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

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: The best form of competitive game is 1 v 1 rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
k k
msg tools
I always believe that true competition is usually one versus one. It can be one person playing against another, or one group playing against another group. However, recently I was challenged by the idea that 1 vs 1 is not necessarily the best, which I would like to hear your opinions.

For me, playing a 1 vs 1 game makes it easier to see your relative strength compared to the other player. In fact, this concept has quite a long history. For example a martial artist challenge another to see who is stronger. Ancient games like chess, go and backgammon are 2 player games. Even in sports games, it is usually one side against another. In my opinion, if there are more than 1 side competing in a game, the winner might be determined by petty diplomacy or king maker. In that case, a stronger player may have been brought down by two or more weaker players, making the strongest (and supposed victor) losing. (Although it can be said that games with 3 players or more may need diplomatic skills). It is also difficult to determine the strength of a player and how far he improved since his win or lost may be the result of king maker.

However, one can say that 1 vs 1 is hardly realistic at all. For example in business and economy, there are many different factions depending or competing (or both) with one another that can't be simulated in a 1 vs 1 paradigm. In history, although rivalry and wars are often depicted as one against another, in closer examination, you usually find that there are actually multi-sided conflicts. Recently, I also found out about 3 sided football, where people say is more of a thinking game than the ordinary 2 sided football which is called a simple us vs them mentality. And of course like what I said in the previous paragraph, games with more than 2 sides have the diplomacy element, which is also a skill.

I think this is getting more and more philosophical. Anyway, what are your thoughts?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kasper Lauest
Denmark
Helsinge
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yup, I agree. Multiplayer MAY be more fun (for some), but in terms of pure competitiveness, 1 on 1 csn't be beaten.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Johnson
United States
Cottage Grove
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CCGer wrote:
In fact, this concept has quite a long history. For example a martial artist challenge another to see who is stronger.

Bruce Lee would disagree.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Kitching
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A lot depends upon the game but there is a certain "zero sum" element to 2 player games that can reduce the complexity of the game: for example, in Smallworld, if I capture a territory from a neutral I gain 1 point but if I capture it from you, I gain 1 and you lose 1, so it is worth double, plus you lose a unit.

A lot of trading becomes pointless: if I gain a point and you gain a point, then I've just wasted an action but if I gain 2 points and you gain a point, you're not going to agree. In a four player game, I can trade 1 for 2 with the other players and still come out ahead by 1 point.

Also the military balance can be simpler: in Through the Ages, all I need is a similar military strength, some defence cards and an aggression card and any attack will either be defeated or leave open a counter attack that will regain all of my losses. In a four player game, that's not enough defence and I can't counter attack all three opponents.

On the other hand, two player offers no safety net if you make a mistake: your opponent can attack without worrying about other players and if you don't have a counter to that attack, you lose.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
My thoughts? It all boils down to personal preference. Some like the control of 1 vs. 1: no irritating diplomatic arguments, no Nash equilibria, no petty arguments. Just you, an opponent, and the game system: go, and may the best player win. (Or the best player not lose first, there is a difference.) Others like precisely those interpersonal aspects: twisting the knife, being a petty jackass, pushing annoying buttons, and so forth. You correctly conclude that these aspects are as much a skill as, paraphrasing, clean strategic and tactical insight. You also conclude correctly that some mechanisms simply cannot be done in a 1 vs. 1 environment. Hence it is impossible to state that competitively speaking 1 vs. 1 is 'better' in general.

I also think that people place too much emphasis on kingmaking. I see it as an unavoidable side effect of pitting multiple players against each other at the same time. This situation affects everything, including the definition of 'winning' and 'losing'. Usually this is glossed over, or reduced to the familiar binary situation of 1 vs. '1' (where '1' is 'all the others'), but it bubbles to the surface in the rare case a designer creates a difference between 'losing' and 'finishing 2nd in a 5P-game'.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andi Hub
Germany
Frankfurt
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I also think that 1 vs. 1 is most competitive, but in my view real multiplayer (3+) rather reflects the competiveness in western society (economy and social interactions): You try to achieve your best and be better than your competitors. You can act against your opponents, but if you unduly attack only one, a third party will win. In many games there is also some cooperative aspect, in which your best move also gives another player the opportunity for a good move. With these mechanisms, general "welfare" (e.g. number of total VP in a game or economic output in society) is most likely more increased than by a sheer 1 vs. 1 competitiveness.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
cymric wrote:
My thoughts? It all boils down to personal preference.


