Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Alliance Rules and Philosophies rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Forrest & Ryan Driskel
United States
Longmont
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This topic is to be a discussion on implementing alliance rules in board games and the philosophies that go along with them. It is inspired by Alliances too Strong in a 4 player game ? for the game Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients. I felt it could be an interesting discussion point, as the authors main point is something I would never have considered.

A bit of a precursor for those that don't know the Eclipse rules: Allying gives you a bit of a tactical advantage, as you can freely move through an ally's systems and a slight bit of increased VP. Your end game scores are averaged. If you break the alliance, there is a substantial penalty.

Paraphrased Point of Thread: The strongest players should always ally as soon as possible because it gives them the best chance of winning.

Now, this is something that seems completely foreign to me. I would only be looking to get into an alliance if I did NOT think I was in the best position to win, as to me, no matter the game, if I have the option of winning solo versus sharing the win, I would rather win solo. As I put it, if there were no limits on the number of players in the alliance, would you simply ally with EVERYONE every game? That is a surefire way to win every time. Doesn't seem like it would be very gratifying.

To me, there does not need to be a rule in the book that says "winning as an alliance is not as much glory as a solo win" - it is self evident.

Another game I have played recently with alliance rules is Rex: Final Days of an Empire. In Rex, the penalty is it requires more area control to win as an alliance. Alliances, however, are much less stable. There is no penalty for breaking an alliance, except the mirth of your previous member.

Rex has an optional rules where at the end of the game, you can attempt to betray your alliance by submitting special win conditions, for a solo victory. In this instance, you might use the alliance as a means to an end, rather than the direct end.


How do you view alliance wins? Should a game's mechanisms attempt to make every win equal? What mechanisms do you like for alliance rules?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Kamber
Denmark
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Vanish wrote:

How do you view alliance wins? Should a game's mechanisms attempt to make every win equal? What mechanisms do you like for alliance rules?

I view a win as a win. I'm prepared to accept another meta if the game calls for it, but unless stated otherwise, I do not rank wins. I don't rank losses either.

Of course, there are cases where it follows implicitly from the rules that a 'shared win' is really a draw. But I don't see that implication in the Eclipse rules.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Isaac Shalev
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think Eclipse alliances work because of the averaging of the scores between players, and the allinace-breaking penalty. That was a very clever design solution to the problem of alliances in multiplayer war games. Many games and relationships between players can be ruined when a game doesn't handle alliances well.

In a game like Dune/Rex, making and breaking alliances IS the game, much like Diplomacy. Allied victory in Cosmic Encounter happens at least half of the time in games I play. But yeah, winning in an alliance isn't as filled with glory, and you don't need a rule book to tell you that. It's obvious in the interpersonal dynamics between players.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard B
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
flag msg tools
www.nine2fivestudios.com
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
I feel Alliances are personal preference and YMMV depending on your group. After all, you can house rule everything.

The basis for any mechanic is "Why do you play games?" Do you only play to win, do you play to tell an engaging story, do you play to pass the time, are you forced to play by others, etc.

1) Playing to win - I don't think team victories should be allowed if everyone starts off as an individual. The optimal strategy would be to pick alliances on the first turn and stick with them or suffer "Divide and Conquer". If you're truly playing to win, you don't want to share that victory unless it's a Team v Team game.

2) For the Story! - The quality of the story will depend on the number of options available to players. If the alliance is too powerful or the only viable strategy, it will be dull and boring. I personally think the best story element is to allow Alliances, but then force them to be broken at some point.

3) Others - Who cares about mechanics so long as you don't wait forever for your turn to come around.

Were I to design a game where true alliances naturally develop or are encouraged by the rules I would do the following:

1) Alliances incur some sort of support cost, basically their math would put them at a disadvantage in terms of resources because they gain strategic advantage and specialization advantage.

2) Allow for non-allied players to keep up in terms of advancement, movement, resource. Example: "No shared tech tree".

That way an Alliance victory still equals an individual victory and vice versa.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Coffey
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't like alliance victories unless the game starts out with the alliances preset.

I like alliance mechanics, sometimes, but if the game is an individual based game, then victory should be individual.

In other words: I believe alliances are made to be broken.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
marc lecours
Canada
ottawa
ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I am searching for examples of reals wars which were multi-sided. In almost all cases two alliances are formed. Sometimes the alliances shifted during the war but the new alliance system was still 2 sided. I think that a 3 or 4 or 5 sided war is unstable. Alliances seem to form naturally.

When the strongest powers ally themselves against the weaker ones this leads to a short walkover. For example Russia, Prussia and Austria versus Poland in the 1700s. This does not make an interesting game.

Very common is for the 2nd and 3rd strongest power to ally against the strongest power. When this happens you get a war that is interesting to game. Especially if the number 3 power can shift sides when the number 2 power overtakes the number 1 power.

If I was designing a game in which alliances are allowed, I would include a rule that did not permit alliances between the strongest power and either the 2nd or 3rd strongest power. In a 4 player game this would lead to player 1 and 4 versus 2 and 3 or...... player 1 versus all the others. There could be occasional moments when power strengths and alliances can be reevaluated.

This takes care of kingmaking since each player will be either part of the winning or losing alliance.

Examples: Powers during the Napoleonic wars were generally grouped in 2 alliances (though some nations shifted between them). The same goes for WWI and WWII(Russia started the war on Germany's side).

I am going to guess that that in historical multisided wars, two powers would fight hard while the other powers waited before pouncing on their weakened adversaries. Since only two powers are really fighting, games based on such wars end up being 2 player games with other nations being neutral.

Alternatively all powers in a multisided war would fight only a little, being careful not to get weakened. This would lead to long wars of attrition. I am thinking or games such as "here I stand" which are not about a war as such but about the rise and fall of nations over decades or centuries.

Games where the strongest powers gang up on the weakest leave bad feelings. This kind of ruins the game. There is no longer a challenge for the strong nations nor a chance for the weak powers. The solution is simple. Never allow the strongest power to ally with the 2nd or 3rd strongest powers.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brook Gentlestream
United States
Long Beach
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like the system in Twilight Imperium, where you can create an alliance by exchanging Trade Cards that benefit both players. The reason this creates an alliance is because if either player attacks the other, they have to return the trade cards and lose all the income those were generating.

So there's nothing KEEPING YOU from breaking your word, but there's an economic incentive to keep it. It's also interesting since you have a limited amount of trade cards to offer up.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Kamber
Denmark
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
lordrahvin wrote:
I like the system in Twilight Imperium, where you can create an alliance by exchanging Trade Cards that benefit both players. The reason this creates an alliance is because if either player attacks the other, they have to return the trade cards and lose all the income those were generating.


It is not really an alliance in the sense that the word is used in this thread, though, since it does not change the win conditions.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Laura Creighton
Sweden
Göteborg
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mechanics-wise Maria handles historical alliances in an interesting way.

One player is Austria, the second is France plus Bavaria, while the third player has the schizophrenic role of playing Prussia (Austria's enemy) and the Pragmatic-Army (Austria's ally) at the same time.

It sounds weird but is great fun.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.