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TOPIC: Dealing With Player Elimination

Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 09:25 #283264

One project I'm presently working on is a rework of the old ccg Jyhad/V:TES. I think the game fundamentals are incredible, but after playing weekly for a few years, I couldn't get over the fact that the development was really lacking. Some of that is imported from the source material and some of that is just from an old game that is now nearly 25 years old. So I've set about thinking about how I could use some of those fundamentals for a new design.

One problem I've run into, however, is player elimination. In Jyhad/V:TES players are seated around the table and gain points by destroying the player to their left (their "prey"). Once that opponent is eliminated, the player gains a point and moves onto to trying to do the same for the next player in succession with a small reward. How this should ideally work is that this first player elimination should destabilize the board state and build momentum in favor of that player. However, in execution it doesn't always work out like that and the game could drag on with one or two players eliminated. I want to find a way around this problem.

So my idea is that rather than eliminating the defeated player they become that player's vassal, meaning, they now share in the resources of that player, contribute to his or her momentum, and still remain part of the game. So basically, if you are the first out of the game, you still have the possibility to fight for second place as part of a joint victory. I guess my question is, are gamers so set on an all or nothing victory that they wouldn't be happy to fight for second place?

I know some games like Dune have alliance victories, but are there examples where players are slowly gathered into teams?

Are there any good examples of games, particularly redesigns, that address the issue of player elimination creatively? I really want to find a way to keep the players engaged while still having a cutthroat, political element to the game.

To be honest, I don't really have a problem with it myself, but I feel like it's out of step with norms of games these days.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 09:35 #283265

I don't see a lot of people being thrilled about being forced to help their "killer" win the game. If you want teams, just start with them.

Is it not feasible to gather points along the way, and the one with the most points at the moment of the first elimination is the winner? Games would be faster, so you could just play again.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 09:39 #283266

hotseatgames wrote:
Is it not feasible to gather points along the way, and the one with the most points at the moment of the first elimination is the winner? Games would be faster, so you could just play again.

Definitely an option I've considered. However, one of things that made the game great is this zero-sum-game, life or death struggle as you try to stave off your own attacker while destroying your prey. The "knife fight in a closet" feeling really drives the game and (ideally) keeps you from sitting around too long doing nothing. I guess the challenge would then to be to create point incentives that force direct confrontation and movement in the game.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 09:49 #283267

Jyhad works best when you have multiple tables of players. Let's say you have four players each at tables A, B, and C. After the first player or two gets eliminated at each table, you have enough players to start a new four-player game at table D. Then maybe table A finishes and another player gets eliminated from B and C, allowing a new four-player game at table A. When B and C finish, they can start a new four-player game at either B or C.

If you just have a one-table group playing Jyhad, then it's good to have short, filler games on-hand for the first two or three players out.

For the modern board game market, player elimination is only tolerable in a short game. Most people who joined the hobby in the last 15 years or so just don't have the testicular fortitude to get eliminated from a game that continues for another hour or two without freaking out.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 10:09 #283269

One semi-cool design I've seen is in Clash of the Gladiators, once your gladiators have been wiped out you get to control the animals. But that game is relatively quick, and by the time you're wiped out it will probably not last much longer anyway.

I've had a vague game design idea for years, but I doubt I'll ever get around to actually working on - a game specifically for eliminated players. Tentatively titled "The Eliminated" - it would be designed around the concept of gradually adding eliminated players from another game to The Eliminated at any time, starting with solo play for the first eliminated player. Perhaps set in a hellish landscape (you probably died, after all), the initial player would, by himself, explore the map and encounter demons and other creatures to battle and/or recruit, kind of like in Titan or Cave Evil. Other players can join in at any time, and there would be some kind of formula for determining their starting strength/position (the later in the game a player joins the stronger his position, as the initial players will probably have amassed some strength; this could also be viewed as a bonus for lasting longer in the original game; maybe this would be a function of turns played so far). I don't have any solid ideas for the core gameplay, other than chucking dice over armies of monsters fighting essentially. So theme and gameplay-wise, this game would most likely be supplementary to an Ameritrash game only or else there would be a clash in style. This works out as Euros don't have player elimination anyway. There could be a scoring system for ending the game abruptly, as the original game would end at some point and you'd want to wrap things up immediately. Or you could see The Eliminated to the end, and have another level of eliminated players, therefore introducing the need for another game of The Eliminated to be played simultaneously - turtles all the way down. ;)

In short, I always thought having a game for this purpose would be neat but I haven't fully thought through a design. :) Maybe another game could be adapted for this purpose. It just needs to support solo play and introducing additional players at any time in a fun, fair way.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 10:11 #283270

Everyone knows that the eliminated player is forced to fetch chips and drinks for the rest of the night or they go home early.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 10:19 #283272

Shellhead wrote:
just don't have the testicular fortitude to get eliminated from a game that continues for another hour or two without freaking out.

