Viceroy63 wrote:Mr Changsha wrote:macbone wrote:Mr Changsha, I'm impressed if you can manage a 50% win rate on 6+ Terminator/Standard. Very impressive. I'm probably 25% at 6-player Term/Standard Escalating, better than average, but clearly not dominating.
Vice, you're going to have to provide some more concrete examples if you're going to diss Escalating, man. =)
I agree that Flat Rate and No Spoils are more strategic, though. On Classic-style maps, the map itself doesn't matter so much, and it's pretty much a waiting game - build your stacks, collect a card each round, and wait for the right time to eliminate another player.
Actually, I find the missed kills part of the fun of the setting, a feature rather than a flaw. I think we've all been there where we had a 98% chance of winning the dice battle and then coming up just short of the goal, or going for a 3v3 for an elimination and just making it.
With No Spoils and Flat Rate, the bonuses become much more important, although again one principle seems to be most important, find your spot, secure it, and push out from there. You trade the stack strategy of Escalating for the shield/creeper strategy of No Spoils/Flat Rate.
Like Vice says, though, No Spoils/Flat Rate leads to longer games, and players need to be wilier to win. Escalating is all about positioning and a quick finish, which are skills in their own right (and more enjoyable to me) Each setting requires its own set of skills to win.
Flat Rate adds a wrinkle of randomness with the different values of sets, and it's no fun to hold all reds and greens on your team when your opponents are cashing rainbows all over the place, but that's one quirk of the setting.
No Spoils seems to be more about securing your position first, and standard No Spoils relies much more heavily on diplomacy than Escalating does. If you have cool players in the game, the Escalating chat can be a lot of fun, but very little diplomacy goes on in it. There are exceptions, yes, particularly in Trench (right, vice?), but in non-trench play, the majority of diplomacy-based chat in an Escalating game is "Can I have a card spot?" Again, there are exceptions, such as when one player gets greedy and the other players pitch in to break his bonus (and usually a third player sneaks out the win), or when Larry is threatened with elimination by Curly, so Moe hits Curly's stack. There is strategy involved, and you have to read the board to know who's going to make their move, but the middle of the game is generally pretty dry.
I'm playing a game with Viceroy right now, 4-team doubs, Trench, and No Spoils that's turned out to be pretty strategic. I wasn't a fan of the settings before we started playing, but it's developed into an interesting back-and-forth battle, far deeper than most two-team or large player Standard/Escalating games generally run.
Still, I prefer large-player Escalating games. I like the rush at the end of running the table, the agony of just missing an elimination, the joy at logging on and finding I've survived an elimination attempt, or better yet, am poised to take advantage of someone else's missed play. No Spoils/Flat Rate/Nuclear large-player games drag on too long for my taste, but I can understand their appeal.
A well-played 8 man standard no cards on 2.1 is a joy. At its best it is 3 contenders and 5 honest stripers. The skill is in reading the board, reading the play-style of the stripers, manipulating the stripers through either positioning, attacks or diplomacy and timing your surge perfectly to create either a 42%+ troops sweep or a 3 way finish which starts seriously out of balance and can hopefully be manipulated.
Playing against 7 strong players with a 100 round limit is something I am currently experimenting with. Is it possible to win 50%? Very, very hard when your opponents are regular ones and used to one's tricks.
While these kinds of game do sometimes stalemate genuinely, I think at other times weaker players see a stalemate where there really isn't one. Possibly the position of the stacking is more profound than you realise? Might two players combine on one quite ruthelessly to break the stalemate with the spoils divided in advance? High ranking games are much better when all the players are well-aware of each other, as the prospect of truly evil deals (a+b combine to kill c, then d, then fight it out..a form of diplomacy I encourage in my games) increases, stalemates happen much less, and the real CUNNING BASTARD is able to prosper.
I do have to agree with Macbone that it is exhilarating logging on to learn that you have the opportunity to win the game but it is also heart breaking when at a crucial moment the dice go against you and you can't win because of one troop still standing (actually you would stop way before then) and some one else goes on to win because of your failed attempt. It's that element of the dice that leads me onto Trench Warfare games.
While the element of the dice is still in TW games, it is not as sudden or as apparent or that much of a deciding factor in your wins or loses as it is in the Standard Escalating Game. There is also a more steady stream of decisions (Strategy) that determines the eventual outcome of the TW game that I truly appreciate. Those who make the more poorer decisions will more likely lose regardless of the dice. And in the end that is what TW games comes down to. The decisions made on the turn and why. Each situation is unique but if the decisions are good ones then you more likely end up winning because of the decisions and not because of the dice.
