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Subject: Games that purposefully favor one side? rss

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Isaac Shalev
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Anyone know of any modern games that are designed so that one side wins substantially more frequently than the other?

I was thinking that this might be a fun experience to try and win using the 'hard' side. I also thought it would be an interesting way to design games that kids and adults can play together. Are there any examples already out there?
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Cardboard Hustle
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Ghost Stories is pretty well known as being extremely difficult to win. However, it is a cooperative game and I don't think that is what you were going for.

Maybe check out Fortress America. It features asymmetric game play. Maybe some of the games super fans, on the game page, will be able to give you some details as to whether it is biased or not.
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Although I have not yet played any of them, I would imagine that the COIN games would be like this. Chime in to correct me if I'm wrong in my thinking.

 
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Jeff Wood
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Time Agent

One of the time-travelling races is the Buralti, who start the game 'winning' and can end the game in three or four turns unless the game state is quickly changed by the other players.
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C Bazler
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The Darklings in Terra Mystica tend to do better than the other races. Don't know if that's a feature or a flaw.

West Germany in Wir sind das Volk! is stronger and has more advantages than East Germany, but the win conditions are made easier for the East (they just need to survive through 1989).
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Geoffrey Burrell
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The human race in the game Eclipse usually win most of the games that I have played.
 
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Chris H
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Psycho Raiders is intended to feel like a horror movie. As such, the hero side is significantly less powerful than the villain side.
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Daniel Barrett
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Memoir '44 the scenarios usually have a slight favor towards the historical winner but the game can be won by either side.
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Bill H
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The Memoir '44 scenarios are constructed to favor the side of the faction that actually won the battle (some to a greater degree than others, depending on how the actual battle played out in the war).

acedaryl1 wrote:
Maybe check out Fortress America. It features asymmetric game play. Maybe some of the games super fans, on the game page, will be able to give you some details as to whether it is biased or not.


There are plenty of threads on balance in FA's forum, but they are pretty much equally split on those that think the invaders have the advantage, and those who think the USA does. I suppose that is a good sign the game is pretty well balanced

As for my opinion on FA, I think if both players are experienced, then the invaders have a slight advantage in a 2p game, whereas the USA does in a 3 or 4p game. I think that's because with 1 player controlling all of the invading factions, he/she can be more focused on their overall strategy.
 
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Cadae
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If the goal is to challenge yourself or go against a weaker player, why not look for a game with a good handicap system? Or is it more about the novelty of trying an asymmetrical game with default unbalanced sides
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John McD
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Maria very deliberately makes the Austrian position hopelessly weak at the start. But the other two players have to be very careful not to let Austria lose to the other player. So they end up very carefully managing their attacks on Austria so as no to topple her the wrong way.

Austria has to find a way to play them off against each other till she is strong enough.
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Chris Ferejohn
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2 de Mayo isn't imbalanced per se in terms of game objectives, but the Spanish essentially "win" by doing ever so slightly better than the massacre that actually occurred.
 
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Rachel Fitterer
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I would say the base game of Star Wars: Rebellion favored the Rebel Alliance. I feel that the expansion made things more even between the two sides, but the base game seemed to favor the Alliance.

Probably not quite what you're looking for, as I don't think kids could really play this game.

Something interesting that Dan Hughes mentioned on the Dice Tower's Board Game Breakfast is that he likes playing memory games with his young daughter, because she has a very sharp memory (as most children do), and adults tend to lose some of that as they grow older - this puts them on more of an even playing field, which is hard to find when adults play kids' games with kids.
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Ryan Keane
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+1 Memoir 44 - some of the most enjoyable scenarios are the ones that are very unbalanced and one side has a very low chance of actually winning, but is still playing to gain the most VP before losing. Then you switch sides and play again, and the "winner" is the one with the best combined score over the 2 games.

+1 to Maria - Austria is in a losing, king-making position early on. But if the players keeps it well-balanced and the game goes long, Austria has a good chance of winning.

