Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
46 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Asymmetry in games? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ethan Ham
United States
Peoria
Illinois
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Asymmetry in games involves gameplay that differs for the players. Usually when asymmetry is discussed, it refers to games that are asymmetrical in terms of initial state of the game, rules of play, and/or victory condition.

For example, the Fox & the Geese in which pits one fox against thirteen geese (differing initial state); the fox can capture by jumping, but geese can't (differing rules of play); and the geese win by immobilizing the fox, while the fox wins by capturing the geese (differing victory conditions).

I'm trying to think of examples of games that are symmetrical in everything except victory conditions and cannot come up with any. I suppose that this sort of game is rare because it would be so hard to balance--having several aspects of the game asymmetrical gives more opportunities for balance (and also helps obscure the imbalances that are there).

Likewise, I can't think of any game that is symmetrical in everything aside from what rules apply to which player. For a while I thought blackjack might be one such game (due to the fact that the dealer has to hit on 16 or below and players do not), but then I realized that the players' initial states differ because they are dealt differing cards.

Can anyone think of any games that would be examples of these types of isolated game asymmetry?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Hansen
United States
Naperville
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That's an interesting question. Nothing really jumps to mind unless you count games that have different scoring via cards/roles (that are sometimes hidden) like in Lords of Waterdeep.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John "Omega" Williams
United States
Kentwood
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Heroquest kinda. The player and the GM play by the same rules. But the GM has different win conditions.

Technically Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel. The Doomtroopers can each have their own hidden victory conditions. Other games have this too.

BSG: Express is in a way as well. Everyone is playing by the same rules. But the cylons have different goals. Up until they reveal themselves they are playing exactly as the others, except quietly trying to sabotage the trip.

As for the other type. I've seen chess variants where one side had pieces that moved differently from the other side.

Technically warhammer is all about this since the units are at their core pretty much the same. Its how they function that changes.

Maybee Dragon Dice would fit that too since the units are for the most part cleaving to a set pattern. But each race has its own quirks.

I suspect some other asymmetrical games have these elements too mixed in to one degree or another.

Bemusingly some people play Survive! like this. One player may be out to get all their high point people to safety, another might be working to get lots of low point people off, another may be out to exterminate the others at every opportunity. etc. They all are playing the same, but each one has their own idea of how to win.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Campbell
United States
Lake Worth
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Asymmetrical except for victory condition is fairly common. Look at Summoner Wars, or just about any TCG/CCG

Summoner Wars victory condition is kill the other summoner. starting position and abilities may vary.

CCGs you have differing deck builds, maybe even different setups for variants like 3 on 1 or similar, but victory is still some variation on get opponent to zero (hit points, cards in deck, etc.)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Gross
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
simenzo wrote:

I'm trying to think of examples of games that are symmetrical in everything except victory conditions and cannot come up with any. I suppose that this sort of game is rare because it would be so hard to balance--having several aspects of the game asymmetrical gives more opportunities for balance (and also helps obscure the imbalances that are there).


Depending on how much you want to stretch definitions, you could argue that Go (when using Komi, which is normal) has asymmetrical victory conditions: at the end of the game, white has an additional number of points added to his total in compensation for moving 2nd, so his objective throughout the game is different than black's-- e.g., getting 2 points in some local situation may be sufficient for white to win, but not for black to win, so they need to approach that local situation differently, purely because of the victory conditions.

You could view this as different starting positions instead of victory conditions, and say that white is given the additional points to start the game. Since it's impossible to tell how many points each side has until quite late in the game, it's not clear to me that this makes as much sense, though-- conceptually, I tend to not even think of points as having meaning until well over halfway through the game-- they don't "exist" yet.

Quote:

Likewise, I can't think of any game that is symmetrical in everything aside from what rules apply to which player. For a while I thought blackjack might be one such game (due to the fact that the dealer has to hit on 16 or below and players do not), but then I realized that the players' initial states differ because they are dealt differing cards.


