Author Topic: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better  (Read 9190 times)

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Miss Understood

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #45 on: December 26, 2013, 02:54:37 PM »
OP, I think you could do this several different ways. some would involve changing the rules of the game a little, so if that would be unacceptable to the group, don't change.

**Play more than one game, with good player switching teams.

**have enough players on the team so that each person gets a category to answer. Good player can only answer for his/her category.

**play cash cab style, each person gets a set number of "street shout outs" where they can ask for help on the question from everyone, and they get a set number of "call a friend"  where they can ask a specific person for help.

**Good player has to answer TWO questions in order to earn a pie slice. (or more, depending on how good they are.)

**If good player knows they are very good at the game, wants to answer questions and not be given a perfunctory job, have him/her answer the question on a white board/note card. When answer has been said, see if  good player has the correct answer. you can give "points" to that team. (so good player is playing for both sides.....when the game is over, the points can be for a special prize, going first next game, prime seating, extra drinks, etc. so even the losing team has a chance at "winning").

I think if it's a casual group, you can come up with a solution, you just need to get creative.

I like all these ideas.  The problem with this particular game (Trivial Pursuit) is that if you play by the normal rules, then the "trivia whiz" will often have one long continuous turn until s/he or his/her team wins and the game is over.  I have no problem losing, but it's no fun to play a game where some players never get a turn to play at all.  I do think it would be rude to ask the good player to bow out though - the problem can be solved with a little creativity as suggested by tinkytinky and other PPs.

DH and I are fairly well-matched in TP, but he is better at some categories and I am better at others.  We have a rule that for the "final question" that would give one of us the win, the other person gets to pick the question from the next card based on which one we think would be hardest for the other person to answer.  It adds a little bit of extra strategy to the end game and it's fun to see how well we can predict each other's correct responses.

cwm

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #46 on: December 26, 2013, 03:25:58 PM »
I had a nice long post and erased it all because it was coming out all wrong.

What if someone was really good at a strategy game like chess? What if the activity in question was a physical game like horseshoes or pool? What if it was poker? Would all of these answers still apply?

As I said before, I've lost the past five trivia-based games I've played. That represents to me a year's worth of games. I have not won an individual-based (not team-based) trivia game in over a year. At least three of those games I was in dead last place. People still tell me I'm too good and they won't play if I'm playing. Why should my reputation mean I have special rules applied when my actual record is telling a different story?

I completely understand if someone won't play a trivia game that's specifically suited to my knowledge sets. That's fine. I have a few people who will challenge me in Star Wars Trivial Pursuits, and I've got one friend who is willing to play against me in the Lord of the Rings trivia game I just got. I would give myself a handicap in those games if I was playing against someone who hadn't spent years obsessing over those things like I had, but those people won't even entertain the notion of playing against me.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #47 on: December 26, 2013, 04:22:57 PM »
If one person is better at another in chess, I think the good player should help the not so good player with their game, unless it's a tournament. Such as pointing out traps or if the player makes a stupid move that leads to the loss of a piece "Are you sure you want to do that? You might want to save your queen from my knight instead".

Chess is a game that works even better with two good players. Helping someone less experienced with their game works to your own advantage. The same can be said about pool (the trick is how hard to hit the ball and being able to hit it where you want it) and poker (play an open hand). Not sure about horseshoes.

Two of my favourite games are Lords of Waterdeep and Pandemic, birth very different. LoW is a resource management Eurogame which is quick to learn, hard to master. Pandemic is a cooperative game with lots of ways to lose and one way to win, it's us against the game.

Cherry91

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #48 on: December 30, 2013, 07:08:44 AM »
I've generally found that in activities where one person is quite a lot better than the rest of the group, but the current activity is just being done for fun, that the "better" member of the group will often "self handicap" - eg, I recently went bowling with my department, and the member of the group who bowls regularly teamed up with another member to alternate who bowled, insisting it was to make sure everyone got a turn, but it also had the bonus of making sure he wasn't miles ahead of the rest of the group.

Other ways I've seen people do this:
- Get "distracted" when it was their turn and make a bad shot
- Offer to get more drinks, saying "Oh just skip my turn"
- In games with forfeits, play deliberately badly for the fun of it.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 02:08:01 PM by Cherry91 »

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #49 on: December 30, 2013, 11:59:21 AM »
I used to love Trivial Pursuit.  So much so that with the original Genus cards, I probably had at least half the answers in all the categories memorized, more in Science and Geography.  And my brother would refuse to play with me.

It was fantastic when the Genus II version came out.  Everyone else got questions from the Genus boxes; I got questions from the Genus II boxes.  It made the game competitive.

