$18.00
GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 54.01

3,968 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
25% of Goal | 30 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
61 Posts
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Anyone else find Worker Placement just falls flat? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Spencer C
Netherlands
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
For the past ten years or so, worker placement has maintained a safe spot in the pantheon of beloved mechanics. I'm not one to begrudge other people enjoying something different, but I also cannot be the only person for whom WP falls flat.

I mean, it's OK, I guess? There are some worker placement games I like (Agricola: ACBAS and Snowdonia come to mind), but I don't feel that the worker placement mechanic adds anything. It feels lazy to me. Instead of creating rich gameplay where timing your actions is a natural consequence, WP just feels artificial and tacked on. Instead of letting these situations occur organically, we're going to force it upon you by creating an artificial system of player-controlled action restriction. It feels very much like the Pie Rule or money auctions for first player advantage to me, in that while it addresses a weakness in the game design, it does so inelegantly.

A perfect discussion point is a game like Brass. In Brass, much of the gameplay is about the timing of your actions and denying particular actions to other opponents. In many ways, this is the core idea of Worker Placement. And yet, I love Brass, because this timing and interplay comes as a consequence of the gameplay, not as a wrapper thrust upon it.

Strangely, I have no issue with role selection in games -- which is often just Worker Placement with one worker. I think the reason is that most of these role selection games (RftG, SJ, PR, TI:3, Steam...) don't use it as the primary game activity, but instead an extra (and very important) mechanic. Somehow it feels less intrusive than "I place my 4 workers, you place your 4 workers, we do actions).

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the worker placement mechanic. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
flag msg tools
Some games it drives me nuts. I mean, why can I not have a child because my neighbor did in Agricola? Others, with no theme like Russian Rails it does not bother me so much, and becomes the game itself. So, I guess in games where the theme is supposed to matter, then it bothers me more.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve B
Ireland
Derry
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
No, you are not the only person who does not enjoy all worker placement games. Many people love them and many people do not enjoy them.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drew
United States
Dallas
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Worker placement games have fallen flat with my gaming group. They will occasionally play Snowdonia because they know it is one of my favorite games, but I don't even bother to try and introduce new worker placement games to the group anymore.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ole Richard Tuft
Norway
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
One part of me is surprised by the amount of games using the mechanic, and when reading about a new game using it, I can go "Oh god, that's been done to death, design something new."

On the other hand, I realize that worker-placement is a convenient way to implement on/off-buttons in a game, and perhaps more games than we realize boil down to pushing on/off buttons in some way. I crush someone's troops and occupy a region that produces resources - now I'm pushing that button, not my opponent.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
I also don't care much for worker placement, and find it saddening to see that designers are rarely exploring the mechanism further with for example asynchronous recall (Tournay, Manhattan Project) or time dynamics (Tzolk'in).

I believe at least one reason for its ubiquitousness is that it's a very easy and forgiving tool to create a game with. Actions taken by players are largely known in advance by the designer; and if the action potential increases it's a relatively simple matter of working out the appropriate cost in order to balance the whole. This makes matters much easier than if you were to create a sandbox with asymmetrical (and changing) player powers. This impromptu hypothesis can also explain—but determining whether this is circular reasoning is left as an exercise to the reader—why extras mentioned above are rarely seen: it makes development much more difficult again.

Finally I do not look upon Brass as worker placement: the time scales involved are quite different, and so are the options and opportunities. There is a 'recall' of sorts (when switching to the rail period) but as I said the time scale of both periods (in particular the ratio to the game length) is all wrong when compared to a 'genuine' WP-game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
mi_de wrote:
I mean, why can I not have a child because my neighbor did in Agricola?

It's not for lack of having sex, if that's what you mean. However in the depicted time child death was very common... so it's actually having the child survive to a useful age where it is healthy enough to help around the farm that is the thematic explanation.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David B
United States
Chesapeake
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't think it's the mechanism itself that falls flat, but many games that use it fall flat. Caylus, for instance, does it well.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Worker placement often falls flat when the workers' undersides don't have a large or flat enough area relative to their height.
28 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Bowie
United Kingdom
Crewe
Cheshire
flag msg tools
mb
I find the standard implementation of it pretty boring. Though, like deckbuilding, there's some interesting games that use it. Trickerion, Argent: the Consortium, Dominant Species...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dave C.
United States
Maine
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Oversimplifying I know, but to me placing workers and managing resources is what I do all day at work. When I play a game, it is to relax, have fun and take a mental "break" from such responsibilities - so for me most games of this type do not hit the table.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
T. Ips
Denmark
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
I'm a little torn. On the one hand it's a great mechanic. Very thematic and creates a lot of tension for spots and some nice engine mechanics. On the other hand... Well it's just been done so so many times. I don't know what it is, but I supposed that when this mechanic is involved in a game, it becomes such a massive core of the gameplay that some of the WP games feel a bit samey regardless of very different weight and theme. I found myself with a bit too many of these games in my collection cause they all sound great, but they also kinda strach the same itch quite a bit. So lately I try to actively look for games with other mechanics with a few exceptions
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Larouche
Canada
Longueuil
Quebec
flag msg tools
Melting souls with cuteness since 2007
badge
Lovin' N-16
mbmbmbmbmb
Only in very few games do i really like worker placements. In most others, it's "meh", take it or leave it.

I love it in Code of Nine, because everything is so abstract in that game, and the worker placement is not the real focus of the game (plus games are super fast, played in around 20 minutes).

Agricola, where every action taken by your opponents can spell doom completely for your plan, i find it stressful and frustrating. There's a thematic disconnection i don't like too.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Isaac Shalev
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
I think WP is an elegant design solution that addresses the challenges of auctions. For a while auctions were all the rage, but auctions can take a long time, and they're very punishing to new players. Even with more experienced players, a single bad auction outcome can sink a game.

