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TOPIC: Co-Opportunistic Game Questions

Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 15:44 #257575

I thought about that but I want to keep the length. I want to ensure that you never have so little time you feel like you didn’t do anything but not so much you felt like you accomplished everything you wanted to.

If Agricola taught me one thing, it’s that a fixed time track guarantees you will give people that “bug” to do better next time but not enough time that they can do so much they feel like they did perfectly.

Right now as it rests you’ve got 20 years. 20 turns.

Players all choose a role, and in turn order clockwise take their action which can only affect one of the five regions. There’s a sixth region (orbital city) but that happens mid game if players build the tech to support it.

Industry Minister can roll >= track value and place buy new factory for 2 points. He can alternatively not roll and +/- the track by one level. You can never raise above the number of factory icons if no factories exist to support it. Must have population on an industry icon on the map to build a plant there.

Education minister same - except you can build a tech if prerequisites are met and money is available to get 2 points or +\- the education track with no roll. Track has no prerequisites but tech does.

Energy minister same - but rolls for power plants for 2 points and can +/- the energy output for free. Must have population there to build it.

Security Minister can roll to +\- Civil Unrest, or build a security Center with no roll. Must have population there to build it. Civil Unrest is a big deal - too bad of an ecology or economy, or food shortages, and Civil Unrest track goes down. If it passes zero you start losing regions’ resources to revolt and can’t do anything in those regions until the civil unrest track is increased. Security Centers stop that from happening in a 2:1 ratio - 2 security Centers block one region’s revolt.

Health minister controls people - can move, add, or kill a population, but must roll the farming track. Any place on the map a grain icon appears automatically adds to farming track, and anytime a population is moved or killed it drops.

Finance minister doesn’t roll: increases or decreases taxes rate and gains first choice of roles the following turn, although no player may choose the same role twice in a row.

More importantly, he collects the money and funds programs. If there’s not enough tax to cover everything, he decides what gets cut. Track order matters - first to die is security (money), then people ( food ), then energy, then industry. So, if there’s a shortfall, security centers are removed which increases Civil Unrest. Then people die, which decreases farming (potentially) and kills factories(potentially). Then energy, which removes power plants, which may in turn kill a factory as energy has to be sufficient to power the plant or it dies.

Some tech mitigates this, like robotic farmers which allow for farms adjacent to a populated area to produce food, or automated plants which allows factories to remain if people move off of them.

All in all, the finance minister is a FUCK YOU role which can be used to make life harder on other players.

At the end of the turn you resolve all the track movements from the finance phase - many track positions give +\- to other tracks so if you lose a power plant industry goes back a space which may have a tree icon, meaning the ecology track goes one space toward “greener”.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 17:43 #257586

If the factories don’t produce razor dildos, I’ll be disappointed
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 18:16 #257590

I must say, this game looks extremely interesting. I love this kind of mechanics.

Some thoughts:

- The "crash the game" issue is not su much a design problem as it is a problem with gamers understanding of what winning is and what it entails. Many think a close second place position is worthless and that losing to the game is not a loss, but "tying". There are a lot of dumb opinions on the topic, you can peruse BGG if you want to see Clearclaw act mighty about them (boardgamegeek.com/thread/981179/are-semi...-games-flawed/page/1). Personally, I think you cannot content this kind of people no matter what you do.

If you want, you can make it explicit that players lose. They do not "tie", they lose to the game. Who is functionally another player weighted so that losing to it is worse than losing to every other player.

- Generally speaking, the interesting bit is not "everyone loses" but the tragedy of the commons: Players have a choice between acts that benefit themselves and acts that keep the game going. Tanking the game on purporse should never be an actual choice (see above)

- I think it's much easier to create a balanced semi-coop game in which you play until someone wins than one with a set number of turns. The Republic of Rome is actually a good example, it goes much smoother when someone wins than when the clock runs out.

