Lots of good points for discussion – this could almost be a thread entirely on its own.
It can be a mix of those things, and can vary a lot from group to group. If a certain venue bans a few specific items, it could be because they had recurring problems with it in the past, maybe from players abusing particular strategies, or just because it was getting used so much that the players in general got sick of seeing it.
In a more general sense, I’m not a fan of ban lists, but sometimes a game will include something that is broken to the extent that any player who has or uses it will have an insurmountable advantage over any player who doesn’t do the same, or go well out of their way just to counter it. It can happen with almost any game, but collectible games are much more prone to it because of the sheer amount of extra content that keeps getting added makes it exponentially more difficult for playtesting and design to address every possible nuance and weird combination possible. It’s no so easy to get the genie back in the bottle once it’s out, so when something problematic does slip through, sometimes drastic action is required.
Is it wrong to bring grievances from outside the game into the game?
“Wrong”, maybe not, but it’s definitely not a good thing. Wanting a rematch from a previous play is one thing, and agreeing to settle their differences with a direct 2-player game is fine too, but if two players are mad at each other for some reason that has nothing to do with the game they absolutely should not be dragging their issues into a game with other players. They need to deal with it elsewhere, or find separate tables or something so they’re not ruining things for everyone else present.
If one player wants to continue playing but another doesn’t, should the person who leaves the game be considered a forfeit regardless of their actual gold score at the end of the game?
It depends a lot on the situation. If you know ahead of time that a player can only stay for so long, the group as a whole should do their best to account for it somehow. That could mean purposely playing shorter games (or smaller fleets), picking a good time for a “last round” in the current game, or figuring out a way to continue playing after the player steps out.
In a tournament setting, where the rules and times and such are all established ahead of time, the player who has to leave early might just have to accept the forfeit, whether that happens due to an emergency or a pre-planned time limit.
I struggle with this sometimes too, at least when it comes to time restraints. Often a game I want to play doesn’t happen because it seems like there won’t be enough time. There’s usually something else good that can work in its place, but it still gets frustrating to not be able get your first choice, especially when it happens over and over again. It’s even worse when you finally reach the time constraint and realize there would have been time for that other game after all.
Excessive downtime between turns can really kill the mood no matter what the game is or how enthusiastic the players are going into it, and long game times (no matter how many players) always run the risk of interruptions or the need for breaks.
Making sure all players are aware of what they’re getting into definitely helps, but it’s just as important to tailor the game choice (or game mode) to suit the larger group. Some games deal with larger groups by having simultaneous actions or by keeping individual player turns/actions as short as possible, and many others have variables or adjustment that happen on the board or with components to adjust for different player counts. Some games, like Pirates, don’t do anything to address higher player counts at all, and leave it entirely up to the players. Just because it can be played with a dozen people, each with a massive fleet, doesn’t mean it should.
Again, it’s all about setting expectations. In general, the more players you have, the smaller builds should get, in order to offset for the extra time that will be needed.
I usually prefer to run games to completion too, but when it becomes clear to everyone that a certain play has “won” the game and there’s nothing much the others could do to change that result within the remaining time, I’m fine with ending it there. Ideally that gives enough time for a reset to play the game again, or to switch over earlier to whatever game was going to be played next.
A player “resigning” because they feel like they fell too far behind is definitely a downer, especially when there’s a significant amount of potential game time still remaining. Even more so when the game has a lot of random or semi-random elements that could very easily tip the game back in that player’s favor.
The degree of luck in this game is something I always really liked. A better player or a better fleet is still going to win more often than not, but there’s enough randomness involved that the game should never feel like it’s over before it even begins.
Those moments where someone takes a low-odds chance and succeeds, or fails miserably at something that should have been a sure thing, are always the most memorable. No one ever remembers the times where players are just grinding through the actions and nothing unexpected ever happens.
I’m curious to see what you come up with.