.9% 9
I don't care, I'd read it either place.
23.5% 4
I don't care, I won't be reading it either place.
17.6% 3
Voters 17
This poll is now closed.   17 answers
Poll created by lacreighton
Closes: Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:00 am
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Boaty McBoatface
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lacreighton wrote:
I'd like to discuss 'how to get people to be better at Negotiating' a bit, but the particular example I have was from a co op game. Discuss here or
start new thread?

Poll
Let's see if I can get this to work. This is the poll for talk more here vs make your own thread. I wish there was something shorter than '1 day' for limiting a poll. Perhaps that is an indication I shouldn't limit it at all, but I don't want to have a poll on that too. :gulp:
Where should I start discussion on 'how to teach people to get people better at negotiation?'
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Here.
5.9% 1
New Thread.
52.9% 9
I don't care, I'd read it either place.
23.5% 4
I don't care, I won't be reading it either place.
17.6% 3
Voters 17
This poll is now closed.   17 answers
Poll created by lacreighton
Closes: Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:00 am
What are you offering?
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Robert Bracey
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Ryan Keane wrote:

In Coup, I've used that strategy but it's boring and if everyone starts doing it, then we're no longer playing Coup but something more like a drinking game. Part of the social contract when we play Coup is that we are actually bluffing or trying to make others think we're bluffing. Since you can't bluff if you don't know what cards you have, you aren't really playing the game Coup.


Which is why its fuzzy. Part of the social contract in a game is broadly speaking playing to win. This might falter slightly in a casual setting, you may throw a game to your nephew (I wouldn't but I understand why some-one might), or experiment with a strategy, etc. But in the particular example I gave this was a tournament so you do not have the same excuse - however, as you correctly identify it is possible to assume that playing to the perceived intent or social norm of a game can also be part of the social contract, and so while someone might be wrong to prioritise the latter over the former it is explicable and rational behaviour, and so fuzzy as to whether it is kingmaking.

P.S If you have played it and could not see the strategic elements you should try playing the strategy again.
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Frans Sugeng
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We use nemestats and we all want to climb the ladder. With that in mind if someone is kingmaking and thus goes from postion 2 to 3 in-game they get less nemepoints. So kingmaking is really stupid in our group but it still happens.

I also berate them every day until we play next time.

Nemepoints > Kingmaking in-game
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Galgor I.
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Whoever complains about kingmaker in any game should agree on a well-defined metric for valuation of your position at the game end. That's why I prefer games with victory points (money etc).
Then I play with the following in mind.
1. Maximize your position within the ranking
2. Then maximize: own victory points minus sum of other players' victory points.
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Fofingazup wrote:
We use nemestats and we all want to climb the ladder. With that in mind if someone is kingmaking and thus goes from postion 2 to 3 in-game they get less nemepoints. So kingmaking is really stupid in our group but it still happens.

I also berate them every day until we play next time.

Nemepoints > Kingmaking in-game


Are you playing games with high negotiation/deal making?

If not, I think you're probably right.

If so, then always going for what will net you most points is tactically unwise. It makes you utterly predictable. If I know for a fact you're going to do that regardless of my actions I can break deals with impunity.
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Jon Darlington
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RobertBr wrote:
Part of the social contract in a game is broadly speaking playing to win.

While that's a common, default assumption going into a game, the fact is that any group of people will decide amongst themselves what their social contract is.

If "you must play to win" isn't in the rulebook, then it's an option -- not a requirement. Most commonly, it is demoted to a position behind "you must contribute to the group's sense of having fun". And THAT means wildly different things depending on who is sitting round the table.
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
Fofingazup wrote:
We use nemestats and we all want to climb the ladder. With that in mind if someone is kingmaking and thus goes from postion 2 to 3 in-game they get less nemepoints. So kingmaking is really stupid in our group but it still happens.

I also berate them every day until we play next time.

Nemepoints > Kingmaking in-game


Are you playing games with high negotiation/deal making?

If not, I think you're probably right.

If so, then always going for what will net you most points is tactically unwise. It makes you utterly predictable. If I know for a fact you're going to do that regardless of my actions I can break deals with impunity.


Good point. It doesn't have to be a game with negotiation/alliances/deals/etc. in the rules - really any game with high player interaction/attacking/zero-sum area control would apply.

