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Crystal Heroes — What to do about end-game scoring?

I recently updated my prototype of "Crystal Heroes" (CH) and did a playtest. There was "more" Area Control and ties to the table. However, I have a question about the end-game scoring. Specifically, what to do when neither player collects more "Chaos Gems" than the other (tie) and the scoring of their Lord is also not an all-out victory. So, say a score of 7 versus 8 (Nine being the victory goal).

In my opinion it's too close to award a victory...!? What do you think?? Should this be a "stalemate"?

I mean it's very close for BOTH players and there were resources left over on the table. But not the ones missing to win either player the game. Also Player #1 fought hard to recover "Green" Select-A-Gems to earn more points for himself closing the gap in the game's score. He was 3 points behind and caught up to his opponent pretty nicely showing that you are never "out of a game" and that you can force a "statemate" or even win by more tactical die rolling.

And when I say "tactical die rolling" I mean more "Luck"! (LOL) Rolling sixes (6s) Black or White is very helpful in securing the resources you need. I will agree that the dice rolling is "chance" but when you conquer a card you get to pick-up one resource "of your choice". So this means that conquering cards comes with a BONUS that is "+1 resource". Previously, I did not have this rule... But it makes sense to "reward" the player who conquers an opposing card.

Anyone care to share some thoughts???

Comments

My thoughts

I wouldnt call it a Stalemate but a Shutout win.

In Major League Baseball, a shutout refers to the act by which a single pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow the opposing team to score a run. If two or more pitchers combine to complete this act, no pitcher is awarded a shutout, although the team itself can be said to have "shut out" the opposing team. Wikipedia.

I'm stating that for your scenario of scores 7 vs 8 but the winning score was 9, the player with 8 wins that round but not the game. So you can do 2 games out of 3 game play mechanic to see actually wins.

The player with 8 points closes out the ability for player with 7 points to win the game. For me, that is a good battle in over all out comes. Play again , try a different strategy.

Your game looks balanced to me from how you describe it.

I think your on the right track.

In my latest card game: Heart of the Knight: April 4, 2020. Players shuffle 12 cards. If the winning condition is met on the very first card flip over, than the player wins automatically. But shuffle again and you still have 1 in 11 chances to win again or find the solution by choosing a path with the knight figure then flip over another card. It's so simple, basic and a joy to play from 12 other families I sent the game copies to. That's all there is to playing the game.

So, I'm saying is that, stick to what you have for your game. Dont over think the mechanics of having the player always winning from a stalemate or shutout win. It was a good battle outcome.

I think the way you describe

I think the way you describe the outcome in the rulebook will heavily influence the player's perception of the same events. I never liked the word "stalemate" it always felt like "Through stubbornness and spite, the player who was loosing was able to take away a win from the stronger player."

some other options:
-- if there is some way to obviously gage if one player had an advantage over the other I would declare them the victor, such as "In the event of a tie the player with the fewest turns wins" or "The player with more resources in their hand wins"

--If ties are relatively in-frequent, or your backup victory condition is also tied, I really appreciate games that say "Rejoice in your shared victory". I enjoy games because of the exciting pacing and events in a close game, and less so specifically because I could beat my opponent.

--If you have a victory condition (such as 9 points) that is typically achievable, but the game can go badly and neither player is able to get to it, you could have both players loose. Some times this is called semi-cooperative, so before you do this make sure that both players are able to help prevent an "everybody looses" scenario. It could make for a "I want to help you out, but not too much" thing which is typically an interesting balance.

-- Have every game end based on something other than points. It ends when there aren't enough cards to keep playing, or after turn 5, or when this randomly moving marker gets to the end of it's track. That way it is a simple who has more points.

Sorry to be so random here. I haven't read Crystal Hero's rulebook. If you have it handy, let me know where it is and I can better narrow down my response.

Is Stalemate necessary?

Do you want the end condition of "Stalemate" as a possibility in the game? Does the thought of players reaching it make the game better, or worse? Will, reaching it, make the players feel like they were evenly matched and neither could take victory from the other, or will it make one player feel cheated?

If you consider it a valid Victory condition that you are happy for players to achieve, then keep it and call it Stalemate. If you think players won't be happy reaching it, design it out of the game.

