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Victory Points: For or against

14 replies [Last post]
larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

Do you like to use Victory points in your design or prefer to stay away from it.

Victory points makes the design of victory condition easy to implement, but the player motivation for these VP is lower and there is a lower sense of accomplishement when the game is finished because most of the time, you do not know exactly what made you win. While a game that has specific objectives to fulfill seems much more memorable.

On the other hand, victory points are very usefull in a game where it will ends as a draw most of the time, or if a game is so long that you allow the option to make it end sooner by using victory point to determine the progress of the players.

So do you prefer using VP in your design? if yes or no, explain why?

crenshal's picture
Joined: 09/30/2013
Victory Points add versatility

I like to use victory points because they allow for a diverse group of players to play the same game. If the group has a new player or two, they can focus on a singular victory condition while the experience players can fight it out for the overall prize. Depending on the design of the game, the "smaller" victory conditions can be used to sabotage the larger valued victory conditions. This will allow the less experience players to feel like they have a chance in a game where the rest of the table has more experience with the particular game.

Telling the rookie, "if you get 3/4 of all the rum in the game, you get a bonus!" would be a great way to give them hope/motivation and it would also force the experienced players to pay attention to the rookie and force some "light interaction" but not bring down the "full furry" of an experienced player(s).

Victory points are also fun in a Co-op setting. The group is playing as a whole but there is still an individual winner. I liken this to a saboteur in the group but instead of a saboteur being assigned, but the saboteur can be anyone and change at any point in the game.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I do not favor one side or

I do not favor one side or the other, still it seems to be easier to design a VP based game (which can have any name by the way), VP is like a currency for victory conditions. Which is an interesting concept.

Some designers hate VP and I can understand their point of view. It's like money based games (ex: monopoly) it's hard to know what made a player win when using VP. Which with a unique condition, it is easier to trace back what made the player win.

Now sure if a game should be more momorable when it's not VP based. One thing for sure, games that ends when a VP limit is reached seem to be more interesting due to tension for the end of the game rather than those who don't.

Else for resolving ties, VP are perfect.

crenshal's picture
Joined: 09/30/2013
What I Don't Like

What I don't like about VP is the process of figuring out balance. Especially when there are wildly different tasks involved in attaining the various conditions. There is a concern of taking away from what makes sense when it comes to counting up points.

That being said, finding balance in a game is a major component of game design, so while finding balance for V-conditions may be a pain in the realm of balance, it is worth taking the time for the sake of versatility and inclusiveness.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
BONUS Victory points

larienna wrote:
Do you like to use Victory points in your design or prefer to stay away from it.

Well I guess it depends on the game... BUT my latest game *Monster Keep* uses Victory points to keep track of score. Each monster you collect has a certain number of victory points. What I REALLY wanted to talk about are another sort of Victory points which are earned by satisfying a monster's trait.

These BONUS Victory points can be used a VPs for the end-game calculation or they can be used during the game to up-the-ante.

So there is a certain amount of strategy to figure out when to bid with the Bonus Vps and when not to...

zmobie's picture
Joined: 11/19/2008
I'm ok with the mechanism of

I'm ok with the mechanism of victory points. The act of collecting some resource as a means to victory in and of itself doesn't bother me... My problem is when they are actually called "Victory Points" in a game. At the VERY least, I like to have them disguised as some related theme based resource. Money, the heads of your enemies, provinces, buildings, trophies, anything. One step better is if you can have another layer of abstraction over that which makes the victory condition more concrete. You collect some resource to purchase some other thing in the game which nets you the win. For instance, you collect money to purchase lavish items to decorate your palace. When you've filled your palace with luxury items you win. In reality, you are just measuring victory points in this case, in that you'll always need some set amount to win... But now it has lots more theme and is more engaging.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
Virtually all game victory

Virtually all game victory conditions can be expressed as victory points. Victory points ideally exist to record activity that is part of winning the game. Conversely, most if not all game victory conditions can be expressed in points. E.g. chess has just one VP, earned when you checkmate the opposing king. Sometimes the VP are not called VP (are not overt), but amount to VP nonetheless.

Overt VP are first and foremost used to determine a winner in games that end arbitrarily after a certain number of turns. Such VP are usually awarded symmetrically, that is, every player has identical ways to earn VP. Usually, the reasons to end arbitrarily are to keep the length of the game down, and to avoid player elimination.

Overt VP are also used when the objectives of the players are so asymmetrical that the only way to equate/compare them is through VP. Britannia-like games do that, though they also have what amounts to an arbitrary (though perhaps historically-based) ending.

This is a complex subject. I've written over 7,000 words about VP and I'm far from done.

NakedPin's picture
Joined: 07/02/2013
VP naming convention

[quote=zmobie...My problem is when they are actually called "Victory Points" in a game...[/quote]

I totally agree with this and feel that once you call something VP, there is some potential that is lost. By digging into the thematic aspect of your game, you can usually get somewhat creative on the naming convention of these "VP".

