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Subject: Why are so many games 2-5 players? rss

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S fessey
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Just a quick question. I was speaking to friends of ours in the pub and they were very keen on having a games night - they are "virgin" eurogamers. Anyhow, we are 3 couples, therefore it would be a games night for 6.

However, most of my key intro games (catan, carcassonne, ticket to ride) are 2-5 players. Argh. Is there a reason why so many games are up to 5? Is this a common gaming number?

 
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Dave Ding Dong
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Look real close at this box cover to get a clue on what game publishers think:



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Davido
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Well, Inns and Cathedrals includes meeples for a 6th player. The extra tiles in I&C balances the extra player quite nicely. Or you could get a 6th set from meeplepeople.com and the tiles will run out a bit sooner, but still a solid game.

Bang! scales well up to 6 and even 8.

As for the reason why 2-5, dammifino
 
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brian
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I asked the same thing here but this was all of a response I could get:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/1485618#1485618
 
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Mark Casiglio
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I think a lot of games are even only 3-4! I think the more people you add the harder it is to control downtime and gamelength, two problems antithetical to Eurogame design.

Some 6-player suggestions that I've found have succeeded with new gamers: Catan: 5-6 Player Extension, RoboRally, Bohnanza, Citadels, Fearsome Floors (although I see you only rate that a six), Dragon's Gold, Metro, Tsuro and Scotland Yard.
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James Davis
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I would guess, because most families are not bigger than 5 these days. Plus if the game gets big enough they can have an expansion which adds more players.

For carcassonne go out and grab inns and cathedrals and youll be set with it.

 
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Rich Shipley
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Catan goes is for 3-4, but up to 6 with the expansion. A connection game like TTR is limited in player capacity.

Bohnanza is a good intro game with a larger group.
 
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Mark Casiglio
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BrianMola wrote:
I asked the same thing here but this was all of a response I could get:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/1485618#1485618


Joe Huber's response in this thread brings up another good point; components. I remember asking why the Ys board was printed with spaces for a 5th player, but only supported up to 4 (with a 5th player expansion being sold seperately), and the answer I got was that they felt the inclusion of components for a fifth player was going to move their cost/price out of their target range.

I imagine little wooden bits are one of the most expensive parts of a game.
 
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Adrian
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My understanding is that in countries like Germany, playing games is a common family pastime. Since most families have 1, 2 or 3 children plus one or two parents, a game that plays 2-5 will fit with most families.
 
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brian
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Little White Lies wrote:
My understanding is that in countries like Germany, playing games is a common family pastime. Since most families have 1, 2 or 3 children plus one or two parents, a game that plays 2-5 will fit with most families.

Don't go there! Or you'll get a lecture on world population growth. See the above thread if you don't believe me!
 
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Myke Madsen
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I think most games get designed for 3-4 players and then the publisher wants a bigger range of players so they expand the range by one on both ends.
 
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Matthew Wills
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sfessey wrote:
Is there a reason why so many games are up to 5?


Its pretty hard to think of many 6+ player games that don't suffer from excessive downtime.

There are some, sure. But not many.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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I think another part of it is that with more than five players, it can be difficult for everyone to sit comfortably at the same table and see all the relevant stuff. I was in an 8-player group that played Bohnanza recently, and there was a lot of straining (and, naturally, asking) about what cards people had.

A card table is perfect for a lot of 2-4 player games. Bigger than that, and you need to start thinking about a bigger table, which puts some people farther away from at least part of the board (or some of the bits).
 
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Sean Weitner
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This is an interesting question. I'm a game (co-)designer; let me think about the games we've made, and the reasons why the number of players got capped.

Cineplexity: You need a minimum of 4 to get the cracking, but there's really no upper limit except the practicality of getting people around the table and/or having the director hear the answers.

Lemons & Lemonade: This is a trick-taking card game. There are exactly 50 cards in the deck, and the game plays best with 5, meaning that all cards are dealt. You need at least 3 to get enough cards into play to make the game dynamic, and with more than 5, the hand size decreases too much, plus it becomes hard to manage the secret information in the game.

Our other card game: This game has 35 cards, and if you play 7, then all of the cards are dealt. This is a perfect-balance thing: The game has some delicate symmetries (the maximum hand score is also 35), and there's no way to make it bigger.

Our area majority game: This plays 3 or 4. The scale of the game prevents more than four players; the majorities could get too fractured.

Our abstract strategy game: This plays 2 to 6. There's a 7x7 playing surface -- 2 players play with 12 pieces, 3 play 8, 4 play 6, 5 play 5 and 6 play 4. You really couldn't play with more, because each player would get too few pieces, and the board can't be much bigger without making the game too long.

Our tile-placement game: This plays 2 to 6. Here the playspace would have to be expanded for each additional player, which dilutes the nature of the player interactions.

Our building game: This plays 3 to 5. At 5, the game can more somewhat slowly because it's not simultaneous action, although the nature of each turn involves common resources so players are continuously engaged. This is sort of a "magic" circumstance, because having up to 5 players fits very neatly with the rest of the game design -- it works with the nature of the building resources, with the final scoring, etc. It was easily to balance some very light special powers with five players. To add another player would really knock the thing off its axis, requiring a whole new approach to buildings and resources.

Our deduction/party game: We're not sure how many this plays yet. I think it could be as much as 10. You're trying to deduce things about other players, so more players just means more variables to consider, but in a pleasant brain-burning way.

Our spellcasting game: This plays 3 to 6. You cast spells on objects between you and the other players, so the physical placement of things if very important. There's a geometric relationship here: With 3 players, there are 3 targets; with 4 players, there are 6 targets; with 5 players, there are 10 targets; with 6 players there are 15 targets. Greater than six would be 21 targets, and suddenly the game gets unmanagable.

Our auction game: This plays 3 or 4. You're bidding on revenue opportunities, and to scale it up to more than 4 players, you would need to significantly increase the revenue opportunities.

So: Number of players is exponentially related to game scale. It's hard to do two (except in binary situations where you're trying to hurt one another), and it's hard to do 5 and up. Most eurogames model something, and it's easiest for 3 to 4 people to get their hands dirty working on it. There's enough competition and interaction for a managable amount of resources, and you can develop strategy. Bigger than that, though, as we see with spellcasting or the auction game, and suddenly the game can be overwhelmed by the necessary scale.
 
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