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Subject: Player Addition Games rss

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Patrick Terry
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My friends and I were talking at our board game group and the question was asked "There are a lot of player elimination games, why aren't there any player addition games?"

I thought this was a great question and just wanted to hear some ideas for a player addition game!
 
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Pterry0404 wrote:
My friends and I were talking at our board game group and the question was asked "There are a lot of player elimination games, why aren't there any player addition games?"

I thought this was a great question and just wanted to hear some ideas for a player addition game!
Convincing new people to join in as you play is much more difficult than having members of the group fall off as they are eliminated.
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byronczimmer wrote:
Pterry0404 wrote:
My friends and I were talking at our board game group and the question was asked "There are a lot of player elimination games, why aren't there any player addition games?"

I thought this was a great question and just wanted to hear some ideas for a player addition game!
Convincing new people to join in as you play is much more difficult than having members of the group fall off as they are eliminated.
I don't think you need to convince them.
In my gaming group it's not uncommon for people to show up later. They usually watch other people play and wait for a game to finish so they can join a new one.

I think it would be great if you could just say "Sure, grab a seat, here are your pieces, welcome to the table".

But you cannot do that with games where players become more powerful over time.
Card games might work. The components are in constant rotation anyway.
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Corsaire
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My favorite game which I haven't played in years, Advanced Civilization, has a rule where if someone has a civil war calamity (splits their society into two parts) then a new player or previously eliminated player can enter as one of the two factions.

I know other games allow a player to enter at the position of the lowest player.

Party and social games are often pretty fluid.

It would be interesting to have a game with both joining and elimination where tables are played concurrently and players move back and forth.
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Jesse Hickle
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When I used to play ERS, we'd play it so that eliminated players could slap back in. So it was player elimination and addition all at once.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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There are 2 reasons that a player might leave a game-in-progress:

1) The rules of the game force the player to leave as a result of in-game events
2) The player doesn't want to play anymore

"Player elimination" usually refers to #1.

The inverse of #1 (where the rules would mandate that a new player join as a result of specific in-game events) requires that you have some person standing by who is willing to play when required but is also willing to wait until summoned. That's hugely inconvenient in most social contexts. Usually, people who want to play want to join immediately, not "maybe later, if the game calls for it."

Even player elimination is kind of inconvenient a lot of the time, which is why many players frown upon it, but it's more forgivable because the player doesn't need to potentially interrupt another activity at an unpredictable point (also, the player presumably has some control over whether they get eliminated).

I think games that support #2 (where a player can leave just because they want to) usually also support the inverse (where a player can join just because they want to). This is sometimes called drop-in/drop-out.


The simplest case of this is when the game is divided into mostly-independent rounds, and players can join or leave between rounds. This usually means the "rounds" are almost separate matches (like starting a new game). Of course, just about any game allows people to enter or leave if you're starting a whole new game, so this is more a case of the game being really short than having any particular special feature.

Sometimes there is important stuff that carries over between rounds, but the game has rules for making up that stuff for new players. Like copying the score of the last-place player, or setting your level to the average of the party's current levels, etc.


Another simple case is when a cooperative game divides a fixed pool of resources among a variable number of players. For instance, in Pandemic, the game does bad stuff after each player's turn (regardless of the number of players), so you're essentially dividing the same total number of turns between a variable number of players. This makes drop-in/drop-out reasonably practical (though you have to fudge things a little bit regarding players' hands). Some board games, like XCOM or Darkest Night, explicitly have several in-game roles or characters and simply divide control of them among the players, so adding or removing players can be handled by simply reassigning those responsibilities (e.g. when you leave, I start playing your character in addition to mine).


Computer games sometimes allow an AI to take over for a player who leaves. You could look at that as a case where the game supports drop-out but not drop-in, but I think it's more a case of substituting. (Most games continue fine when a new player takes over for a departing player; this is just a case where the new player is a computer.)


The main case with drop-out but no drop-in is when players have some sort of long-term progression or build-up, but have limited interaction ("multi-player solitaire"), so that there's no fair way to rapidly get a new player up to the same level as the existing players, but removing a player doesn't really change the strategic picture for the remaining players.
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Basically, you're not enforcing player addition, but allowing for players to be "dealt in" midway through a game, which probably just mean:

1. The game is short enough that it doesn't matter if someone waits a few minutes for the next game
2. The game mechanics are inconsequential enough that someone being dealt in midway through has no intrinsic disadvantage or advantage

Basically, make a short game.

Or you want to go all elaborate and make a system that deals someone in "fairly", whatever that means. Giving them an equal chance of competing in the final standings. I'd say most likely that would make the game less interesting because why not just play something else and get dealt in midway through and sweep the game even without playing it all the way through?

*Theoretically* a game is interesting whether you're winning or not but most people wouldn't care about something they didn't invest in. IE the game they didn't play before they joined.
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michael colbert
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this is what RPG's have been doing for years.
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Jeremy Lennert
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mlcolbert wrote:
this is what RPG's have been doing for years.
Sort of. RPGs generally rely on the players to decide when and how new PCs should be introduced to the game, and how powerful they should be allowed to start out (even for the original party!).

