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Subject: The Secret of FIVE rss

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Hunga Dunga
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Ok, so if you thought that by clicking on this thread you would find out the secret of FIVE, you'd be wrong.

I have no idea what the secret of FIVE is.

But I'm hoping you might know. And tell me.

Why design a board game for TWO to FIVE players?

What are the odds you'll have FIVE people?

I have a family of FOUR, which fits us really nicely in between TWO to FIVE, and if one of us isn't interested in playing, well, we still have THREE, which can still operate as QUORUM.

But what are the chances of ONE extra person showing up?

It's more likely that TWO extra people would show up, or THREE, or FOUR, making SIX or SEVEN or EIGHT players - ALL disqualified from playing the game for TWO to FIVE players.

"I'm SORRY. You ALL have to go home now. Or stay and play CHARADES."

Do they design games this way for families of THREE? So they can invite a couple over for a boardgame and show off their ONLY CHILD?

Is this some kind of conspiracy?

I get confused just thinking about this.

Someone please help.
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Anthony Simons
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Apparently, early in the history of the German gaming industry - way back in the mists of time - a decision was made that the optimum number of players for a family game was four, the maximum was five.

I can only speculate that this is the result of social studies which, in some Western countries at least, describes the average nuclear family as having two parents and two-point-four children.

From a design viewpoint, the four player option would seem to be better in the vast majority of cases. There are perhaps many reasons for that; the one reason I favour is that in theory, in a multiplayer game with sufficient player interaction one player will offset one other player. With five this will mean there's an odd man out; if the game is only balanced towards pairs then players A and B will balance out, C and D will also balance out, and E will either run away with it or trail way behind the others. Just a blind theory; I can't really think of a good example.

I too am frustrated at the number of games which stop at five players; in a number of cases I believe they could easily extend to six players and result in a better game.
 
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Walt
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The secret is 3+3=6.

No, really. And the reason many other games are 2-4 is that 2+3=5.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The idea is that any number of players can be accommodated. Once you get to six players, you break into two 3-player games, or a 2-player plus a 4-player. For 2-4 games, five players break into 2- and a 3-player games. When you get to 11 or 9 players, respectively, you have many options for distributing players to games. In any case, when you get too big for a 2-5, 3-5, or 2-4 game, you can play the previous game and have 3 players for a game with any of the common player ranges.

I think another contributing factor may be that much gaming in the US is done on 6-8 person banquet or dining tables, while much non-US gaming is done in smaller-than-US homes, with smaller tables. So games that accommodate 6 or even 8 are more common smong US games.
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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I often have Five players.
 
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Sight Reader
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Hungadunga wrote:
I have no idea what the secret of FIVE is.

But I'm hoping you might know. And tell me.


I always assumed that these games were targeted for a social environment much like that of a standard Bridge or Poker night in the U.S. back in the 1950's... that is, two neighboring adult couples w/o kids (it's hard enough synchronizing 2 schedules) getting together for an evening of games, give or take an absentee or a guest.
 
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Get up, get up, get up, get down, fall over.
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What about those of us with families of 5? If 2.4 kids is the 'traditional' average for 'nuclear' families and given some sort of basic statistical curve (Poisson rings a bell but it has been 20 years since I did any stats) then 3 kids must be a pretty frequent number. What do we do with all those 2-4 player games eh?
 
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Anthony Simons
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boltongeordie wrote:
What about those of us with families of 5? If 2.4 kids is the 'traditional' average for 'nuclear' families and given some sort of basic statistical curve (Poisson rings a bell but it has been 20 years since I did any stats) then 3 kids must be a pretty frequent number. What do we do with all those 2-4 player games eh?


You forgot that in this traditional nuclear family Mother will be cooking the dinner and doing the chores while Father keeps the children occupied.

The better answer is that the 2-4 designs are generally gamer's games; family strategies tend to adopt the 2-5 (which was why I suggested the average nuclear family as a reason for the "Secret of FIVE").
 
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FIVE is the loneliest number. The majority of the game I rate the highest are in fact 2-4. So for me the question s why they aren't "better" with five.

2,3 kids have almost zero impact. The majority of people on BGG are over 30. I've played over 500 different games numerous times each, and have played maybe less than 10 with kids. Most of my gamer friends are over 30, so they have adult game gatherings. Those of course tend to get to 5 and above. 6 and above is easy; multiple games of 3-4, and the "occasional" 2.

But 5 is tough. Just not enough games out there that go to 5. Sure you can name lots, but game with 5 people over and over and over again, and you start finding even with our large collections, you run low on 5 player ideas right quick. There is no "secret of 5" but a question of "why not 5". I'm sure it has to do with stability and balance, but that in inherent to the design.
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Get up, get up, get up, get down, fall over.
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MWChapel wrote:
2,3 kids have almost zero impact. The majority of people on BGG are over 30.