I'm not a fan of self handicapping by deliberately playing badly.  If it is done as an alternating turn thing or having to answer 2 or 3 questions correctly, rather than just 1, or skipping a turn every third turn or something that is handicapping but not interferring with the participant's abilities, I'm OK with that.  I just couldn't bring myself to answer something incorrectly or not answer a question I did know the answer to.

A good way to make it more fun for everyone is to choose games where there is an element of chance and if there is partnering involved, try to partner a good player with one who is still learning.  I find card games really good for this.  Euchre, Hearts, Spades, for example.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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siamesecat2965

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #50 on: December 30, 2013, 03:46:26 PM »
I will rein myself in when playing Words With Friends. When I first started playing last Christmas, I stunk. But the more I played, the better I got, and got to the point where I beat several friends by a lot. I still lose to a couple, some we are equal in the win/loss category, but there are still a couple who have yet to win against me, but what I'll do, so as not to make them feel bad, and quit, is if I see i can do a super duper big score word, or a small one, and I'm already leading, I'll play the small word. I don't find it fun when I'm leading by 200+ points each and every game.

blarg314

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #51 on: December 30, 2013, 09:09:35 PM »

I like the idea of a handicap for the top player. They can still play, but it evens out the playing field a bit. For trivia in a group, maybe they can only answer every second question, for single play, maybe a limit on the number of right answers in a row, or they need to do two right questions instead of one.

Banning them from play is pretty mean - if you're inviting people to an event, you should be ready to let them participate. And dropping someone from an invite list because they always win is kind of petty. If they always win and are a complete snot about it, that's a different thing.

I'm pretty good at word games - not competition level, but generally better than most of my friends and family. But for me, deliberately playing badly is not fun at all. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with high scoring words and good placements. In general, I play games to win, and enjoy the competition, but I don't care who actually wins at the end. My husband and I play scrabble without keeping score, because the differential is so big (he's not a native speaker).

wolfie

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #52 on: December 30, 2013, 09:39:26 PM »
I like all these ideas.  The problem with this particular game (Trivial Pursuit) is that if you play by the normal rules, then the "trivia whiz" will often have one long continuous turn until s/he or his/her team wins and the game is over.  I have no problem losing, but it's no fun to play a game where some players never get a turn to play at all.

Our solution to that was that you never get two turns in a row. If you win you get your piece or you get to move forward but you don't get to go again. nothing is more boring the sitting for half an hour watching other people play because you don't get a turn until they lose.

I know the point is being with friends, but games really aren't any fun if you have no chance at all in winning. For my game nights we are all evenly matched, with one friend being slightly ahead. But he doesn't always win and everyone has won at some point or another so it is fun. I was once at a game night where I was 1000% worse then everyone there. We were playing boggle. Everyone else was at 200 points - I was happy to break double digits and get to 12. I declined to play a third round because it really wasn't fun for me anymore. I can see not wanting to play a game when you go in knowing you are going to lose.

LadyR

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #53 on: December 31, 2013, 08:44:38 AM »
This came up over Christmas as we were playing  Timeline (which involves organizing events by date) for the first time. I gave a History degree and we all found it gave me a serious advantage (will have to play head to head with my one BIL, the history teacher) so I just gave myself a handicap to make it more fair.


lowspark

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #54 on: December 31, 2013, 09:13:44 AM »
I like all these ideas.  The problem with this particular game (Trivial Pursuit) is that if you play by the normal rules, then the "trivia whiz" will often have one long continuous turn until s/he or his/her team wins and the game is over.  I have no problem losing, but it's no fun to play a game where some players never get a turn to play at all.

Our solution to that was that you never get two turns in a row. If you win you get your piece or you get to move forward but you don't get to go again. nothing is more boring the sitting for half an hour watching other people play because you don't get a turn until they lose.

I know the point is being with friends, but games really aren't any fun if you have no chance at all in winning. For my game nights we are all evenly matched, with one friend being slightly ahead. But he doesn't always win and everyone has won at some point or another so it is fun. I was once at a game night where I was 1000% worse then everyone there. We were playing boggle. Everyone else was at 200 points - I was happy to break double digits and get to 12. I declined to play a third round because it really wasn't fun for me anymore. I can see not wanting to play a game when you go in knowing you are going to lose.

Regarding the bolded above, as one who is fairly competitive and (mostly) good at games (well, certain kinds of games, anyway) I couldn't agree more. Which is why I think a handicap is fine but deliberately holding back or trying to lose wouldn't be fun. At all.

I was having a conversation with a colleague at work once a long time ago when my kids were fairly young and he was shocked to find out I didn't let my kids win when we played games. Where's the fun in that? For either the kids or for me? We played games which were at their level. That gave me no advantage as they were just as able to play those kinds of games as I was. When they won, they knew they'd really won - they'd earned the win. Much more satisfying than if I'd let them win.

