Daniel Solis
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Happy holidays, BGGers! In the spirit of giving, here's a free simple Prisoner's Dilemma-style party game you can play with a large group of friends and family. All you need is some loose change, a bunch of players, and some room to walk around. It helps to have a scoreboard and a timer visible to the whole group.


Troll's Dilemma
15 Minutes / 4-30 Players / 10 and up

Heads or tails? You decide. You only score points when players disagree with you. Try to form a big consensus, so you can betray it! But be careful how far you go, because there is a twist! Oh, such a twist.


Goal
After eight rounds of play, the player with the most points wins.


Set Up
Each player should have their own coin with clearly visible HEADS and TAILS sides. I recommend Othello chips since they're black on one side and white on the other, but any coin will do. Split up all players into separate sides of the room as evenly as possible. Note: These groups are not teams, they're competing within their own group to score the most points.


Play
Each round follows three basic phases:

Discuss: Start the timer. Players have 30 seconds to discuss whether to choose HEADS or TAILS.

Choose: When time is up, players must secretly make their choice, set their coin on the back of a hand and cover it with their other hand. There is no coin-flipping. You must decide.

Score: All players reveal their choices. Each player scores 1 point for each player who made a different choice than his own. For example, you're in a group of ten players: Six players have chosen HEADS while four players (including you) have chosen TAILS. Everyone who chose HEADS will get 4 points while everyone who chose TAILS will get 6 points. If everyone on a team agrees, no one gets any points.


Set Up the Next Round
Bring together both groups again. Whoever chose HEADS will go to one side of the room. Anyone who chose TAILS will go to the other side of the room. Thus, each round makes a new team.


And some additional notes...
There is a chance that one player will be lucky enough to be the outlier of their group, being the only player to choose HEADS or TAILS. This lets them score maximum points from their group, but it also mean their next group will be very small.

In a very extreme circumstance, there could be a group with just one player in it. He'll simply have to wait out this round, but still make a choice and hopefully join a big new group in the next round.

In either of these cases, big scorers from one round are usually going to be lower scorers in the subsequent round. I hope this will be a natural catch-up mechanic. Outliers in one round will be very eager to join a consensus in the next round, thus shading their interaction with the other players.

I'd love to hear if you give this game a shot at your local gathering. Have a wonderful new year, everybody!
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gobi wrote:
Set Up the Next Round
Bring together both groups again. Whoever chose HEADS will go to one side of the room. Anyone who chose TAILS will go to the other side of the room. Thus, each round makes a new team.

You didn't explain what the point of the two groups/teams are for.
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Morgan Swiers
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It's so you can interact with a more or less different set of people each time.

Sounds like fun. Thanks, Daniel! Going to be playing this with the family on Christmas for sure!

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Daniel Solis
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Yup, Morgan is correct.

The re-assignment of teams each round is what makes the social interaction varied and strategic. You could form an alliance with a partner so you could maximize your points against a larger consensus, but you don't know who will be on your team in the subsequent round, so you have to be careful about who you turn against.
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Steven Long
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Hey, It look interesting! Bluffing, guessing? Did you try it?
 
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Daniel Solis
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I'll be trying it this Christmas when the family gets together. I was trying to think of a game we could all play as a large group that didn't have the elimination of Werewolf/Mafia or performances like Charades/Cranium.
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Steven Long
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I dreamed about a game like this few years ago.
It am really interested but I worried that it'd be quite simple to make strategies. Maybe you should add role cards or something? I don't sure..
 
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Steven Long
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gobi wrote:

In a very extreme circumstance, there could be a group with just one player in it. He'll simply have to wait out this round, but still make a choice and hopefully join a big new group in the next round.


I think that he will hope to join a small group? because he'll gain more points?
 
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Confusion Under Fire
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black white wrote:
gobi wrote:

In a very extreme circumstance, there could be a group with just one player in it. He'll simply have to wait out this round, but still make a choice and hopefully join a big new group in the next round.


I think that he will hope to join a small group? because he'll gain more points?


No, the more people who pick the opposite will mean more points for that player. The bigger a group the more chance of there being more opposites. But...the more opposites there is the smaller the "sames" there are for the next round.

Really simple and clean mechanic that is well balanced, I love it. Easy to paste on a theme for younger players too.
 
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Daniel Solis
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I tried to think of a theme for this at first, but I think in the end I'd just settle for getting family to play the game at all. A weird theme might turn them off.
 