Bingo!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The One
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
In our gaming group we love multiplayer, until one person starts to show a clear lead. Then it's one versus many.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Magic Pink
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
In my experience 1vs1 is the most boring and the most likely to lead to whining and table flipping. So I never do it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Law
United Kingdom
Cambridge
Cambridgeshire
flag msg tools
mb
CCGer wrote:
I always believe that true competition is usually one versus one.


That depends entirely on what "competition" means to you. If it means "Find out who's the better chess player", 1v1. If it means "Who's best at Power Grid", that question by definition involves coming first among a number of players. Also, it's hard to have a competition of games with, say, an auction mechanic, without multiple players. "Who's the best at auction games?".

Playing a multiplayer game with just 2 players (generally) involves using a slightly different set of skills than with >2 players. So for, say, Dominion, you're finding out "Who's better at 2-player Dominion?".
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Magic Pink wrote:
In my experience 1vs1 is the most boring and the most likely to lead to whining and table flipping. So I never do it.

Interesting; my experience is the opposite!

It seems to me that people seem more likely to get annoyed/upset if they are pointlessly ganged up on by several opponents, or if some "loose cannon" player decides to attack them just to be funny and takes them both down and hands victory to a 3rd player, or if one player always sacrifices their own position to help their Significant Other win, etc.


(As for the more subjective issue of "boring" - everyone's got their own personal preferences about gaming... Plenty of 2-player games are quite interesting to me.)
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Thunkd
United States
Florence
MA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Most of the 2 player games I play are zero sum perfect information games, like Chess or Go. And you're right... those games are good at demonstrating the better player. But the thing about multiplayer games is that things aren't so cut and dried. There are more moving parts, things aren't so black and white, and it really becomes complex fast. It can require more mental effort to keep track of what is going on, and evaluate who is likely to do what, who is actually a threat or not, etc. It tests different skills than a strictly two player game will.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The One
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
The only worthy competition is with yourself.

Competition with those outside of you is limited by their abilities. When you reach a point where you can consistently beat them then you're no longer learning from them.

Competition with yourself and you're always against an evenly matched opponent. To win you must continually grow, for in every rematch you'll find your opponent has also grown since your last meeting.

Or something.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Magic Pink wrote:
In my experience 1vs1 is the most boring and the most likely to lead to whining and table flipping. So I never do it.


You need to learn to control your temper then.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roman Kowalewski
Poland
Warsaw
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
I enjoy 1v1 very much. Mind games are so fun and when you outplay your opponent this way it feels great and it doesn't feel bad when you lose. When i win by a kingmaking i think that it was just a 50% win and if i lose by it i feel a little bit cheated out of a win. I guess this is why many players don't like this kind of event apear in a game.

E.G.
I recently won a A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) after a close finish, my plan to win was reaveled and a third party was forced to decide who will win. Meh, i don't like it solved like this. On one hand i got great (in my opinion) plan to sneak a win out of another players hands, on the other he had a dominant position and there was no way he could have been stopped later during a game. Should i try to convince the other guy to pick me? I guess so. But it doesn't feel right, for me at least. Its not like i can offer him anything inside a game . What arguements should i use? Well i said the there is no way he would block me, if it wasn't for another contestant for a win, who revealed my plan. And that there is no way we can block the other guy and he agreed. Pure kingmaking in action feels bad for everyone involved, in my opinion.

When you talk about 1v1 games not being realistic i couldn't help noticing that 3-~10 players are closer to 7 000 000 000 players than 2 but it doesn't metter, does it? Playing board games is a real part of our lifes. And them being realistic is not a point. I love playing agricola but i have no intention of becoming a farmer for few years, along with my friend, and then compering our farms.

