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Yesterday I played "Fury of Dracula" with 4 friends. One friend became the Dracula, and he is the owner of the game, so he's the one who explained the rules to us. He knew most of the rules.

We are fairly experienced in board games, so despite this is our first time playing Fury of Dracula, we progressed quite well. Found him within 5 days (by luck), and we proceeded to engage him. Unfortunately, streak of Dracula events turned the table, and after another 5 days, the influence counter already reached 12, and it's just a matter of days before he wins.

Because of that, we played like we don't really care anymore. We still tried to guess where he escaped, but it was not fun anymore. The mood dropped, and there's little to none interaction after reaching 12 influence.

This is our first time playing a long-session board game, and I don't want this keeping us from playing more long-session board games, especially those with "1 vs many" playstyle.

What can we do to keep the game interesting after the winning of one side is certain?

We played with basic rules.

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    From my experience Fury of Dracula can be quite swingy. Sometimes even single poorly equipped hunter can can peel off half of hitpoints from Dracula in a single combat. And "matter of days" in game terms can be also long enough. Lucky event draw can also happen. Sure, situation is dire and probability of success is low, but if there is still chance you got to go for it – Deo Nov 22 '17 at 13:31
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This is a common problem in come strategy games where a "tipping point" is reached, after which victory is assured for one player or faction, but the end game conditions are such that play must nevertheless continue.

Sid Meier's Civilization tends to have this problem, but it also occurs not infrequently in Go. In the latter case, the losing player will generally concede once the result is a forgone conclusion (it's considered bad form not to concede in this circumstance.)

Adding secondary conditions may be be a way of maintaining interest, but if the contest is win/lose, these secondary conditions have no real meaning.

  • Wagering on the outcome is a method to make those secondary conditions meaningful

This is a common tactic is sporting events where the two sides are unevenly matched. Because one team is almost certain to win (call it 95%;) a point spread is introduced. Side bets (proposition bets) are also widely utilized to sustain engagement.

If wagering is not appropriate, Benjamin Cosman's suggestion of post-tipping-point endgame rebalancing is excellent, so long as the presumed victor is so inclined. (This is because the rebalancing technically constitutes a new game to be "solved".)

Another method would be:

  • Introducing strength of victory

As opposed to a binary win/lose, there are achievements. Meeting certain predefined conditions confers points or honors. PC strategy games commonly utilize achievement badges to keep endgames interesting.

As bragging rights are often the only reward in friendly gameplay, honors based on strength of victory could be incentivizing.

Regarding a capture/escape game, if victory is in the hands of the escapee, conceding and and rebooting is a sensible choice, because it allows the defeated players the chance to take another crack at winning, refining their strategy based on the previous outcome.

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If your goal is to keep that same game fun even though you're certain to lose, then perhaps you could rebalance on the fly by choosing a more attainable goal, e.g. "We can't deal 15 damage and win, but how about we try to reach 12."

However, if your goal is to have fun playing games, you could also just concede and use the time you save to play again (or play a different game). In a game with more than two teams, this option doesn't work so well because one team conceding can throw off the balance between the remaining players. But when there are only two teams, then not only are you certain to lose which is no fun, but also your only opponent is certain to win which in my opinion is also no fun because there's no challenge to it anymore, so everyone should be better off ending the game early.

You can also combine the two approaches above: explicitly concede to your opponent, and then suggest that it might be interesting to continue with a rebalanced goal. This is because if you choose a new goal without conceding, then your opponent might not try to stop you from achieving it if trying would damage their chances of winning normally, and the game will probably be more fun if they're trying to stop you.

  • That an interesting idea in that post-tipping point rebalancing technically constitutes a new sub-game to be solved. – DukeZhou Nov 21 '17 at 3:16

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