Anton Kratz
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I am doing a little bit of research for my own interest in the history of (board-)gaming and also videogaming. One thing I noticed is that in many (most?) modern, contemporary boardgames each player has forces at his disposal which are not equal to the other player's fores: in Warhammer or Magic The Gathering, for example, each player has completely different forces. Compare this to classic games like chess where the forces for each player are exactly alike. In videogames you have something similar, if you look at most old fighting games for example, each player has the same character. Since Street Fighter 2 it became the norm that each player has a totally different character. My question is, does anyone know an article or essay on the internet which explores when, why and how this transition took place with boardgames? Also, do you know which are the first boardgames to have unequal forces for each player?
 
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Gregorio Morales
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I'd say that most boardgames have equal forces. There are a few exceptions with unequal forces, like the ones mentioned. But not that many.

Wargames, with their historical background and recreation are clear examples.

However, eurogames have equal forces. Can anybody please point out a eurogame with unequal forces or different objective?
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Garcian Smith
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There is a bit of a misuse of words here.

OP seems to mean "asymmetry" when he means unequal, not unequal as in the case of chances of winning. So a game like Yomi can have asymmetric forces, but have an equal battle. A game like Memoir '44 can use the same pieces, but many scenarios aren't fair.

Please continue...
 
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Gregorio Morales
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Yes, I understood that

Still, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, all of them are the same for all the players. And that can be applied to almost every eurogame.

I guess the OP thesis can be applied to wargames and american-style games.

Don't you think?
 
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On wikipedia there is a good article on "Tafl games" which might be what you are looking for.
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Steve Willows
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There was some thought in the early days of war gaming of providing players with equal forces. In games like Tactics II or Blitzkrieg, the forces for each player were identical. Even so, it would be difficult to say that the hobby of war gaming began in that way, as there were certainly other titles from the same time frame that offered more variety. Even a game like Civil War (1961) which featured pawns and squares and was an abstraction still offered some variety in capability. For example, Union pawns could use rail movement but Confederate ones could not.

Further, Tactics II and Blitzkrieg were not games about history. It is impossible to offer a game that provides any useful view of history without giving players the differences that were present historically.

As mentioned, this doesn’t necessarily make a game unbalanced, but if it does, then the balance issue is reflected in the victory conditions. So, if you were playing a game about the Pacific Theatre in WWII, you aren’t going to get many (if any) historical wins as the Japanese player. However, you can win in game terms by doing better than what actually happened.

With games that are not war games, the primary concern is providing a balanced game. On the other hand, it may be perfectly acceptable for a war gamer to play a losing scenario; depends on what the goal is. So, I’d say that it might be true that the first games that offered asymmetry were likely war games, perhaps something like AH’s D-Day (1961).

Not being a war game historian it would be hard to nail down. However, simply put, war gamers will (at least sometimes) have different goals than any other type of board gamer, so the comparison to other genres might not be that useful.
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Rich Shipley
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gojira666 wrote:
Also, do you know which are the first boardgames to have unequal forces for each player?


Hnefatafl dates to around AD 400 according to the entry.

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Mike Jones
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rshipley wrote:
gojira666 wrote:
Also, do you know which are the first boardgames to have unequal forces for each player?


Hnefatafl dates to around AD 400 according to the entry.



This was the first game that came to mind for me.

3M did version of it in the 60's Breakthru
 
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Anton Kratz
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Thank you for the answers so far. Yes my terminology was not correct, "asymmetric" is apparently the term to use here.

Quote:
However, eurogames have equal forces. Can anybody please point out a eurogame with unequal forces or different objective?

Scotland Yard.
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Derry Salewski
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gmoralesor wrote:
Yes, I understood that

Still, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, all of them are the same for all the players. And that can be applied to almost every eurogame.

I guess the OP thesis can be applied to wargames and american-style games.

Don't you think?


Erm, Settler's starts the game with whatever resources you start on, which are not generally symmetrical.

Endeavor . . . is that possible to start the game with the same building? I don't remember. It's not the best plan!

PR has different's starting resources, if I have read forums correctly.

Finca often different starting resources.

1960/TS asym.

Agricola has different cards (and technically differnt food.)

Dominant Species has different powers.

Age of empires has the option now!

Key harvest has forced different resources. Key market I don't remember, oh yes, it does too.

RFTG different starting worlds.

So I guess those are just the Euro games I own and have played, but it seems like the OP can refer to euros as well.






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Ralph T
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Bagh Chal is estimated to be from 1000 AD and features assymetrical sides.
 
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Tuomas Korppi
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Fox and geese is quite old and has unequal sides.
 
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Jean Gagnier
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gojira666 wrote:
Compare this to classic games like chess where the forces for each player are exactly alike.


Well, the pieces are equal, but the turn order means that both players do not have the same odds of winning. White wins 5-10% more often than black at the highest levels.

Any game with turn orders is essentially asymmetrical, no?

gmoralesor wrote:
Still, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, all of them are the same for all the players. And that can be applied to almost every eurogame.

I guess the OP thesis can be applied to wargames and american-style games.

Don't you think?


I don't think so. Different players in TTR have different objectives but must follow the same rules - like in wargames. Settlers and Carcassonne are also affected by the player order, but I don't know what the extent of that effect is.
 
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todd sanders
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Siege of Paris

is another early unequal forces game and also notable for being one of the rare 3 player games until the last 50 years or so
 
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gojira666 wrote:
Thank you for the answers so far. Yes my terminology was not correct, "asymmetric" is apparently the term to use here.

Quote:
However, eurogames have equal forces. Can anybody please point out a eurogame with unequal forces or different objective?

Scotland Yard.


Wait! I have a question too. Does Scotland Yard count as a Eurogame because of the location of its origin or because of its play style?

I haven't yet played it, but what I've heard of it implies a cat and mouse pursuit game of many versus one, sort of like Fury of Dracula whereas I thought that Euros (or "designer games") are generally area control sorts of games with limited direct interaction amongst players - certainly not a head-to-head approach. What am I missing?
 
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