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Subject: Multi-player C&C rss

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Kevin Duke
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I decided to go ahead and post something here that I tried for a couple games a couple weeks ago.
I've made this posting on the Expansion page-- nothing new here if you have already seen it over there.

"Multi-player C&C."

Sort of.

I wanted to find a way to allow for more than a 1 on 1 game.

We mulled over how to "divide" a force-- the way the cards and board sections work, you would not want to have someone with troops only on the left flank-- and having both players "own" one flank and divide the middle was clumsy too.

I thought about each player having some troops in each section-- with on player's having his blocks on end and the other player laying his flat.

And then it occurred to me that this was all unneeded. Likewise, various thoughts about dividing the "command" hand were also unneeded.

C&C's mechanics don't involved all the troops having to move anyway. There is nothing preventing a person from moving the same single unit with every card played. So a multi-player game could work very simply, as it should.

For two players on the same side, each simply takes the "normal" hand that the side should hold-- if the "command" is 4 cards, each player gets 4 cards. They simply take turns playing a card and carrying out the orders.

With 4 players, think A and B are on one side (Rome), C and D are on the other (Carthage). The scenario says Rome moves first, so A plays a card, carries out a full move, executes any combats, and draws a new card. Then C does the same for Carthage. Then B for Rome, then D for Carthage, and back to A again. Battle backs can rotate, have the "next player" roll, decide to have the "hot dice" person roll, or however they want to deal with it.

I recommend players be allowed a brief chat before the game starts (and before they see their cards) but then be restricted from formal consulting after that. Of course, they can speak-- and any razzing for bad die rolling is encouraged. But they can't show each other what cards they have or "suggest" what the other tries to do.

A "first strike" card can be played by either player when his side is attacked.

There really are no rules complications or modifications needed. It's simply a way of allowing 4 people to get involved with the same game. Subject to personal style, it doesn't really alter the mechanics of the game. Yes, one player might be setting things up for a "line advance" that the other one messes up with a different card play, but such things are just part of the humor. While this lack of complete coordination might lengthen games a bit, we did not notice the effect.

While I've described playing with 4 people, this same style would work for those awkward "three of us, now what do we do?" situations we have all experienced. You could do this with 2 players versus 1.

We used to play tennis that way when we had 3 people-- the team with 2 covered the "doubles" court, the solo the smaller court. We'd let the single person serve, then one of the double, the single again, the other double, and the single a 5th time, and then we would rotate who the solo guy was. In a similar way, a 3 player "series" for C&C could finish one scenario, rotate so that the solo person now has a partner and so forth. In this case, the "doubles" do not have an advantage over the single player, and you may want to give them the "favored" side in a scenario to balance out the increased "friction" their army will endure.

We tried one scenario with 3 players and 2 more with 4 and had a good time with all of it.

I'd welcome comments or other folks to try this and see how it works for them.

Let me say that I am familiar with the "Overlord" multi-player version of Mem 44 and realize it might be possible to do something like that with CCA, but I really don't care to. That system puts most players in the position of just executing the card given to them, where I think one of the best parts of the game is deciding from your hand what you want to do. While that certainly gets muddied a bit if alternating card play with a partner and not discussing cards-- it may be harder to set up that perfect "Line Move" or the ultimate Clash of Shields-- but the trade off for involving more folks in the game seemed worth it to me.

I'm not knocking Overlord-- if you enjoy it, fine. But I would hope to keep the discussion here on this particular effort.

thanks
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Kevin Duke
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As a follow-up to the multi-player C&C idea, I had the joy of a gaming weekend get-away with a bunch of old friends this past weekend. We did many things, but C&C showed up a lot. There were 10 people present and only 2 of us had ever played the game. We ended up playing 9 separate games, each with 2 players per side, sometimes with a 5th person (me) adminstering while 4 others played and other times with one experienced person teamed with a newbie. Mixing "veterans and newbies" is a particularly easy way to introduce the game, since you have an active player on both sides who can help with understanding card text, looking at the available permutations, advising on placement, etc. Once everyone knows the game, I think it's better (faster) to not have consultations, partners showing hands, etc., but for the early points that's a good teaching tool.

As to the results, in 9 separate games we had 4 which came down to the "next banner wins" level and 2 others with only a 2 banner separation. It's hard to get much better than that.
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Taylor Liss
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Sounds like a very simple and effective way to do a 2 v 2 or a 1 v 2 scenario.

I wonder if their are any ways to do a 1v1v1v1 or 1v1v1 scenario...
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Kevin Duke
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Picenum, from Rome v Barbarians, makes a good 3 player game because there are two distinct Roman armies who "don't like each other."

Use my multiplayer rules for the Roman side with the following changes.

1. Players will alternate UNLESS they both agree to let one of their number take the next move.

2. The Romans each hold 5 cards but may not show each other their hands, discuss what they contain, swap cards, etc.

3. If either Roman player holds the "First Strike," he may use it against any servile attack, but if he uses it versus an attack against his "partner," the partner rolls the dice and collects any banners.

4. Due to the difficulties for the Romans, they only need 7 banners to win- HOWEVER, only ONE of the Romans will be declared the winner-- he who wins the most banners.

That is almost 1 v 1 v 1.


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Andreas
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Anyone thought about playing an epic scenario like that, maybe playing two cards per turn per side (one per player)?
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Ian Walker
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We played a game of 4 player CCA last night on a standard scenario (Battle Of Trebbia) using Kevin's suggested approach and the game worked very well for us.

