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TOPIC: The conundrum of co-operation

The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 11:28 #285646

Shellhead wrote:
Cooperation is definitely a form of interaction. People who dislike co-ops tend to come across as super-competitive fun murderers who consider entertainment to be a zero-sum proposition.

Or those that either can't work/play socially with others or who regard advice in a co-op as being told what to do and get defensive over it - I'd say that they weren't good at, or never played, team sports :-)
I have a few of these in my euro group.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 11:59 #285654

Southernman wrote:
Shellhead wrote:
Cooperation is definitely a form of interaction. People who dislike co-ops tend to come across as super-competitive fun murderers who consider entertainment to be a zero-sum proposition.

Or those that either can't work/play socially with others or who regard advice in a co-op as being told what to do and get defensive over it - I'd say that they weren't good at, or never played, team sports :-)
I have a few of these in my euro group.

I think team sports is a good analogy on the surface, but becomes poor when you look at it with a little more depth.

I think the basics are correct: "listen to your coach, listen to your captain", but the breakdown is between the coach telling you "i need you to stay up front in midfield to put pressure on" and a coach telling you "I need you to take three steps the left and pivot, right now".

It's a matter of agency. In sports, you get a basic direction, and go do your job. The fine details happen in milliseconds, and you're on your own with a basic plan. In coop games (with the exception of something like Space Alert), you have frozen time, a tiny set of possible actions, and thus every opportunity to micromanage.

Nobody wants to be micro-managed, so coop games that encourage that suck IMO. Giving each player their own agency is critical. To me, this means you either have to restore the time constraint, widen the action tree to confuse optimizers, or deliberately hide info from each other to make a good game. Maybe some combination of those, even.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 13:55 #285676

Mr. White wrote:
Academy Games has a great line of casual playing, team-based wargames with their 'Birth of...' line.

Yeah, and they have a facet that I very much like when sitting down with new players. You can coach, because you can put a new person with a veteran, and that lowers the entry barrier for non-confident people. It's a valuable feature, one that I think a lot of non-gamers crave, and one that they look to cooperative games for.

That's fine, and some cooperatives are pretty good. But there aren't many of them and even less that really have a good gameplay associated with them. Throw in a disinterest in a particular theme of a game and the list grows shorter.

Without a cognitive opponent you just don't get surprised very often, and that means you can largely switch off your brain. I played my first four or five games of Talon against myself and had the same experience you did Matt when I played a real opponent -- it was the first time I was caught off-guard by the actions of my opponent. I thought I had Talon pretty much figured out, but an opponent making a right turn just before I opened fire on him completely changed the mix, and my view of the game. Approach and attack wasn't as cut and dried as I thought. That doesn't come from an AI deck.

S.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 14:28 #285688

Not Sure wrote:
I think team sports is a good analogy on the surface, but becomes poor when you look at it with a little more depth.

I think the basics are correct: "listen to your coach, listen to your captain", but the breakdown is between the coach telling you "i need you to stay up front in midfield to put pressure on" and a coach telling you "I need you to take three steps the left and pivot, right now".

I'm looking more at a team sport meaning you have to rely on all your team members if you want to win, even the most talented (or bossy) individual can't win it for you. The captain or coach doesn't come into my comparison, more the ability (or lack of) to work with others and to be successful in doing so and get enjoyment out of it. When I did play team sports in my younger days I can honestly say I got as much enjoyment in putting in a good team effort than winning (which was just as well as a lot of my teams lost).
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 15:02 #285695

I'm generally the most outgoing person at every game table, so if anyone is trying to boss everyone around it's probably me. I am also the type who internalizes other people's dissatisfaction with a game, so I bite my tongue in many coops.

The biggest quality that makes QBing easy is low-luck systems. The less ambiguity there is, the easier for someone to dominate the group, because everyone has all the info they need to make good decisions. Pandemic does this. The diseases are highly predictable after a few turns. Throwing some dice in a game makes it difficult for planning to be ironclad.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 16:59 #285713

Southernman wrote:
Not Sure wrote:
I think team sports is a good analogy on the surface, but becomes poor when you look at it with a little more depth.

I think the basics are correct: "listen to your coach, listen to your captain", but the breakdown is between the coach telling you "i need you to stay up front in midfield to put pressure on" and a coach telling you "I need you to take three steps the left and pivot, right now".

I'm looking more at a team sport meaning you have to rely on all your team members if you want to win, even the most talented (or bossy) individual can't win it for you. The captain or coach doesn't come into my comparison, more the ability (or lack of) to work with others and to be successful in doing so and get enjoyment out of it. When I did play team sports in my younger days I can honestly say I got as much enjoyment in putting in a good team effort than winning (which was just as well as a lot of my teams lost).

