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Subject: Maximum 3 player game... bad idea? rss

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LKN Guy
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Hey again... just wondering people's thoughts at designing a game for 2-3 players. Is that a bad idea? I guess thinking from the commercial side of things mostly.

This game I'm designing is heavy, and an extra player means a lot of extra cost...

It seems to play pretty well with 3 players, though I know a lot of gamers like to play with groups of 4 or more. Bad idea to just keep it that way? What about a 3 player version as the basic set, then expansion sets for extra players?

 
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Chris Broadbent
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Anything less than 7 players will alienate some groups. Anything designed to allow for up to 7 will alienate other groups. 2-4 players is a very common range for Euros.

3 Kingdoms is 3-player only. What you will want to be aware of is the number of qualifiers you place on your audience (if you are looking for commercial viability). When you say "heavy" do you mean physical mass or that it's a "heavy game"? If the latter, you've already narrowed your target audience considerably. However, they will also be more likely to have groups that play 2 and 3 players (you might want to include a 4th, still).

Games like Heloinox (and one other that I'm forgetting) that require you to buy additional copies to play with more than 2 people really rub me the wrong way. I typically don't buy those games out of principle. I'm not sure which principle - it just makes me frustrated, so I don't buy them. Incredibly unhelpful, but there it is.
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Antonie van der Tweel
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There are very few games suitable for 3 players; the main problem is mostly that 2 players gang up against the third, often for no game-connected reason. If you can avoid such an effect, then it is IMO okay.
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Dimitri Sirenko
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LKN_Guy wrote:

Hey again... just wondering people's thoughts at designing a game for 2-3 players. Is that a bad idea? I guess thinking from the commercial side of things mostly.

This game I'm designing is heavy, and an extra player means a lot of extra cost...

It seems to play pretty well with 3 players, though I know a lot of gamers like to play with groups of 4 or more. Bad idea to just keep it that way? What about a 3 player version as the basic set, then expansion sets for extra players?



not a bad idea at all. There are popular solitaire games and popular 1 vs 1 player games so in all honesty 3 is really good number. We were afraid of that too when designing our card game (still in alpha to beta stages). When we started designing we wanted to have a range of 2-6 or 3-5 players but then realized that the game plays 2-5 but the best excperience is 3-4 people. So instead of trying to break our brains around how to make this game playable without extending play time with 5 or 6 people we decided not to worry about it and focus on the amount of people that we felt was the best. I guess the point im trying to make is, sometimes the design of the game will inevitably dictate the amount of players and it is not a bad thing. I personally think that the only games that should ever go 6 and more people is party games like werewolf, cards against humanity, etc. But if your game is more immersive and content heavy dont be afraid to limit the amount of players. I would suggest though to try to make the game work with 4 people. I think 4 is a good number its not too little and not too much.
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Dimitri Sirenko
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avdtweel wrote:
There are very few games suitable for 3 players; the main problem is mostly that 2 players gang up against the third, often for no game-connected reason. If you can avoid such an effect, then it is IMO okay.


sure unless OP is actually going for that. There is really no right or wrong answer. It depends heavily on the game and its mechanics.
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Ron A
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avdtweel wrote:
There are very few games suitable for 3 players; the main problem is mostly that 2 players gang up against the third, often for no game-connected reason. If you can avoid such an effect, then it is IMO okay.


Diplomacy often reduces to 3 players and it is VERY stable with 3. If 2 people try to gang up on #3, Three just threatens to play an unbalanced defense unless One and Two play nice.

Maria, Churchill and Triumph & Tragedy are all well regarded games designed for 3 players.
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Jeremy Lennert
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clbroad wrote:
Games like Heloinox (and one other that I'm forgetting) that require you to buy additional copies to play with more than 2 people really rub me the wrong way. I typically don't buy those games out of principle. I'm not sure which principle - it just makes me frustrated, so I don't buy them. Incredibly unhelpful, but there it is.

Interesting; I was just reading a post from another user saying pretty much the opposite.

Personally, I think allowing customers to buy your products in smaller units is clearly a good thing, in principle--they can still buy the "combined" product all at once if they want, but you provide a cheaper option for players who don't need the full thing, or aren't sure.

Unfortunately, it's really tough to get the cost of a 2-player game all the way down to half the cost of a 4-player game, so providing that option usually means raising the cost of the 4-player package at least a little bit.
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LKN Guy
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clbroad wrote:
When you say "heavy" do you mean physical mass or that it's a "heavy game"?