Tough one, I'm sure it will nag at me all day.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Gross
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jmcampbell wrote:
Asymmetrical except for victory condition is fairly common. Look at Summoner Wars, or just about any TCG/CCG


Yeah, but he's asking for symmetrical except for victory conditions.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leber
Canada
Orillia
ON
flag msg tools
Yin
badge
Yang
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yeah, it's tough because of all the different definitions you can consider. If P1 starts with 1 gold, and P2 starts with 2 gold, is it asymmetrical? In the most literal sense, sure. But in the spirit of the question, I'd say no.

If 2 players have different armies, is it asymmetrical? Or is it symmetrical because they both each have an army? Are we looking for drastically different mechanics/rules/winning conditions?

So much info to consider.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Gross
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Holmes108 wrote:
Yeah, it's tough because of all the different definitions you can consider. If P1 starts with 1 gold, and P2 starts with 2 gold, is it asymmetrical? In the most literal sense, sure. But in the spirit of the question, I'd say no.

If 2 players have different armies, is it asymmetrical? Or is it symmetrical because they both each have an army? Are we looking for drastically different mechanics/rules/winning conditions?

So much info to consider.


It would be easy to get bogged down in definitions, and I guess it would even be interesting to do so, but even just considering it as an ambiguous conceptual question is really interesting.

A game with identical starting conditions-- okay, we can argue about what those are, but I'm happy to say Chess and Puerto Rico Dominion both have them and Risk doesn't, at least as a jumping off point.

A game with identical rules for each player-- more straightforward, probably.

Then given both of these things, different victory conditions. It doesn't seem like this should be that rare of a setup. I would just guess there would be abstract games where one player is notionally the "attacker" and the other player is notionally the "defender", so one player is trying to make X happen and the other player is trying to prevent X from happening, yet they both start with the same setup and play by the same rules; yet I can't think of any.

And even when someone gives an example (as I'm sure someone will), it still seems like a really neat place to start from for a new game design.

Likewise, a game with identical starting positions and victory conditions but different rules doesn't seem like it should be all that rare. I would expect that a game meant to simulate some real-world situation in which different people/teams/ideas have different ways of solving the same problem might have these properties: everyone starts out the same and is trying to achieve the same thing, but the Communists are playing by these rules and the Capitalists are playing by these rules, or whatever. But I can't think of any examples. Again, it strikes me as a fascinating jumping off point for a design.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John "Omega" Williams
United States
Kentwood
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Bindle Rails may fit. Everyone plays by the same rules. But. Each player gets some goals at the start of the game that net bonus points. This might be link A to B, Own 123, etc.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leber
Canada
Orillia
ON
flag msg tools
Yin
badge
Yang
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andrewgr wrote:

Then given both of these things, different victory conditions. It doesn't seem like this should be that rare of a setup. I would just guess there would be abstract games where one player is notionally the "attacker" and the other player is notionally the "defender", so one player is trying to make X happen and the other player is trying to prevent X from happening, yet they both start with the same setup and play by the same rules; yet I can't think of any.


Yeah, having the same setup and rules is the tricky thing, I guess. There are probably games out there where you storm the castle, and I'm the castle. But they are obviously different starting points...

Or perhaps a game where we each run our own town or kingdom, but your goal is to expand it's size or military might, where my goal might be to increase wealth and industry?

There are games with multiple paths to victory, but less that force P1 to do one thing, and P2 to do another, with identical starts. I'm not even sure it's possible if you're talking about having identical rules as well as starts. If you have different objectives, you almost need at least slightly different rules, no?


Edit:
Omega2064 wrote:
Bindle Rails may fit. Everyone plays by the same rules. But. Each player gets some goals at the start of the game that net bonus points. This might be link A to B, Own 123, etc.


Hmm... yeah. I'm not familiar with that game in particular, but there are definitely games with hidden/variable objectives. I guess I'm just trying to think of making the objectives even more different from each other than we've typically seen. The more you venture into ideas such as this, the more you will struggle with balance issues, I guess.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Take joy from your wins; take lessons from your losses.
United States
Davidsonville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb

    We're excluding games with secret goals presumably? Nexus Ops is essentially identical starting positions but each player draws different secret goals to go after.

