M. Shanmugasundaram
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So, an odd thought experiment played out in my head just now. I was torn between putting this in Design or Recommendations, but I settled on design, since I haven't experienced anything quite like this before.

Lots of preamble, so you can skip to the end if you want to simply acknowledge that I've tried to think things through.

It happens a lot: one person in a 3+ player game gets ganged up on. Maybe some of the players are annoyed that the "victim" won the last three games. Or maybe someone's trying to keep their spouse or a youngster from losing too early.

There are plenty of games that encourage players to be responsible for the player immediately ahead of them in turn order. Relinquishing this responsibility will usually incur the wrath of the other players, "I'm going to make sure Andy loses since he didn't keep Barb from winning."

And there are plenty of games where more than one person can simply voluntarily target a single other player for whatever reason. "Ya lookt at me funny, pardner. BANG!"

And of course, we've all heard horror stories of meta-play bribes or threats affecting in-play actions, especially where intimate relationships are involved.

There are lots of group solitaire games where you have no influence on any other person's ability to win or lose. You're just doing your best to win first.

Finally, most games allow a range of actions, and someone who's disinterested can simply choose to take the path of least involvement. "I'll roll the dice and move, but everything else is optional and I don't care about winning, so I'm done," or, "I have to put two tiles down, so I'll put them in this totally worthless place and be done. Your turn."

Are they any games, which, by the rules, compel players to
- Take meaningful action that advances the progress of the game
- Significantly interact with other players

...AND prevent them from targeting a player of their choice in a positive or negative way?

The only thing I can think of is conditional targeting... but I can't think of any games that use this mechanic. The closest I get is maybe Citadels, where you target characters (not players) with roles like the Assassin, Thief, or Witch.
 
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Martin Windischer
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And this is the reason why I like auctions so much. It's THE mechanism if you want to have interaction without kingmaking.
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Jeremy Lennert
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This seems closely related to another thread that was also started today.
 
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Chad Mestdagh
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Hanabi?
 
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Jake Staines
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radchad wrote:


Co-op games as a genre don't really suffer from kingmaking 'cause there's no king! ;-)


Responding specifically to the thread title, I'd say that if you have the ability to disadvantage another player or advantage another player, then that makes kingmaking possible. If you don't, then the byproduct is that it also makes regicide impossible, which often means an early lead is unassailable and the rest of the game is a waste of time.

There's a strong argument that if you can't influence your opponent's state at all, then you might as well be playing a completely separate game to them, and just tot up who got the best score at the end of the evening.



Auctions are kind of an exception to this, but only insofar as the player interaction is indirect rather than direct. And you can still have kingmaking in auction-based games! Hypothetical situation: you know that opponent A needs resource X to complete a set and win, and otherwise opponent B is going to win, then you can choose to outbid or not outbid A for resource X and thus decide the winner. I've certainly seen this happen before.

You could say the same thing about Worker Placement games. The interaction is [nearly] all indirect, so I usually can't place a piece and remove or add score to another player. But I can certainly look at the things player A needs, the things player B needs, and place a worker to prevent one of them from getting them to ensure the other one wins.
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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Lordy. The other thread has gone off on some sort of weird socialization tangent.

I don't care if people talk to one another. I don't even care if they try to collude.

What I'm looking for area games in which the actions mandated by the game make it difficult/impossible to target a specific player for any out-of-game reason.
 
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Matt Drown
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rumble wrote:

Are they any games, which, by the rules, compel players to
- Take meaningful action that advances the progress of the game
- Significantly interact with other players

...AND prevent them from targeting a player of their choice in a positive or negative way?


So I'll mention Auctions again, though if I remember correctly you hate auction games. But I submit games that involve dynamic partnerships forming. IE, stock games. Chicago Express has both. I won't say that it fits your requirements completely, however... You have auctions for stock in companies, there are enough companies that you will not be sole owner of a company, and you will have stock in two (or more companies), and another player will have a similar situation, but will be partners with you and a third player. The venn diagram would look a little like the olympic rings (overlaps in a circle). Your ownerships control what you can do and interact with. The purchasing of stock in a company moves the game forward, and has a cost associated with it if you are just trying to win an auction to harm someone else.

