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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

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Torrent
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I was reading through Gamewire, and came up links to rules for Fantasy Flight's new crop of games. One is called Arena Maximus, which deals with simulating Cariot Races. And in addition to having some neat ideas, there is one section that explicitly denies the Kingmaker the ability to Kingmake. Basically if you are behind in the race and cannot cross the finish line this turn, you cannot interact with players that can cross the finish line this turn. http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/pdf/arenamaxrules.pdf

Seems somewhat interesting to me.

hpox
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

This is for the last turn? Seems a bit convulted and fiddly. The kingmaker issue is brought back to the turn before the last one. And so on...

It would make more sense if the racer that can't finish just "give up" and cannot play that last turn. Quicker end too. Note that it doesn't fix the issue I pointed out above.

IngredientX
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

hpox wrote:
It would make more sense if the racer that can't finish just "give up" and cannot play that last turn. Quicker end too.

That's the choice, isn't it? By doing that, you effectively make the game an elimination game. Kingmaker versus elimination. Interesting decision, isn't it? :)

I posted recently about a game I'm currently working on, in which spaceships race around a track. I decided to give the spaceship weapons, partially because I felt generous, but mostly because it would give racers who had fallen behind a quick way to catch up. However, if there were three ships racing, and one was way behind the other two, then I'd have a kingmaker situation; if the last place ship zapped one of the front-runners, then the other front-runner would win.

I'm trying to fix this issue by allowing the weapon to target multiple ships directly in front of the firing ship. Perhaps this would work in other kingmaker situations... the "take that!" action would affect all the leaders, not just one.

The challenge is making sure that the catch-up action doesn't feel too arbitrary. After all, I want the race to end sooner or later! In my game, the firing ship still has to line up properly; otherwise, it won't be able to hit all the leaders. If a leader moves his/her pawn cleverly, then that ship won't be easily targeted by a firing racer, but might still be in a good position to win the race.

I'm not sure how to apply this "attack all leaders, not just one" mechanic to other games, but it might be a useful tool.

Torrent
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

I think there are several social forces here. First off, the idea of not being out until the game is over. This helps everyone feel like they are still having fun and still 'could' win. The over-zealous-ness of this feeling seems to be what we call Bash the Leader. A partial effect of this is Kingmaker. If everyone is still playing, but one (or several) can't actually win they still have an effect on the outcome.

On the other end of the scale is the feeling of the leader themselves. "Hey I played the best, I want to win." Kingmaker denies this by giving the power to someone else. "I played the best, but I lost because of You." Of course the extreme example of this feeling that good playing is rewarded is named Runaway Leader.

Most games seem to try to find a balance between these two camps. The one where good play is rewarded, versus everyone is still in it to the end.

I pointed out the rule because I hadn't seen anything like that before. It seems like enforcing manners somehow. In some games the Kingmaker is a required effect, the player being the KM MUST make A decision. In this race game, if someone can't win it seems like bad manners to make a decision to hurt someone else without being required to make such a decision by the game.

The other thing is it feels like it was tacked on by one or two bad playtests where the situation came up. Instead of thinking it through, it almost feels like they just outlawed it. Almost a house-rule of common sense.

Anyway I thought it would be interesting, the published games with the same unresolvable issues as most of the ones we all work on.

Andy

IngredientX
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

Here's another way I've found to eliminate the Kingmaker: set your game end/victory condition to a quantitative value (victory points, number of colored blocks, amount of money obtained), rather than a unit of time (rounds, laps, hours).

The reason is that as long as somebody needs X units of something to win, then it is possible for any player to win, no matter how far behind he or she is. But if your game ends after a certain amount of "time" elapses (whether the time is fixed to "clock time," like an hour, or is set to "game time," like a certain number of rounds, or number of laps completed in a racing game), then it is possible for a player to be mathematically eliminated towards the end of the game.

It's these latter situations that really cause a "Kingmaker" situation to occur. Let me give you an example.

Ralph, Roger, Regis, and Nick are playing a simple card game. Let's say that in this card game, the winner of each hand gets a point. Ralph, Roger, and Regis are tied at 9 points; Nick trails with 5 points.

Now if this game takes fifteen hands to play, then there's no reason for Nick to continue playing, other than pride. Even if he gets his sixth point, he's still going to lose. This is an example of a game whose game end is linked to a unit of time - in this case, fifteen rounds.

If Nick does continue to play and gets lousy cards, he may be forced into a kingmaker situation; the card he discards may help or hinder the player sitting next to him. If he has a grasp on what Regis, the player to his left, needs (assuming the flow of play goes clockwise), he can decide whether Regis wins or loses.

Now, what if the game ended once a player reached 10 points? It might be unlikely, but it's still very possible that Nick's run of luck changes, or he suddenly figures out what he's been doing wrong the whole game. Maybe he does peel off victories through five consecutive hands, and the other players make him pay for dinner.

Nevertheless, the nice thing about pinning the game end condition to a quantitative condition is that there's always a tiny glimmer of hope for everyone; there's never a situation where a player is completely eliminated.

Interesting note: Attribut, vs. Apples to Apples. Both are light, funny party games. But Attribut is played over 2-3 rounds, meaning some players can be technically eliminated. Apples to Apples, on the other hand, is played until one player acquires a certain number of cards and wins. I much prefer Apples to Apples' way of ending the game, and I'm surprised that Attribut isn't played to a certain number of points.

IngredientX
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

Torrent wrote:
I pointed out the rule because I hadn't seen anything like that before. It seems like enforcing manners somehow. In some games the Kingmaker is a required effect, the player being the KM MUST make A decision. In this race game, if someone can't win it seems like bad manners to make a decision to hurt someone else without being required to make such a decision by the game.

The other thing is it feels like it was tacked on by one or two bad playtests where the situation came up. Instead of thinking it through, it almost feels like they just outlawed it. Almost a house-rule of common sense.

Always strange when rules start refering to the "meta-game" people play when playing a game. Sometimes it fits (like Illuminati's rules allowing cheating), but in this case, it doesn't seem a great fit. I wonder if you're right; if this rule was jammed in during playtesting.

Have you played the game? Perhaps it works in play?

DarkDream
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

I went ahead and read the rules. It states:

Quote:
It is possible to be in a position where you cannot win this round, but can choose which of two or more other players will win by interacting with those players' chariots . . . If you are in this "kingmaker" position, you may not ram, block, attack, or otherwise interact with any of those players' chariots.

It is interesting that the order of movement of the chariots is determined by choosing the one in last place first, the one is second to last second and so on. This rule allows the kingmaker effect to become more likely.

My personal opinion, in the way they handle it, is pretty poor. It is admitting they have a problem in the game, and they get rid of it by a hack method of covering it up completely.

I would have personally liked a more creative solution to it.

Maybe, for example, off the top of my head, in the final series of straight cards, the order is reversed for that areas so the car in first position goes first, and so on. Or once a car enters the final straight, if no other cars can enter it on that turn, they give up.

I going to purchase Arena Maximus as I am working on a chariot racing game. However, just by looking at the rules, I don't think this one is a winner.

--DarkDream

Torrent
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

Quote:
Have you played the game? Perhaps it works in play?
I have not played it yet. Reading the news item on Gamewire, I don't even think it is out yet to be played. It very well may be a fine
game (the rest of the rules have some really neat bits in them), but I think that Kingmaker rule strikes me as odd and I wouldn't play with it if/when I get a chance to play the game.

DarkDream
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Explicitly denying the Kingmaker

I just purchased "Arena Maximus". I am hoping to play it this week or next week. It is definitely out there to be purchased.

--DarkDream

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