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Victory Conditions

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Joined: 11/05/2015

I personally find victory points unfulfilling in games- it's an abstract metric that doesn't always "feel" like it matches up with better play. Especially in a lite-wargame, 3.5X genre game.

My design, which I've asked various questions around on here, tries to get around this by having a king of the hill victory condition, the purpose of which is explained in the theme and lore of the game so it's a tight interlocking of theme and mechanic. The issue is, I'm not convinced it incentives the amount of combat I'm envisioning the game to have. As in the majority of battles only happen in one place vs a strategic plan across the whole board.

It's so easy just to say "if you win a combat you win a victory point." to incentivize. Which most games do in some form. But this encourages more tactical play and less strategic play.

A pure exterminate game is the most thematic- but also knocks players out, which isn't favored in today's games as it leaves people sitting there doing nothing.

Has anyone thought about this? I'm probably more bothered by victory points than most people.

Instead of a third system to judge a winner, is exterminating worth revisiting? Are victory points really the way to go after all?

Joined: 01/28/2017
completely agree - victory

completely agree - victory points are ok but for me they have to fit thematically or they are too artificial

I have a related question around how can you make the winning point as climactic as possible? What are the best examples of this in games?

I have a current game which it largely becomes "can I do this and win? I think I can.....lets try it out.....yes I can - there i've won". How can I build that up a bit.

ssm's picture
Joined: 04/06/2017
I am not a fan of victory

I am not a fan of victory points at all, but then again I am a fan of simple.

I am working on a war game & it is miss or kill, no points or partial damage. Balancing it is fun.
I guess mine is exterminate style. It is designed and meant to be played quickly. So if 3-4 are playing, and 1 gets knocked out, it would be probably about 5-10 minutes of waiting before a new game is started. In my game the play field is constantly changing as well in a simple way.

War games in general, to me, have become bloated and overly complicated; but are also designed to constantly suck money from players, and I am going in the opposite direction.

Joined: 04/20/2017
Strategic Wins

Totally agree that VPs in wargames is a bad idea. Gaining fame.. maybe... if you're trying to be the most famous general or something... ;)

Here are some ideas:-
1. Let the VPs be temporary, and they have it as long as they own a territory (GoT:BG), or achievement.... Largest Army(Catan)? :p

2. You could make the territories captured provide additional income, abilities, technologies, units.. like in Risk or X-Com(PC)

3. Make it easy to attack than difficult to defend... that would sure get more combat going.

4. Have your "Hill" be a moving target, that would make unit deployment strategic.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
What if victory points are

What if victory points are spendable instead? Or better yet, you don't have victory points. But you choose a victory reward instead.

When players conquer 1 territory, they can get a simple reward for doing so. eg. 1 round, extra production.
But if they choose a harder one, that has to be met within 1 or several rounds. Like 2 territories, the reward will be much better. A tank, that is rarely build. Or a card that allows you to plan the next attack and attain extra damage. etc.

The rewards should certainly be temporary, so that a snowball effect will less likely occur. Lets just say, that the reward should roughly accommodate half for the losses that the winning player has made. And it should be something special. I think that finding the balance in this, is very tricky.

bluesea's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Try Victory Conditions Instead

As alternate to victory points, try to achieve specific goals, i.e., VICTORY CONDITIONS.

See, for example, "The End of the Triumvirate" where there are distinct victory conditions; each condition independently ends the game once it is achieved. The victory conditions in "The End of the Triumvirate" are political, military, and competence.

Careful here though, because having a game where the goal is achieving ONE victory condition can sneak up on the players and can make for a game end without FIERO! (Thanks and all credit to Mr. Gil Hova's great video for helping to supply the word that describes this insight.

Maybe a way to adjust this is to have multiple victory conditions and require players to achieve, for example, two minor and one major victory conditions, or some combination or concurrence of victory conditions. This may also allow players to track other player's progress relative to themselves and to the game's end so that the closing of the game is not sudden or unexpected.

The benefit of victory conditions is that it really helps immerse players in the theme. Victory points, for me, are an inescapable distracting abstraction, usually, literally, hovering around the game. And VPs can make games feel a bit like a race. For some games that may be useful, for others, it may be enough to make the theme feel pasted on.

Now hidden VPs...that's a whole other thing...

Joined: 12/22/2015
winning factions

I used shifting alliances and winning factions to let players group for a mutual win with 2/3 of total territory held to minimize player elimination in my The Singularity Trap game.

