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Author Topic: [GT Article] The Cons and Cons of Victory Points  (Read 1649 times)
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Gaming Trend Senior Member

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« on: August 30, 2013, 07:27:33 PM »

Great topic, Michael Ehr!

A victory point game that immediately comes to mind from reading the article is the Ascension card game, which I have played enjoyed regularly almost every week since the iOS version came out.  The winner is the player with the most points, and there are two sources of points in the game, one obvious and one that's harder to keep track of. 

The points you get from the "point pool" of the game from defeating monsters or using certain special cards are totalled up and always plainly displayed.  The other points come from the point values of each card you collect, and is nigh impossible to keep track of these points other than a vague "it feels like my opponent has been grabbing a lot of high-point Mechana constructs".

While I see the value in having some level of uncertainty in these point total games, in Ascension it does fairly frequently result in disappointing or anti-climactic endings: "Oh I lost?  I thought I was doing really well." or "Oh man, I lost by 50 points?  I had no idea this match wasn't even close."

Lords of Waterdeep handles the point race a little better, I think.  You still have your standard "race around the track" point total, but that hidden and uncertain secret point count seems better integrated into the gameplay.  You know your opponent has a hidden agenda based on their secret lord card, and so part of the game is trying to figure out which mission types are their specialty so you can thwart their plans.

Ticket to Ride, on the other hand, I think does the hidden points very poorly.  You know your opponents are trying to reach certain destinations, and part of the gameplay is trying to spot if an opponent is headed in a particular direction, but other than looking at how many new destination tickets they are drawing you don't have many tools to measure how successful your opponents are at any given moment.  Those anticlimactic endings of "oh wow, this match wasn't close at all" seem to happen far too often for me.
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2013, 10:43:35 PM »

Good article that brings up some very good points. However, I don't necessarily agree with this statement:
While to some extent the limits on song duration have to do with the physical printing of record singles back in the early days of the medium, board games have traditionally suffered from no such fixed or arbitrary restriction.

While I agree they don't have physical limitations, they are in a sense subject to time constraint/limitations. Design a boardgame based on a clear-cut victory that drags on-and-on for hours and you have a game that doesn't get to many gamers table often and consequently misses out on positive word of mouth advertising - an important thing in the very small, niche boardgame market. Not to mention that boardgame reviewers often write such games off as tedious. I do agree that with some card and boardgames the designers may have just been lazy, but more often than not I see victory points implemented to make the play time reasonable.

I tend to avoid victory point games in favor of those with clear-cut victories. Out of all the boardgames I own, only 4 rely on victory points. Those games range from good VP implementations (Vikings), to reasonable (Labyrinth the War on Terror and Warrior Knights), to awkward and tedious (Britannia.) IMO in order for a VP system to be considered a success it should be well integrated into the game, preferably in the way of play mechanics, but if not that then in the design/layout of the board. I agree with Pug that Lords of Waterdeep is a decent implementation of a VP system. I really like the VP integration in Vikings, because even though the VP is an accumulative track that encompasses the edge of the board, a player can use it as currency trading off being setback in the race to victory for being able to purchase the tile(s) you need to score well in a round.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 10:45:08 PM by kronovan » Logged
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