Is it a monster rampage game? Perhaps go by "Demolition Chunks". A game about speed/distance/racing? Perhaps something about clicks or a unit measure like miles. A money oriented game? Foreshadow the future or make up a story of the past by choosing an existing currency like Yen or Kroners.

The concept of Victory points are great. It is a common value where multiple paths contribute to ones victory. Even though having Victory Points makes it obvious to the players as to what they are fighting for, I still feel that there are other ways of going around it without actually calling it "Victory Points".

Joined: 08/28/2008
I'm neither for nor against

I'm neither for nor against victory points, but I often perceive a design that can do without them as more elegant. In that sense, I wish that I had more designs like that. Not sure whether larienna's original post was already inspired by this podcast, but here's an interesting one on this particular topic:

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
I'm actually with Lew on this

I'm actually with Lew on this one, all games are "Victory Point" games.

As he said, chess awards 1 victory point for capturing the king. It also connects the only way to earn VP with the game-end condition, meaning there is only ever 1 VP. Player elimination games can generally be phrased as 1 point for each player eliminated before you. Most "racing games" could be looked at as awarding 1 point for crossing the finish line, but in reality, you could consider each space on the track as a VP, and the end condition is the first to gain "X" VP's, where X is the length of the track.

I could go down the list, and get more and more granular. I honestly think it's very important for designers to understand that all games are VP games. It's one of the core concepts that helps you understand the cogs and gears behind mechanisms.

drunknmunky's picture
Joined: 06/25/2010
Agree with truekid. The more

Agree with truekid.

The more fluid games call victory points something else, but when there are multiple goals that all award win condition, using the term "victory point" is universally understandable.

Sometimes you have to use generic terms to make sure people understand your game. Sure a game can be creative and rename each type of victory point but that adds to the rules, makes counting difficult, and confuses the end game. It's doable, but hard.

JewellGames's picture
Joined: 06/03/2012
I am making a game about

I am making a game about pigeon post during a war and cant really think of any thematic term other than victory points since sending urgent messages is helping your nation achieve victories in the war. Still, it would be nice to call it something else.

Now "messages received/acquired" would make sense for half of the game's point system but scoring also comes from intercepting messages (or from opponent mistakingly intercepting messages) so that doesn't quite fit.

BENagy's picture
Joined: 09/25/2013
I'm actually going to break

I'm actually going to break games into 3 categories: varying victory point games, singular victory point games, and objective games.

VVP means that there are different ways to get these victory points, not all on the same path, so to speak, but valued equitably. Catan is VVP. Development Cards, Settlements, Cities, Longest Road, etc. all require specialization in different resources to get VPs in that area. A wide variety of specializations are required.

SVP means there's one path to victory, more or less, and VPs are just the tally. Monopoly would be an example of this, where currency is the VP, (though this is a weak example, admittedly, because unlike most VP games, the game is over due to one direction of VPs (0 or negative), while success is measured the opposite direction). One specialization is required to win, and is the same for all players.

Lastly, O games require you to perform a specific task to win. There must be one main path to accomplish this, but each player may have different objectives to win, which means each player may use a different strategy. Careers, the old board game, is a great example of this, in which everyone writes down how much money, fame and love they require to win the game (each player's totals equaling 60). Thus each person will play the game a little differently to satisfy their specific needs to win. Destination games like Candy Land are deceiving. They are not actually O games, but disguised SVP games, where the spaces you have progressed is a subtle track of your VP.

My assertion is that none of these is better or worse, but rather best for certain audiences, and levels of complexity. A SVP game is understood quickly by small children, an O game is simple, allows for differing and varying game play, but still easy, and VVP games are best for more hardcore gamers, who want to figure out a strategy to win. So which is best depends on your audience.

Joined: 10/09/2013
Value! Sometimes it's about the value!

Sometimes Victory Points (VPs) are necessary to help assign value to certain completed objectives, for example, Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride has varying points for how many trains you lay down. If you lay all of your trains down one at a time, you'll get very few points (I know that's not technically possible). On the other hand, if you only go for longer routes (4-6 spaces long) you'll end up score a lot more points. VPs in this game help give value to longer routes. Naming them anything other than points would be, wait for it, pointless. *buh dum tish* If everything though that you are collecting though is always one VP, just give them names and carry on.

Ristora's picture
Joined: 11/05/2013
I'd like to make a linguistic

I'd like reiterate the point made earlier, the linguistic point.

I'm all for value chits contributing to score, but I despise when they are called "Victory Points". Victory points seems so artificial (unless you are playing a Jousting Board game and you get a vp for a an *actual* 'Victory') and really detracts from the theme of a game. Puerto Rico, one of my favorite games, gives you VP for shipping goods. This is just lame in my opinion but it by no means makes me play the game less. I think VP as a mechanism is helpful for reasons mentioned previously, but I think they are made tolerable if they are called something in line with the theme of the game.

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