To throw the nuanced language out the window, I’d say the VP system of Root, like Pax Pamir, derives from the same design philosophy that says “victory points good, obfuscation and complication of victory conditions bad”. You have such diverse factions, but the victory points provide a universal, easily-understandable spotlight shining on who is currently the greatest threat (knowledge of sources of VP spikes also becoming necessary). I respect that - put the complications elsewhere, make the (core) victory condition simple. I can see a lot of other reasons for disliking Root, but the VP track itself not so much.
My problem isn’t with the victory point track itself, but how one contributes to it. I feel that too many of Root’s mechanisms result in VP (crafting in particular), too many VP-earning actions feel generic (I don’t care how you phrase it in the manual, we all plop down the tokens so we can plop down the meeples), and the unique stuff available to each faction often feels pre-scripted, boiling down to playing your role “correctly” per the table composition.
Again, I don’t want to come off too hard on the game, but the way victory points were handled got under my skin from play one.
Ah, that wasn’t at all clear from your previous posts. You were definitely singling out the track itself and the end condition earlier. I agree with the points you raised in your most recent post, FWIW, but not the points raised in your earlier posts.
My contribution to the discussion: I don’t hate victory points, but I agree broadly with some of the criticisms.
I think lots of point-based games are a bit samey (do actions to get things, convert things to other things, convert those things to points), so I like it when games give opportunities for different players to have different perspectives, and reward them all.
Dead of Winter is amazing in this respect. Not only does it give you all different win conditions. It also gives you choices that make you reflect on what it even means to win. When you read “You can let these children die or take them in and bear the cost of looking after them”, you can consider the moral implications, or just look at the abstract game effects. Your choice. When you have a chance, as a betrayer, to either be the sole loser or bring destruction to the whole colony, you can decide whether you would prefer everyone to lose or leave some of the others the chance to win. Your choice. Even as a non-betrayer, you can consider whether you would prefer to be the only winner or work to ensure that your buddies all win too. Again, your choice.
Most of us find that there’s a natural and obviously correct choice in those situations (role-play/thematic vs optimising, friendly/co-operative vs cut-throat) , and we’re amazed to find that other people see it differently. I like the fact that the game has more or less the same in-game reward for all these choices. And, best of all, it doesn’t end with a boss fight.
This is my relatively benign take, but I think the phrase “victory points” sucks. In almost every game, victory points can be tied, however thinly, to some measure of success in the game: your vineyard’s prestige in Viticulture, your clan’s influence or power in Clans of Caledonia, etc. Even in Catan, the first game I played that specifically called them Victory Points, the points you’re getting reflect the quality of your settlements. Only in the most abstracted cases (Carcassonne comes to mind, for example) are points completely unrelated to something thematic in the game. By calling them Victory Points, the designer is unnecessarily abstracting victory. That said, I understand the point of them; by not making every game a race, it means a wider variety of strategies can be viable, especially in engine-building games.
I don’t think “Victory Points Suck,” I think " ‘Victory Points’ Sucks."