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Subject: Can a game work with cooperative and competative win conditions? rss

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Greg
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I'm playing with an idea for a game in which the players can either win by defeating the other players (competative victory) or working together (cooperative victory).

I'd like to tweak such that the chance of a cooperative victory with all players working towards it are relatively slim (maybe 1 in 5) and that how likely (or unlikely) a cooperative victory is in a particular set up becomes more apparent as the game goes on. The notion is to have a more organic traitor mechanic whereby instead of getting a card reading "you are the traitor" players are increasingly tempted to turn coat as the odds of a cooperative victory dwindle and the potential games for treachary mount up (The extent to which this occurs varies depending on the configuration of a particular game). Alternatively a player might become the first real traitor by interpreting a random result as a consequence of treachery.

I'm wondering if players will go for this though, or if you'd just get players deciding to always go for the cooperative victory no matter what or who always decided to go for the solo victory no matter what.
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Chris Norwood
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It sounds really cool and interesting to me, but I bet it'd be a booger to balance.
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Mike L.
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kilroy_locke wrote:
It sounds really cool and interesting to me, but I bet it'd be a booger to balance.


I concur. You will have to make sure that one player becoming traitor doesn't lower the chances of a co-op victory or else once the first person drops out no one will want to take the co-op victory condition or even one player could drop out final turn and screw over everyone else. It would be a hard thing to balance. I would even suggest going the other route, where everyone is against each other, but a certain condition can be met where the game gains a co-op victory condition.
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Greg
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nitro9090 wrote:
I would even suggest going the other route, where everyone is against each other, but a certain condition can be met where the game gains a co-op victory condition.


I'm not sure I see the practical difference. In any event there is a possible cooperative win and a possible competative win - are you talking about changing how you present these options to the players in the rules / gamebox?
 
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Albert Hernandez
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Red November has this sort of thing in it. Players are trying to work together to save the submarine, but if someone finds a dive suit that person can escape the submarine. That person will win if the rest die. If the rest survive then the coward is caught and loses.

Check the game's forum to see how well that plays out there. I have no experience with the game.

It does sound like an interesting dilemma to deal with in a game.
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Albert Hernandez
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Oh, PAX also has a similar idea in it. In that game a player can choose a traitor strategy and play with that goal. However, even in a cooperative win, the player with the most VP is declared the winner.
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Brian Homan
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I think that many players, given the option in a game, would go for the solo victory. The reasons for this are as follows:
1. The major frustration with co-ops is that you have to rely on other people to pull their weight/make optimal moves. Players who don't like this are most likely to go solo as soon as it is convenient.
2. Everyone would be distrusting of their neighbor, waiting for them to try to pull away when the time is right. Nobody would believe that the shared victory was going to happen, unless odds favored the shared victory over the solo victory.

On the surface, it seems to make sense to either just make a competitive game where cooperation was possible, or make a co-op where everyone has to work together to beat the game to win, but the one who contributed the most is the winner. This of course, has been done many times over in different ways. I would be interested to see your experiment in action, just to see how the game shook out and see if what you are proposing would work.
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Mike L.
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x_equals_speed wrote:
nitro9090 wrote:
I would even suggest going the other route, where everyone is against each other, but a certain condition can be met where the game gains a co-op victory condition.


I'm not sure I see the practical difference. In any event there is a possible cooperative win and a possible competative win - are you talking about changing how you present these options to the players in the rules / gamebox?


What I got from your post was that players work together at the beginning, but any player can basically mutiny at any time and go for a solo victory. Which has a number of issues. I am suggesting you take the approach that players work solo at the beginning, but for some reason at one point in the game it may be worthwhile for all or some of the players to team up for a co-op victory (make it a permanent decision or one with a major drawback for backing out of the coalition). Maybe in the case that there is a runaway leader, the other players may team up to have a fighting chance, etc.
 
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Chris Cisne
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bmhoman1 wrote:
2. Everyone would be distrusting of their neighbor, waiting for them to try to pull away when the time is right. Nobody would believe that the shared victory was going to happen, unless odds favored the shared victory over the solo victory.


