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Solitaire or Co-op: How Often Do You Want to Lose?

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30 Oct 2023 16:45 #340890 by Shellhead
Most games end with a winner, but solitaire and co-op games are often designed in such a way that it is entirely possible for all players to lose the game. So how often do you like to lose at solitaire/co-op games? Okay, nobody likes to lose, so maybe the right question is How difficult do you want your co-op and solitaire games?

This issue has caught my attention from time to time, because one of my close friends shares my fondness for co-op games, only he wants the co-op to be pretty hard so that we lose one or maybe a few games before winning one. I am not a super-competitive person, so I don't mind the occasional loss, but I prefer my co-op/solitaire games to only occasionally result in a loss unless we played poorly. If I had to pick a percentage, I would say that I prefer winning maybe 67% of the time. I definitely dislike playing a solitaire/co-op game that is so hard that I feel like I am being trolled. I don't want to waste my limited free time on unpleasant experiences.
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30 Oct 2023 16:54 #340891 by charlest
If the difficulty is calibrated correctly, I want to win 65% of the time when I play well.

That last bit is important though.

I want to lose a co-op game my first play, almost always.
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30 Oct 2023 17:28 #340892 by Msample
I think part of the issue is not so much difficulty, but how much agency do the player(s) have. In some solo/co-op games either the decisions are glaringly obvious, or the players are merely along for the ride ( the old Avalon Hill B17 comes to mind for the latter ). As long as the game makes me think/decide , that goes a long way.

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30 Oct 2023 18:46 #340893 by hotseatgames
I think I'm a bit different in this respect. I want to win all the time. But just BARELY.
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30 Oct 2023 18:51 #340894 by Jackwraith
That's a great point. Are we assigning people maintenance tasks, like Innsmouth in Arkham Horror, in order to win? That's bad, not only because that person gets bored and feels put upon, but also because we've identified a really mundane task that seems essential to success. Are we instantly gravitating to a winning strategy as soon as we start, like hanging out at the Magick Shoppe to find Elder Signs? That's bad because we're exploiting a weakness and there's not much "game" there.

As with Charlie, I always want to lose my first time, both because that means that the game has at least some degree of challenge, but also because you learn far more about a game from losing at it than from winning at it, competitive or co-op. But I also want my decisions to have impact, as Msample says, and not be programmed (see above.) I don't own very many co-ops for those reasons, but the two I treasure at the moment are Spirit Island and Roll, Camera because they're both so dynamic and both REQUIRE teamwork in order to succeed. I've lost at both, albeit only once with the latter, but win far more often. To the original question, I guess it's possible that we win TOO often at Roll, Camera (more than the above suggested 2/3 of the time), but it's always enjoyable, so I'm OK with it.
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31 Oct 2023 09:19 #340899 by dysjunct
I like how SUB TERRA does it -- you are graded, so even if you win it's either gold, silver, or bronze. Or you can lose. This lets the game be less than entirely crushing, while still providing challenge for people who want to optimize everything and dominate the system.

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31 Oct 2023 11:38 #340900 by Ah_Pook
My recorded win rate in marvel champions is about 65%, which feels about right. More than anything I want wins to feel hard fought and losses to have felt winnable up until we got crushed, whatever the percentage ends up being. That feeling of riding the edge of things going real bad is what im looking for in a coop.
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03 Nov 2023 10:25 #340925 by Whoshim
I actually don't mind losing a lot of initial games. I enjoy challenges. Losing a game 10 times in a row is fine (as long as the game is around 45 minutes or shorter). If it is a longer game, I would like to have learned enough after a few plays to start winning at least sometimes.

In Death Angel (the Space Hulk card game), I have lost a lot. I think I have only won twice. However, the game itself is fun and creates a story. I enjoy playing it even though I expect to lose. However, knowing that there is also a ~200 page strategy guide written by a player who claims a very high win % also helps keep my interest. I know that there is more for me to learn about the game and that I can improve at it.

I am not sure how I feel about The Grizzled. I have played it with my family a dozen times (4-5 players), and it just seems impossible at that player count. I looked at the forums, and it seems we are playing by the rules. We have had one game in which we made some progress toward victory, but it relied heavily on luck, and we did not even win. If there were a strategy guide for the game from someone who said they achieved victory 2/3 of the time, then I would be more eager to keep pushing to figure out how to win. As it is, I may browse some strategy articles to see what we are missing. I don't like to do it, as it takes the discovery out of the game, but we are so far from victory that I am not sure what else to do.

So, I don't mind losing a lot as long as I know that someone out there can win around the % that the others in the thread have mentioned as their threshold.
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08 Nov 2023 15:05 #340962 by jason10mm
I don't like to lose to a deck of cards. This is my issue with a lot of "programmed" solitaire/co-op games, the difficulty often exists purely as a function of the shuffling of cards. Get too many catastrophe cards too early and defeat is almost certain, if they come up too late you already won in a cake walk before they can wreck your day. Both of these outcomes feel unsatisfying.

So tuning the opponent but also allowing for spontaneous/surprise events is key, especially if there are few to no randomizer elements like dice rolling or drawing from other decks. Getting that "down to the wire, victory or bitter defeat rests on this card flip!" euphoria on each game is so difficult, but so critical, especially with the longer games where your time investment is greater.

I agree that a 50-66% win rate sounds about right, particularly if there is a difficulty slider feature for more experienced play.

For the "score points, look on a table" type games I think there needs to be lots of thematic selections rather than a "0-25: you swing from the gibbet, 25-49: you escape with your head, 50+: congrats, you remain king!" type low granularity. Don't need a TOTAN level choose your own adventure book, but several options pulled from various game states for a thematic and exciting end, even if its a "loss", can go a long way.

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