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Subject: Sweet, Sweet Asymmetry rss

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Marc Hawkins
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It really isn't every day that a game offers both players an incredibly similar range of options but they manage to feel incredibly different due to the game's structure.

Often times, asymmetrical games will offer uneven starting positions and/or differently balanced abilities (e.g., Claustrophobia, Twilight Struggle, BattleCON: Devastation of Indines, Puzzle Strike (Third Edition)). However, both sides here start off relatively the same (i.e., with identical economic valuations and provinces on the verge of protest), and both sides can do almost exactly the same thing with the cards (with the exception of playing the cards as events).

Where this game really stands out in terms of asymmetrical design, is with respect to its scoring conditions (of which there are 10 steps). Each step really manages to capture (and encourage play which is inspired by) the East's need to be socially egalitarian and the West's desire to achieve individualistic exceptionalism. These conditions (which you can ignore at your own risk) drive players to develop in rather distinctly meaningful manners -- which is usually the goal in asymmetrical games, but I've never seen it like this before.
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Martin G
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And one simple thing that you didn't mention: East wins if the game gets to the end without West winning. That forces West to drive the play while East can be responsive.
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Marc Hawkins
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qwertymartin wrote:
And one simple thing that you didn't mention: East wins if the game gets to the end without West winning. That forces West to drive the play while East can be responsive.


Of course, that too! Also interesting is the concurrent running down rule. If both the East and the West go into full protest, the East still wins. (This is happened in my 4th game - true story).
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Martin G
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Happened to me too!
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Roland Stone
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Not mentioned yet in your list of asymetric games, but Friedrich(by the same designer) offers four-way asymetry, with the four players being forced to drive the game each to a different extent - from the player of Russia and Sweden who has to hurry extremely as each of his two sides can get eliminated at any time after a certain point, to France who gets a warning when the end is near, to Austria who still must actively pursue victory, to Friedrich of Prussia who wins just by preventing anyone else from winning and holding out until the game is over. Just when exactly the game is over... that's not known in advance.

For me, that game is a perfect example of how to design a game such that each of four players feels distinctly different in required style of play.
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