- In my opinion, what The Republic of Rome work is that you cannot progress in the game if most of the table doesn't agree. This means that all players have leverage, control over the situation and a possibility to win. There are few "dead man walking" situations in RoR and it's in the best interest of players not to put other players on one because then you force them to assassinate your senators. It's also a long game and it has binding negotiation so players have a practically infinite ability to catch up, it just takes more skill than if you didn't make a mistake.

Personally, I think The Republic of Rome is one of the best games I've ever played and certainly the game with the best, most engaging narrative of them all. So yeah, I love at least one semi-coop game.

*For me the only definition of "playing to win" that makes sense and keeps games playable is "increasing your victory margin over your opponents". Otherwise most games simply don't work. Even Clearclaw admits this when he talks about "approximating win conditions" or such other nonsense.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 19:26 #257597

I’ll post a link to the board and rules once they’re in not-beta state. Actually, I’ll post the board state tonight when I add the scoring track.

It’s very spreadsheety in a way but it’s meant to make tracking many moving parts more simple. Each player gets 12 meeples - 10 to place on the board when they can, 1 for “worker placement” for the roles, and 1 for the scoring track. There’s situations where you must place a meeple but don’t have the meeple, and thus you have to choose another player to do so. You still score for “building something” but there’s an end game bonus for placing all of your meeples, and thus you’re helping someone else.

Going to play again tonight. The whole game costs me 38$ shipped to buy, box and bits and boards, plus a buck for the rules which I’ll print. The look is pretty cool despite my graphic art skills and lack of software being a major issue. No laughing. :)
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 19:51 #257600

Erik Twice wrote:
- The "crash the game" issue is not su much a design problem as it is a problem with gamers understanding of what winning is and what it entails. Many think a close second place position is worthless and that losing to the game is not a loss, but "tying". There are a lot of dumb opinions on the topic, you can peruse BGG if you want to see Clearclaw act mighty about them (boardgamegeek.com/thread/981179/are-semi...-games-flawed/page/1). Personally, I think you cannot content this kind of people no matter what you do.

I'm completely in agreement with Clearclaw's post on that (which is kind of disturbing), at least as far as what 2nd place means. I personally rank it 1st > everyone loses > 2nd. I had someone try to sell me on that, "We all win, but someone wins more," crap with regard to Legendary. If you're keeping score, then someone won. I'm not going to lose sleep over taking the loss, but I'm not going to call having a lower score a 'win'.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 19:55 #257601

Make it a campaign scoring system, where you total scores over ten plays.

Don't understand why people that feel that way don't just flip the table before the end of each game they're not winning. Or walk away and abandon the game. It's more or less the same thing.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 20:50 #257604

I like your idea very much. I've been toying with the idea of a "survivor game" where each player is the "leader" on their turn and those players following either benefit or suffer from their policies. One thing that I've become a fan of -- especially in these kinds of designs -- is a random end to the game... like a trigger event that everyone knows is coming and can estimate (slowly increasing) probability that it will arrive on the next turn, but cannot predict with certainty. That keeps people from making perverse play choices when they know they have only a turn or two left and encourages a "going concern" mentality throughout the game.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 22:29 #257606

xthexlo wrote:
I like your idea very much. I've been toying with the idea of a "survivor game" where each player is the "leader" on their turn and those players following either benefit or suffer from their policies. One thing that I've become a fan of -- especially in these kinds of designs -- is a random end to the game... like a trigger event that everyone knows is coming and can estimate (slowly increasing) probability that it will arrive on the next turn, but cannot predict with certainty. That keeps people from making perverse play choices when they know they have only a turn or two left and encourages a "going concern" mentality throughout the game.

That's a great point. A fixed number of turns can feel too gamey and unthematic, and it can encourage poor play for the sake of running out the clock or maybe everybody playing too cautiously until just before the end.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 13 Nov 2017 23:29 #257609

I agree with what was said about no set ending because small amounts of unpredictability always makes for a better game where too much can be a dumpster fire.