I haven't played it enough to know what the actual odds of winning are (there are likely stats on BGG), but Friedrich is very unbalanced, Fortress America style, and the Friedrich player, even with a large hand of cards, feels in a very tough situation.
 
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Magnus Benzein
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Both Star Wars LCG and Android: Netrunner are biased against one of the decks.

You can find this in a lot of boardgames though, the catch is that you often have to have played the game a certain amount to gain the skill needed to leverage that advantage.
 
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Laura Creighton
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Mr. Jack favours the detective some. Not as much as new players typically think .... their problem is that Jack is harder to play .... but even after they have learned how to play Jack well, the detective still is more likely to win.
 
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Martin Larouche
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The recent Star Wars Risk favors strongly the rebels...

until you realize the rulebook as printed is missing an entire page. Missing rules can be seen in reference tables on later pages, but they are never explained.

Adding the missing rules, the game is much more closely balanced:

- Ties can destroy adjacent fleet markers.
- Death star attacks that remove a fleet marker counts as having cleared a sector and empire gains an extra action as a result.
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Joe Salamone
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Nations allows you to adjust the game to make it harder for some players and easier for others.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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ender7 wrote:
Anyone know of any modern games that are designed so that one side wins substantially more frequently than the other?

Define substantially. devil

With complex games it's actually hard for the designer to know which side has the advantage. Playing styles and group think play a huge role in determining whether a game is balanced; often a perceived balance during playtesting is found to be incorrect after publication, as larger numbers of players try things that nobody thought of during development.
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Adam Tucker
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Sphere wrote:
often a perceived balance during playtesting is found to be incorrect after publication, as larger numbers of players try things that nobody thought of during development.
The converse is also true, players trying the published version once or twice and immediately declaring a game to be imbalanced or broken in favor of strategy or faction, despite those perceived issues having been thoroughly worked through in playtesting.
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Michael Dillenbeck
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lucky henry wrote:

Although I have not yet played any of them, I would imagine that the COIN games would be like this. Chime in to correct me if I'm wrong in my thinking.

Although many wargames might favor a side, they often fix it by shifting the victory conditions. For example: Men of Iron or Great Battles of History make victory conditions that take into account the inability for a side to earn victory in a historical battle by shifting flight/route points to achieve victory. The COIN games don't really favor a side due to the asymmetric victory conditions.

With something like Twilight Struggle, the USSR is favored in the early war and the USA is favored in the late war. However, that isn't really a favored over the game.

Some games favor those who draw or roll lucky (cooperative games like Defenders of the Realm or competitive games like War of the Ring), but that isn't a favored faction. Other games favor those who play first but adjust the game to reduce this impact (Puerto Rico's often cited player turn order issue).

Honestly, the mentioned Memoir '44 is one of the few that comes to mind where they know the battles are so one sided that they suggest players play 2 games and see who performed the best overall with both factions. Of course, there are a lot of historical simulation games that do this. Calandale just did a playthrough of A Mighty Fortress and said with the rules as written players wouldn't realize how many VP the Lutherans are handed and they will always win - but if you break the rules as written so others understand what the victory conditions for all factions are, then that might be mitigated (but probably not). Other than that, nothing is coming to mind. In general I can't really think of any competitive game or cooperative game that tries to actively put any one player with a constant advantage over another - that is considered bad game design.
 
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Ben Kyo
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Space Hulk (third edition) has very one-sided missions. Unfortunately it won't be clear for a new player which side is likely to win a given scenario. In general though, the "humans" have a timer, and are generally trickier to handle, and the aliens have no timer and simpler movement. The first scenario favours the aliens.
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Geoff Watson
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In Blood Bowl some teams are favoured. Some of it is intentional (Halflings are supposed to lose) and some is GW not caring about balance.
 
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Charlie
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2 De Mayo favors the French side at first (they have 30 troop cubes to the Spanish 10), which is historically accurate, but the onus of winning is on them - if they take too long to eliminate the Spanish forces and lock down the map, they lose the game, which means a savvy Spanish player can still win despite the power imbalance.
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Chris
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Legacy games purposely favour the publisher.


Boom-tish. Here all week. Etc.
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