Just as it's no fun playing a game knowing you're going to lose, it's not much fun playing knowing you're going to win either. The fun of the game (to me) is the competition and striving for the win.

My suggestion for the OP or anyone else in this situation is to find new games which are more condusive to your particular group's diversity and talents. There a zillions of games out there. Don't be limited by what's at the local Target or bookstore. Search the internet. There are sites out there which review games in addition to lots of youtube videos where people review and explain games so that you can make a somewhat informed decision before buying. Expand your horizons beyond Trivial Pursuit, a game which I still love and we still play, but not all that often anymore since it's in the mix of the dozens of others we now play and love.

By the way, both of my sons, who are now adults, still love to play games. They take losing graciously but we all love to win!

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #55 on: January 01, 2014, 04:38:27 AM »
Where one player is much better than the others, it can limit the others' participation in the game (and thus, the others' enjoyment). This can range from a board game like Trivial Pursuit, where the superior player takes up 90% of the game time, to backyard cricket where the superior player is batting, and never gets "out", meaning that no one else gets a turn at bat. In this case, I think the superior player can stray into rude territory.

Basically, it's not much fun for the others, if most of the game time is spent merely sitting back and watching the superior player do their thing.

While I agree that excluding the superior player altogether is rude, I do think it's ok for the rules to be changed to make the playing field more even. Ideally, the superior player should offer to self-handicap. But if they don't, I think it's not rude for the other players to suggest that the superior player takes a handicap of some sort.


sweetonsno

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #56 on: January 01, 2014, 02:21:36 PM »
Where one player is much better than the others, it can limit the others' participation in the game (and thus, the others' enjoyment). This can range from a board game like Trivial Pursuit, where the superior player takes up 90% of the game time, to backyard cricket where the superior player is batting, and never gets "out", meaning that no one else gets a turn at bat. In this case, I think the superior player can stray into rude territory.

Basically, it's not much fun for the others, if most of the game time is spent merely sitting back and watching the superior player do their thing.

While I agree that excluding the superior player altogether is rude, I do think it's ok for the rules to be changed to make the playing field more even. Ideally, the superior player should offer to self-handicap. But if they don't, I think it's not rude for the other players to suggest that the superior player takes a handicap of some sort.

As a major proponent of fairness, I think the handicap works only if it applies to all players. For instance, in Trivial Pursuit, put a cap on the number of answers anyone can answer per turn (2 or 3, maybe). More likely than not, only the trivia nut will hit the cap every turn, but if the goal is to give everyone a chance to win and maximize the amount everyone can play, it makes sense to apply it evenly. Even players who are great at a game want a chance at winning. I'm a total word nerd and usually do great at Words with Friends. Once opponent clearly started using a cheating app. I quit.

blarg314

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #57 on: January 01, 2014, 07:17:45 PM »

Basically, it's not much fun for the others, if most of the game time is spent merely sitting back and watching the superior player do their thing.


As a major proponent of fairness, I think the handicap works only if it applies to all players.
[/quote]

It depends on the type of game and handicap. A 3 turn limit for something like cricket or Trivial Pursuit works fine, but a tennis tournament handicap like using their off hand, or a chess handicap, has to be something that only affects the stronger player.

But yeah, if a game turns into watching one person do something, it's not much fun for anyone, any more than playing a game where you don't get to do anything. I decline to play softball with anyone who takes it seriously for that reason - when I try, it ends up being lots of time spent standing in right field, interspersed with missing balls (because I can't run fast enough or throw hard enough to actually be useful in right field) and swinging three times and getting struck out.


blarg314

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #58 on: January 01, 2014, 07:20:33 PM »

As an aside - I ended up throwing out my trivia games. The questions are so culturally specific, that it is impossible to actually play the game in my social circle. As kids, we developed the dead president rule - any questions involving dead US presidents are null and void - to balance the History and People/Places categories.

Allyson

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Re: Competitive Group Activities when one person is significantly better
« Reply #59 on: January 01, 2014, 08:03:14 PM »
I think once a board game night starts making people upset and grumpy, it's time to find a new activity. I am the least competitive person I know, and love board games, but there often seems to be some weird angst that goes on--nobody can agree on a game and the person who gets outvoted feels like they 'always' lose out, or the uber competitive person gets angry every time they get beaten, or something. I find these things often work better when there's a larger group and it's not expected for everyone to play any one game, or the opposite, where everybody knows ahead of time what will be played. So, "Let's have an Arkham Horror night" and if someone dislikes it, they don't have to come along rather than thinking 'oh cool, board games', not liking the one chosen,and having to either sit out or deal with something they dislike. I personally really dislike Pictionary and Cranium or anything like that, and would far rather sit out than play them, but I am pretty happy doing that so long as I get to do at least some of the fun stuff that evening!