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Subject: 4-Player Co-op Alpha Player Problem rss

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Don Clarke
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I wonder, could the alpha player problem be cured by disallowing any game-relevant communication between partners?
 
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Russ Williams
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4-player Santorini is team, not coop, right?

In any case, sure, one can always play team games with no communication to reduce one player dominating, or to reduce communal committee hive-mind. E.g. Pair Go (2 teams of 2 players, and partners take turns making the move for their team) is usually played that way, with no game discussion between team members.
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Simon R
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If someone is being too 'alpha' during the game, then two solutions would be:

(1) As you suggested, don't allow teams to communicate.

(2) Don't allow secret communication. Meaning the other team must be able to hear any communication you have.
It is much harder to be an alpha-player if you are constantly telling the other team what your plan is.
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Brandon Tibbetts
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I personally detest limited communication rules in all their forms. (Not to be confused with absolute non-communication rules, which I'm open to.) The problem is that players will resort to gestures, secret words and other tricks to get around them. It gets ridiculous fast.

Also, I feel there are 2 ways of seeing the Alpha Player Problem. The most common form could expressed as

"one player insists that other players follow his or her orders"

but I tend to see it as

"my best decision when there is a more skilled player is always to allow that player to make my decision for me"

If you think about it for a bit you can see how any solution for the first version will not address the second version.
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Russ Williams
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schmanthony wrote:
"my best decision when there is a more skilled player is always to allow that player to make my decision for me"


Yep; this is a reason I'm not much into hive-mind coops (in which players can freely discuss the game), and prefer coops without hive-mind e.g. Hanabi, or (on the lighter front) low-player-count coop Codenames Pictures (your team vs "the AI team").
 
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Simon R
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You can always use my personal solution:

Ask them to stop.

If they don't, then move on to phase 2:

Whatever they tell you to do, do anything but that - even if it is obvious that their move is the better one.

They will almost certainly get angry at this point, then maybe insult you (depending on the person), but keep at it long enough and they will learn to stop trying to control everything.
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Russ Williams
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UnspeakableGamer wrote:
You can always use my personal solution:

Ask them to stop.

If they don't, then move on to phase 2:

Whatever they tell you to do, do anything but that - even if it is obvious that their move is the better one.

They will almost certainly get angry at this point, then maybe insult you (depending on the person), but keep at it long enough and they will learn to stop trying to control everything.

Or they will get meta-sneaky and start proposing bad moves which they're worried you might otherwise do.
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Paul Saxberg
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We clearly need to design some hidden-information gods that are compatible with four players...
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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mind_ranger wrote:
We clearly need to design some hidden-information gods that are compatible with four players...


If someone insists on controlling the situation, give their partner Hecate. If the dominant partner can't figure out where their shared workers are, they will lose their turn.

Otherwise, treat the game like Bridge. Even if you know what your partner's cards are, you can't tell them what to do. Unless they are the Dummy, of course.
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Paul Saxberg
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mlvanbie wrote:
mind_ranger wrote:
We clearly need to design some hidden-information gods that are compatible with four players...


If someone insists on controlling the situation, give their partner Hecate. If the dominant partner can't figure out where their shared workers are, they will lose their turn.

Otherwise, treat the game like Bridge. Even if you know what your partner's cards are, you can't tell them what to do. Unless they are the Dummy, of course.


Hey, let's give their partner Tartarus, and one of their opponents the Harpies! laugh
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Paul Saxberg
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Actually an unrelated idea, which might help (but will not entirely cure the problem by itself):

Use a chess clock, with a fairly tight time limit. If teams stop to argue about what to do, this will only punish them.

(Might still be a problem if the alpha gamer is impulsive and loud... not saying I know this from personal experience at all...)
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Don Clarke
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schmanthony wrote:
"my best decision when there is a more skilled player is always to allow that player to make my decision for me"

If you think about it for a bit you can see how any solution for the first version of the problem (alpha player tells others what to do) will not address the second version.


That's an interesting twist. I suppose in order to tackle it from that direction you (also) have to ensure the non-alpha is unable to look to the alpha (or more skilled/ experienced player) for advice.

I don't look forward to co-ops for the very reason that it's crazy to ignore the advice of a more skilled/ experienced player, and thus you're there but not really playing. I want to make my own mistakes, thank you very much!

However, if the coop has hidden roles (e.g. a hidden traitor), and/ or hidden individual objectives, then there is a good reason for you to ignore the alpha. Your retort to otherwise good advice can always be, "well the traitor would say that, wouldn't they?" And all of a sudden all that alpha hot air dissipates.

Which is why I like the suggestion of hidden information Gods too.

I'm also leaning to the "silence between partners rule". I think it's thematic since no one God should predominate, and it doesn't mean you can't still trash talk the opposition!

So if we're adults playing competitively what's the incentive for the better player to partner the noobie? Well, with this being such a relatively short game, why not play a series of three games so that each player gets to play with each of the others once? Award one point per player on the victorious side after each game. Also count the number of domes built, in total by both sides, after each game. If tied on points at the end of the series, the overall victory goes to the player with the lowest aggregate number of domes built in their victorious games (meaning their victories were 'quicker').

In summary, hidden roles please, and/ or silence towards partner, combined with match play rules. Just my thoughts, comments very welcome!
 
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olanmills
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So when I played a 2v2 game, the other three players insisted that there should be no communication about the game between players, against my initial wishes. However, during and after actually playing, I think I like it that way. It adds another layer to the game when you are thinking about how to work with your partner and their god power only by the moves you are doing.
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