Variant: Handling the Kobayashi Maru
I’m a big proponent of the come-from-behind victory. Even when I’m last in the pack, I’ll fight tooth and nail to get up to the lead, or at least as close to the lead as possible. I’ve played with a lot of folks and have known a few to find themselves in a difficult position and then give up. That is anathema to me because you very rarely know that you are going to lose. Yes, you may have a setback, but most games have ways for you to make up any loss.
Well, I recently played a game of Seasons where this was absolutely not the case. It was my first two player game and things are a little different. Attack cards can be more or less hostile (Kairn the Destroyer, for example, is not as good). And the initial draft was fairly punishing. My goal was to put out several potions and then hit a few big point cards later in the game. The draft was relatively bereft of utility cards (especially those that gained or changed energy), but I figured I could draw and get more if needed.
Sadly, things did not work out that way. I relied on luck, and luck let me down. The dice rarely came out with the resources I needed, and my few card draws resulted in less than helpful items. By the end of the second year (of three), I had only five or six cards out while my opponent had twelve. With double the cards, he was simply more capable and was able to play and draw even more.
I knew then that I was going to lose and lose hard. It was patently obvious, and there wasn’t enough time to make up the gap between us. So, what to do? I did two things. First, I played riskier than I was wont to; I drew extra cards in the hope that something might come into my hand that was useful. Second, I chose the dice that would make the game longer – hoping to give myself additional time to narrow the score.
Afterwards, we talked about the game and I acknowledged my errors. A few cards in the initial draft could have helped significantly, but I had no desire to walk away just because it was apparent that victory would not be mine. At a minimum, my opponent played well and deserved to see his plan achieved through game end. Pulling out or quitting would have been both disrespectful and disappointing for my friend.
Of course, I’ve ended games early when another player wasn’t having fun, and there are a million exceptions that could be made based on the situation. But, I think the general rule should be to allow the game to finish. Fight hard, and lose with honor!