As of today...

I have two (2) methods to determine a victor:

1> If a player has 2 Chaos Gems, they win.

2> If a player collects all nine (9) of the resources required by his/her Lord (or Lady), they win.

Now I'm not sure I'd like to force players to replay more matches... As a way to determine who is the victor. If players want to try another Deck or use a different approach... That's fine.

In this particular case, the victory was sort of stolen. Why? Because Player #2 was leading 8 to 5. Player #1 got some lucky dice rolls to collect TWO (2) Select-a-Gems and caught up to his opponent.

So in this situation, I feel like the "stalemate" was well earned. But is it FAIR??? I get the impression that Player #2 will definitely feel "cheated". But Player #1 did everything in his capacity to ensure a no-victory.

Given further explanations... Maybe this can HELP in the discussion. Cheers.

Stalemate should be rare

My question would be how often do stalemates happen? If a stalemate occurs too often, then it's going to be frustrating to the leader at the end.

Are there enough resources in

Are there enough resources in the game to handle the combinations of Lord's and Lady's desires? If you added a few more pieces/cards, your problem might go away.

I would avoid the stalemate scenario if it is caused by luckey rolls especially. I would feel cheated, or undeserving in either side of a lucky roll

Okay ... so I have been doing MORE playtesting

Since I just recently finished the latest prototype... I haven't done too many playtest sessions. But I've conducted a few and winning by Chaos Gems is what happened in the last playtest. The player who was leading WON. This is 100% acceptable since the player was ahead by 2 resources. Had it been the other way ... It would be MORE "controversial" had the player with the lower resource count had won.

9 Resources definitely "stretches" the game into the LATER-ROUNDS ... Which means that players are very much alive and able to either win later in the game or to steal a victory from the opponent.

See that's very much a THING: stealing the victory. Or denying the victory. Otherwise players would just quit the game if a player was too far ahead. Knowing that it is HIGHLY unlikely that you will win... Tying is the NEXT BEST thing.

So maybe the "stalemate" thing is not so WRONG. Both players did their very best to TRY to win ... But unfortunately that time around did not yield a Victor. Playtesting and I've done three (3) separate playtests... Only the preceding game was a tie (or "stalemate" if you prefer that terminology). The three (3) following playtest always yielded a Winner.

I will do some more playtests. Nine (9) resources is a "tougher" goal but ensures that the game goes into the 9th to 12th round. Winning too early would cause the game to have LESS tension ... And nobody really wants to finish the game too quickly especially when there are more rounds that could have been played.

I'll let you all know... More playtesting and results soon enough!

Oh yes ... Juzek brought up a valid point

Juzek wrote:
-- Have every game end based on something other than points. It ends when there aren't enough cards to keep playing, or after turn 5, or when this randomly moving marker gets to the end of it's track. That way it is a simple who has more points.

There game is divided into 12 distinct rounds. The first 2 to 3 rounds yield some area control but no conflict. Rounds 4 to 8 yield a significant proportion of "conquests" (Deterministic Battles — no luck, all stat-based) and then Rounds 9 to 12 are primarily cool-down where players are trying to avoid "conquests" or becoming subject to the losing side of an area battle.

I computed the last game that ended in Round 9, there were 15 Crystals earned by combining both players. So not enough to allow both to win... but enough to yield "crystals" in the later round.

So a game needs to go until Round 12, have no player collect 2 "Chaos Gems" and then even if one player is in the lead, this would be considered a "Draw" (or "stalemate"; depending on which terminology you prefer).

I also agree with Stormyknight1976 ...

@Jesse's comment about a "shutout" victory and playing extra matches to see who is the winner makes sense to me too.

Like IF there is a Draw... Players can choose to decide IF they want to play another match to determine the winner. I don't think it is necessary to compute who was in the lead and declare a "partial victory" ... No just play a 2nd game to determine who wins.

No need to do a best of 3 for example. Just a re-match IMHO. Something simple like that.

Note #1: Games last about 30 minutes... So 2 games is like 60 minutes (for 2 Player duels). So it's not an "extended" amount of time. It's reasonable in terms of gameplay... 60 minutes for 2 games is okay IMHO.

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