This is interesting. How about this for a thought:

First off, make the odds of winning as a group about equal to the odds of winning solo. Still tough though, so there's an incentive to work together/bail and chance it.

Then, think of the game as a 'team-based' game. So at the beginning everyone's on one team - if the team wins, everyone wins. But then some people might pull away, possibly because they distrust their neighbour and expect them to leave at any moment. But then suddenly each team of 'one player' realises their weakness, so teams of 2 or more spring up as people ally. And these teams changed, fluidly, as peoples' allegiances shift. You could even say that teams are binding in their composition until the start of a new turn, so nobody splits from their partner(s) just as the victory conditions are met.

I don't know, seems having that mutual-distrust you mentioned in a game that starts of as a genuinely co-op effort could lead to some really interesting player dynamics.
 
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Matthew Hart

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CO2 is another game like this. You have to work together inso much as the CO2 levels can't get above a certain level, or everyone loses. However, all the players are still trying to score more victory points throughout the game.

One thing to think about... Could (would) players find it better to purposely fail at the cooperative part in order to keep the lead player from winning. Someone expressed this concern with CO2. towards the end of the game when their may be a clear winner you could have people sabatoging the game to have everyone lose.
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Dave Elliot
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I've got a game I'm working on that is co-opetitive.

There is a phase 1 pass/fail co-op victory condition. If anybody fails, you all fail. So you all have to "win" the first phase. (i.e. get a minimum set of goals)

Phase 2 is competing for victory/glory beyond that. Whoever gets the most points wins after the minimum co-operative threshold is met. So you have a desire to see everyone hit a minimum, but once that happens, you need to try to get the most VP to win. So it's not necessarily the same, but I don't see why variations on co-opetitive can't be made.
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Joe Salamone
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Hartm wrote:
Towards the end of the game when their may be a clear winner you could have people sabatoging the game to have everyone lose.


I hope I never have to play a game with people who would ruin the spirit of "having fun" during a gaming session by sabotaging a game so the lead player couldn't win. In my opinion, the lead player is the winner if other players (i.e., poor sports) simply try to ruin the game.

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Michael Ink
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LOR by Reiner Knizia is a good example (using the alternative rules which are much better). If a Hobbit is corrupted at the same time he / she has 3 rings, that Hobbit wins the game by replacing Sauron as the new evil. Otherwise, the game is cooperative. Still adds suspense once a hobbit gets two rings (rather common). This final scenario rarely happens, but awesome when it does (1 in 10?)!
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Ken Schlosser
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The Omega Virus is like this.

Players are working together collecting items and locating a computer virus to stop it and save humanity. However, you can attack other people and steal their items so that you can be to one to stop the virus.

Every time I've played this, it just leads to everyone losing. It makes for a very frustrating experience and makes me think that the game just isn't structured very well.
 
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Albert Hernandez
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symbioid wrote:
I've got a game I'm working on that is co-opetitive.

There is a phase 1 pass/fail co-op victory condition. If anybody fails, you all fail. So you all have to "win" the first phase. (i.e. get a minimum set of goals)

Phase 2 is competing for victory/glory beyond that. Whoever gets the most points wins after the minimum co-operative threshold is met. So you have a desire to see everyone hit a minimum, but once that happens, you need to try to get the most VP to win. So it's not necessarily the same, but I don't see why variations on co-opetitive can't be made.


This sort of sounds like PAX. At the end of the game, the value of all the players' cards is compared against the cards owned by the NPC Rome. If the players win, then VP is calculated and highest VP wins. If Rome wins, then the person with the Conspirator card wins. The conspirator card can change hands throughout the game and the current holder is always public knowledge. However having the Conspirator card doesn't necessarily mean you are going for the solo victory.
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Kevin B. Smith
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Exalted: Legacy of the Unconquered Sun has a victory condition that whatever player or players participate in completing the final objective of an Epic Quest win the game.

The game can be played entirely competitively, as a race. This can either be MPS, where each player focuses on their own goals, ignoring other players. Or it can be cutthroat, where players steal from each other, and do occasional mischief.

The game can be played purely cooperatively, with players teaming up to defeat enemies and complete quests, sharing the win.

