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Pandemic» Forums » General

Subject: Flaws in the Leacock system rss

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Aristides Chrapalos
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I started a thread in Forbiden Island concerning the Leacock system.

I am using part of the convesation in the Pandemic forum, as I belive the problems I have are exactly the same in this game.

My aim is to start a helpful discusion for people that consider playing or buying the game.

"I mentioned and analyzed three major flaws IN MY OPINION.

1. None of the players gets the feeling that he does his own thing in his turn. Of course the team strategy in every co-op must be discused by the team, but from that point on every player should have the chance to be proud for a great move or "be ashamed" for a failure. One good example for me is Hanabi, where on every player's turn the choice is there only for that player to make. I would be OK if at least there was some dice rolling so I can at least be proud for a nice roll. Instead,in my turn I only get to draw a certain number of cards from a deck and nothing more. How can I enjoy drawing cards without taking actions?

What I am saying is that there is no need for me to draw any cards on my turn. This is a job that can be done easily by one person for the whole game. But then it would be obvious to all that there is no participation in the game other than discussing team strategy. In some way every pawn belongs to every player and that puts me off. I want to be a member of a team but retain my uniqueness. I can see no fun in pretending it is my turn, by drawing some cards, that could have been drawn by anyone without afecting the outcome of the game.

2. I want to give a fair fight with the island that is sinking (or the dιseases all over the world). If I am doing well at managing the sinking tiles (or keeping the dιseases at low danger), I want to go on playing and not stop because the number of rounds is predetermined. As I said before I find this a cheap and unthematick trick that takes all the fun away from an otherwise extremely interesting game.

3. If an Αlpha-gamer has the chance to rule the game, that is because the game allows him to do so, and that is a flaw of the game. The worst thing though is that people feel manipulated even by very polite gamers who are just trying to explain to others what are their choices and the consequences of their actions. When the team discusses in order to choose its next moves, inevitably the most experienced players will come up with the best suggestion and most of the times the new players will follow them. In that sense you don't have to be an Alpha-gamer to rule the game. I feel this Alpha-gamer excuse prevents people from facing with a major flaw of the game. When I play with other people I usually have to step back and not play myself, acting more as a presenter and narrator, than a team member. Only playing with kids I felt comfortable with this role. With adult groups I felt just silly.

I must say that I don't find it outragous to follow orders, but in that case Flaw number 1 mast be dealt. For example when I play basketball following the coaches orders doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. That is because I get fun from doing well in what he asked me to do and therefore feel I did my part in winning a game. Getting orders without satisfaction is Leacock's games problem.

If you want to comment specifically on these three aspects and explain how these doesn't bother you, I think that we will have a very interesting and helpful discussion for gamers that are interested in buying the game."
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M.C.Crispy
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Basingstoke
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Re: Fatal flaws in the Leacock system
First, let me be blunt: you are clearly out to be controversial and bordering on trolling by using such an dangerous thread subject, so you should prepare for some heavy flak and general aggressiveness in response. But remember, you brought it on yourself with your choice of subject.

My general point in response to you subject has to be that if these "flaws" were as serious (fatal) as you claim, Leacock would not be anywhere near as successful a game designer has he is. In effect, you're claiming that his success is due to hype and/or smoke and mirrors and not great game design, because his designs are fatally flawed. I doubt you'll get much support for that point of view. Though some who just hate co-ops will inevitably agree.

Putting that aside, let me turn to your points:

1) Your complaint is a lack of agency in the game. This is a common complaint in "puzzle-like" co-ops, where there is often an obvious "best move" from the tactical point of view. Why would you take any move other than the best move (in any game)? Sometimes games like this are best played solo when you can treat them as a pure puzzle. The trick however, is deciding which is the "best" move and that is the heart of the game. Much of the remainder of my response to this point is tied in to your third point. As to the card draw, I have absolutely no idea what your point is here: you have to have resources, this is how you obtain them.

2) The whole point of timers in co-ops is to add tension. If you were able to keep going until you won (as you appear to want) there would be little point in playing the game. Your inability to respond to this pressure is not a fault of the game.

3) Alpha gamer issue: well, here we again: this must be thread number 6 million and 1 on the topic and I doubt any new light will be shed on the issue. Yes, some games allow alpha-gamer effects if the players don't find a way to combat them within the social contract.

My solution would be to allow each person to state one goal that they consider to be the most important for that turn and one that they consider to be most important for future turns. No saying what specific action must be taken, merely a statement of desirable outcome. (e.g. "we really need to avoid another Outbreak", "Cairo is at high risk from an Epidemic this turn", or "We could really do with a Research Post to help us get to the Black region"). It's up to the player to decide which of the desirable outcomes they wish to act upon.
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Richard Urich
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Stuart
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Re: Fatal flaws in the Leacock system
1. Pandemic definitely has a multiplayer puzzle feel, but some people enjoy puzzles. I also think you give too little importance to the cards. If I draw a yellow card and now am one short, I tell the group and try to figure out where I should end my turn to help ensure someone can get me the final yellow card to discover a cure.