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Stijn Hommes
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I so wouldn't want to play this game with Derren Brown. He would know exactly what the best play was every single time...
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Morgan Swiers
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Agreed, but I'd watch the heck out of the video.
 
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Can you explain where the strategy is? Whether there are two groups or not, everyone picks what they want when it comes time for it. How does talking in the group help that at all? At best, if everyone agrees to what they agree on as a group, the best outcome is half heads and half tails, if anyone deviates from that, they only hurt themselves.
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Eli Alampay
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Sounds fun. Any suggestions on how everyone keeps score?
 
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Marc Nelson Jr.
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It seems like there should be some reward for consensus, but a potentially higher reward for betraying the group. i.e. everyone scores 1 point for each member in a group with consensus, 3 for being the only outlier, and 0 for any other mix. (3 points for the outlier gives an incentive to break couples.)

So a big group that sticks together scores big, but the bigger the group gets, the less likely everyone will be true.

I'd also let people form their groups - the arguing being the "play" of the game. "Don't let Aunt Susan in - she's a liar!"
 
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Marc Nelson Jr.
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tacoma_boy wrote:
Sounds fun. Any suggestions on how everyone keeps score?


Star stickers!
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Daniel Solis
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I played this last night with a small group of six players, using red and blue chips for the binary choice. We played two games, five rounds each, with the highest individual scorer being the winner. Some players employed the "honestly, always choose the same color" strategy while others randomized blindly, while still others went blindly random, and others kept a strategy of switching periodically.

With this small of a group, it's hard to say whether any of our results will scale, but it seemed to some that random is only slightly worse than an actual conscious strategy. In other words, scores were within five points of each other at the end of each game, but there was always a clear winner, even if they only won by 1 point.

Some tweaks to consider:

- Formalize the discussion phase so it's a simple statement: "I choose red/blue."

- Use star stickers so everyone knows how many points you have.

- Use another set of stickers to track how many times you've lied. (This might be too much of a hassle in play, but it's an interesting social dimension.

- Randomize game length so you're not quite sure when the last round will be. Perhaps a card draw?
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Derek H
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marcnelsonjr wrote:
It seems like there should be some reward for consensus, but a potentially higher reward for betraying the group. i.e. everyone scores 1 point for each member in a group with consensus, 3 for being the only outlier, and 0 for any other mix. (3 points for the outlier gives an incentive to break couples.)

I think Daniel's original rules seem really clear and could work well. With a group of gamers, you could start adding variants...
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Derek H
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tacoma_boy wrote:
Sounds fun. Any suggestions on how everyone keeps score?

Use a deck (or two) of cards. Easy to hold onto, make change etc. But if I was using this method, I would also modify the scoring a teeny bit:
Quote:
There is a chance that one player will be lucky enough to be the outlier of their group, being the only player to choose HEADS or TAILS.

And add: In this case, the other players do not score ANY points.
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Barry Smith
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This might make things a bit more complex but just an idea.

Game would require one of these cards with a double sided dial (red/blue) and a double sided chip (red/blue) for each player.

I've set 120 as the max score but if playtesting reveals that players regularly score more you could up it.

The number on the outside should probably be 0-7 now I think about it but represent the number of times lied.

The player must hold their card so that the face of the colour they say they are going to reveal is shown and so that the number of times they've lied is the number at the top.

They then have their coin the palm of their hand (or face down on a table or whatever) and reveal and game plays out as normal.

Quick edit -
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I also purchased this and do not know what to do with it!
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gobi wrote:

- Use star stickers so everyone knows how many points you have.

- Use another set of stickers to track how many times you've lied. (This might be too much of a hassle in play, but it's an interesting social dimension.


These two can be done together quite easily. Have 2 colours of star stickers (maybe red and gold). When you lie, the points you earn that round will be the red stickers. When you are honest, the points you earn that round will be gold stickers.

Red and gold stickers are worth the same amount of points (1 point per sticker), but if your score is kept by stickers on a name badge (or something easily visible to others in your group), then at a glance players can see if you've earned more points by lying or more points by telling the truth.
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Daniel Solis
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That's a good idea! The worry I have is that it's actually pretty hard to keep track of what everyone says they're going to choose, especially when discussions get heated. I'll have to think this one over, but it adds enough to the social dynamic that the logistics ought to be managed anyway.
 
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