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"Game Designers - do you usually win your own games?" Topic

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855 hits since 5 Oct 2017
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Darrell B D Day05 Oct 2017 1:29 a.m. PST

As someone who has had a hand in the design of several games including one that was entirely my own creation, I'm always puzzled at how bad I am when playing my own games against other people. Since I designed the whole thing, shouldn't I know the best ways to win it?

What's the experience of others?


Black Hat Miniatures05 Oct 2017 2:00 a.m. PST

No, I rarely win at Martian Empires….


Sho Boki05 Oct 2017 3:11 a.m. PST

Of course not.
Until there are dices involved, nothing is guaranteed.

UshCha05 Oct 2017 3:54 a.m. PST

Certainly in my games, its a simulation, so die while present, they are not the dominating factor. I reality I am not the best general, I make mistakes and have a nasty tendency to lose site of the main objective and go for short term gains which is bad. So though I do win on occation I proably lose a bit more than I win. However I love the callenge win or lose. The system works how I want it too and I lose to a better player or win because I got it right.

Personal logo sillypoint Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 4:40 a.m. PST

I take the casino's approach. Let the punters win (their first few games, at least), and they will come back. 😜

advocate Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 4:44 a.m. PST

A related question would be: "Do the other players correct you with respect to the rules"?

Decebalus05 Oct 2017 4:48 a.m. PST

I mostly loose at my own game. Maybe it is becuase i usually focus on the big picture, where as my opponent maximizes the strategy to win.

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 5:10 a.m. PST

Ain't won Tanga yet…

And while I may inwardly groan about questions/errata…they are necessary, so I do appreciate them…after I get done filling in the holes I punched in m wall when I get home! wink

advocate Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 5:38 a.m. PST

Andrew, questions/errata are one thing – any work of a decent size might expect them. I was really referring to in-game instances where the players seem to know the rules (in some part) better than the writer themselves.

TGerritsen05 Oct 2017 6:46 a.m. PST

I think it's a good sign when you lose your own game- as it shows that other players grasp the rules and the tactics involved within those rules to defeat you.

If you win all the time, I think it's a sign that your game isn''t accessible enough to your audience for a player to really start formulating adequate strategies against you.

Dn Jackson05 Oct 2017 6:53 a.m. PST

Win some, lose some. As long as we have fun I don't care.

Ottoathome Inactive Member05 Oct 2017 7:04 a.m. PST

I am almost invariably the GM and he ref, and I provide dinner so I'm the cook and the bartender as well so I rarely play. In the few times I HAVE gotten to play (maybe one game in twenty) I get creamed…. badly

Don't mind. My friends had fun.

I have fun with my friends.

In fact I rarely win even when I'm NOT playing my own game.
Then I REALLY get creamed.

whitejamest05 Oct 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

I think sometimes what happens is a game designer has a certain view of how the action should be playing out, and what tactics the system should reward, as he is designing. But then in the actual rules produced, the reality is a little different, and someone who had no role in the designing phase can see more objectively what is rewarded and what is punished.

This is especially true if the game designer is really in love with a particular historical period his rules are meant to simulate. He supplies in his mind a whole package of historical thinking that isn't actually baked into the rules, and his players do not.

Madan Mitra05 Oct 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

Just finished a play test run of my new Harry Potter Quidditch game… my son beat me 71 to 0… time for me to put the kettle on methinks.

jefritrout05 Oct 2017 7:34 a.m. PST

In truth, I do tend to win the game that I have published, mostly against the other game designers, but sometimes against others. It is always interesting to see how different players utilize different strategies that I would never even consider. Some of them are quite good. Granted I tend to win more than my fair share of games, but so I'm not sure that this is a good measure of the game's strategies. In fact, when I GM my games, I tend to only offer guidance for the first 5 turns or so. (The game tends to run 25 to 28 turns in about 2 and a half hours. With experienced players we can do the full 30-34 in two hours.)

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

I wrote a set of intro rules back in 1998, played them for 5 years with my sons, and the public. Just recently got back into them.

Q1: No, I often lose, but my rules are heavily dependent upon the dice, so no surprise there.

Q2: It's been so long, I did not re-read my entire book, so, yes, my sons corrected me on some rules. I've also been adding/expanding them in my head, which further blurs my memory of the rules, as written/taught to my sons… Cheers!

Pizzagrenadier05 Oct 2017 10:37 a.m. PST

I co-authored the original Disposable Heroes & Coffin for Seven Brothers WWII system over a dozen years ago. When playing that system, winning was very hit or miss with me. It all depended on my tactical timing. Sometimes it was good others… not so much.

