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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

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Nestalawe
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Hey guys,

Ok, a quickie, hopefully.

I have decided (resigned myself) to use a form of Victory Points in a wargamish type game I am working on. But I am not sure whether to keep players scores hidden or public.

I have worked out a (untested) scoring system that could be interesting, but I am not sure how to keep track of player's scores. I don't want the scores completely hidden, as players would have to keep guessing as to how close the others are to winning. I also don't want the scores completely public, as players would try and trounce the leader.

One thing I am thinking of is how I could have a mix of 'Victory Beads' (VBs) and a scoring track. Players would gain VBs as the game progresses, and keep them hidden. As soon as they have gathered a certain amount, they need to discard them and track their new score on a scoring track. i.e. every time a player gathers ten VBs they need to increase their score on the scoring track by ten. This way you would have an idea who was in the lead, but the exact score (on the scoring track + any other VBs the player has hidden) is uncertain.

This feels almost right, but I think players will still be able to tell who is in the lead.

Other things I have thought of is that there may be an advantage to 'declaring' your VBs and adding them to the scoring track. Or when you declare your VBs, all other players must also declare theirs.

Anyway, anyone know of any games that have nice scoring systems where the 'exact' score is kept hidden? One similar example would be Struggle Of Empires, but in the last few turns of the game is is fairly easy to add up player's points on the board, which is kinda uncool, even if you still need to take the Unrest into account.

Cheers!

Nestalawe'

doho123
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

To go along with the victory bead idea, to help hide the current value of the hidden bead, here's another concept. Just a broad rule to work off to get the idea...

instead of beads, let's make them counters. Counters are held face down in front of the players. After collecting 8 tokens, the player must choose 5 to turn in (keeping 3 for later turn ins). Instead of the counters being just victory points, they are playing cards, and the VP you collect are based on some paytable value of points for a poker hand.

So now, the true value of the face-down counters are hidden. And when turning in the counters for victory points, the player has some decisions to make; does he hold on to good counters for a possible, but unlikely, monster hand later in the game he may never get? Is there a way for a player to bluff which tokens he is going to keep?

Obviously, you probably want to do something more "theme-y" than straight poker suits and ranks. And you can do something much simpler like three colors of 5 different symbols or something and build a relatively balanced VP payoff chart from that.

Nestalawe
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

Hmm, yeah, that could be interesting... Not quite sure yet how it would work in with my theme... It does create a mini 'test your luck' game which could work well, and provides a certain risk element, along with the uncertainty of the score of the other players...

Hamumu
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

I like the poker idea a lot, but I'll tell you what I was thinking anyway. A simpler random element: VP tokens are labeled 1-3 on one side (say there are 30 1s, 20 2s, and 10 3s in the bank). So when you earn a token, it could be worth anywhere from 1-3 (and you don't show the other players until the end of the game). That adds a definite random element, but still the player who has the most tokens is probably winning... unless the number of tokens is close (or in a case of extreme luck like my 5 3's to your 14 1's).

But I would vote for poker, I think it adds real fun.

artsoma
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Hidden VPs

Puerto Rico uses 1 and 5 point counters to inidcate VPs.

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

Quote:
I don't want the scores completely hidden, as players would have to keep guessing as to how close the others are to winning. I also don't want the scores completely public, as players would try and trounce the leader.

I think you're trying to accomplish contradictory goals here. If players can estimate the scores of other players, you'll get leader-bashing. If they can't, then scores are effectively completely secret.

I'm not arguing against a partially-secret scoring mechanism; I enjoy games like that. Hidden or partially-hidden scores help to keep players interested and hopeful throughout the entire game, because even if they're losing they can't necessarily tell. I just think that you will get leader-bashing in direct proportion to the players' ability to guess who's actually in the lead.

In Settlers of Catan, most of your points are public and easily visible on the board, but some of your points can come from acquiring cards held in secret. This sounds like the kind of balance you are looking for. You can get this kind of balance in several ways: You can have secret sources of Victory Points, like Settlers. Or you can conceal the exact value of the Victory Tokens you've collected, like in Through the Desert where you collect "water hole" counters worth 1 to 3 points each: players can count your counters but can't see their values. Or you can award VPs for achieving secret goals, as in Twilight Imperium III or Ticket to Ride where you're given a hidden goal by random draw of cards, and claim the VPs for accomplishing the goal either when it's accomplished or at the end of the game.

Xaqery
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Re: Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

Nestalawe wrote:
Other things I have thought of is that there may be an advantage to 'declaring' your VBs and adding them to the scoring track. Or when you declare your VBs, all other players must also declare theirs.

I think it’s a mistake to force others to turn in their VBs because I do. Instead I would give the player a reason to hold on to the beads where if they turn them in now they are worth X but if they hold on to them until they finish some goal or other asynchronous event they might be worth more but if it falls through they are worth less. Risk / reward.

- Dwight

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Re: Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

Xaqery wrote:
Nestalawe wrote:
Other things I have thought of is that there may be an advantage to 'declaring' your VBs and adding them to the scoring track. Or when you declare your VBs, all other players must also declare theirs.

I think it’s a mistake to force others to turn in their VBs because I do. Instead I would give the player a reason to hold on to the beads where if they turn them in now they are worth X but if they hold on to them until they finish some goal or other asynchronous event they might be worth more but if it falls through they are worth less. Risk / reward.

- Dwight

Right, I forgot to mention that! We all want as much information as we can get when we play. If you make the revelation of other players' points optional, then nobody's points will stay hidden. You'll always want to know what everybody else has, and somebody will always want to see what you've got. So either hidden points must remain hidden, or else you should take Dwight's suggestion and make revelation of your own points a matter of risk vs. reward.

Nestalawe
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

Cheers guys, its all starting to come together now...

I think I will keep working on a partially-hidden scoring system, with a simple risk vs. reward system as suggested. I don't want to make it too complicated, but interesting enough to keep the play moving along at a suitable pace...

Infernal
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

In one game I was working on I have a economic system (money was the victory points but you could also spend it in the game) where the player could collect 3 types of counters (Red Green and Blue).

At any time the player could cash in there counters for money, but this would drop the amount that any other counters of the same type would give. You could also buy counters and that would increase the price that that type of counter would give when they were sold (it was supposed to be a very crude stock market simulation). Other events in the game could also raise or lower the price of the counters (to simulate outside influences as well as general suply and demand).

A lot of the money (and hence VP) that a player earned was based around the timeing of their exchange of the counters for money. A smart player could "play the stock market" and gain victory points that way or work to collect the counters and then exchange them for money (VP), though it was usually better to collect tokens and play the market to give a boost to your money.

A system like this where you have a set of tokens which you can exchange for VPs but then reduce the value that others would get (untill the price went up) could give a interesting choices as well as giveing a method of hiding a player's exact score as the fluctuations of the token "Prices" will be changing.

IngredientX
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Keeping 'Real' Scores Secret While Using A Scoring Track

In the train game Silverton, the first player to get a certain amount of money wins (in most scenarios). Money is hidden for most of the game. Once a player reaches a set amount of money (determined by the scenario), his wallet becomes public.

For example, in one scenario, the first player to reach $7000 wins. Once a player amasses $5000, the amount of money he has becomes public.

A simple rule like this might be all you need. Track it all in Puerto Rico-esque VP chips, but turn them face-up once they reach a certain value.

Alternatively, a player can decide when to make his VP public, at which he triggers an event in the game. That could be a little more complex.

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