2. You can set yourself a goal to eradicate a disease instead of just barely surviving. You might even try Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 as it encourages doing just that.

3. It sounds almost like you are playing with fully open information, and then complaining everyone has access to the same information. The game didn't tell you to do that. While I actually play that way, I also recognize it makes the game even less a game and more a puzzle to be solved by the group. But we always play hidden cards the first time someone is playing so they can decide if playing with openly revealed hands would be more fun.

But it is basically a puzzle, and just like a puzzle allows someone to have nothing to do if they let everyone else take all of the pieces. Especially if playing with openly revealed hands, people have to assert themselves to kind of take ownership of some aspect. If someone in your group can't or won't do that, don't play with openly revealed hands.
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M.C.Crispy
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RichardU wrote:
Especially if playing with openly revealed hands, people have to assert themselves to kind of take ownership of some aspect. If someone in your group can't or won't do that, don't play with openly revealed hands.
I only partially agree with this. Players around a table must take into account the other people around the table. Players shouldn't have to assert themselves in order to be an equal partner at the table, it's also the job of the "assertive" players to ensure that everyone has the opportunity of an equal voice. It's a two-way street.
 
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Scott Hill
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I have played Pandemic, in it's various forms, a lot, it is one of my favourite games, and I think two of your three of your criticisms can be boiled down to one point:

Player dynamics.

I play most often with same group of players, or a subset thereof, and I don't think we have ever had a game where I felt like there was no player agency or in which one of us took an alpha gamer position.

We will often discuss tactical options during play, and almost always find multiple 'best' options on numerous game turns, but ultimately we allow the player who's turn it is decide their own plays.

We also tend to play our roles - the medic will concentrate on treating hotspots, the dispatcher will move people around to aid them in Best achieving their plan for their next turn, the scientist will concentrate on finding cures, and so on.

I think if any of us tried to alpha then that would quickly be quashed by their other players, and I often come away from a game feeling that I could have played better, that someone else played really well, or indeed that I did.

As for your other point about the game's built in timer, we have rarely lost due to running out of cards, but when we do I don't often feel robbed of a win (though there have been one or two times where we have run out of cards one turn before we would have found the final cure).

In short I think your criticisms have more to do with yourself or your gaming group(s) than they do with the game itself.
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Ben
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Based off your complaints, it seems as though you just do not like traditional co-op games, not just Matt Leacock ones. And that's fine.

When it comes to co-ops, it seems you prefer imperfect information ones (Hanabi, The Grizzled). These games cause players to know all the information as a whole but not individually, restricting the alpha gamer problem. I'm only familiar with the two games I mentioned above in that format but I'm sure others might have other recommendations.
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Tim H
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Sometimes we have the same problem, also with similar "group puzzle" games like Eldritch Horror or even Zombicide. It highly depends on the group and on the state of the players during play - being a little tired or drunk or whatever can easily throw you out of the decision taking process.

I think in games like these you just are not allowed to lean back after your turn and relax. Discussing strategy is a key element of those games and that is where the fun comes from. Getting out of the discussion on the other hand can lead to some beef at the table with players feeling "alphaed" (inventing words is also fun) from other players.
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Rob Rob
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Peopepeo13 wrote:
Instead,in my turn I only get to draw a certain number of cards from a deck and nothing more. How can I enjoy drawing cards without taking actions?

I'm not sure if that was a typo but you know in both games you do have character actions which you take before you "draw a certain number of cards from a deck and nothing more?"
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Mark Hansen
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Peopepeo13 wrote:
... 2. I want to give a fair fight with the island that is sinking (or the dιseases all over the world). If I am doing well at managing the sinking tiles (or keeping the dιseases at low danger), I want to go on playing and not stop because the number of rounds is predetermined. As I said before I find this a cheap and unthematick trick that takes all the fun away from an otherwise extremely interesting game...

Thematically, I think this fits perfectly for Pandemic. You are part of a team finding a cure for the diseases. The world is wanting results and they don't want to wait forever. Take too long and your team is effectively fired.

That's my take on it - your opinion may vary.
 
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Ken Bush
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Robrob wrote:
Peopepeo13 wrote:
Instead,in my turn I only get to draw a certain number of cards from a deck and nothing more. How can I enjoy drawing cards without taking actions?

I'm not sure if that was a typo but you know in both games you do have character actions which you take before you "draw a certain number of cards from a deck and nothing more?"

My thoughts exactly, the game is not just about drawing cards, its about taking 4 actions.

You other concerns, I'm fairly comfortable with telling Alpha Gamer it's my turn, not always, depends on the group. But it's up to the group to decide if an Alpha can take control, you let it happen for what ever reason.
 
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Greg Darcy
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There are countless games out there. and more than a few game designers. Each with their own style. If there was a single system that suited all players, then there would be only one.

