Front Page

Content

Authors

Game Index

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

KK
Kevin Klemme
March 09, 2020
36618 2
Hot
KK
Kevin Klemme
January 27, 2020
21984 0
Hot
KK
Kevin Klemme
August 12, 2019
8231 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
December 19, 2023
6211 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
December 14, 2023
5640 0
Hot

Mycelia Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
December 12, 2023
3421 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
December 07, 2023
3552 0
Hot

River Wild Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
December 05, 2023
3104 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
November 30, 2023
3454 0
Hot
J
Jackwraith
November 29, 2023
3999 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
November 28, 2023
3007 0
Hot
S
Spitfireixa
October 24, 2023
4947 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
October 17, 2023
3738 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
October 10, 2023
2841 0
O
oliverkinne
October 09, 2023
3008 0
Hot
O
oliverkinne
October 06, 2023
3147 0
Hot

Outback Crossing Review

Board Game Reviews
×
Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

Slow Death - Player Elimination in Board Games

More
07 Feb 2023 00:00 #338207 by oliverkinne
There are thousands of games on Board Game Geek which...

In many modern board games, all players participate until the very end. Everyone continues to take their turns until the game has finished and it's time to decide the winner or winners. That's true for co-operative as well as competitive games. Player elimination games are very different in that respect. In these games, some people around the table could be out of the game early on and end up sitting it out until it's all over. If done well, player elimination can be a very interesting mechanism in modern board games. In this article, I want to look at different ways this mechanism is implemented and discuss how well these work.

Read more...

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Feb 2023 11:09 #338208 by Shellhead
Good article. I tend to like player elimination, but it depends on the game, and it should tie to the theme of the game. If the game is about wheat farming, it would be strange to have a player elimination mechanic, even though real world accidents or natural disasters can sometimes ruin a farm.

I agree that player elimination can be bad in a long game, especially if you just have one small group playing at one table. That first eliminated player is relegated to kibitzing or exile. One gaming group that I was in many years ago made that first eliminated player go pick us up some snacks or a fast food order (though not making them pay for it). Old school Risk was a classic game where early elimination was tedious.

But if the game has a horror theme, it completely makes sense for players to get eliminated, to simulate the culling of characters in a horror movie or story. It would still be better if that game was on the shorter side.

An alternative to player elimination would be character elimination. People can get a little attached to their characters, especially if they have geared up or leveled up in some fashion. Making them start over with a new character at least keeps them in the game while still feeling the sting of loss.

One particularly good situation for player elimination is a gaming event or venue where there are multiple tables of gamers. Without player elimination, the people at a given table are either stuck together for the duration of the event, or forced to kill some time while waiting for another table to finish a game so some people can switch tables. With player elimination, you get more player migration from table to table.

I have two games in my collection that are so entertaining that eliminated players tend to stay and watch the rest of the game: Camp Grizzly and The Gothic Game. Depending on head count and circumstances in play, both games tend to run from 1 to 2 hours in duration. But even the first player out in either game tends to enjoy watching how the game plays out.
The following user(s) said Thank You: sornars

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Feb 2023 11:27 #338210 by Sagrilarus

Shellhead wrote: One gaming group that I was in many years ago made that first eliminated player go pick us up some snacks or a fast food order (though not making them pay for it).


I would have taken that cash and hit the bars. Four guys' fast food money is three beers and a plate of nachos.

I always have something else available to do if I show up and something has already started, or I get eliminated for whatever reason. Reading rules on a new game or first play-through, that kind of thing. Or heckling. I like heckling, and I think I'm good at it.

So I just don't see it as the curse that most players think it is. It's a little more of a struggle in role playing, but we gave up trying to weave the new player into the story. When they show up at the house they show up in the dungeon. Some character asks, "what took you so long?" and they're in.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, sornars

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Feb 2023 11:54 #338211 by Shellhead

Sagrilarus wrote:

Shellhead wrote: One gaming group that I was in many years ago made that first eliminated player go pick us up some snacks or a fast food order (though not making them pay for it).


I would have taken that cash and hit the bars. Four guys' fast food money is three beers and a plate of nachos.


This was a group of friends who had known each other since at least high school. But the food run custom did come to a halt after one incident. It was cold day between Christmas and New Year's, and the eliminated guy collected our money for a McDonald's run and didn't come back until hours later. The food was cold and the fries were nearly inedible. "I was delayed."