I toyed with having the game end early if one player puts all his meeples on the board or if any supply runs out (20 each food, factories, 5 Security Centers, 20 power plants). I’ll try it and see how it flies.

Jim - once I’ve got it closer to where I want it to be, I’ll send you a copy. Probably 2 weeks. Maybe I’ll come out and play it with you. If you like it and think it will sell, you can have it royalty free.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 14 Nov 2017 02:41 #257611

xthexlo wrote:
like a trigger event that everyone knows is coming and can estimate (slowly increasing) probability that it will arrive on the next turn, but cannot predict with certainty.

Exactly what I look for in games but on the micro level as well as the macro. You still have players making perverse decisions, they just do it with a dose of hedge-your-bets in the mix. That's a more interesting decision to have to make, isn't it? My example above was the same concept but on smaller decisions throughout the game.

I like Terraforming Mars but its one big drawback for me is that it's very methodical once you get your cards. Your dose of random has been delivered, work out the best solution from what you have. There's no particularly compelling emotion to that. It does it better than most.

I prefer "build" games to have less control, i.e., dice rolling that occurs after your decision has been made. A game as simple as Settlers has more emotion than Terraforming Mars because of that.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 14 Nov 2017 09:41 #257615

Sorry I'm late to the party. I have strong feelings(tm) about this.

I generally use the term 'semi-coop' to refer to this type of system. In general, I find 'everyone loses' problematic.

The big issue goes back to the social contract of the game. There are some people who thing that 'everyone loses' is the worst outcome, and others that think that 'someone who isn't me wins' is the worst outcome, and 'everyone loses' is just a tie game.

If you mix up the two types of people in the same game, you're going to have trouble.

As others have noted, I think the game that handles this the best is Republic of Rome. I think the main reason is that it's hard to deliberately tank the game, for several reasons:
  • Rome is reasonably stronger than it's neighbors
  • Power is very diffuse
  • It's hard to predict the outcome of your actions

So 'everyone loses' as a possible outcome is a real outlier. It should be possible if everything goes wrong, but not the primary end point.

Oftentimes games that have an 'everyone loses' condition (like Dead of Winter) make it too easy to get there, or too easy for one player to push it there. DoW is already on a knife edge - with everyone cooperating, there's still an excellent chance everyone loses. If someone tanks, it makes it very difficult.

In RoR, on the other hand, if everyone cooperates, there's basically a zero chance that Rome falls.

So I think it can work if that loss condition is out there. But the players really need to screw things up to get there.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 14 Nov 2017 10:44 #257618

My recollection is that RoR has a lot of variance scenario to scenario in how vulnerable Rome is, which is an interesting alteration of your point. But everyone plays only one of the scenarios in practice, the early one.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 14 Nov 2017 10:52 #257619

I actually want this to be like a Pandemic type game where making stupid or selfish decisions will guarantee that the planet dies a horrible death. I know this game won't be for everyone, and I know that some douchelagoons use "we all lost" as "we all tied", but you can't help that some people are shit. It's like that "Alpha" who can't manage to shut up while playing Pandemic, offering unsolicited and unwanted advice. It's the nature of people. This game is going to be a game where everyone has a stake in victory. I was considering making it a Legacy type game where loss has ongoing consequences in order to make everyone a stakeholder, but I'm sure there's some sort of patent type deal which would preclude that from being safe from suit.

This isn't Republic of Rome. It's more about a "lawyer fight in a phone booth" where you gently bash one another with motions to advance your own position, knowing that if you push too hard, the judge will throw the case out. I want the random effects to be nasty and damaging, but not necessarily game-ending. I want the only way the game can end with disaster being due to overplaying a hand.

I think the thing that keeps this from devolving into that "Alpha takes ball and goes home" is the scoring system. Each turn you can score a maximum of 3 points and a minimum of 0, with a few bonuses at the end (placing all meeples, etc). It's a death of a thousand cuts if you lose rather than an obvious loss via grand strategic gambit.

