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Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

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Anonymous

Hi guys,

This is the first time I've posted on here, so tell me if what I'm asking has already been discussed somewhere else.

I was thinking of designing a game with a very unorthodox scoring mechanism and using that as an ultimate victory condition. Basically, you aim for the lowest possible score.

However, your score is what dictates what actions you can take during your turn, so players have to balance how much they want to get themselves away from the pack to perform their actions. In this type of game, giving points to other players hinders them but can also hinder you(certain types of actions might become available to them).

The victory condition would ultimately be that the winner is the player with the lowest score, but I'm struggling a bit on how to reach the end of the game. So far the only possible condition would be to attain a certain number of turns, but it seems a bit boring.

My main goal in creating that scoring system was to eliminate leader bashing and leader running. In this case, the lowest your position in the food chain, the more dangerous you become, therefore making leader bashing a bit more complicated(you basically make the leader stronger by bashing him, but are lowering his position in the score chart) and making leader running basically impossible to achieve. Any player under the leader will work to make the leader go down, but if you get bashed you suddenly become much more dangerous. In this case middle ground is almost always the best possible position.

What do you guys think?

Anonymous
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Is the reason people are playing for the lowest score a mental one? I don't see a ton of advantage in that, personally.

I do like the self limiting aspects, but it seems like you are imposing something like a handy-cap. Once a player starts winning, tie their hands. I can see people getting frustrated with it, but it could work.

Personally I like the early rounds to be worth less points, and the later rounds to be worth more points (so it is possible for the underdog to catch up and win).

Just some thoughts.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Trying to "score low" probably finds its origin in that great game, "Golf". In terms of board games, though, the closest to that idea is probably Fresh Fish, though I don't think it works the same way as you.

I like the dilemma you're setting before the players; high scores give you more actions, but low scores are what win you the game. Unfortunately, if there's no way to reduce your score, it may be hard to motivate players to actually want to beef up their scores, since doing so could be a sure loser.

I have a similar mechanic in one game, where there's a "threshold" effect, where above which, certain actions become available to you, but there's also some penalty associated with that. It's not connected to the scoring, but I think it's sort of the same thing.

Your idea sounds great! Best of luck fleshing it out!

-Jeff

Anonymous
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

I like the interesting decision-making that your game includes. After all, it's all about the decisions! You could minimize player confusion by reversing the structure: scores go up, but players become less powerful. It could be tracked on a score board. Player pawns mark the scores of each player on a track, a second parallel track indicates what a player in that position is allowed to do. Just a thought.

Great concept!

Anonymous
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

SimonWaltr wrote:
Is the reason people are playing for the lowest score a mental one? I don't see a ton of advantage in that, personally.

I do like the self limiting aspects, but it seems like you are imposing something like a handy-cap. Once a player starts winning, tie their hands. I can see people getting frustrated with it, but it could work.

Personally I like the early rounds to be worth less points, and the later rounds to be worth more points (so it is possible for the underdog to catch up and win).

Just some thoughts.

The reason people are playing for the lowest score is actually related to the game and makes perfect sense. Basically, it's secret organizations vying for control of the world, but having too much exposure hurts them.

And thanks for the comment.. I didn't really see it at the tying players' hands once they start winning, but my answer to that is that I would like a game where winning is actually hard to accomplish, and staying within the lowest amount of points possible would be very hard.

jwarrend wrote:
Trying to "score low" probably finds its origin in that great game, "Golf". In terms of board games, though, the closest to that idea is probably Fresh Fish, though I don't think it works the same way as you.

I like the dilemma you're setting before the players; high scores give you more actions, but low scores are what win you the game. Unfortunately, if there's no way to reduce your score, it may be hard to motivate players to actually want to beef up their scores, since doing so could be a sure loser.

I have a similar mechanic in one game, where there's a "threshold" effect, where above which, certain actions become available to you, but there's also some penalty associated with that. It's not connected to the scoring, but I think it's sort of the same thing.

There would be a way to reduce your own score. But the more I'm thinking, the less it would be possible to reduce your own score, since the more score you have, the more possibilities you have for increasing other players' scores. I find it to be pretty self-balancing, but I'm sure like in any other designs some kinks would pop up here or there.

Anonymous
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Simultaneous posts!!

timekillr wrote:
The reason people are playing for the lowest score is actually related to the game and makes perfect sense. Basically, it's secret organizations vying for control of the world, but having too much exposure hurts them.

Never mind my comment then...

Jebbou
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Welcome aboard Tk :)

I have a suggestion regarding the specific case of espionnage.

There could some sort of paralel points scoring: one for VP, one for "Exposure".
The more you perform actions to increase your VP, to more exposure you get, the more exposure you get, the more risky actions are. The dilema would be as follow, should I try to score, at risk of exposure, or should I keep a low profile, at risk of being unable to score enough vp to win. Or exposure could increase when someone fail an attempt to score.