Mr. Changsha's comment)
I also have to say that I admire Mr. Changsha's thoughts when it comes to 8 player standard. I especially agree with the part about, "...the prospect of truly evil deals (a+b combine to kill c, then d, then fight it out..a form of diplomacy I encourage in my games) increases, stalemates happen much less, and the real CUNNING BASTARD is able to prosper." Spoken like a true 'CUNNING BASTARD' after my own heart. (LOL) =)
But seriously though, I also encourage that tie breaking strategy only I prefer to think of it as an alliance right from the start of or at some point in the mid game rather than at the end unless it is absolutely necessary. Other wise I fight against both other players (stronger one first) until some one gives, lol.
When that strategy is applied at the end (when only 3 players are left), when a tied situation looks like it's about to form, it is more dangerous then because the third party can then decide who wins the game by simply focusing on just one of the players giving the other player the winning advantage. At least that is what I do when I am the third party. I normally would focus on who ever had that thought first.
But in an alliance situation right from the start or mid game, I am just basically committing myself to that player that I will only attack him at the end after every one is gone and eliminated. That makes for a clearer understanding to everyone else in the game, during the whole game. Although I do find that others tend to shy away from that word, "Alliance." .
I also find that players who want to win so badly, will often announce the end of the alliance in order to gain the advantage, especially in a losing sided alliance. But that is basically the suggestion right from the start. We make an alliance and the better player wins at the end. It's a 50/50 proposition of winning or losing but no tie situation will arise or any reason to focus on just one of the two players at the end.
Regardless of what it's called, good communication is required though even in an alliance. People confuse alliance with truce, and I see a truce as a temporary situation that can be broken at any point in the game like dumping a date, lol. Where an alliance is more of a commitment, a marriage or a promise till the end. "May the better player win," and then you set about your game and see what happens. And if you lose you lose but you at least have a 50/50 shot at winning. And that to me is the best way to increase your winning odds. If you can find players of like mind that is?
I choose my opposition very carefully for my private standard games to try and ensure an open, interesting game.
These days that means a combination of real-life friends who have over the years bought into my philosophy of standard play and some players from the wider CC world who have impressed me with their willingness to be brutal in their attacks and diplomacy, yet (and this is absolutely key) are unlikely to suicide IF the play is more vindictive than they are used to.
Alliances in these games form extremely easily. Two players surge away early and they will more than likely form a non-aggression pact..and this is absolutely reasonable. The rest of the board will unite - probably 3-4 who are theoretically still in it - and combine 2 on 1 to deal with the non-aggression pact. That doesn't mean everyone throws like mad on round 33, but it does mean that stacks are positioned, positions are chipped away at and the top 2 are aware that not only do they have to face each other in the end, but that each also has to deal with minor power alliances.
What I find most interesting is that after a number of these types of games players become aware of each other's styles. Niggling annoyances and vendettas transfer over to new games, rivalries develop over many games regardless of the position. Some players are more likely to seek alliances with other players and less with others. These days, if I see agent 86 and potager1 form up as neighbours then I KNOW there will be a nasty fight, there always is, and I can strategise accordingly. Players like 86 and scholtz know my play so well, and I theirs, that it is incredibly difficult to trick them...though I try. Finally, I know of no other standard games I have played where it is possible in a reliable way to form up 3 or 4 players into an attack pattern, set their routes, lay the orders (rather like one would in a trips) and prosecute against a game leader or two, I also know of no other in which I am so nervous of pushing for a sweep, as I know that 3 or 4 players will immediately form up under someone's direction and, team game style, do their best to wreck my chances.
I would point out that my roughly 50% goal is applicable to public games and not these private ones. I would be very happy with a 30% win rate over time against this standard of opposition..very happy indeed. But I don't set them up exclusively to win (though of course I like to), but rather to create a really well-played game that everyone enjoys.
The round limit has made all of this possible. I gave up on my favourite form back in 2010 as I find it absolutely gut-wrenching to see games stalemate around round 70. Round limits are not perfect and I know everyone wants to avoid the game coming down to it (it is rather akin to a penalty shoot out in that a win will always be somewhat tainted), but they mean that players have to really try and prosecute their victory if they can, and also try to work out how they will be positioned around round 90 to see if they can come out on top on round 100.