Scoring:
+1 point if the track you moved ended up on a + icon, -1 point if you ended up on a - icon.
+2 points if you placed something on the board. 0 if you didn't.
5 points if you placed all of your supporters (population) by game's end.
+1 point for playing the Finance Minister role.

The tracks have + and - icons on them which affects other tracks. Some examples are that the Industry track has - Ecology, + and - Civil Unrest (jobs!), and -Tax Rate icons on it, interlaced across ten spaces, and not counting negative spaces. These effects are resolved at the end of each round, in a specific and cascading order. Thus, if you decide to build a plant, you gain 2 points for that, but because that moved Energy up one space, and that space had a - I Ecology marker on it, you will lose 1 point, making your total for the turn 1 point. Next guy comes up, sees that you did that as the Industry Minister, and now he has the juice to support a new factory,so he places that for +2, and also, because new jobs were created, he got a +1 for moving the Industry Track up one point, ending his turn on a +1 Civil Unrest icon (again, Jobs).

Basically, it's like that, except there some more nuance to it in that if you place something in one of the five regions, it's locked for the balance of the turn. So, in the above scenario, let's say it's late game and there's few population spaces left. The Health and Farming Minister wants to place his last meeple on the board but can't, because the only spaces available were on the regions that just got a factory and a plant. Now he's fucked. He has nothing meaningful to do with his turn, except move the Farming track down one space, reducing farming and potentially starving people, but he also helped the environment because the farming track was at a space that had a -1 Ecology, but the space before it has a +1 Population. He can't legally place anyone, so he can't get +3 points, but he gets +1 and the Ecology track went up.

I was considering adding cascading to scoring to make it more interesting - like if you move your controlled slider to a + space which affects another track that also moves to a + space, you would gain all of those +1's.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 14 Nov 2017 14:05 #257630

I guess I'm going to be in the minority here. I'm not saying to take your bat and ball and go home, I'm saying that if there is a way for me to turn a loss into a tie in a game, I'm taking it. And in a game with a winner and a loser, the difference between "We all lost," "We all tied," and "We all won," frankly eludes me. If I'm getting my ass kicked and I pull a card that says, "Game Over - everybody wins!" then I'm playing that card.
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Co-Opportunistic Game Questions 14 Nov 2017 18:25 #257648

RobertB wrote:
I guess I'm going to be in the minority here. I'm not saying to take your bat and ball and go home, I'm saying that if there is a way for me to turn a loss into a tie in a game, I'm taking it. And in a game with a winner and a loser, the difference between "We all lost," "We all tied," and "We all won," frankly eludes me. If I'm getting my ass kicked and I pull a card that says, "Game Over - everybody wins!" then I'm playing that card.
What I mean, though, is that there's no "everyone loses" scenario because the game is another player. Hence, if we are playing a semi-cooperative game and someone tanks the game, the results would be like this:

1st: The game (say, The Forces of Hannibal)
7th: RobertB, Erik, Barney, Engelstein, SuperflyTNT, Barnes (say, the Roman Senators)

Hence it is always desirable not to tank the game as you would be finishing in a worse place (7th) than if you didn't (6th or higher). Most semi-cooperative games either explicitely or implicitely follow this model and, to be honest, do not work without it. It's like playing a game with a couple that doesn't want to attack each other or playing a roleplaying to "win" instead of creating a cool story, it just doesn't work. And it's not bad design or a flaw or anything, these games just require players to see the game as another, AI-controlled player as part of their rules.
Gary Sax wrote:
My recollection is that RoR has a lot of variance scenario to scenario in how vulnerable Rome is, which is an interesting alteration of your point. But everyone plays only one of the scenarios in practice, the early one.
Note, however, that RoR's Early Republic scenario is the hardest one by a huge margin. Middle is the calmest one, Late is more dangerous because it's more likely players will try to win by organizing a coup d'etat.

Man, I should play this game again. Sorry for the derail. But yeah, the game looks very interesting. What player count and lenght do you have in mind?
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