Does not apply with 2-3 players but allowed 2 player factions in a 4-5 player game and 3 player factions in 6 player games, with a player or faction declaring itself when it held 25 of 37 planets and then needing to keep at least 25 for 2 full turns for a win.

Joined: 11/05/2015
new thoughts

To resurrect this thread...

Gabe just sent this out in his Monday BGDL email, which tackled this from a helpful angle

If I were to summarize the relevant point:

Any system that uses points in any form tends to encourage tactical play over strategic play. Your decision arcs are shorter and focused on the next point vs longer decision arcs focused on the beginning/middle/endgame.

Interesting stuff. I don't find that to be completely true (and the author admits this as well, citing GO)- take Small World for instance- the player with the most Gold wins. And, at face value, the game seems very tactical. But the addition of rotating races/powers AND going in decline, gaining a new combination 2, 3, or even 4 times adds an interesting and satisfying strategic depth. Additionally the ability to pull up your race, completely or partially, every turn makes the game MORE strategic than tactical, in my opinion.

This works because every round you are faced with 3 decisions- two are strategic and one is tactical. You can 1: attack with troops and spread out, gaining coins (tactical) 2: pull up some or all your troops- with this choice you will gain fewer coins in most cases, but you are playing for a better position or other rewards that you plan on paying off later (strategic) or 3: go in decline, most definitely scoring fewer points, but again planning on a new race paying off and scorning a greater amount of points later (strategic).

But, even so, the perpetual "going into decline" lends itself to shorter decision arcs over all compared to other games.

I definitely prefer strategic play over tactical play, which perhaps is a reason why victory points are a little unsatisfying for me.

john smith
Joined: 06/26/2017
I can only speak from a

I can only speak from a Wargamng standpoint. The key to this is detailed Scenarios with plenty of explanation of the overall picture the troops in the game are part of.

For Example, I had a 1/285th 1:1 US ACR I used in my Fulda Gap campaign. It was the "speed bump." in that context. Sitting on the "Iron Curtain" as a trip wire in case of a surprise attack by WarPac. My ACR was a screen against a numerically superior force. It was the only unit on the table, but the scenario was in conjunction with a larger story. I was to hold for as long as possible and hand the battle over to the 3rd Armored division. They were deployed near Frankfurt and were racing to their pre-planed defensive positions forward. So, my conditions for victory were determined by that overall situation. As long as my force maintained enough power and cohesion to be a obstacle the Commies could not simply bypass, I was winning. When elements of the Third US made contact with me I was to pass through their defensive line the scenario ended. Victory was linking up with 3rd Div. Defeat was 3rd AD seeing Soviet elements at the Rendezvous point instead of whatever was left of my ACR.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Old, digged up topic, indeed

spaff wrote:

But, even so, the perpetual "going into decline" lends itself to shorter decision arcs over all compared to other games.

I definitely prefer strategic play over tactical play, which perhaps is a reason why victory points are a little unsatisfying for me.

That explains a lot of why I even dislike VP.
That was an interesting read. Sadly, I missed it during a "chaotic" time.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
Victory Points have their

Victory Points have their place in wargames. For instance it can give you the option of different routes, which masks your objectives and plans somewhat from the opponent. If there are many objectives on the map, and many ways to combine them to make a win, it becomes less linear with the attackers just always having to take the same route to the same objective. I think the Standard Combat Series games tend to do this well for instance, that usually have various small and large victory point locations scattered across the map. There might be on big one (like Amiens in Operation Michael) that gives you enough victory points to win almost by itself, and then many lower points locations that you can combine to win, so if the defenders just put everything into defending Amiens the attacker will just grab a lot of small locations instead and win anyway. That is historic and good for making games more interesting, and it avoids having to spell out complex victory conditions. You just look at the map and sum the points at game end and then one side wins.

I dislike having to count points for various tiny things like killing enemy units etc. I can see the point though, for instance if you want to discourage players from sacrificing units, so for some themes I think it is appropriate. The American side in a Vietnam War tactical game should probably be forced to conserve their units and not waste them in a last-turn offensive to their objectives for instance. But in general I think it is too tedious to have to do that kind of thing, even if players throwing away units in futile end-game attacks is annoying.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Interesting point pelle. VP

Interesting point pelle.
VP as a guide, to show players various routes to victory.

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