People are competetive, if we weren't we would still be in the ocean and very small(or in Eden). Trying ourselves with friends is a great experience and games let us do this in a new modern way.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jacek Wieszaczewski
Poland
Wrocław
Poland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Magic Pink wrote:
In my experience 1vs1 is the most boring and the most likely to lead to whining and table flipping. So I never do it.
2 player games always give the player who no longer sees chance to win an option to forfeit and start a new game. With more players it's a problem because it usually destroys the game for remaining players.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Blome
Germany
Herne
NRW
flag msg tools
badge
Special Agent Simon - Essen 2015
Avatar
mb
For me, 1-on-1 feels like the most competitive number in gaming. When I look for competitive play, I much prefer 2-player over multiplayer. I used to play competitive chess for quite some time, so there is bias, of course.

Multiplayer (conflict) games with 4-5 players are common in my groups. But with 3+ players there is always a certain percentage of chaos and unpredictable/unreasonable behavior, which can spoil the competition.

russ wrote:
Magic Pink wrote:
In my experience 1vs1 is the most boring and the most likely to lead to whining and table flipping. So I never do it.

Interesting; my experience is the opposite!

It seems to me that people seem more likely to get annoyed/upset if they are pointlessly ganged up on by several opponents, or if some "loose cannon" player decides to attack them just to be funny and takes them both down and hands victory to a 3rd player, or if one player always sacrifices their own position to help their Significant Other win, etc.

Exactly that. Both of these happened in my gaming sessions just recently.

In a 5-player game of Risk Legacy there is a runaway leader, who can only be stopped, if at least 2 of the players before her make an alliance to attack her. So an alliance is made in the spirit that the game will go on, and several players would still have the chance to compete for vicory (diplomacy skill). But out of the blue, another player (not part of either side) decides that it's time to finish the game and attacks one of the alliance players, which doesn't help his position in any way. As a consequence, the alliance is too weak, the leader then wins on his next turn. Fulfilling competition? No, annoyed comments about the player not playing to win.

In a 4-player game of Terra Mystica one player makes an attempt to steal a certain key square from her boyfriend. It is his turn and he could easily prevent the steal by simply occupying that square and is about to do so. But then she starts to argue with him on a personal level (it would be mean to play against one's girlfriend, he should help her against the others etc.). The other players (including me) tell him it would be bad for him in the long run. But he lets the space free, which crippled his position in such a way that he would lose by a significant margin in the end. Instead, he blocks another player in a different area on the board, because she tells him so. That play was as harmful for him as it was for the other player - lose-lose-situation. His girlfriend gains a huge lead because of her superior connection resulting from that key square. Is that diplomatic skill?

I find that multiplayer games give the opportunity to be truly competitive, when all of the players try their best and don't let a random mood or a personal relationship outside-of-the-game influence their decisions or provoke kingmaking, but that depends totally on the players involved. 2-player games are not affected by such things.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
BenOni wrote:
In a 5-player game of Risk Legacy there is a runaway leader, who can only be stopped, if at least 2 of the players before her make an alliance to attack her. [...] Fulfilling competition? No, annoyed comments about the player not playing to win.

At the same time player #4, who apparently can do nothing anymore to win, is expected to meekly sit out the race between player #1 and players #2 and #3. There is no fulfilling competion for him in that case. If that situation lasts for a short period of time, I would consider the surprise attack spiteful and unnecessary. If that situation lasts for a long period of time, I'm more sympathetic to his cause. That is even worse than outright elimination: player #4 is now a victim of what I from hereon will call zombiefication.

Playing to win is an important guideline, but it doesn't tell you what to do if you are no longer able to play to win. Sometimes there is an important lesson to be learned if you do continue, but sometimes there is not. That is why I think longer games should always come with rules that allow a player to withdraw gracefully: it is better for his/her mood, it is better for the mood at the table, and the players who remain can engage in what they perceive as an interesting competition without fear of surprise stabs in the back.

Quote:
In a 4-player game of Terra Mystica one player makes an attempt to steal a certain key square from her boyfriend. [...] Is that diplomatic skill?