I mean its got a lot of components... adding support for a 4th player means a lot of added cost to a game that's already pretty pricey to make.


Antonie van der Tweel wrote:
There are very few games suitable for 3 players; the main problem is mostly that 2 players gang up against the third, often for no game-connected reason. If you can avoid such an effect, then it is IMO okay.


Yeah so far it seems pretty solid with 3 players... I will need to testing it with a greater variety of players, but the rewards of defeating an opponent are pretty well balanced with the risks and costs of battle, so much of the time you are simply trying to keep whoever the strongest player is from getting too strong, rather than beating up on the weakest foe.
 
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LKN Guy
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It would be pretty easy to make "extra player packs" sold in a modular manner for this game... the game board and core elements of the game are versatile enough to support more than 3 players, and the player specific components could be sold separately at a reasonable price I think...

something like:

LKN Basic Set (2-3 players, red, blue, green)
Extra Player Pack (purple)
Extra Player Pack (yellow)

...etc
 
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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Take a look at The Road to Canterbury - it's a fantastic game for 2-3 people.
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Bleicher
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avdtweel wrote:
There are very few games suitable for 3 players; the main problem is mostly that 2 players gang up against the third, often for no game-connected reason. If you can avoid such an effect, then it is IMO okay.


This, and also another common problem in three player games with direct conflit: players A and B spend the game fighting with each other and then player C has an easy victory.

So it would be interesting to check how things are done in exclusively 3 player games. Three Kingdom Redux was already mentioned, but there are also older examples such as Martin Wallace's After the Flood and God's Playground, which from what I've read he designed using mechanics specifically aimed at three players.
 
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Jordan Ackerman
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Three Kingdoms Redux is an example of 3-player done right. There is a forced alliance between the two teams who scored the least in the last round, but ultimate alliance power is up to the last place player.

This structure helps maintain balance for three players quite well and it fits the historical theme.

You may have to consider whether your design is unique enough to work well with three players. It is a difficult player count to work with in some cases, but can be quite enjoyable when it works.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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LKN_Guy wrote:

Hey again... just wondering people's thoughts at designing a game for 2-3 players. Is that a bad idea? I guess thinking from the commercial side of things mostly.

This game I'm designing is heavy, and an extra player means a lot of extra cost...

It seems to play pretty well with 3 players, though I know a lot of gamers like to play with groups of 4 or more. Bad idea to just keep it that way? What about a 3 player version as the basic set, then expansion sets for extra players?



I think it was in 1994 that I bought my first starter deck of Magic the Gathering. I didn't pay attention to what I bought. It was an impulse buy while grabbing my usual bag of comic books.

So, yes, I was surprised when I got back to my dorm room and discovered I really only had half of a game. And a bit disappointed when I went back to the comic book store to learn that they had sold out.

That didn't stop me from playing a two player game with a shared deck. One week later, I got my second deck and a couple of boosters; and the friend who played the shared-deck games with me also bought two starters and two boosters.

Within a month, we had put our regular D&D campaign on hold, and replaced it with MtG games played out in the public dorm lounge... capturing more people who were watching to become regular players.

During a rare campus-wide blackout, we huddled together under flashlights and candles and started experimenting with 2-headed and emperor variants. And I should add that we attracted even more players with that strange sight of gaming by candlelight.

After midterm exams, I organized the first of many "Massive Melee" tournaments in the dorm's basement. Imagine, if you will, 40-something college students, sitting in one big circle, playing in one game.

(we limited attacks and spell effects to be limited to the four players nearest you ... two on the right, two on the left. So, every 3rd player can take a turn.)


Wait, what was my point?

Ah... I wanted to say that if it possible, the players will find a way to make the game work for any number of people. And if you sell the game in such a way that it is accessible to even the impulsive & curious buyer at $10-$15, people like my gang in college can make it a phenomenon.

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LKN Guy
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Great post, Stormtower. Thank you.
 
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Charles Ward
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I recently set out to create a thematic small box games for 1 to 3 players,
...with friendly, competitive, and cooperative game mode, and the solo game mode,
...with an option for increased difficulty.
...and feel pretty good about it.

As for player counts, is this what came to mind. Do you guys agree?

I think the solo thing is bigger than people think.

The 2 player game is good for MTG buddies, or couples.

The 3 player game is good for families.

Heavy games should cap at 5 due to time constraints.

Party games and other games should start at 4 and go up to 7 or more.
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