Just food for thought,

Jeb

EDIT (More food for thoughts): On my way to the arcade, I though about something. The game San Marco (Ravensburger) has some kind of reverse scoring on each round, and the one who has less penality would recieve a bonus at the end of the round. The game had a lot of bluff too, and some really tough decisions to make.

Anonymous
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Jebbou wrote:
Welcome aboard Tk :)

I have a suggestion regarding the specific case of espionnage.

There could some sort of paralel points scoring: one for VP, one for "Exposure".
The more you perform actions to increase your VP, to more exposure you get, the more exposure you get, the more risky actions are. The dilema would be as follow, should I try to score, at risk of exposure, or should I keep a low profile, at risk of being unable to score enough vp to win. Or exposure could increase when someone fail an attempt to score.

Just food for thought,

Jeb

Thanks for pointing me to the site man :)

I like the victory point thing, but I'm just not sure how it would work in relation to exposure. It also kind of defeats the purpose of having the game run on mostly middleground, with a dash at the end for points. Exposure are basically your victory points, but you don't want any exposure. I also really like the concept of having flowing victory points, meaning that once you gain a point it's not necessarily yours forever.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Quote:
The victory condition would ultimately be that the winner is the player with the lowest score, but I'm struggling a bit on how to reach the end of the game. So far the only possible condition would be to attain a certain number of turns, but it seems a bit boring.

Perhaps you could tie the game end trigger to a game resource running out. For example, the game could end when the last card is drawn from the deck (if the game has cards) or perhpas, if the game has dice, a pawn is moved forward on a track whenever a six is rolled, and the game ends when the pawn reaches the last space on then track.

Game endings that are unrelated to the winning condition solve a lot of problems and can often be easily tuned to your (the designer's) liking.

- René Wiersma

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

Some more comments...

Quote:
However, your score is what dictates what actions you can take during your turn, so players have to balance how much they want to get themselves away from the pack to perform their actions. In this type of game, giving points to other players hinders them but can also hinder you(certain types of actions might become available to them).

I like that dilemma in principle; you want points so you can perform actions, but you also don't want points because you can't win if you have too many points. It reminds me a bit of the game "Mammoth Hunters" where you have to spend resources to play a card that only helps yourself, but if you want to gain resources, you have to play a card that helps an opponent.

However, I share Jeff's concern that if a player cannot reduce his own score in some way, that there will be very little incentive to gain some points in the first place. I understand that having more points also gives you the power to let others gain even more points, but doesn't this mean that those players in turn can give you even more points in return? I'm afraid that it might come down to being in the right place when the game ends and that only the tactical play of the last few turns may actually matter.

Also, I think that any game where you can directly influence a player's resources and victory points will have certain amount of overt leader bashing, even when the resources and VP's are eachother's inversion.

Anyway, speaking of unusual victory conditions... I really like the scoring twist in Reiner Knizia's "High Society". The player with the most points wins. However, the player with the least money cannot win, even if he has the most points. It actually only works because the ending of the game is semi-random and the money each player has left is hidden, but it makes for a nice, twisted game.

- René Wiersma

Anonymous
Unorthodox scoring mechanisms and victory conditions

zaiga wrote:
Some more comments...

However, I share Jeff's concern that if a player cannot reduce his own score in some way, that there will be very little incentive to gain some points in the first place. I understand that having more points also gives you the power to let others gain even more points, but doesn't this mean that those players in turn can give you even more points in return? I'm afraid that it might come down to being in the right place when the game ends and that only the tactical play of the last few turns may actually matter.

I was actually thinking that any in-game action can be directed towards any player, yourself included. So you could give or remove points to yourself or any player quite easily.

zaiga wrote:
Also, I think that any game where you can directly influence a player's resources and victory points will have certain amount of overt leader bashing, even when the resources and VP's are eachother's inversion.

Well in theory yes, but when the leader is also the weakest player of the moment, why would you overtly bash him? I got an initial feeling of everyone actually bashing each other until almost everyone's points were somewhat equal, and then the better skilled player(either through negociation or tactical ability) would have a better chance of winning.

I was also thinking of maybe multiple ways to trigger the endgame. I liked how Civilization's endgame triggered when a specific player attained certain goals, but I wanted it to be more flexible in how you can trigger it. Maybe with multiple possible goals, you can set yourself to attain one and focus on it.

Anonymous
Another take on the idea.

Imagine this: Each player starts with fifty points. The closer you get to 100 points, the more power you get to reduce your score and do other things. THESE ABILITIES STAY EVEN WHEN YOU LOSE POINTS. So, for the first half of the game, players would race to get more points, and thus build up their ability to do things. Then at some point, people would turn around and race to the bottom. First to 0 wins. The key challenge is when to turn around.

Slightly different than the original idea, and probably doesn't fit the original theme. It is an example of how the "score low" idea could add a flow to the game.

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