But this also can make the last turn (or few turns) anti-climactic if players rigidly follow this contract, or create a negative atmosphere if a player is told they must follow this contract (like telling the Cardassian player they must allow free passage by the Federation or they are king-making). For me, allowing players to be unpredictable and avoiding criticizing or accusing them of making sub-optimal moves or kingmaking promotes a positive atmosphere, more interesting game decisions, and emphasizes fun over winning. Part of my enjoyment of games is that players are free to do wacky, irrational things that they don't get to do in real life. I'm all for table-talk and discussing with players why they should do X and not Y, but ultimately it's a game and players should be allowed to do whatever they feel like, within the rules.
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Ryan Keane wrote:
Abiezer Coppe wrote:
Fofingazup wrote:
We use nemestats and we all want to climb the ladder. With that in mind if someone is kingmaking and thus goes from postion 2 to 3 in-game they get less nemepoints. So kingmaking is really stupid in our group but it still happens.

I also berate them every day until we play next time.

Nemepoints > Kingmaking in-game


Are you playing games with high negotiation/deal making?

If not, I think you're probably right.

If so, then always going for what will net you most points is tactically unwise. It makes you utterly predictable. If I know for a fact you're going to do that regardless of my actions I can break deals with impunity.


Good point. It doesn't have to be a game with negotiation/alliances/deals/etc. in the rules - really any game with high player interaction/attacking/zero-sum area control would apply.

But this also can make the last turn (or few turns) anti-climactic if players rigidly follow this contract, or create a negative atmosphere if a player is told they must follow this contract (like telling the Cardassian player they must allow free passage by the Federation or they are king-making). For me, allowing players to be unpredictable and avoiding criticizing or accusing them of making sub-optimal moves or kingmaking promotes a positive atmosphere, more interesting game decisions, and emphasizes fun over winning. Part of my enjoyment of games is that players are free to do wacky, irrational things that they don't get to do in real life. I'm all for table-talk and discussing with players why they should do X and not Y, but ultimately it's a game and players should be allowed to do whatever they feel like, within the rules.
Would that not depend on context

"Great another game of Small Deeplyrisky round X and Y's were they will just screw us over so one of them wins".

"So yet again you let X win, every bloody time."

 
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Ryan Keane
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Yes, every example is different. I consider your example blatant collusion, which is different from or at least a very extreme form of kingmaking and I think pretty rare among game groups.

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Darryl E
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Thanks for bringing up an interesting topic.

I have a different way of thinking about this from how you approached it. If you look at a game unemotionally it is just a set of systems you are playing so in that case you could certainly think that optimizing your final score regardless of everyone else makes sense. Anything else is not playing the systems optimally and is personal.

Except games aren’t played as a set of systems in the majority of cases. Each game play through has a theme or story to it. A narrative in each player’s head is playing out as the game progresses.

I would propose that it is considered bad form and “kingmaking” when a player goes against the narrative of the game to give a player the win.

As an example my group had a game of power grid going a few years ago. Fairly regular game up until the last two rounds. One player was obviously going to win so the rest of the table decidedto buy up the resources he needed to power his plants and consequently hand the win to me.

He took it really well but really that was the worst form of king making. I won for no reason than we stopped the other guy from winning. That was against the flow of the game until that point and I still feel bad about it.

If he had the lead the whole time and was bragging and holding it over the rest of us then what we did would have been thematic to that game session. He would have made it about us against him.

In the Ascendancy game mentioned unless the game session had a history of those players working against the Romulans it would completely be kingmaking for the other players to let the federation through. It would make no sense in the theme of the game (Star Trek) and from what we know of the session.

On the other hand if the Cardassian could potentially win the game by allowing it to happen then it definitely makes sense for him to do it from any perspective.
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Laura Creighton
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I play with some people for whom the fuzzy rule is 'bash the leader'. If you are winning, you can expect the whole table to go against you. Now, of course, we only play games that are tolerably fun this way, and with us, who find this sort of stuff interesting. Now you cannot be strictly predicable, else the negotiations are a waste of time, as everybody will do what they are programmed to do anyway. But there is this doom out there all the time which goes 'if you are winning too much you will get stomped'.

This makes the game into one of pounce and timing. Not only do I want to trigger a victory condition, or arrive at the end of the last round up on top, I need to do it in such a way that the others don't have too much of an opportunity to mash me. And, of course, they want the same things. But this means I have to purposely play to benefit the other players enough that they don't see me as someone to bash, but not so much that they beat me.

I think that R0land1199's bad Power Grid experience could have been a good experience with a different game, one that had negotiation in it, explicitly, for instance. Where people stand, just in a general way, in thinking about 'how fair should things be' and 'what is fair' is going to matter a whole lot, too.
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Jon Darlington
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lacreighton wrote:
I play with some people for whom the fuzzy rule is 'bash the leader'.