Of course: it's making use of an existing relation and knowing that the two still have to drive home in the same car and sleep in the same bed. It's similar to, but not as powerful as, knowing that one player prefers certain paths in a game over others. But then you could argue that the couple comes in with an unfair advantage as you cannot hope to compete on an equal personal level, and that a handicap is in order for as long as she abuses the relation with her BF to gain the upper hand. The BF is, after all, bullied into no longer playing to win, and that means that a lot of quirky things can happen.

The problem is really that it is a sort-of taboo to announce your intent to withdraw from the game... apart from the fact that most games don't handle this situation at all well.

And it still doesn't provide conclusive evidence that 1 vs. 1 is competitively better than other configurations :meeple:.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kingbird X
United States
nyc
New York
flag msg tools
One bad thing about one on one is that it is far less forgiving. Then the fun part may be a little bit twisted. More like brain burning fun. You may not always in astatus to meet that requirement. Then you make very obvious and stupid mistakes, and that may ruin the game.

Also note that most one on one games are either symmetric (less fun) or have to include big swing of luck to make it somewhat balanced.

I highly recommend 2vs2. And compare the worse score in the team to decide the wimner. Afterall most good games are multiplayer. You cannot miss all of them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kingbird X
United States
nyc
New York
flag msg tools
A good cure for these situation is that you guys keep tracking the scores from game to game. Then even if one cannot be the first does not necessarily mean he will sabotage the first to get himself in a worse place, which will lower his cumulative performance in that particular game. Say whoever lose after 5 games will pay for the beer will be a good start, lol
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jacek Wieszaczewski
Poland
Wrocław
Poland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
kingbird123 wrote:
Then you make very obvious and stupid mistakes, and that may ruin the game.

If you make a stupid mistake in a 2-player game which makes the game decided, you can simply forfeit and start a new game with fresh mind. If you do so in a 3+-player game, you have no chance to win but still have to play because two other players can still win.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
True_Dave wrote:
The only worthy competition is with yourself.

Competition with those outside of you is limited by their abilities. When you reach a point where you can consistently beat them then you're no longer learning from them.

Competition with yourself and you're always against an evenly matched opponent. To win you must continually grow, for in every rematch you'll find your opponent has also grown since your last meeting.

Or something.


What? No karma reference?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Charters
United States
Chandler
Arizona
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with the sentiment that 1v1 games make for the best competition. Chess being the perfect example. I would add that although there aren't as many of them; '1 v many' games or even team games (2V2, 3V3, etc...) also make for good competition.

3, 4, or 5 player games can be a little touchy.....if you can 'attack' any player in the game, but choose to pick on 'that one person,' that person may feel a little put out. In those types of games you should be 'fair' and attack the player in the lead (in other words make the move that will help you win). But 1 on 1 games don't have the danger of offending someone....there is only one person to go after so no apologies needed!

The only thing you have to watch out for in a 1:1 game is artifically extending a game you've already won (example: marching all your pawns down the board to make 4 queens, rather than checkmating with one).

The other advantage of 1:1 games is that when the outcome has been decided on the board, you can resign the game and give it another go. This concept doesn't work in 3,4,5 player games. Once it's decided that you're going to lose its very bad gamesmanship not to play it through to the end.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The One
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
Eldard wrote:
What? No karma reference?


What did you bring that bitch into it for?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kingbird X
United States
nyc
New York
flag msg tools
hsiale wrote:
kingbird123 wrote:
Then you make very obvious and stupid mistakes, and that may ruin the game.

If you make a stupid mistake in a 2-player game which makes the game decided, you can simply forfeit and start a new game with fresh mind. If you do so in a 3+-player game, you have no chance to win but still have to play because two other players can still win.


Not really the same. Once you made mistakes in 1on1, your opponent will try his best not letting you recover. However if in a 5 player game, you may then be off target and still has a chance to steal a win. On board situations are not always perfectly assessed in a multiplayer game.

Also consider most war games are several hours long. I do not think you want to restart the game after 2 hours of play. You resign the game in the middle of the process. Your opponent may th8nk you punish him with your own mistake. After all no one like a game resigned in the middle.
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.