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Subject: Player Goal Cards rss

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Keith Sink
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Hi all,

I'm working on a game that is using Player Goal cards that give the players a bonus at the end of the game if they achieve certain goals. Each player is given one random card at the start of the game.

Here are the resources of the game.
==================================
- 4 colored cubes representing different resources
- 3 color of alien ships(different skill levels).
- Buildings (part of a tech tree). Level 1, 2 3.
- Cards which act against others.

Here are the goals I currently have:
===================================
+5 PP if you have destroyed more Green Alien ships than any other player.
+5 PP if you have destroyed more Yellow Alien ships than any other player.
+5 PP if you have destroyed more Red Alien ships than any other player.
+5 PP if you have the largest number of military units at the end of the game
+5 PP if you have the most buildings at the end of the game
+5 PP if you have played the most Espionage Cards

People seem to like all the goals except for the Green, Yellow, and Red ships since the Red one would be harder to accomplish.

My question to you folks is:
1. Do you have some suggestions or could point me to resources that may have some more ideas?
2. What do you think of these goals?

Thanks for everyone's feedback and suggestions.
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Benj Davis
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qiagen wrote:
Am I correct in interpreting that red ships > yellow ships > green ships, in terms of difficulty to destroy?

If red ships are more difficult to destroy, then that must be true for all players - and the player with that goal only has to destroy one more red ship than the next highest player. If the other players aren't going to waste resources attacking red ships, that player shouldn't be at an undue disadvantage (I assume).


Unless destroying red ships is already more rewarding than destroying other kinds of ships (but harder), in which case everyone has a strong reason to destroy them, but the person with that secret goal has a stronger one.
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Steve Zagieboylo
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A couple thoughts on personal goals:

Lords of Waterdeep has completely symmetrical personal goals except one, and that one is stupidly unbalancing. They are all "+2 points for each mission of types X and Y that you accomplish," where X and Y are two of the four mission types. The different mission types typically use different resources, but are equivalent. Then there is one personal goal of "+4 points for each building you build." (I might be mis-remembering the numbers, here.)

Anyway, we've removed this card from the game in our game group. If one person has it and the others don't work to starve him from getting buildings, he wins easily. Typically, it is left to the player just before him, who either lets him win or ruins his own chance to allow for a fair chance of the other players. I realize I am exaggerating the case, here, but it just feels wrong when all the others are symmetrical.

Without the odd one, these work well because it encourages choosing particular mission types but the extra score is not really significant. Also, it is important that, in this game, you have some choice in which missions you pick up -- it isn't just random which ones you are given, so this just becomes one aspect of how you choose them.

Arctic Scavengers, in the first expansion, added an extra bit where whoever had the most of each of three or four different things (I forget what) got an extra 5 points. In a game with scores typically in the 20's, 5 points is a lot. These weren't personal goals, just an extra scoring opportunity at the end. We found it to be just a silly tumor on the side of the game. Either those buildings were worth making on their own or they weren't, and giving the side scoring opportunity just seemed like a extra bit that someone wanted to compensate for the extra thing not really being worth making in the first place.

I think, however, that your application of personal goals might be the right one, though I don't know your game well enough to be able to say. Ideally, there should be different strategies for playing, all of which "work" -- focusing on military, on buildings, on espionage, etc. The personal goals encourage you to try a particular strategy, perhaps not one you would otherwise go for. This is a good thing.

However, if the personal goals encourage something that you would normally wouldn't want to do at all, then they are just annoying. You said that the Red ships goal would be harder to accomplish. Is that because red ships are generally best ignored? Or because red ships are so numerous and killed in clusters that it is essentially luck who kills the most? A personal goal like that, where the person with that goal doesn't really have any control over winning it, is a terrible idea. The goals should create decision tension, weighing opportunity costs against value.

You might consider, rather than making the goals be all or nothing, make them gradual, like the symmetrical goals in Lords of Waterdeep. So one person might get +2 points per building built, and another person might get +1 point per green ship destroyed. So, rather than a sort of looming tension of "Will I get the bonus or not?" that is only resolved at the end, it is a turn-by-turn tension of "Is the bonus enough on this action to make me attack the green ship instead of the yellow one which would otherwise be more valuable?" and it (the tension) is resolved immediately (until the next time it comes up, but that's a new decision).

BTW, don't make the only difference in the ships be green vs. red. 6-9% of males are red-green colorblind.
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Jake Staines
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Zag24 wrote:

Anyway, we've removed this card from the game in our game group. If one person has it and the others don't work to starve him from getting buildings, he wins easily. Typically, it is left to the player just before him, who either lets him win or ruins his own chance to allow for a fair chance of the other players.


I believe it's +4 for the mission-based ones and +6 for the buildings.

I don't think it's so unbalanced as you present, though. If you're finding that the builder Lord always wins, you must have much lower mission-goal scores than the people I play with get... or perhaps the people in your group don't consider the value of owning buildings to be as high as the people I play with do? You should steer clear of the Skullport expansion, the lords in that have a much wider variety of asymmetric goals!

Personally I think asymmetric goals are far more interesting than symmetric ones, so long as you can balance them to be approximately as difficult as each other. I suspect that the problem Waterdeep has isn't that the builder goal is unbalanced, it's that its balance is easily thrown off if a group is - for example - populated by people who think buildings are useless unless you have that goal because they don't directly give you VPs.
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Keith Sink
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qiagen wrote:
Am I correct in interpreting that red ships > yellow ships > green ships, in terms of difficulty to destroy?

If red ships are more difficult to destroy, then that must be true for all players - and the player with that goal only has to destroy one more red ship than the next highest player. If the other players aren't going to waste resources attacking red ships, that player shouldn't be at an undue disadvantage (I assume).

Also: are the goals hidden information?

Yes. The level of difficulty is Green, then Yellow, and Red(Hardest).
Yes. The goals are hidden from other players.
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Steve Zagieboylo
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Bichatse wrote:
Personally I think asymmetric goals are far more interesting than symmetric ones, so long as you can balance them to be approximately as difficult as each other.

I agree with this completely. However, it's awkward when they are all symmetric except one, and I think that's more the source of my group's unhappiness.

Re Red ships being hardest to kill: Possibly that makes them the easiest to be the leader in, not the hardest. Imagine if they are a fair bit harder to kill but don't give any extra points -- then you'd only have to kill one and everyone else would avoid them.

That is an argument, though, not to use the approach I suggested earlier, which is that one player just gets a smallish bonus for each one he kills, unless the bonuses scale with the difficulty along with the points earned. Balancing this is not too hard -- you just play twenty or so games (possibly solo), and keep track of how many of each type of thing is killed/built/accomplished, overall (averaged per person). Then you assume that every bonus is worth the same, and divide the total number of points you expect the bonus to give you with the number of that thing that an average player accomplishes.

This isn't perfect, because I could see a situation where generally people kill 10 yellow ships per game, but there really isn't an opportunity to increase this much because there are only so many available to kill. Whereas, generally people build 2 buildings per game, but increasing this to 4 or 5 is not very hard and arguably an excellent strategy, anyway. Ok. I retract my statement that it is pretty easy to balance.

This made me think of another issue with the bonuses as you've planned them. If they are significant enough, then everyone will make sure that they've achieved their own bonus, so it becomes a requirement of winning rather than a bonus. Since each person is trying for a different bonus, probably everyone will get it. Imagine if the personal goal card said, "You have to kill more green ships than anyone else or you get -5 points." This would leave a bad taste in the mouth, but it is essentially the same thing.
 
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