My group gets together for a couple of hours every 2 weeks. No one wants to spend their precious game time sitting on their hands while others play. Fuck that.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 11:09 #283278

hotseatgames wrote:
Shellhead wrote:
just don't have the testicular fortitude to get eliminated from a game that continues for another hour or two without freaking out.

My group gets together for a couple of hours every 2 weeks. No one wants to spend their precious game time sitting on their hands while others play. Fuck that.

So you pull something out of your bag and play.

Y'all make it sound like you're helpless.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 11:20 #283281

I’m 100% ok with player elimination under two very strict circumstances: If it fits the subject matter of the game and if the game is under an hour, an hour at most. There’s environments where you can get away with the latter, like conventions and big game days where you can easily get into something else, but I’m unmovable on the former. Does the design benefit from elimination or were they just too lazy come up with a solution that works? That’s a very rare occurrence, and I think it’s because people look at the elimination itself as the mechanic and less at the threat of being eliminated.

Add that to the long list of things Camp Grizzly handles PERFECTLY.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 11:44 #283285

I had a huge response typed out on my phone then lost connection and the post. Super short version: first elimination becomes zombies, coming back weak but getting stronger every round with new deaths adding to their power. It would be an end game trigger, built in count down.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 14:03 #283302

I tinkered a bit with the idea of a Sengoku period game where "defeated" players joined the victor as vassals but, while the idea sounds good, it opens a lot of potential issues.

For example, consider the implications of a vassal victory being better than a loss.

a) Weak players might prefer to become vassals with little damage because they think they'll lose otherwise.
b) The more vassals join one side, the better idea is to become a vasal
c) The sudden role reversal (join your enemy) might not be thematically appropiate

I think the idea can work, but only if the whole game works around it. I pictured vassalage becoming broken, for example, if a player launchs an attack on the capital (win condition) and fails. I don't think it can be used to "fix" games like shuffling the end game card at the bottom of the deck fixes games that crash with a fixed end.

--

Regarding VTES, I think the best path forward is for the game to collapse when one player is outed. I think it's how the game would work best and how it was designed to work.

To that end I suggest that when the first player is outed a neutral card enters play:

END OF TIME

Players cannot transfer nor gain pool except when outing prey.

At the beginning of a player's turn, he or she burns one pool. This effect is not preventable.


This should have the following effects:

a) It gives games a fixed number of turns before everyone is outed
b) It works very well with the 6-pool gain from outing a prey. Now that it's impossible to gain pool in any other manner, 6 pool means a potential six more turns and a potential 6 more points of life to survive before other players succumb to the END OF TIME card.
c) Most of the table will have an interest in this card not coming into play but some will have that interest. This should increase table-level politics.
d) The damage is done at the start of your turn. This means that players who have outed another player will have a small advantage over players that haven't.
d) It allows players who keep the Edge to stay in the game even if they have less blood than other players in the game. (The edge is questionable design, but it would work here)

It does have some implications in card design:

a) "Walling" should be significantly worse than bleeding. If Walling is too good, players can just wall each other until the END OF TIME card kills their opponents.
b) There's now a stronger incentive to be passive and raise your blood total and try to survive. I read a very good article on a VTES blog that talked about how the game has changed over time and how, in the author's opinion, bad card design has promoted decks that seek the "easiest VP" instead of outing other players. I can't remember the link right now but I remember he listed two or three effects:

- Above-the-curve pool transfer cards like Villein.
- Too many deterrents in combat, like "end the combat" cards.
- Combat decks not being able to defend themselves easily

There can also be the option to make more and more of this cards to come into play as players are outed, or to increase the pool loss (1.5 might be ideal, sadly), and so on, so there's room for tweaks. But the idea is sound, I think.
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Last Edit: 18 Oct 2018 14:04 by Erik Twice.
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Dealing With Player Elimination 18 Oct 2018 14:41 #283308

I was mulling this over earlier and realized I only played the game once 25 years ago so doubt I have anything worthwhile to add but will throw it out here anyways.

When a player would normally be "killed" they are instead exiled from the city/game. Then figure out some criteria or penalty where its possible they could get back into the city/game for revenge but make it hard to do.
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