That's just it. When we sit down to play a game with our friends, we're acually playing two games at the same time.

The first game is "Game Night". This is a game with its own rules, moves, and strategies. All of the rules are unspoken, and you need to deduce them from observation (and influence them by participation). Some rules are the same from one group to another; others are different.

The second game is whatever came in a box and is laid out on the table.

Losing to kingmaking (or plain leader bashing) is a case of focusing too much on Game 2, and being defeated by an easy move in Game 1.
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JDarlington wrote:
lacreighton wrote:
I play with some people for whom the fuzzy rule is 'bash the leader'.

That's just it. When we sit down to play a game with our friends, we're acually playing two games at the same time.

The first game is "Game Night". This is a game with its own rules, moves, and strategies. All of the rules are unspoken, and you need to deduce them from observation (and influence them by participation). Some rules are the same from one group to another; others are different.

The second game is whatever came in a box and is laid out on the table.

Losing to kingmaking (or plain leader bashing) is a case of focusing too much on Game 2, and being defeated by an easy move in Game 1.


Thumbed you because Titan is awesome!
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Just recommending RoboRally in a different thread brought back some memories. A few years ago, I was playing RR with a group of friends, and one stranger who was, of course, welcome, and had showed up at game night. He said that RR was one of his favourite games.

Indeed, he displayed all the competance of an experienced RR player, and got off to a nice lead. So the rest of us moved our play to include likelihood of getting a chance to zap the heck out of him. Given that his strategy was, the predicted 'sit on a conveyer belt going where I want to go' it wasn't even that hard to arrange to get him nicely peppered with lasers.

But he took it very badly. You haven't tagged flag 1 yet! You had no business getting on that conveyer belt! You only did that so you could shoot me!

Yes. I said. Exactly. You will spend next round in Power Down. Exactly what I wanted. There was this enormous rush of anger from this person who said that he deserved to not get shot because he was entititled to win because ... well I forget what he said but it worked out that he had programmed his robot better than we had, and had luck, and deserved his luck, and his cleverness and all of that smashed together said mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!

And he was quite shocked to discover that nobody else around the table was buying this. He calmed down, and turned out to be a more reasonable person than we first feared, but said that he had been playing RoboRally for decades and this is the first time that this had ever happened to him.

I wonder what other metarules people walk around with, in general, that don't get challenged and turn into 'this is the way the universe has to work' in their insides?
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
All of the rules are unspoken, and you need to deduce them from observation (and influence them by participation). Some rules are the same from one group to another; others are different.


Why would they be unspoken? I think it is better to discuss the particulars so we don't have incongruent expectations about "Game Night."

Social and gaming "norms" and such can and should be discussed so everyone is on the same page.

Kevin
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lacreighton wrote:
Given that his strategy was, the predicted 'sit on a conveyer belt going where I want to go' it wasn't even that hard to arrange to get him nicely peppered with lasers.

But he took it very badly. You haven't tagged flag 1 yet! You had no business getting on that conveyer belt! You only did that so you could shoot me!

Yes. I said. Exactly. You will spend next round in Power Down.

That's quality player interaction right there.

A friend and I were out the other night and ended up having a laugh about our best boardgaming meltdowns. I started it so she came back and reminded me of the time I got upset about her "kingmaking" at my expense. As I remembered it I started getting a little worked up again and got defensive. Then she cracked up. It's good to be laughed at sometimes.
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Ryan Keane
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Good RoboRally story! I've seen players push others into a pit...and go into the pit themselves because they didn't have a shorter move card, couldn't get off the treadmill after the push, etc. Or maybe that was me... whistle

It's totally fair to charge past a flag to turn a runaway leader to total dust if you have the chance, so that he restores back at a previous save spot closer to the pack. But a good race set-up should bring the runaway leader closer to the pack anyway, in which case everyone really should team up on him.

Moral of the story: Don't be predictable when players can shoot you.

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Jon Darlington
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natsean wrote:
Why would they be unspoken? I think it is better to discuss the particulars so we don't have incongruent expectations about "Game Night."

Social and gaming "norms" and such can and should be discussed so everyone is on the same page.

You're right. I meant to write "unwritten" but somehow failed.

I agree that really, people should discuss this kind of thing ahead of time.
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King making is often the domain of salty players who lost, as they failed to account for all the elements of the game here at BGG. It is kind of like an episode of Scooby-doo, I'd have won if not for those meddling other players!

The players are part of the game. Failing to account for the possibilities and not winning is your own fault, so game on.
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