Shellhead wrote: Great points, Legomancer. I personally also dislike games that maintain an artificially close score by punishing leaders and rewarding laggards. There is something to be said for allowing a frontrunner to enjoy the feeling for awhile, but not the entire game such that everybody else is left feeling like a loser the whole time.
But how does that "not the entire game" part get implemented?
So in a game like Crokinole or Bridge, each round is completely separate from the rounds that preceded it. You start again. In games like this you can be getting shellacked at the end of round 3 but then have a great round 4 and climb your way out of the hole. You can stage a comeback because there's no dependency on the prior game state that can keep you down. You might get crushed, but even if you're way down in the score there's still the hope that you'll get dealt a couple of good hands or make two incredible shots and start to regain some presence on the scoreboard.
Is there a catch-up mechanism? Nope. No need for one.
Both of those titles are more than a century old.
Enter modern game design. Engine building. The designer has made a conscious choice to build an dependency between each round of the game on its predecessors. Feels interesting to play. But it introduces a big-ass problem, because someone that gets rolling better than everyone else can stomp on their opponents by outspending or outbuilding them. This is the part of capitalism reality that we've all decided sucks, and we're choosing to bring it to gaming.[/quote
One of the "fixes" for that engine getting going and being too strong, is to artificially adjust the value of the non-rolling strategic options in the design process so it just looks like it hasn't happened during the game or at the end.