And yet 'games with children' is one of the best selling microbadges?

Love your new avatar by the way.
 
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steve
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I was playing the Harry Potter Quidditch game with my kid the other day and noticed it was set for 2-14 players. Talk about being a bit ambitious.. 14 players, and they all want to play Quidditch? wow, nice..
 
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boltongeordie wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
2,3 kids have almost zero impact. The majority of people on BGG are over 30.

And yet 'games with children' is one of the best selling microbadges?

Love your new avatar by the way.


Agreed there are a lot of people who game with their children, but check out the top 100-150 games, and count how many games are children based games. They are mostly more mature level games(not that some intelligent kid wouldn't be able to play and enjoy, I mean in general). I see you play A Dog's Life probably with your kids and rate if fairly high. But it is #2900 on the ratings. Also look at children based games (plays per month) and compare them to games like Puerto Rico, and Imperial, etc. And you will probably see that the numbers sway higher for mature level games. Maybe you do play Imperial with your kids, a game you rate high, but in general it's not a kids game.
 
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Eric Jome
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Hungadunga wrote:
Why design a board game for TWO to FIVE players?


Mother, Father, 2.3 kids.

Families tend to have 2 or 3 children.

So, Mother, Father, and 3 children makes 5.

And why two? Because games are generally considered contests and contests are generally considered to have two opposing parties, sides, or teams. Of course, there is always solitaire...
 
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Harald Torvatn
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We are so often five that it is difficult to get to play the games which just goes to four. If a game can not accomondate more than four players, it is a major drawback for me.
 
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Michael Kandrac
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When I can achieve a table of five it means certain games that play five best become an option. For me those games are Puerto Rico, El Grande, Rheinlander, Pirate's Cove, Santiago, Traders of Genoa, and Vegas Showdown.

If we fall short, there are lots of good games to play. Yet it is always very special to get five players together.

Gg
 
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Phil Shepherd
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The jig is up! Somebody is on to us... My brethren, and fellow "keepers of the secret," pay Hunga Dunga a visit.

You know what to do...
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Ira Taraday
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I find usally its easier to scale a game from 2-5/6 down than to scale a game 2-4 up.

my usual gaming groups is between 3-5 people.

edit: plus 5>4 therefore its better bigger ftw
 
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Adam Berkan
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Five is a good number from a competition point of view. It allows a large variety of allinaces-of-convenience:

With 3 players you often end up with two ganging up on the leader. The 2-on-1 dynamic gets old quick.

With 4 players you have more variety in alliances: 3-against-1, 1-on-1-on-2, and of course 2-on-2. Often there are more than one of these going on at the same time, e.g. a losing player is helping the leading player in exchange for some help, but will eventually turn against him... These variety of situations are more fun, but the 2-on-2 becomes quite common and eventually a little boring...

With 5 there's a huge number of possible alliances: 3-on-2, 2-on-2-on-1, 1-on-1-on-3...

Generally with 5 players there's some interaction between all of the players. You might end up with a 2-on-1 in the north and a 1-on-1 in the south, but those two battles will probably impact each other. (Replace north/south with builder/shipper, coal/oil, cities/roads, depending on the game...)

With 6 players there's even more possible alliances, but many of them are not likely (5-on-1, 1-on-1-on-1-on-1-on-1-on-1). Also the amount of interaction between players drops. It's quite possible to have a contest in the north, another in the south, and a couple players in the middle. In this case the players in the middle buffer the interactions between the other groups. This reduces the number of alliances with any meaning (players in the north and south who are allies but don't share any borders aren't really allies)

With 7+ it's almost a given that most players won't interact with most other players. E.g. Diplomacy usually starts with two spheres North and South. Many players cannot affect the other sphere directly, and will probably be eliminated before they ever share a border with some of the other countries.

I think this is why a lot of games play best with 5, especially games with a lot of player interaction. Of course a publisher would be afraid of publishing a game that only played 5, so you usually add a 4 player variety...
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Mike K
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In my never-ending life of self-aggrandizement, I offer you this:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/17887
 
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King of the Dead
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[seinfeld voice] And another thing... How come they sell eight hot dogs but they only sell buns in packs of six. What's up with that? [/seinfeld voice]
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Loren P
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I used to game all the time with 5 people. Never thought about it. Now, I'm gaming often with two other couples - 6 people total. All of the sudden I realize how good I had it with just 5.
 
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Sight Reader
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boltongeordie wrote:
What about those of us with families of 5? If 2.4 kids is the 'traditional' average for 'nuclear' families and given some sort of basic statistical curve (Poisson rings a bell but it has been 20 years since I did any stats) then 3 kids must be a pretty frequent number.


Well, based on my demographic argument about 2 couples getting together to play, I'd have to say that the majority of these Eurogames are designed for YOU, not your kids. I can just picture a 13 year old girl rolling her eyes when asked to play a game about Ancient Egypt...
 
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