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Bash the Leader

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Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008

I was reading through BGG as is my habit, and thought of something. We all seem to think about games recognize problems that we have fancy names for. Bash-the-Leader is one of these. Basically the idea that all the damaging actions/cards from other players always affect the leading player.

I was wondering, what if a game had this as a central mechanic!! If you were playing some sort of King of the Hill thing. After a certain point the current leader becomes a defender almost and must defend his position from the rest of the players. So to win you would have to make sure you accumulated the defensive resources (cards, chits, whatever) and then at the right time bash the leader enough to become the leader and defend the position as the game ends.

I don't exactly know how this would look or play, but I thought I'd throw it out for discussion. I think that for most games the bash-the-leader problem is bad in that the leader can't really protect himself from the attacks as well. If the leader had methods to protect him maybe it would end up being a nice kind of tension in the game.

Andy

Anonymous
Bash the Leader

I think it's an interesting idea. Here are some points to ponder:

How does one get into the "leader" position?
By this, I mean that there must be some sort of scoring that determines who is leading, and there must be an element that tears this scoring down (i.e. Bash the leader). If the "bashing" elements are strong enough to tear the leader from the throne at the end of the game... then there needs to be mostly-balanced defensive mechanisms that the leader can use to defend himself. BUT... how do you make strong end-game defenses that don't slow the game to a grinding halt early?

Basically... everyone's fighting for the "leader" position early on.... so attacks aren't concentrated. With unconcentraded "bashing" the defensive mechanisms need to be JUST strong enough that it can stop unconcentrated bashing and allow the players to move ahead...

BUT those same defensive mechanisms need to be strong enough in the end to defend against "group bashing"

Either that or you need to have two differing bashing mechanisms (one early and one late game) or two differing defensive mechanisms.

The alternative would be something along the lines of this (assuming a card game):

You have a point-break for "leader" position... let's say 10 points for ease of purpose.
Players hold.... I dunno... 5 cards in hand. These cards are point-gaining mechanisms... bashing mechanisms... and defensive mechanisms.
The defensive mechanisms are DIRECT counters to bashing. So a "block" for your "jab"... whatever.
There is a set limit to the number of scoring mechanisms you can play per turn... thus an increased hand-size does not help you out in building points.
After hitting the 10 point break... your handsize increases to 10. That way, you have the ability to hold more defensive cards that will protect you to the all-out beating you are about to receive.
Hit a second point-break... you win. Say 20 points.

Just some thoughts.

Tyler

Anonymous
Bash the Leader

Afterthought to that previous post... and a COMPLETELY different game idea:

Lets, for the sake of simplicity, place a "King of the Hill" theme on this idea.

You have a boardgame... with a Hill.
No one is on the hill at the beginning and you play cards of some sort to maneuver yourself onto the hill.
Only one person can be on the hill at a time.
There are cards that attempt to tear people from the hill and obviously defensive cards.
The game lasts for a fixed number of Turns/Rounds.
A player scores for each turn he is "King of the Hill"
At the end of the fixed number of Turns/Rounds, whomever was "King of the Hill" the most during the game is the winner.

Tyler

FastLearner
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Bash the Leader

In many games where there's a certain amount of runaway leader issue (once the leader gets a certain distance ahead there's no stopping him), leader bashing is what the game is all about -- players constantly bash the leader. In order to win such a game you generally need to play such that you hold back from becoming the leader situation until the game nears its end: the player just back from the leader throughout the game tends to win.

In the type of game you're suggesting I see a potential problem: Leader By Default. That is, no one is going to want to be the leader until s/he can be pretty darned certain of the win, so players will be struggling to stay out of the leader position. This could result in a very, very long game.

The game Munchkin works very much like you describe, actually. Throughout the game everyone is working to build up power in order to survive the game-end leader bashing session. In fact, in my experience, you spend 30 to 45 minutes building up power and then 2 hours bashing each other until the winner is determined by who -- through pure chance -- happens to be the guy who is able to win when everyone else is out of bashing cards.

I suspect you can do a good leader bashing based game, but it sounds hard and I'm not sure how it could be done.

-- Matthew

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Bash the Leader

I like Tyler's second suggestion: that seems like a quite workable leader bashing game!