Overall this produces a situation where you are forced to pay attention to all the partnerships, and try to find people who will advance your cause without you doing anything. Direct kingmaking isn't quite possible, but you can sort of do it.

Otherwise I think the suggestion about creating a game where you declare your target without firm knowledge of your target is the way to go. Citadels Assassin is a good example, though any game where you pick a target based on a set of guidelines on one turn, and the action doesn't fire until the next turn would help with this. It would help reduce kingmaking if the goals or the conditions for the attack are all similar, and you couldn't easily predict the future state of your opponents if they were "close" in score/points/vp/etc.
 
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Tommy Occhipinti
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In Killer Bunnies, players earn points in the form of carrots. When all the carrots are distributed, the game is over. Then a random carrot is chosen, and the player with that carrot wins.

This mechanic may be unpopular for many reasons, but it does completely eliminate kingmaking because you are never out of the game while the game is still going, and who the leader is just doesn't matter, because you only care if each carrot goes to you or not you.
 
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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delirimouse wrote:
In Killer Bunnies, players earn points in the form of carrots. When all the carrots are distributed, the game is over. Then a random carrot is chosen, and the player with that carrot wins.


neat.
horrible, but neat.

Can you meta-negotiate for more carrots to come your way, or deliberately maneuver carrots toward or away from others? While it wouldn't guarantee a win, it would affect the odds of that a specific targeted person would or wouldn't win.
 
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Tommy Occhipinti
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rumble wrote:
delirimouse wrote:
In Killer Bunnies, players earn points in the form of carrots. When all the carrots are distributed, the game is over. Then a random carrot is chosen, and the player with that carrot wins.


neat.
horrible, but neat.

Can you meta-negotiate for more carrots to come your way, or deliberately maneuver carrots toward or away from others? While it wouldn't guarantee a win, it would affect the odds of that a specific targeted person would or wouldn't win.


It has been a long time since I played the game, but though I recall there being negotiation in the sense that Settlers has it, I don't think there was any that directly impacted how the carrots got distributed.

I suppose, to me, kingmaking is an issue when a player realizes they can't win and instead they choose who to make win, and that can't happen in Killer Bunnies because there is never a time a player can't win.
 
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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@MattDrown

Yep, I hadn't considered stock manipulation as an independent mechanic, but it does satisfy this quest to some extent. You can interfere with how much someone gains, but you can't stop them from gaining value from their stock ownership.

Betting in general would be a related, relevant mechanic. Especially betting that created odds fluctuations. Colossal Arena would be one of these.

In line with the "declaring target without firm knowledge of the target" thought, there are several games where you don't know which players own which of the playing pieces on the board. Of course, this ignorance doesn't hold over the course of the game, since players give hints about their piece ownership after every action. Clans comes to mind.
 
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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delirimouse wrote:
I suppose, to me, kingmaking is an issue when a player realizes they can't win and instead they choose who to make win, and that can't happen in Killer Bunnies because there is never a time a player can't win.


This is a perfectly clear casual definition of kingmaking.

I'll concur that "random winner" is one way of getting around the problem. yuk
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J C Lawrence
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König von Siam forbids actions at the end of the game that don't result in the active player then winning.
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Jeremy Lennert
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On the side-topic of reducing motivation for kingmaking, one way to keep all players in the running as long as possible is to increase the importance of late-game moves relative to early-game moves. Call it "escalation": you only need to play a little bit better than your opponent in the endgame to make up for playing a lot worse in the early game, which makes reversals more likely.

This is tricky because many game systems naturally produce the opposite trend (e.g. getting a new ability allows you to make better moves on every subsequent turn, so it's more valuable the earlier you get it). But lots of games try to increase the importance of the endgame by making powerful moves or resources available only at the end; for example, 7 Wonders has cards worth up to 3 points in the first age but cards that can be worth 10+ points in the third age.
 