Later we, got the rest of the story from a surprising source. Our food guy had a crush on another group member's girlfriend, so he picked up our food and then went over to her house to hang out for a few hours. According to her. In honor of those cold, soggy french fries, we decided to abolish the punitive food run custom.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Sagrilarus

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Feb 2023 12:08 #338212 by Sagrilarus

Shellhead wrote: so he picked up our food and then went over to her house to hang out for a few hours. According to her.


The perfect crime.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jexik

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
07 Feb 2023 12:14 #338213 by Nodens

Sagrilarus wrote:

Shellhead wrote: so he picked up our food and then went over to her house to hang out for a few hours. According to her.


The perfect crime.

Revenge plus a dish served cold.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Sagrilarus, Jexik, Sacco, sornars, DarthJoJo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
08 Feb 2023 08:33 #338228 by Legomancer
There was a recent thread elsewhere about "modern" game design and people were talking about how player elimination had been removed. As someone who sucks at a lot of modern designs I can assure you that's not the case. You can very much be eliminated from a lot of games, as early as making the wrong first move. What's missing is the dignity of actually being kicked out of the game and allowed to do something else. Instead you just trudge along with zero chance of doing anything except "improving your score". I've said before that I'm not win motivated, but it's not like I have a blast coming in DFL either. I'd like to be somewhere in the pack.

There are also some games I play that have player elimination in the form of, if you don't do well, you will literally not be playing the game. One from a couple years ago, Bremerhaven, has you bidding on actions. If you don't bid well, your action is: nothing. You do nothing. You watch the other players play. Guy I was playing against had some strategy that pretty much just shut me out of every action. That's a great one to use against someone just learning the game. (Similarly, the one and only time I tried Serenissima I made a boneheaded move that allowed an experienced player to destroy my ship and blockade me, literally eliminating me from game on round 2 of 7. Once more, I wasn't technically eliminated from the game, there was just no action I would be able to take that would put me back in.) Tramways, a game I like, I can't get to the table because when we first played it we discovered a death spiral for a player who lost the initial auction. I've removed the cards that do that but the experience was so unpleasant for anyone who encountered it that no one is interested in playing it anymore.

So yeah, actually booting a person from the game may be passe now, but all these convoluted byzantine games will in fact happily shove you to the loser's bracket quickly and often shit on your head for lagniappe.

Naturally the response to this is "well, you'll learn to play better" but that's not necessarily the case. A lot of these games are designed so that there's really only one skill being tested. There is a single good path hidden among the dials, levers, and switches, and you have to find it and exploit it. Failure to do so means you just struggle along. There are multiple false paths that just will not pay out; you have many many opportunities to fail should you not spot that golden road to victory. In addition, I don't like these games much to begin with, so I'm not going to waste precious moments of my life trying to master Grand Austrian Hotel. Not worth it. Occasionally I'll fail at one of these things and yet be intrigued enough to want to try again, but more than likely I've seen enough.

Being eliminated from a game can suck, but it sucks far less than being one of the walking dead in one, not even a pace car, just being forced to take pointless actions because the game won't have any mercy on you.

That guy Clearclaw is a freak but he makes a solid point in that a game is only interesting when all players have a shot at victory. So if someone is going to win and it can be shown that nothing can stop that, you declare the winner and end the game. Similarly, if any player can be shown to be out of the running with no chance of victory, you also call the game. For him, this is not mercy, it's just that the game area is now polluted, with one player making choices that (to the other players) may as well be random. I don't 100% agree with this, but I think it's an idea worth thinking about.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Shellhead, Gary Sax, Msample, Jackwraith, sornars, Nodens

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
08 Feb 2023 09:31 #338229 by Shellhead
Great points, Legomancer. I personally also dislike games that maintain an artificially close score by punishing leaders and rewarding laggards. There is something to be said for allowing a frontrunner to enjoy the feeling for awhile, but not the entire game such that everybody else is left feeling like a loser the whole time.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
08 Feb 2023 10:17 #338232 by Sagrilarus

Shellhead wrote: Great points, Legomancer. I personally also dislike games that maintain an artificially close score by punishing leaders and rewarding laggards. There is something to be said for allowing a frontrunner to enjoy the feeling for awhile, but not the entire game such that everybody else is left feeling like a loser the whole time.


But how does that "not the entire game" part get implemented?