WP is a kind of fixed-price auction that moves more quickly, is decisive, and keeps the game in-balance even among a mix of experienced and inexperienced players.
10 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Spencer C
Netherlands
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
ender7 wrote:
I think WP is an elegant design solution that addresses the challenges of auctions. For a while auctions were all the rage, but auctions can take a long time, and they're very punishing to new players. Even with more experienced players, a single bad auction outcome can sink a game.

WP is a kind of fixed-price auction that moves more quickly, is decisive, and keeps the game in-balance even among a mix of experienced and inexperienced players.


This is a very interesting perspective. I have no love of needless auctions, either, though I do love a purposeful auction. But a fixed price auction is just about the worst type of auction, so this hardly seems like a benefit to me.

Incidentally, extending your auction metaphor: Are there any worker placement games where users "bid" on actions with number of workers? Say, you and I each have 10 workers, we take turns placing between 1-10 of them on a spot. When the round is done, whoever has the most workers on a particular action gets to do that action. (Maybe the person in second can do a reduced form of the action?)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Thunkd
United States
Florence
MA
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
cymric wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I mean, why can I not have a child because my neighbor did in Agricola?

It's not for lack of having sex, if that's what you mean. However in the depicted time child death was very common... so it's actually having the child survive to a useful age where it is healthy enough to help around the farm that is the thematic explanation.
That doesn't explain away why only one person can have their child survive each round. And worse, it makes it less clear what you're actually doing, thematically speaking, by taking that action.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andres F. Pabon L.
Colombia
Bogotá
DC
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I usually don't like worker placement. It feels like giving the player dozens of similar options just for the sake of it, and it's very AP-prone (which I hate). I can enjoy WP in some games that implement it with other innovative handles (Dungeon Petz, for example), but for the most part, WP is a "meh" to "nah" for me.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott M.
United States
Winter Springs
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I love worker placment...

Especialy if i can roll dice to kill it and flick the worker off the board!whistle

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Schneider
Germany
Fürth
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Maybe it is used because it makes balancing easier?
When you simply take turns putting out workers then it is more difficult to break the system with big combos.

If you get to do 4 actions in a row before the next player acts then you have to consider more possibilities while balancing.

Well at least that's what came to my mind.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
WA
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great discussion. I was just talking to my group about this the other day. I am quite tired of WP, despite having a soft spot for a few WP games. In games like Agricola, it creates a passive-aggressive tone, in my opinion. You get blocked for no thematic reason, and with no way to directly retaliate. For me, it's more dull and more unsatisfying than if direct player interaction/conflict were possible. I can't build an oven because you built one? Whatever.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
Thunkd wrote:
That doesn't explain away why only one person can have their child survive each round.

It's brutal child survival statistics averaged over all players meeple.

Quote:
And worse, it makes it less clear what you're actually doing, thematically speaking, by taking that action.

The game calls it 'family growth', does it not? Sounds fairly clear to me, especially since the new member does exactly the same stuff as the rest.

In any case, this discussion is ultimately pointless. Thematic interpretations of actions rarely make sense in a game context: at worst, they cause players to play in the wrong way. And sometimes, a designer has to resort to a 'gamey' trick in order to get the game to work as he desires. Agricola's 'family growth' could very well be such a trick.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
ender7 wrote:
I think WP is an elegant design solution that addresses the challenges of auctions. For a while auctions were all the rage, but auctions can take a long time, and they're very punishing to new players. Even with more experienced players, a single bad auction outcome can sink a game.

Perhaps. But that doesn't really explain why auctions themselves and the other form of auctions—(area) majorities—disappeared nearly completely. Experienced players never went away!

Quote:
WP is a kind of fixed-price auction that moves more quickly, is decisive, and keeps the game in-balance even among a mix of experienced and inexperienced players.

In older WP games where players could stock up on influence already placed (Leonardo da Vinci, for example), your idea makes sense. But in many modern WP games (Russian Railroads, for example, but also Tzolk'in) it's really just about prioritisation. In a sense there are simply too many auctions going on at the same time, so the 'funneling' so characteristic of auctions is lost.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robb Melenyk
United States
Bellaire
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Have you played Dungeon Lords or The Voyages of Marco Polo?

Like most things there are good WP games and mediocre WP games. Even some good WP games might fall flat for you! This was true for me with Lords of Waterdeep. Game is fine but I traded it away after one play. Hated it.

I personally love WP games. The games above in my first sentence I think are great examples of WP done really well. And I think we'll see more WP games that are even better.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
maf man
United States
Waunakee (madison area)
WI
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Worker placement is getting stretched in its definition too.
terraform wrote:
In games like Agricola, it creates a passive-aggressive tone, in my opinion. You get blocked for no thematic reason, and with no way to directly retaliate. For me, it's more dull and more unsatisfying than if direct player interaction/conflict were possible. I can't build an oven because you built one? Whatever.

I agree with this opinion. Any WP thats like this I feel that same anger. But my counter-point in favor of worker placement is Spyrium. I feel its near opposite to agricola. Agricola is just standing in line where I feel a good worker placement should take more reasoning.
So though I say I love worker placement many people love a very differnt worker placement than I.
I've also been enjoying dice placement.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ad best
United Kingdom
hereford
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Agreed I don't like the traditional method, of one action one person one hole.

I quite like the unusual implementations, I.e. the Grande worker and growing number of places per player in viticulture.

The auction mechanic in the Dungeon Lordz / Petz pay more to guarantee the slot. also their is more than one slot per action and some are better than others.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.