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PJ Killian
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In Pax Porfiriana, most aggressive actions you take against a player confers collateral benefits on that player, to such an extent that it is a legal (and sometimes strategically viable) strategy to assasinate your own cronies or rob your own enterprises. Ganging up on a player may simply be giving him the means of victory.
 
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Mark J
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Hmm, when you ask if there are games where "the rules ... compel players to ...", I must ask, "Compel in what sense?"

In some games players have little or no ability to interact with each other to do each other good or ill. Many games are basically a race where each player tries to accumulate victory points or whatever the fastest. Just like in a foot race, you don't win by knocking the other player down and stomping on his head -- not while the judges are watching, anyway -- but simply by outperforming him. Such games meet your definition, I guess, but they do it by default.

If a game does have any interaction and ability to hurt each other, this gets me back to "what do you mean by 'compel'?" Compel in the sense of make unproductive? i.e. at some point beating up on another player is going to hurt your own chances for victory? Or compel in the sense of make impossible? Like, if Bob is mad at his wife and doesn't care if he wins as long as she loses, then I don't see how you'd prevent him from relentlessly attacking his wife without some very arbitrary rules. Like, you could have a rule that says, "You cannot attack the same opposing player more than three turns in a row".

It raises an interesting question. Is it possible to devise a set of rules that would forbid or punish targeting another player for non-game reasons? i.e. is it possible to construct rules that would make it difficult or impossible to attack another player because you don't like him personally, versus attacking another player because you believe it will help you to win the game? My first thought is that such a set of rules is logically impossible, because how would the rulebook "know" what your motives are when you take your turn?

But in another sense, any game where players make real strategic decisions will inherently punish a player who harasses other players for non-game reasons. Suppose we had a WW2 game and you're the Germans, and you're mad at the British player because he took too long to set up his pieces or he took the last slice of pizza or whatever. Well, you COULD decide to pour all your forces against Britain while ignoring France and Russia just to get back at him. But this would likely be a losing game strategy, and so the system would naturally punish you.
 
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Mark J
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BTW I can easily imagine border-line cases. Like what if you are playing with Al, Bob, and Cathy. You know that Bob and Cathy are not very good players but Al is a gaming genius. You might quite rationally decide that the best strategy is to beat up on Al fast and early so that he does not have a chance to build up an insurmountable lead. An outside observer who does not know your reasoning might say that you are devoting unreasonable amounts of time and energy to fighting Al given the objective situation on the board. But knowing Al's strength as a player, this might nevertheless be a very smart strategy. Especially true if Al's playing skills are in an area of the game that does not become evident immediately.
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Perhaps for a player to be winning comes with spreading his units over more objectives. I am actually now trying to analyze Dawn of War 2 computer game, where despite having a degree of kingmaking there was a decent number of comebacks.

What I can say it (a combat realtime tactic/strategy game) featured:
- Upkeep: the more units, the less your income
- Goal of the game was to hold (for some time) physical victory points located on different parts of the map: you had to allocate troops to defend them from being captured. If you had none, you also could use all your troops to attack
- Death of a soldier not a big deal, death of whole unit a big deal ... if you managed to pick off a whole squad or vehicle, it was a big shift in balance
(it's an RTS, so quickness and dexterity played a role too, but that's often not appliable here)

Antistone wrote:
On the side-topic of reducing motivation for kingmaking, one way to keep all players in the running as long as possible is to increase the importance of late-game moves relative to early-game moves. (...)


It's also tricky because you need to ensure the "not-so-important" beginning is not viewed as a boring chore, one that is necessary to come on get to the part that actually matters.

