Variant: Does a Shared Victory Cheapen the Win?
Not too long ago, I shared a victory in Dominion. My opponent looked for the tie breaker, which is whoever had fewer turns. We had had equal turns, so we looked on. That’s the sole tiebreaker. Other than that, all remaining tied players share in the victory. My opponent turned to me and exclaimed: “Lame!”
Lame? Is there something wrong with sharing the victory? Probably not. I think only the most cutthroat would insist that a shared victory is no victory at all. But something that might see a little more separation is this: does a shared victory cheapen that victory? Is a shared victory worth less than a solo victory?
Some games go to great lengths to ensure a single, solitary winner. Brass, for example, has several tie breakers. If all categories are still tied, then it reverts to turn order as a final tiebreaker to determine the winner. In that game, there will be a single winner. Other games, like Dominion, don’t encourage tied victories, but certainly allow them. Then there are games such as Cosmic Encounter, where tied victories are far more achievable and encouraged. And I cannot tell you how many plays of Munchkin ended because an elf teamed up with someone to win a shared victory.
I’m firmly in the “shared victories are just as good as solo victories” camp. Part of the reason is that I genuinely care very little about who wins the game. Obviously I like to win, and I try my darnedest to win. But if someone else beats me to the finish line, I don’t mind. The game play is what I find engaging and enjoyable. The winning is almost superfluous. So it’s easy for me to say having two opponents team up to win is no better or worse than one opponent achieving it on his or her own.
In speaking with my friend, the counter argument seems to be that, if your opponents team up against you, it would be naturally easier for them to assure the win. Therefore, a shared victory is “cheap” and unworthy of real celebration. But in Cosmic Encounter or even Munchkin, there is a good deal of diplomacy and negotiation that goes along with the game. That’s a critical part of the game. So if you neglect that part, you shouldn’t begrudge your opponents who don’t. It would be akin to trying to win Dominion without buying Provinces. Can it be done? Sure. Is it harder? Absolutely. Essentially you’re just ignoring an aspect of the game and trying to win it with your preferred strategy. Next time, engage in a little more negotiation and see if you can get on board the winning coalition.
Of course, if you do pull off that solo victory (or that non-province win), you may have bragging rights. It may even go down in the annals where your group says, “Hey, remember that one game where …” And that can be great, too. But I don’t think there’s anything particularly “less than” about a shared victory.
What say you? Is a shared win less than a solo victory?