So in a game like Crokinole or Bridge, each round is completely separate from the rounds that preceded it. You start again. In games like this you can be getting shellacked at the end of round 3 but then have a great round 4 and climb your way out of the hole. You can stage a comeback because there's no dependency on the prior game state that can keep you down. You might get crushed, but even if you're way down in the score there's still the hope that you'll get dealt a couple of good hands or make two incredible shots and start to regain some presence on the scoreboard.

Is there a catch-up mechanism? Nope. No need for one.

Both of those titles are more than a century old.

Enter modern game design. Engine building. The designer has made a conscious choice to build an dependency between each round of the game on its predecessors. Feels interesting to play. But it introduces a big-ass problem, because someone that gets rolling better than everyone else can stomp on their opponents by outspending or outbuilding them. This is the part of capitalism reality that we've all decided sucks, and we're choosing to bring it to gaming.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Legomancer, Nodens

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
08 Feb 2023 11:37 #338236 by Shellhead
There are various ways to address a runaway leader.

With more direct interaction between players, you can change a runaway leader problem into a leader-bashing problem. My favorite CCG Jyhad mitigates that by only offering a direct reward for eliminating the player on your right, but offering a variety of unrewarded methods for other players to challenge a possible runaway leader. But the game also has player elimination, so eventually the game comes down to a showdown between two surviving players.

Alternatively, a game might make individual player progress a secret until the game ends and points are counted up. Sons of Anarchy does this, and it's amusing how a typical game features a majority of the players thinking that they are winning.

A game like Firefly offers a high-risk, high-reward path to catch up with a leader.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
08 Feb 2023 11:55 #338237 by Legomancer
Specific bash-the-leader stuff becomes equally unfun when you are the leader or worse, are NOT the leader but some dink has gotten it into his head that you are, so now you have to play a game and deal with people trying to stab you in the foot.

It also is a problem in a group when there is a player who is perceived as a strong player, either in that game or generally, and then right out the damn gate that player has to fend off this dumb bullshit. I can't tell you how many times I've benefitted because player 1 decided to vendetta player 2, so they're both handicapped and I get to wander into victory.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
08 Feb 2023 12:40 #338241 by Shellhead
I suppose it's worth considering the type of game with respect to play elimination. In a competitive game with player elimination, is there an incentive for a player to completely eliminate another player? If not, wouldn't it be tempting to just cripple that weaker player but leave them in play? Player elimination might be a better mechanic for a co-op game, where death is delivered by an impersonal game mechanic instead of a very personal annihilation by another player.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
13 Feb 2023 02:40 #338307 by Erik Twice
I think people place too much weight on a binary "win/lose" when the games we play are not binary. That is, it makes sense to understand a 2 player game as being about winning and losing. But if you apply that logic to a 6 player game, it just doesn't work. Nobody flips the table 10 minutes into Terraforming Mars because you have an 80% chance to win at best.

Rather, people do value being second over being fourth, they value losing by one point rather than forty. And it's good they do because it's the only way these games work. Otherwise, you might as well pack it up and not even play because "you cannot win" is an extremely common situation.

Think about it. I win 95% of the games of Terraforming Mars I play. Does it mean it's pointless to play with me? I think not.
The following user(s) said Thank You: southernman

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
14 Feb 2023 21:57 #338332 by ubarose
Player elimination makes things interesting, provided that game is short, vicious and engaging enough that watching the remaining players is entertaining. A couple of my favorite games run about 45 - 60 minutes, with players starting to get knocked out of the game at about the halfway mark. The last 10 - 15 minutes is watching the last two try to destroy each other.
The following user(s) said Thank You: southernman, birdman37

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Feb 2023 02:16 #338358 by SuperflyPete

Sagrilarus wrote:

Shellhead wrote: so he picked up our food and then went over to her house to hang out for a few hours. According to her.


The perfect crime.


Guy walks into a barber shop, asks the barber, “How’s business?”
Barber replies, “Very busy”, and the guy leaves without a word.

Next day, same guy walks into a barber shop, asks the barber, “How’s business?”
Barber replies, “Very busy”, and the guy leaves without a word.

Third day the same thing happens, and again on the fourth, but on the fourth, the barber asked his buddy to follow the guy and see where he is going, what he’s all about. An hour later the buddy comes back and the barber asks where the guy kept going off to. “Your house,” the buddy replied.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary Sax
Time to create page: 0.481 seconds