But it's still a nice idea.

saneperson wrote:
It raises an interesting question. Is it possible to devise a set of rules that would forbid or punish targeting another player for non-game reasons? i.e. is it possible to construct rules that would make it difficult or impossible to attack another player because you don't like him personally, versus attacking another player because you believe it will help you to win the game? My first thought is that such a set of rules is logically impossible, because how would the rulebook "know" what your motives are when you take your turn?


I guess tie it with victory conditions. Can only target enemy with highest n. of VPs. Or the one holding game objectives. Or one that is in vicinity of my troops. Or one that targetted me last round.

Still agree it's tricky to decide this and game should likely refrain from it. And besides, there'd have to be many rules like this (perhaps all mentioned combined) and that would make the game pretty complex, confusing maybe
 
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Steve Hope
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Titan.

Cosmic Encounter, to a lesser degree.
 
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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@saneperson

"Compel" as in your second scenario, that requires significant interaction. When I first started this thread, I was only thinking in terms of "make it impossible."

The main reason for this line of thought was to encourage interaction while preventing any sort of overt favoritism AND defusing disinterested/throwaway play.

So really, there were three goals.
- Retain interaction.
- Prevent meta-targeting.
- Ensure game-centric play.

In my group, we have great fun "changing the goals" to enjoy a win. Usually the goal is to frustrate another player, even at the cost of us winning. Again, it's all in good fun, and we all recognize that. (*illustrative example below) But it does prompt the question: Can reasonable rules increase the difficulty of a player sabotaging the published goals of the game?

Games like Mall of Horror thrive on interaction with tons of table talk. Two players can gang up and repeatedly vote against the third, knocking that person out of the game easily if they want to. Someone who simply doesn't care can vote for themselves every single time, in every situation. They'll die quickly, but they don't care.

Games like Bang! temper this slightly with hidden roles/goals. But again, if you don't care about losing, and you only want to target Matt because he drank the last beer, you can do it even if he's the sheriff and you're the deputy. And you don't even like beer.

I'm wondering if this effort ultimately results in a luck-based game. I don't think so, though.

Here's a slightly more direct and systematic insight into my thought process:
The only way out is not to start playing in the first place, or quitting.
If you decide to play, you follow the rules as printed.
If you follow the rules as printed, you must always choose among actions that advance your position in the game.
It may affect other player's positions, but not by any meta criteria.
If you *really* choose to abandon the game goals, your actions may still impact other players' positions. You might even win because your actions will advance your position.

Just because you don't care or don't fully understand doesn't mean you should be able to avoid being competitive.

Now, I fully realize there's this weird problem where games like this sometimes feel like they're playing themselves, or your actions as a player have little meaning. I'd like to avoid that situation as well.

You can be dangerous without trying, but you can be really effective if you do try.

*An example I use to illustrate "personal winning conditions" was during my attempt to learn to play Puerto Rico. The instructor/player couldn't stop teaching me the "right way" to play and the "best action" to take. This was a bit frustrating, since I was trying to learn on my own and explore possibilities. While I certainly enjoy winning, I don't mind making mistakes, losing. So I decided to roleplay instead. I can't even remember how the game works, but my "character" got enough {whatever} to have a cup of java and pipe of tobacco, sit out on his veranda and watch across his property as the world went by. Yes, I was petty enough to enjoy driving the instructor nuts.
 
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Kevin Pluchar

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Pirates Cove is a game with mechanics that may be along the lines you are looking for.

In the game, each player uses a spinner to select where they want to sail their ship to (there are 5 locations). If two or more players select the same space, they fight at that space. If not, they simply collect the benefits of the space. In effect, if I want to beat up on Steve, I have to guess correctly where Steve is going, which requires me to analyze his board, think about what helps him most, etc.

More often than not, players don't take the time and mental effort to do that, so they simply select the spot that benefits them the most (or second-most, if they want to pick the lower reward location to try to avoid a fight)

This works well, especially since the victory point track is common knowledge, so everyone knows who is winning but in order to stop the winner you must think in game terms how to do it instead of just 'play card, target: winning player = beat up that player'
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