This past year I wrote and developed Disposable Heroes II which was built more from the ground up by me, so I think that's why my winning odds have improved some. I feel like my tactical finesse and timing is better. Probably because I wrote more of the system myself and it was built on everything I had learned about game design over those dozen years.

I still lose because I'm too aggressive though…

rmaker05 Oct 2017 10:39 a.m. PST


138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 11:18 a.m. PST

Based upon my experience and working with a number of game designers over the years; No.

RudyNelson05 Oct 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

If you are trying to get new players or people to buy your game then no not always.
If playtesting then you will win more often than not.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 11:54 a.m. PST

If I'm the game designer and the scenario works as intended, regardless the final disposition of victory conditions, I won the game.

Toaster05 Oct 2017 12:40 p.m. PST

I've know some game designers who prefer the let the fans have first crack at answering rules queries online because they have a tendency to get confused over which ideas made it through playtest and which didn't. I would suspect that the same mechanism could cause problems when playing as well.


Andy ONeill05 Oct 2017 2:28 p.m. PST

Yep, I try different variations and then forget what's in ye olde written version.
Now I think about it, I think I do better with other people's games.
Nowadays, I focus more on the craic than the game.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Oct 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

50/50- remembering the current rules is very challenging when one is writing the next set, or the one after.

Marshal Mark06 Oct 2017 12:56 p.m. PST

Yes, I win more often than not. Although I would usually take it easy on someone I am teaching the rules, sometimes deliberately playing badly to keep them in the game.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Oct 2017 3:05 p.m. PST

I actually had to think about this one for a bit. The designer of a game might do better in a game whose rules were so lengthy or convoluted that superior knowledge of them constituted an advantage, however . . .

1. I don't write games like that.
2. I'm not usually playing in the games I attend, since my hobby consists primarily of designing games and scenarios, and running them for others, and
3. When I do play, I'm not "playing to win". I always try to play well, but the purpose of playing is to spin out the scenario's narrative, not to achieve some arbitrary "victory" measured in enemy casualties or victory points. The group with which I do most of my gaming all play the same way. We often remember and reminisce about situations or events in past games, but I seldom remember who "won" . . . if, indeed, a winner was ever determined. Many of our games are indecisive, as were many historical battles, and we tend to talk about them in terms of to what degree players' goals were accomplished, in what style, and at what cost.

UshCha07 Oct 2017 11:24 a.m. PST

Absolutely a game is poor if you can win simply by being the designer. The competent player should not be hindered by the rules.

Great War Ace Inactive Member08 Oct 2017 2:24 p.m. PST

I would win far more often than I lose, if the dice played me fair. My tactical knowhow and experience go right down the drain on many occasions because of perverse dice rolls.

John Michael Priest08 Oct 2017 5:38 p.m. PST


Russ Lockwood09 Oct 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

When I play Snappy Nappy, I can usually give as good as I get, but then again, past performance doesn't guarantee future results. :)

Wolfhag14 Oct 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

I lost another one. The pre-game intel was the Russians knew the Germans had up to 6 anti-tank guns set up. The German had a hasty defense so no minefields, range marks or concrete structures,

I had 4x anti-tank guns set up to ambush 6 T-34/85's using hidden setup located at the edge of woods. They were on the opposite side of the woods from the direction he was advancing with no LOS. The idea was to let him bypass me and then ambush and hit him from the rear. This is clearly a superior strategy, I can't lose.

As he advanced he did not detect any guns on his side of the woods. He guessed they were on the opposite side. He then moved his tanks carefully around skirting the edge of the woods. He was able to detect and flank two of them at 20 meters. The tanks were out of the guns FOF and the T-34 just overran them and the crew. The third one he spotted at 200 meters and rotated his turret to it to shoot but I didn't really take notice as I wanted to wait for other tanks to come into view. His first shot took it out. The fourth gun got a shot off taking out a T-34 but another one spotted it and hit with the first shot.

I thought I had a perfect anti-tank ambush set up but the entire thing backfired on me. This is the third time this player has played the game and he is 2-0 against me.


grogbro Inactive Member15 Oct 2017 6:14 a.m. PST

I lose all the time as my own game Dwarves of Iron Peak :)

Thomas Thomas17 Oct 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

While playing designers spend most of their mental energy contemplating the rules. What's working and what needs tweeking. Next thing you know pesky new player has dashed around your flank and ended your need for further pondering.

I do much better with my long term designs like Combat Command which has been stable (mostly) for some time. New designs though are quite another matter. In Combat Command most of the playtesting involves trying to balanceing army lists, so I try and do as well as I can to make sure my force gets a fair chance. It also helps that even at cons lots of people have already played or have a copy of the rules so that I'm not always teaching the rules to all the players.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame and Glory Games

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