             S.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John "Omega" Williams
United States
Kentwood
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What I mentioned in the initial reply.

If both sides play exactly the same then the only way to differentiate them is goals. A wants to collect 5 red cubes. B wants to build a house, C need to make an alliance with at least one other group. etc.

Or hand out a terrain bonus at the start. A will do better on hills, B will do well in desert.

Or what the players need to control. B needs 5 desert, D needs 2 water.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bernd Weber
Germany
Augsburg
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Saboteur

Everyone plays by the same rules, but there are two different victory conditions: The miners are trying to build an uninterrupted path from the Start Card to a Goal Card, while the saboteurs are trying to prevent this.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin B. Smith
United States
Lake Forest Park
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
simenzo wrote:
I'm trying to think of examples of games that are symmetrical in everything except victory conditions and cannot come up with any.

From what I've read, this sounds like Discworld: Ankh-Morpork.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate K
United States
Illinois
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
simenzo wrote:

For a while I thought blackjack might be one such game (due to the fact that the dealer has to hit on 16 or below and players do not), but then I realized that the players' initial states differ because they are dealt differing cards.


Are the players dealt the same number and type of cards? (As in, everybody gets the same number of poker cards, rather than some players getting Decktet cards and some getting Tarot cards?) Because that still seems symmetrical to me in that everyone has an equal chance of getting good cards at the beginning of the game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
Minas Gerais
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
2 de Mayo is entirely assymetrical.

France wins if they achieve three conditions:

1. Eliminate all Spanish units
2. Control the 4 gates at the end of the game
3. Not lose 4 or more units

Spain wins by denying these three conditions i.e.

1. Not lose all units
2. Control at least one gate at the end of game
3. Eliminate at least 4 french units

Also, the rules for movement varies for each country.

edit: stupid me. it seems you want one of those two(rules or winning condition) not both at once shake
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
flag msg tools
He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
badge
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Resistance has asymetric rules with symetrical starting positions and victory conditions, though one could quibble over rules.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ErikPeter Walker
United States
Rochester
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/145148/
badge
Expand
Avatar
mb
Secret traitors in Shadows over Camelot play exactly the same as the rest of the players, but have conflicting win conditions. I wouldn't call it asymmetric though.

I think that that term should be reserved for games where players both/all interact with the game system differently (i.e. using different mechanics). Victory conditions usually aren't part of the interaction; for example, in Ticket to Ride everyone is trying to achieve different things which causes conflict, but the conflict is straightforward.

Netrunner and War of the Ring come to mind, where the players utilize most of the same resources to affect very divergent goals.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kyle Mann
United States
Fontana
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Curse your sudden but inevitable action denial!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Some are confusing variable powers with asymmetry. Carry on.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
flag msg tools
He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
badge
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Starting position and special rules are almost always linked together, as the starting position determines which special rules you're using.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
flag msg tools
He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
badge
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
p4warrior wrote:
Some are confusing variable powers with asymmetry. Carry on.


Why do you say that?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Take joy from your wins; take lessons from your losses.
United States
Davidsonville
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb

    Variable powers are an real example of asymmetry. Is there an official definition that I am not aware of?

             S.



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin B. Smith
United States
Lake Forest Park
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So it seems that we have traitor/secret team games, and we have hidden goal games (which Careers also fits, by the way).

I think Careers would play the same whether your victory conditions were open or hidden, but that's obviously not true for Discworld or Vineta, or any other game where you can mess with other players to foil their plans.

Are there any games with symmetrical starts and rules, but with asymmetrical NON HIDDEN victory conditions?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
If you're willing to include abstract strategy games, Linkage leaps to mind. Both players have the same moves available but their goals are different. They are placing pieces onto the board. Adjacent pieces of the same color form a single contiguous group. One player wants the game to end with fewer than 12 groups, the other wants the game to end with 12 or more groups. This simple asymmetry in victory conditions causes the players to use very different strategy/tactics.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
flag msg tools
He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
badge
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cosmic Encounter is only assymetric as it applies to rules that apply to the players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
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.