Variant: How Many Losers Does the Game Produce?
The game is over and the winner is declared. Time to move on to the next game. Or, that’s how I usually like to play it, but a friend and I got into an interesting discussion about who the “loser” was in the game. Of course, I insisted that it really isn’t about winning or losing and recited that oft quoted message from Knizia. He agreed in principle, but persisted in asking, “Who lost?”
I am of the opinion that there is only one winner (unless the game allows for a shared victory). And, if there is only one winner, the corollary must be that everyone else lost the game. There’s no shame in losing – goodness know that I lose more than I win, but I think that is the fair assessment.
To him, though, he was only truly a “loser” if he ended up in last place. Speaking of games with victory points, he noted that there is one winner and one loser. The rest of the players are in a middling area where they didn’t win, but also weren’t the “loser.” While that’s really a semantic distinction, I was fascinated by the implications for gameplay.
For me, since there is only one winner, I feel like if I’m trailing at all – even if I’m in second place – it’s go big or go home time. I’ll try a gambit that, if successful makes me win, but if it fails I might lose everything. I don’t win in either position so it’s the logical step, but my friend would not try such a gambit (well, depending on the risk, of course). He would rather be in the middle limbo of victory than fall and be the true loser. In essence, then, he is happy to play for position.
So now I’m interested in how many losers each game produces. One, or all but the winner? And how does that impact your gameplay?