If that counts, then arguably every board game in history has been doing this, too.
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Ian Allen
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mlcolbert wrote:
this is what RPG's have been doing for years.
Assuming a high-quality campaign, it's something that has to have a certain amount of forethought and planning behind it, or the DM has to be exceptionally good at both improvising and retooling the challenge rating of his immediately planned encounters, at least for DnD. Depending on the amount of major plot-lines the DM has planned as relates to the players, it may require quite a lot of rethinking of the campaign fundamentals, too.

So really, although you can "wing it" easier in an abstract fantasy game, there are still the same kind of limitations as with any other game. You need some kind of prepared space for the player, and it has to fit in with the other players without causing a break in the game, both in terms of game flow but also mechanically/thematically, and clearly if your game is dynamic and includes randomisation, this is extremely hard to execute in a reproducible fashion.

I agree with the other posters, in that a highly abstract game with a short overall duration is best suited to this kind of mechanism.

 
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The only place I've seen this done is in a non tournament legal MTG set where this card was printed:
External image
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You could kind of do it in Talisman, as the randomness there could lead to someone in a worse position than a new player anyway.

Maybe not necessarily the best case study, but good to know about I guess.
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When I read the thread Organize a Board Game Birthday: Myth or Reality? I thought "wouldn't it be cool to have an epic 4x game with a few players initially, where other people could join and leave at their leisure?"
Since people come and go at that party, there would be the main table with the guys that are in for the 8-10 hour duration of the game and smaller side tables where people can join. Ideally there would be a method to push one of the main players into a declining empire state where the player would then join one of the side tables, freeing up a slot for one of those players to join the main table.

Kind of like a megagame, but with set rules as an actual boardgame.

So, player addition has been on my mind, but since a project of that scope is enormous and I have only produced small 40 minute kind of games, I feel that I have not "levelled up" enough as a game designer to tackle a project like that. If I ever do come up with a player addition game that actually works (or see one from someone else), I'll let you know
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Charles Ward
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KaiHerbertz wrote:
When I read the thread Organize a Board Game Birthday: Myth or Reality? I thought "wouldn't it be cool to have an epic 4x game with a few players initially, where other people could join and leave at their leisure?"
Since people come and go at that party, there would be the main table with the guys that are in for the 8-10 hour duration of the game and smaller side tables where people can join. Ideally there would be a method to push one of the main players into a declining empire state where the player would then join one of the side tables, freeing up a slot for one of those players to join the main table.

Kind of like a megagame, but with set rules as an actual boardgame.

So, player addition has been on my mind, but since a project of that scope is enormous and I have only produced small 40 minute kind of games, I feel that I have not "levelled up" enough as a game designer to tackle a project like that. If I ever do come up with a player addition game that actually works (or see one from someone else), I'll let you know
Go for it. Putting in the time to make that a reality will definitely level you up!
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Koen Hendrix
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Team (party) games, like Charades or Codenames, allow for easy drop-in drop-out.

Apples To Apples and its modern siblings are easy to drop into too, assuming you're just in it for the fun and not bothered about scoring/winning.

Same with quick multi-round games like Love Letter or Pairs.
 
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If you play World War II: European Theater of Operations with 5 players the player playing USA will have to wait for possibly several days before being able to join, although I think there is a recommendation in the rulebook that that player can play France in the early game. That still leaves quite a long gap with nothing to do if France is knocked out of the war on schedule.

With fewer players the major powers are distributed so everyone can join from the beginning.

IIRC there was some Waterloo game that could be optionally played by three players with one player playing the Prussians, and they do not show up until some time well into the game.

There are probably many examples from historic war-games.
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Bleicher
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If I remember correctly, this is possible in 7 Ages.
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Caroline Berg
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daggaz wrote:
mlcolbert wrote:
this is what RPG's have been doing for years.
Assuming a high-quality campaign, it's something that has to have a certain amount of forethought and planning behind it, or the DM has to be exceptionally good at both improvising and retooling the challenge rating of his immediately planned encounters, at least for DnD. Depending on the amount of major plot-lines the DM has planned as relates to the players, it may require quite a lot of rethinking of the campaign fundamentals, too.
Actually it is quite easy to bring in new characters on the fly. It is nowhere near as hard as you are making it seem - even with a campaign that has been somewhat planned out.

I used to run lunch session of various RPGs at my work, and I'd never know exactly who would be joining us - though there was a core of 3 players. RPGs are pretty much perfect for these sort of drop-in player additions.
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michael colbert
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Caroline, that's the type of dungeon that we ran - not the lunchtimes but open week-ends where people could drop in and out and return as needed.
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Bryan Kline
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Maiden's Quest does something like this. It's a solo card game at its core, but other players can join and leave at will, assisting you with their own separate decks while they're there.
 
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I recall Shadows over Camelot has rules for players joining late -- which is especially weird for a hidden role game.
 
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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the steep cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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moogle1 wrote:
I recall Shadows over Camelot has rules for players joining late -- which is especially weird for a hidden role game.
Very thematic though, given that knights would often appear then disappear in and out of each other's tales.
 
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