Archive for November 2011
Surely we must hang together, or we will surely hang separately. Then again, perhaps that’s what some want… We’re having a deeper look at team play today. You can see a previous Game Mechanic article on team play here.
Full Co-op: Cooperative games have come some distance since since my previous article. Forbidden Island, Ghost Stories, Flash Point; the list goes on. One thing the games just listed have in common is a general formula of Action Point-based turns with a phase of the board beating on you between turns. Nothing wrong with that formula; it works *really* well. It keeps tension high the entire game. But perhaps there are other ways to do it…
- Wreck It All – Have the board completely wreck your trash before you even begin. It’s then up to the players to rebuild as best they can within some kind of time constraint. Essentially, this is the game taking most or all of its ‘bad’ actions all at once. One potential drawback to this is a loss of tension as players start doing well and undoing the damage. However, what if you combined Wreck It All with Pivot Point below, with the pivots being timers running out or things being fixed?
- Pivot Point – Players have breathing room of a set number of turns or until some key event occurs to get their acts together before something terrible happens and the game bares its fangs. Betrayal at House on the Hill does this with its Traitor mechanic, actually; players scramble to gain as much stuff as possible before the Haunt begins and the board, under control of a Traitor player, tries to kill them.
Hidden Role: This is another form of team play that has seen serious burgeoning: Battlestar Galactica, Resistance, and Panic Station are all good examples of this mechanic. Players are dealt ‘role’ or ‘loyalty’ cards that dictate which team she is on and possibly what her goals are to win. Games of this nature tend to focus on the tension of not knowing who is on your team; can you trust your neighbor with that really good equipment card, or will he just turn around and use it on you?
A possible twist on this is multiple roles per player. In a Goal Completion style game, each role has objectives for the player that grant (or take away) VP and bonuses for doing them. However, what if objectives on two role cards are at cross-purposes and can actually result in the player *losing* points for following the wrong objectives? This could cause some cognitive suffering for your players.
Coopertition: Coopertition, or working together while still trying to be the overall winner, has also seen some implementation; Castle Panic and the Renegade role from Bang! come to mind. Perhaps it’s a business game where only one player gets to be CEO at the end, but if players don’t work together, the company will have to shutter its doors.
Be mindful, though: if there is the possibility the players can lose if they don’t work together while pursuing a personal win, you may end up with a lagging player throwing the game to spite everyone else. I’ve had prototypes have this issue, and it ain’t pretty to watch.
That’s all for now, everybody. Now if you’ll excuse me, this loyalty card says I need to go stir up some revolution… I hear it’s a good thing to have every now and then.
Keep on designing, yo!
Io, fellow designers. Lets shuffle up some possibilities with deck building.
-Here ya go!: Have your players build each other’s decks. However, building your opponent’s deck should be more than just throwing trash together so you can stomp them. That’d be too easy. Add a couple of twists:
- Cards in play generate resources for your opponents, with better resource generation tied to stronger cards. You may want 5 gold on your turn, but it’ll cost ya giving your opponent a good card.
- Cards with sub-par effects generate lots of resource. Give your opponent starting resources, or better late-game cards? Mmmm…. cognitive suffering.
-Working together: Players build a communal deck to play from. This could be used in a co-op game, with players pitching in for the greater good while weeding out chaff for other players. Or, you could have it be competitive. However, to avoid the free rider problem, cards could be drawn face-up onto the table as the set of resources and actions available for everyone at once.
-Tertiary Deck building: Deck building doesn’t necessarily have to be the main mechanic, either. Take Starcraft, for example. Players build a combat deck and draw from it each combat. You may have an Ultralisk bearing down on me, but do you have the card to utilize it properly? Perhaps players are building a resource deck in a game with multiple ingredients. Or, a riff on worker placement: I build a deck of how many and what kind of workers I get to place each round, with the cards drawn representing contracts with the workers.
Now that I’ve built the article, lets see what I draw. …Nothing but Victory Points?! BLAST!
Keep on designing, yo!