The game can be played cooperatively up to the point that one player stabs the others in the back to try to achieve a solo victory.

The game can be played as teams, where the players on each team would work together from start to finish. They could ignore other teams, or could mess with other teams.

The game can be played with shifting alliances, where players help each other when convenient, or through negotiations, but backstab when they feel like it, or ally with different competitors at different times.

The game can start off competitively, but when the players realize that nobody will win if an Epic Quest is not completed within 4 years, they may start working together in teams or as a pure co-op (or as a co-op but with the intention to betray at the end).

The game can be played solo, controlling a single hero.

Pretty cool. Not quite what the OP asked for, because there is only ONE win condition, but it is achievable different ways.

My experience was that it was very balanced solo, but with 2p working purely cooperatively, it was far too easy to win. It felt like it would be almost impossible to win if the players were competing and actively thwarting each others' progress. (Forum threads seem to echo that).
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Bob Bob742
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I had been telling people The Great Fire of London 1666 was cooperative and competitive - having never played it.

But I think I just realized it is really probably only competitive.
I only skimmed the rules during the contest for it. Oops.
 
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Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
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Level 7 seems to have this mechanic as well. But there was no impact from choosing to play the game either way. If you're going to introduce dual winning conditions such as this, make sure they are unique and significant enough to warrant pursuing either one actively.
 
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Brian
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The idea makes me think of shooting the moon in Hearts: an alternate goal where one person achieves a solo victory, which is somewhat difficult to achieve, potentially stoppable by the other players if discovered, and likely disastrous following a failed attempt.

Cutthroat Caverns has a different co-op/competitive element. You have to work together to defeat monsters, but only the person who deals the killing blow gets victory points.
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David Cheng
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Semi-cooperative games are fun & not uncommon in board games. But they usually have the problem of potential traitor where player left behind will tend to become a traitor to make everyone lose.
 
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Andrew H
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My first game was a co-op with a bit of a twist, in some ways like Red November. It was based off of the Clone Wars in Star Wars, so I justified it with the Dark Side mythos.

The game was cooperative and the players also kept track of points, but these didn't matter much during the game. If the players could win the war,tthe one with the most points won. If the confederation won the war, everyone lost. Last of all, the game could end early with the Emperor's Order 66. While technically this was a loss for the Jedis, if players had turned to the dark side they could become the emperor's apprentice.

The game started as a normal co-op, but we got better and wanted a little competition between the players. I think the theme was one where the multiple endings made sense, so I'm sure there are other ways to have the option.
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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It sounds like you could also gain some guidance from Cosmic Encounter.
 
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Look at Dune (a classic) with game mechanics that drive a structured alliance system with tangible benefits reflected in game play with separate alliance win conditions.
 
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James Hutchings
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x_equals_speed wrote:
I'm wondering if players will go for this though, or if you'd just get players deciding to always go for the cooperative victory no matter what or who always decided to go for the solo victory no matter what.


or both, and each type accuses the other of spoiling the game.
 
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Greg
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This is a really interesting discussion, I'm getting lots of ideas and games to look at. I'm kinda worried about ruining it by describing the game I'm working on - so please don't take this as a signal to stop discussing games which are structured differently.

My notion is to make something inspired by things like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. The players are people who've been kidnapped and forced to fight to the death on a reality TV show, the solo win condition is killing everyone else, the group win condition is sabotaging the show breaking into the directors office and killing him.

This deals with a few issues above, it's definately every man for himself initially with a co-op victory becoming possible if people decide to work together for it. Also there's no "spoiler effect" whereby a player can make everyone lose because they can't win, if a player decides to try to kill everyone else during an attempt to kill the director either they succeed and win themselves or fail and make it possible for the co-op to win (or if they ended up making a co-op win impossible by destroying something important the rest of the co-op turns on each other because the only survivor solo win is still viable)

On a tangent another aspect of the game is that each player tracks what the audience thinks of them. Betraying someone who trusts you gives a big combat boost but makes the audience less sympathetic towards you. This matters because there are periodically phone votes along the lines of "If you think Jeff should get the grenade launcher dial XXXX-XXX-001, if you think Mike should get the grenade launcher..." which make it worth having the audience on side.
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