koontz1973 wrote:I am still at a loss here. How is having spoils increase after 100 going to stop stalemates? And are stalemates now an unaccepted part of the game? Players have always found ways round stalemates before, even Dukasaur in the OP has said in a game he was stalemated in got resolved.
Let me try to cover all those points.
How is having spoils increase after 100 going to stop stalemates?
Won't stop them, entirely. It should reduce them. At present, there is a window of opportunity, when the size of the cash is roughly comparable to the size of armies on the board, for escalating sweeps. One of the SoC training documents states that kills usually start happening when the size of the cash is approximately equal to 50% of the weakest player's troops. On the Classic map, and most maps of that size and bonus structure, that typically is when the size of the cash is somewhere from 15 to 25, and the size of the weakest player's army is somewhere between 20 and 30.
From then on, for a few turns the cash continues to outpace the growth of armies. If the killing didn't start when the cash was 20, it might start when it's 40, or 50. However, if that window of opportunity is missed, you get to a plateau where the size of the cash starts losing ground against the size of existing armies. If the cash gets to 75 and nobody has started the killing, then it probably means that everybody has now cashed a few times and the size of the typical player's army is somewhere in the 150-200 range. From here on in, instead of the cash getting larger relative to the armies on the board, it is getting smaller. By the time the cash is in the 100s you may find that there are armies of several hundred sitting around.
When the cash is not large enough that someone can plausibly score a kill and re-cash for enough to replenish his losses, he naturally is reluctant to go for a kill, because in killing someone else, the player will weaken himself out of contention. The longer the game goes on, the greater this tendency is, and it is increased by several factors:
- Today's larger maps make scoring a kill harder than the old 42's.
- Complex, generous bonus structures make mean that the size of armies increases faster and outpaces the cash sooner, and
- Fog-of-war makes people hesitant to pull the trigger because they're not quite sure what they will find.
And are stalemates now an unaccepted part of the game?
I guess we will all have a different opinion of how bad things have to be before we call them unacceptable. Stalemates in escalating games are not common, but they do occur. It's happened to me maybe three or four times in the 3200 escalating games that I've played. "Wow, one in a thousand, that's pretty rare!" you might say, but the frustration of being in those games is extreme, and even if they are only one in a thousand it's some pretty bad memories that really poisoned my CC experience for months at a time.
What has been even more frustrating for me has been not only the games that I've played in, but the games that I've overseen as a tournament organiser. When a tournament is put behind schedule because of a game that won't end, it creates a ripple effect. Other people get bored, quit, don't renew their premium, etc., and that one game can make a big mess in the tournament schedule.
"Use round limits" is most people's answer, but I'm sure you've noticed that round limits come with their own pitfalls. Halfway to the round limit if the game hasn't been won, people stop looking for kills and start stacking in preparation for a round limit victory. These games are crushingly dull, and although not technically stalemates they are "almost stale" or "temporarily stale."
Avoiding stalemates was the main reason why the original board game switched from flat rate to escalating, and for the most part it works well on classic-style 42-tert sunny games. But larger maps, more available bonuses, and fog, have all contributed to making the existing escalation inadequate for the job. My bigger, badder Hyperbolic Escalating Spoils are needed.
Players have always found ways round stalemates before, even Dukasaur in the OP has said in a game he was stalemated in got resolved.
Nothing is forever. Even the Sun and the Moon will one day cease to be, and so it goes with games on Conquer Club. Players eventually give up, deadbeat or suicide or resort to breaking the rules and engaging in secret diplomacy. The games do end, but in sad and unsatisfactory ways. It would be far preferable to make them end as they should, with blazing-hot end-game battles!