It appears that Matt Leacock's games are not your cup of tea. Try another game. By a different designer. Monopoly perhaps. After all, you get to roll some dice. You say you like that. And you get to move a counter. And draw cards now and then, but not every turn. and you get to buy stuff. And pay rent. And have fights with your fellow players.Lots to do.

Personally i'll stick to Matt (and Alan and Uwe, and Dan, and Dominic, and Stefan etc)
 
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Mike Brewer
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Wow! Lots of hatred here.

"Flaws" is pretty strong. But is Pandemic the perfect coop? Probably (clearly) not.

And I have some sympathy with the OP here. I think the design feature that the OP is highlighting is that, in Pandemic, there is a "global" problem to overcome. So, as a comparison, in Ghost Stories or Arkham Horror or LotR LCG each player is struggling with his own "problems", but you are "all in it together". (Perhaps another way to put that is that I don't identify much with my character when playing Pandemic, and yes sometimes you can feel like an automaton.)

On the other hand, Pandemic is a lot easier to explain to newbs than Ghost Stories.

However, I think we all agree that the timer in Pandemic/Forbidden X is what makes the game tense.

Mike
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M.C.Crispy
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mikeb13603 wrote:
Wow! Lots of hatred here.
Really? As the person who predicted a flame war in the first reply I have been pleasantly surprised to see that the responses so far - with the exception of one unnecessarily rude and sarcastic reply - have been exemplars of restraint, tone and reasoned argument. Disagreement with the OPs point does not equate to "hatred".
 
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Mr Taylor
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Sorry to say it but I'm with the majority here too.

1) Not sure I 100% agree with being proud about dice rolling - it's a random action unless there are mechanisms in place to mitigate poor roll. Personally, I find the card drawing an interesting feature - do you use the cards you have to travel around the globe or try and hang on to them to cure disease. Challenging enough for folk who have played other games but not too challenging for those that haven't.

2) If you want to play for longer, house rule it. Change the mechanic. But as has already been said it's a time limit that adds pressure.

3) Alpha gaming can be an issue and, as mentioned before, there are lots of other posts. I'll be honest, I think at times, depending on the group I've played with, I have gone a bit alpha myself. I try not to force a decision though - at the end of the day it is a co-op game but I've always played it that after discussing the available options that player can do as they please.

As you said in your post, these are flaws in your opinion and I doubt anything said will convince you otherwise of this - we're all different and that's a good thing. That's why there are so many other games out there to try.
 
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M.C.Crispy
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Leoricx wrote:
Alpha gaming can be an issue and, as mentioned before, there are lots of other posts. I'll be honest, I think at times, depending on the group I've played with, I have gone a bit alpha myself. I try not to force a decision though - at the end of the day it is a co-op game but I've always played it that after discussing the available options that player can do as they please.
The alpha in my group takes it one step further: while "allowing" other players to make their own move (how condescending!) even if the brow-beating and haranguing fails, the alpha makes it quite clear that any negative outcome will be the fault of the active player, the player will then be reminded of it at regular intervals (essentially every time it's their turn until somebody else "fails") in a crowing manner. In essence, my alpha isn't an alpha, they're a bully.
 
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Scott Hill
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mccrispy wrote:
Leoricx wrote:
Alpha gaming can be an issue and, as mentioned before, there are lots of other posts. I'll be honest, I think at times, depending on the group I've played with, I have gone a bit alpha myself. I try not to force a decision though - at the end of the day it is a co-op game but I've always played it that after discussing the available options that player can do as they please.
The alpha in my group takes it one step further: while "allowing" other players to make their own move (how condescending!) even if the brow-beating and haranguing fails, the alpha makes it quite clear that any negative outcome will be the fault of the active player, the player will then be reminded of it at regular intervals (essentially every time it's their turn until somebody else "fails") in a crowing manner. In essence, my alpha isn't an alpha, they're a bully.

And that person is allowed back to your gaming group for what reason?
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M.C.Crispy
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Scorpion0x17 wrote:
mccrispy wrote:
Leoricx wrote:
Alpha gaming can be an issue and, as mentioned before, there are lots of other posts. I'll be honest, I think at times, depending on the group I've played with, I have gone a bit alpha myself. I try not to force a decision though - at the end of the day it is a co-op game but I've always played it that after discussing the available options that player can do as they please.
The alpha in my group takes it one step further: while "allowing" other players to make their own move (how condescending!) even if the brow-beating and haranguing fails, the alpha makes it quite clear that any negative outcome will be the fault of the active player, the player will then be reminded of it at regular intervals (essentially every time it's their turn until somebody else "fails") in a crowing manner. In essence, my alpha isn't an alpha, they're a bully.

And that person is allowed back to your gaming group for what reason?
Because even bullies have friends. I myself am not without flaws, we just try to work with and around our defects so that we can continue to game and to remain friends. It's worked so far.
 
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