Anonymous
Bash the Leader

FastLearner,

Yeah, I got the idea that you were typing that before reading my two posts... but when I read your post I was still thinking:

"But... but... that second idea is good! I could pull it off!"
:-P

Thanks for the props.
Tyler

Scurra
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Bash the Leader

Oh yes, the second idea is very workable.
What you need is some way of ensuring that the resources the players have (for attacking and defending) are not allocated entirely at random - otherwise it turns into a "lucky card draw" exercise.
But it sounds pretty solid to me.

Torrent
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Bash the Leader

Yes, I thought of the idea of the 'just-off-leader' position would be sought after. The counter-thought to that is that the leader could choose not to defend a specific attack, thus allowing themselves to fall out of the leader position, protecting themselves from attacks.
Another idea is to somehow award points at the end for the number of turns spent in the leader position, thus encouraging people to gain the leader position early. So the winner is not necessarily the leader at the end, but it helps.

I am actually kind of interested that this idea in general doesn't seem to have any deep-seated basic flaws.

Andy

Anonymous
Bash the Leader

Well here's a little insight into my game design process after I have the basic principal.

Our basis: "King of the Hill"
One person can be on the hill at a time
Game last for a fixed period, either Turns/Rounds/Time
Points are scored for each turn a player spends as "King of the Hill"
After pre-determined time period, player with the most points wins.

Great.

Whereto next?

Well, we have the most basic of descisions which is more-often-than-not for me the hardest descision: the medium of delivery.

Board game?
Card game?

If it's a board gameā€¦ modular? Fixed?
If it's fixed, that's easy. Just decide basic mechanical movement and shape.

Modular? Hmm... hexes? Tiles? If tiles, what shape? Square? Triangle? Rectangle?

Card game?

Well card games are generally in my opinion, more flexible. You have many variables which you can easily change without adjusting the actual cards... hand size, number to draw, number to play, number to discard.

Essentially, it all boils down to the fact that we have a victory condition and no means to get there... so, when I'm in a situation like that - I start from the beginning:

Movement

We have a "hill" we're trying to get too and stay on top of... it's in the center of our playing surface. We need to get there. How?

Dice?
Action points?
Cards with values?

And on and on and on....

This process continues through all aspects of the initial design until I have something that I can coherently "playtest" in my mind.
If all works, I invest the efforts to mock it up and give it a go...

Tyler

Torrent
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Bash the Leader

Maybe King of the Hill is a better refinment of it than Bash-the-Leader. From your outline, I have a mental picture. Perhaps the Hill is in the center, with several tracks around it. Each track space allows the drawing of some sort of resource (cards, chits, again whatever). The tracks further away were used to gather defensive resources and the tracks closer in were used to aquire attack items AND to launch attacks.
An attack that is not adequately defended results in the attacker becoming King, thus vulnerable.

If the only way points were accumulated were on the hill, staying out in the defensive track wouldn't be good because you would never get points.

So basically you get the players circling the hill gathering either ways to attack or defend, then dealing with the hill itself.

Andy

Anonymous
Bash the Leader

There you go! Have a blast!

Maybe make it like a *BIT* modular for added replay value.

You could use a system similar to the Buffy tVS boardgame in that different "spaces" provide you with different resources.
As you said Attack, Defence maybe even Move or a "Event" resource which lets you mess with hands/turns/movements.... and of course, there should be empty spaces.

That way, on a players turn it is a descision of his/her OWN, which resources need aqquired and where to move.

Tyler

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Bash the Leader

Although I don't have much more to add to the ideas brought already, I think it's neat to see how a general idea was made into a more cut idea, with less fat and more meat, in just a few hours. What a great group we have here!

Anonymous
king o the hill

I play Napolean in Europe pretty regularly. We never play the normal game - we play a king of the hill variant. Maybe it will give you some ideas. Using the basic rule set, NiE is a second-generation risk-style game. That is, you get income for holding territory which you use to buy troops. Troops are used to conquer more territory. There's a tactical battle layer in there to make things interesting. Troops can only be built within the player's original national boundaries (this is important!).