It took longer to play out a battle but otherwise was fun for all involved.

We shall definitely be playing 4 player again, this way we have the full complement of multiplayer battles to look forward to. Perhaps I can wean them onto EPIC this way laugh

Thanks for the suggestion.

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Kevin Duke
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Ian, I'm glad you-all enjoyed it.

Yes, the games definitely take longer this way and, unless you have lots of time, are less likely to go smoothly into the "let's swap sides and play again" method, altho we have done that a couple times.

For that reason, I really aim for the more balanced scenarios and the larger victory banner totals.

Andreas, I haven't tried Epic this way (we've only had the bodies and time to try Epic a couple times anyway), but that would be an interesting approach. I really like the "one overall commander, 3 field commander" structure for Epic and am be less interested in a 4 player where, on each side, one is "overall and center" and the other is "left" and "right." Your way avoids that fiddly situation. You'll need to decide whether your "each player uses one card" system overrides the "Army command/Section command" things. It still might impact balance a lot, but it's a tilt that could work for either side. I'd be interested to hear your results.
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mateenyweeny
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I'm late to the party but this is a very clean and elegant way to add extra players to the game without introducing complicated mechanics that would take away from the game. I'd definitely like to try this out sometime.

Maybe allow the players on the same team to devise some sort of strategy before the game starts (preferably not in earshot of the opposing army) and then not allow too much communication during the scenario.
 
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Moritz Krohn
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I've played a lot of 2 vs 2 games the way Kevin Duke described and I can confirm that his system works really well and is a lot of fun. However I wonder how to generally balance a 2 vs 1 battle in terms of the number of cards available to each player / side. Would you give every player the number of cards as specificated in the battle plan? That would mean the 2-player side effectively having twice the amount of tactical options compared to the 1-player side. On the other hand the 2-player side suffers from a "divided mind", which the 1-player side - of course - does not, so this alone already might balance the advantage. But I'm not sure if that's enough, or if I should either cut cards from the 2-player side or give extra-cards to the 1-player side. What would you do?
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Kevin Duke
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On our 2 v 1 games, the factors you mention pretty much balance out.

The only key point I worry about is that the 2 side has twice as much chance of holding a First Strike card. We worried about that and addressed it by either:

1. Tossing out First Strike
2. Limiting First Strike to one player on the 2 side (if the other draws it, he draws again and reshuffles.)

The negative of #2 is that you KNOW when First Strike ISN'T out, which is a tilt.

Mostly it has worked out okay and, rather than play 1 on 1 with one watching, we'll go for it.
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James C
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This is wonderfully simple - thank you!

My main concern is w/r/t First Strike in a 2 v. 1 game. I think I'll deal with that by simply not letting the 2 player team draw that card twice in a row.

What I'll do is require the larger team to immediately discard First Strike if they draw it a second time, and re-shuffle the REMAINING deck - so as to increase the odds of the 1-person team getting it before the game is out.

There's still the problem of coordination (the right hand messing up what the left hand wants to do next), but I think that can be handled by putting the two strongest players on the same team.
 
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Steve N
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There is only one first strike in the deck. The only way that anyone could draw 2 is if Spartacus forced a reshuffle after first strike had already been played. Not at all likely.

I think Kevin is referring to the fact that the 2P team has twice as much chance of holding the first strike card at any one time. Although this is true in the initial deal, the fact remains that each side will still only draw one new card per turn. As such, the longer the game runs the more the probability will even itself out. If you are worried about it then I would recommend removing first strike from the deck. Otherwise, you could consider this marginal advantage to the 2P team as some sort of compensation for the fact that they will find it harder to coordinate successive moves (assuming the no-discussion rule is being enforced).
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James C
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That's a great point - after the initial draw, the odds of drawing the card are even.
Perhaps this is the best tweak then: one must discard First Strike and reshuffle if the card shows up in the initial draw.
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James C
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The more I think about this, the more I'm concerned.
First Strike is not the only good card - there are others which are very valuable.
For all of these cards the 2-player team has 2x the chance of being dealt one of them.
Then there's the risk of going several turns without having the card one needs (such as a left flank command, etc)
In all of these situations, the 2-player team has a distinct advantage.

There is no perfect fix.

A fairer one, the more I think about this, is to give the 1-player side two sets of cards as well. He / she must keep these cards in two separate piles during the game, and alternate in playing from them.

It's a bit cumbersome but diminishes the unfairness.

The drawback here is that this gives an advantage to the 1-player side, as he/she can coordinate among his 2 card sets whereas the 2-player team cannot.
Perhaps this can be remedied by allowing free communication between the 2 players on the 2-player team.
 
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Miguel [working on TENNISmind]
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Caen
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This is a good/easy option when occasionally you want to play a standard scenario with 3-4 players, I would not try to make it too fiddly. If it was going to be used in a tournament, maybe these issues should have to be addressed, but for occasional play I wouldn't mind.


PS: BTW James, do you realize that all your posts have "Test" as subject? It is not very useful when I want to know if I'm interested in the thread you are posting to (when I'm notified about contributions to the games I like)...
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James C
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Thanks.
For whatever reason, when I post via ipad, that's what happens ("test").
My apologies !
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Steve N
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I think you are over-thinking it, James. But that is just my opinion. The game is inherently assymetric anyway - even more so if you are trying to develop a 2-v-1 variant. If it was me I wouldn't be worrying about the odds of drawing the cards. Just play the game and have fun.
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