Yeah, we might be arguing at cross-purposes. I would love to find a really great team game that doesn't easily fall down with the coaching problem. I like the feel of succeeding (or even failing) with a team, but I hate being micro-managed. Worse yet, I can sometimes slip into that micro-management mode myself, and wind up being the asshole at the table. I try hard, but it's a character flaw.

That's why I want a coaching-resistant game, where each player is best aware of their own situation and most able to react, without an Overmind telling them what the best course is. Actually, maybe I don't want that, because it sounds like why Shellhead won't play spreadsheet games after being an accountant all day. Too real.

san's not wrong about dice throwing uncertainty in the mix, but even then it's easy to say "well, there's about a 70% chance of it going wrong, so I think you should" and worst case followed by "I told you so". Low-luck (or high information) games are definitely the easiest to overcoach in.

I think the best examples I have of this limited information is in BSG's very arbitrary "no table-talk about your cards" rules, or something like the "megagames" that Jur used to play on and report about, where different operational theaters (on the same side) were in different rooms. Making the best choice in front of you, while not being privy to all the information about the whole state of the game. And yet, making a cohesive and satisfying game out of that...

That's the holy grail co-op to me.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 19:40 #285725

san il defanso wrote:
The biggest quality that makes QBing easy is low-luck systems. The less ambiguity there is, the easier for someone to dominate the group, because everyone has all the info they need to make good decisions. Pandemic does this. The diseases are highly predictable after a few turns. Throwing some dice in a game makes it difficult for planning to be ironclad.

This is a great point, and I think it is exactly why most euro co-ops lack fun.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 19:43 #285726

Death Angel has a great solution for the QB problem, which is that certain events can only be handled by the last player to act in a given turn. That plus the brutal randomness of single die rolls (no bell curve) can wreck any QB, and the QB can even get eliminated from the game before it's over.
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The conundrum of co-operation 08 Nov 2018 20:38 #285727

To some extent, you need a QB to teach some co-ops. I do this when I teach Lord of the Rings, which is a game I like a lot. Most people don't like feeling totally in over their heads in their first game, so a light-touch-coaching approach does help people enjoy their first experience. By this I mean you can tell people the tendencies of the game, things that helped you enjoy the game after some experience. I think that's appropriate, depending on the player group.

To some extent familiarity with the game is the single biggest way that experienced players can dominate an experience. It's not even intentional, it's simply how things go. I've primarily used Death Angel as a solo game, and the longer I've owned it the more it's stayed that way. That's because I know now pretty well how the different Marines operate and how best to deploy them. It has made multi-player games excruciating for me, because so much of the game revolves around making a decision without someone else. For that reason Warhammer Quest ACG has proven to be a more reliable multiplayer experience for me.
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The conundrum of co-operation 09 Nov 2018 06:04 #285738

Right. I think WQACG is far more forgiving than Death Angel, which is what will make it an ideal co-op for a lot of people because it reduces the need for the QB by its very nature. Like games like Ghost Stories, Death Angel can be really difficult (when you're not playing the Dark Angels) and any one mistake can doom the whole team. That's often why the alpha person steps in, because he or she has more experience or has a better strategic grasp, in addition to being the most forward person who will always state their opinion. I think it's workable to categorize different kinds of co-ops (Big Trouble in Little China: storytelling co-op; Death Angel: competitive co-op) in the same way there are different kinds of dungeon crawlers (Descent 2nd Ed.: campaign crawler; The Others: competitive crawler.) "Competitive" is kind of a poor label, but the general thrust is that those are the games where the group must play very tight and there isn't much room for wandering off and doing your own thing.

That latter part is why I've always loved Death Angel: the team must function together, kinda like a group of Marines wandering through a hulk with death on all sides. Some people don't enjoy that kind of tension in their games, but I like the teamwork aspect that it requires.
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The conundrum of co-operation 09 Nov 2018 06:22 #285740

I don't think I've ever played Death Angel with more than two, but it's a fantastic coop. Super tense. I'm reminded of the first time I introduced it to a friend who was really into 40K. I'd played 40K and read a fair bit of the fluff, but there were gaps in my knowledge.

"So we're going through the halls of this hulk, which is why we're all lined up."

"Ok, got it."

"And we're fighting genestealers on both sides the entire time."

"WHAT"

"What?"

"We're fighting nothing but genestealers?"

"Yeah?"

"WE'RE DEAD"

Ended up losing by a hair. Was a great game.
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The conundrum of co-operation 09 Nov 2018 06:46 #285745

Shellhead wrote:
Death Angel has a great solution for the QB problem, which is that certain events can only be handled by the last player to act in a given turn.

Not a fan of the game as a whole - it has a big dose of that "you've lost before you've drawn a card" thing going on - but that rule is brilliant.
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Oftentimes defeat is splendid, victory may still be shame;
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