Author Topic: Objectives and partial asymmetries  (Read 5137 times)

Jubal

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Objectives and partial asymmetries
« on: July 24, 2023, 11:59:44 PM »
So in my Cepheida game, which is a scenario-driven map exploration game, I am struggling with determining the objective structure. The things I sort of want include:

  • Faction to play a role in your objectives: I want the system to model that people are there for different reasons. Thus the objectives should also be asymmetrical.
  • Combat is a key mechanic but I don't want it to be a game where the optimal strategy is to beat the hell out of the other player.
  • I probably also want there to be some core scenario that is shared, so the asymmetry isn't total

The problem with all this is that it makes for a game that is neither fully collaborative (because you want to achieve your faction objectives) or fully adversarial (because if I make it fully adversarial then it makes sense to run a combat heavy list and just attack the other player hard). So I'm trying to work out how to square that.

I've rejected one good idea, which was to run the whole game via campaigns: thus if you ended a scenario early by shooting your opponents, you didn't maximise your victory points, which would be bad because if other players in the campaign played more collaboratively then they'd be doing better than those of you in the shootout game. The reason I think this doesn't actually work is just that I don't expect anyone to be playing long campaigns of Cepheida, as much as I'd like to believe that true I think the game needs to be workable for single-game play.

I might partly fix it via some other mechanisms:
  • Making the core scenario more collaborative, so there's shared problems and you risk all losing if you take too aggressive an approach to other players.
  • Making the faction objectives secret, so you can reveal who won after the core scenario is complete. This might need multiple objectives per faction and randomising which you get in a given game, to allow replayability.
  • Adding in buffers against aggressive play, especially making the start squares especially impregnable or dangerous to assault, such that players have an easy "out" and can bunker down if being attacked too hard.

I think the issue is still that most of these have a decent chance of "everyone wins" as an outcome, which somehow feels worse than "everyone loses" in a nominally competitive game, though maybe the option of a draw isn't so bad. If anyone has other thoughts and mechanics to suggest, I'd love to hear about them!
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Spritelady

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Re: Objectives and partial asymmetries
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2023, 03:04:13 PM »
I am admittedly deeply inexperienced in designing board games, but to steal a concept from Civilisation V (and likely some of the other games too, since I wouldn't assume this is unique to the fifth iteration of the game), what about having some objectives that rely on multiple players to contribute for there to be any reward, with greater contributions leading to greater rewards?

To give a simple example: an expedition to explore uncharted islands requires at least 10 ships in total to undertake, each with complete crews and equipment.
If the players don't collaboratively contribute a total of 10 ships, with crew members and equipment, no-one gains any rewards.
Assuming that they do meet the minimum requirements for the expedition to go ahead, the player(s) who contributed the most ships receives 10 Victory Points, with 5 points for the second largest contribution and 2 points for the third largest.

I think this has the benefit of incentivising contributions, encouraging competition between players, while also asking players to judge how much of their resources they can commit and whether they can compete with other players.

Jubal

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Re: Objectives and partial asymmetries
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2023, 04:08:39 PM »
Hm, that sort of thing could be good for the wider scenario objectives, true. Thanks!

I wonder if I'm partly making this problem bigger than it is, in that maybe people would buy into a truly asymmetric game more than I think. Like "you are aiming for X, you and the other player may both achieve your separate objectves and that's fine" might actually be less of a problem than I think?
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Spritelady

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Re: Objectives and partial asymmetries
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2023, 04:15:04 PM »
I can at least say that there would be one person happy with that option, because I personally quite like games that are collaborative/have options where multiple people can win. But then maybe I'm just too conflict-averse for very competitive/aggressive games!