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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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Uncertain Death - End Game Triggers

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28 Dec 2022 00:00 #337923 by oliverkinne
Fixed Number of Rounds
Let's look at games where the end...

It's always interesting to see how different games decide when they end. There are so many different ways of ending a game. Some games are played over a fixed number of rounds and others end when a certain goal or goals are achieved. There are also games that have a slightly more random timer. What happens when a game ends is also not always the same. In some games, all players get one more turn or the current round is played out. Other games end immediately and nobody gets another chance. In this article, I want to look at how all of these different endings create different player experiences.

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19 Jan 2023 19:28 #337924 by Eto
Predictability versus dynamism is another way to frame it. The fix round game (FRG) has more predictability than a non-FRG in regards to ending, but loses a sense of dynamism (e.g., emotional ups and downs and game states).

On the whole, The fixed number of rounds also has the advantage of less variance, absent slow playing or searching the rulebook for answers, in time to complete the game than non-FRGs; at least in my head, the games that you are never really sure how abrupt or long they will last have more dynamism or are non-FRG (Dune, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, Monopoly, Catan, Once Upon a Time, War, etc.).

I like to see people shine or frown (and hear about it too) when playing games. I would rather not have a lazy-susan-river-inter-tube-lounging-around flow of a game where you hardly know other people are even there. Uncertainties 1) help bring out those visceral reactions during a game, 2) perhaps encourage the players to re-think things, and 3) help make the experience more memorable in mind as well, so I suppose I would prefer non-FRG (as it would another uncertainty), but the course of the game is what maters most. The ending is just icing on a top of a cake.

In any case, if it ends abruptly, then you could always play again...or call it early, if it is taking too long.
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19 Jan 2023 21:49 #337926 by Shellhead
I feel that games with a fixed number of rounds have some greater priority than fun, and tend to be the sort of work-like process activities that don't match up with my idea of a game. But I am heavily biased in favor of games that simulate a sort of narrative. This happened, and then that happened, and it's like the twists and turns of an engaging story.

At the other extreme, a game without a reasonable trigger for the ending is potentially a game that can outlast its welcome, possibly by a lot. Ideally all the players are working towards goals that will bring about the end of the game, but a contrary player might drag things out instead, especially if his own strategy would benefit from a much longer game.

My own preference is for a game with a variable trigger. The game will end at some point due to a built-in event or process with the game, but it is not completely clear when that trigger will occur. Or even better, the game can end even sooner if a player accomplishes a certain goal before that default end game trigger arises.
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20 Jan 2023 13:25 - 22 Jan 2023 13:37 #337933 by southernman
On a slight tangent, but following on from Mike's preference for a variable trigger, one of the best end conditions I have experienced is in the classic PBM/PBEM game Starweb by Flying Buffalo Inc. Here all players sent in a VP end score, within a certain range, and then this was averaged out - and because it is a computer moderated game it was secret.

So, how could this be done in a board/card game ?
One idea I had was all players get an identical set of cards with different values on them, say 1-5 just as an example, and they all secretly choose one to make a timer deck with the rest of the cards hidden away.
The timer deck is now shuffled and placed face down and the top card turned over at the start of the game.
Then a number of turns equal to the card number is played and when the last turn is played the next card is turned over, with now that many turns played.
You work your way through the deck playing game rounds, always with some limited knowledge of how long is left in the game.

Just my 2 cents to get minds whirring ;)
Last edit: 22 Jan 2023 13:37 by southernman.
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21 Jan 2023 09:20 #337940 by Sagrilarus

Shellhead wrote: I feel that games with a fixed number of rounds have some greater priority than fun,


I'm not sure I agree with that. I think some designs work well with a fixed length (El Grande is an example) where the narrative ending is set in stone, and each player needs to work their options to time their completion to match. It's a project plan with a fixed end-date. That immovable wall coming towards you sets your goals pretty firmly in mind.

I think other aspects of design come into the picture to decide what's appropriate.

Personally, I find the last three minutes of every basketball and football game a complete slog because one of the two teams (in spite of being 24 points down) finds it necessary to extend the game as long as possible in the forlorn hope of magically finding the 25 points to win with.

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25 Jan 2023 15:07 #338010 by Jexik
Fixed length games kinda annoy me most of the time, but it could be because of other design decisions those games tend to make. I tend to prefer races to X points or games that don’t have points at all.

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25 Jan 2023 16:39 #338014 by Shellhead
The compelling narrative in El Grande: A story of knights wandering around for nine turns, er chapters. The End.

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