Anyway, we have each player start in one of the countries around the edge of the board, and the hill is in the center of the board (germany). You get 6 points every turn you end in Bavaria, and 2 points every turn for each of the adjacent spaces. The rules have a built-in defender advantage, so once someone is on the hill, it's hard to knock them off. HOWEVER, there are enough points around the hill that if you sit up there too long, someone else can spread out and actually start scoring more points. So there's this tension where you dance around the 'bottom of the hill', trying to bulk-up your primary army with a trickle of reinforcements while cutting off the other players' armies from their reinforcements. Then, you see a chance to go for the center and take it. You then try to sit on the center as long as you can. If you are lucky, the others squabble and just pick up a few points each while you really rack up the points.

What happens more often is that one other player is strong at the moment, and they spread out a bit, and block off your reinforcements (which must be built at the edge of the board and marched forward). So you are faced with the tough decision to wait until they grow strong enough to take you out, or step off the hill to attack your (still weaker) foe, hoping to get back on the hill before someone else takes it.

At any rate, we've had a lot of fun, tense games with this idea - keep with it, the concept is sound.

DavemanUK
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Catch the Leader mechanism

One concept I've been working on is that the leader (or rather the person who 'thinks' they are the leader) has to spend an action to commence a scoring round (to capitialise on their larger resources). Therefore, all other players get a spare action to build their resources/trade/etc. :)

Dave W.

Anonymous
Asymetrical Design

Or you could just make an asymetrical design ala Fury of Dracula where in essence the entire game has a bash the leader quality.

Anonymous
Bash the Leader

You might consider variable scoring per turn as well. In the Xbox game Gladius, one of the arena fights is King of the Hill. You score a point every turn that you have a guy on top and the fight lasts like 3 minutes. The bonus, though, is that scoring is doubled during the last minute of the fight. In my (limited) experience, in a 3- or 4-way fight, this adds a little more strategy to deciding when to take or assault the hill.

Start of fight - judge which team is closest (and most likely) to get to the hill first, and how capable a defender is that gladiator that ends up there?

If I think weak defenders might make the hill first, I will often hang back and help bash the leader, since he is easy to take down, and try to get my toughest guy on the hill before the last minute starts, for the double scoring. Hopefully, a succession of weak guys occupies the hill without any one opposing team gaining the majority of the pre-bonus points.

If I think someone tough might make it, I will try to damage, slow or kill them before they can get to the hill, and risk putting one of my own guys up top to earn points while taking a beating.

Anyway, if you want to encourage folks to take the hill early, make early round points worth more. If you want folks to hold the hill the longest, make the points cumulative (1 point for the first round you hold it, 2 points for the 2nd, 3 for the 3rd consecutive round, etc). If you want to make come from behind more viable, make late rounds worth more.

Variable scoring ought to help you manage the game flow by providing incentives to taking the hill, aside from other game mechanics.

sedjtroll
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Bash the Leader

What about a setup wherein you get stronger when at the bottom of the hill, and score points at the top of the hill (this is very similar or in fact the same thing everyone's said already)... but I mean directly.

Like say you have some kind of strength value. For the sake of example we'll say everyone's playing piece is 1d6 and it starts at a value of 1. When on the 'bottom' of the hill, either as an action on your turn or as a result of ending your turn there, your value increases by 1.

Now say any time you move into a space with an opponent in it, you fight. Because it amuses me, I'll bring in that 'simple fight mechanic' I was talking about in another thread- but any fighting mechanic could work. When figting, first each player reduces their value by 1 (fatigue). Then each player rolls 1d6 and adds their own value to the roll. If the result is a tie, both players reduce their value by 1 and keep fighting. If one player's result is higher than the other's, then the loser of the fight reduces their value by 1 and is knocked 1 level down the hill.

Admittedly this is somewhat random, and there should be other parts of the game that do other things, but the point is that you have some strength value that increases and decreases, so if you're the King of the Hill, then people will attack you and you'll actually (eventually) have to retreat to heal back up.

Now, if only there were some semblance of skill involved in the fight mechanism, there might be something to this idea.

- Seth

Deviant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Bash the Leader

This sounds like Acquire, where the lead player receives ecpnomic bonuses just for being the lead player. In Aquire, the means players may use to target players are pretty indirect - no outright "conquests" or anything bloodthirsty like that. This is a business acquisition game, after all. I think a game such as this, where leader-bashing is possible but limited, is ideal. Note that I have never actually played Acquire, but I have seen it played and I know a little about it.

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