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Variable Winning Conditions

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Torrent
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I am working on a project of mine, and one of the things I am pondering is variable victory point criteria. I am looking for help in finding other games that do the same/similar to this.

Basically I have each player trying to gain victory points in several different ways. I have an idea that maybe I would make a group of cards with different conditions that would produce VP's, and require a random dealing of four of them at the beginning of each game.

This would mean that every game would be different. Especially that there would be a different dynamic in each game. Think how Settlers of Catan would be different if the 'longest road' was 'most road corners'. Or if you got one VP for the most sheep in your hand at any point.

I think this could be good for getting some interesting replayablity, but it may end up causing difficulties because a player could not sit down and have a strategy before the game. Also there would need to be more tinkering to make sure there wasn't a set of these cards that caused a fundementally bad or flawed game on its own.

I skimmed Boardgamegeek, but didn't notice any games that did variable VP conditions. Princes of Florence has the cards that give you extra VP's for certain conditions, but they are special as opposed to a basic rule for everyone. So I am looking for other similar applications of this theory as well as critiques or comments on it.

Thanks all..

Andy

Anonymous
Variable Winning Conditions

I don't think this is exactly what you were thinking of, but I'll put it out there anyhow...

Axis and Allies: Pac theatre had different conditions for winning depending on the side you were on.

Cosmic Encounter, each player has the same goal, but each drew a card from the deck that allowed them to "bend" the rules a certain way changing the way that they went for that same goal.

jwarrend
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Variable Winning Conditions

Well, certainly there are plenty of games that feature "multiple paths to victory", ie, different ways of gaining VP. But you're talking about having different VP categories in every game. The reason I suspect few (if any) games utilize this is because of the inherent difficulty of having to balance lots of different VP categories. For example, let's say you have 5 categories, and in any game, 2 will be "active". Right there, you have 10 different configurations you have to test to make sure they're balanced and fair.

I'm working on a game now that has several different VP categories (though they are static), and what I'm working on is trying to have the game play work in such a way that pursuing one comes at the expense of pursuing the others. If I had to do that for a large set of categories, I'd probably never finish the game.

The closest thing to what you're trying to do might be Age of Mythology. In that game, players "seed" the VP categories. So, the categories are always the same, but their relative value will change each game, depending on the choices and strategies of the players.

All that said, I do think you have a unique idea, and I think it's worth pursuing, although you'll need a good solid game behind it. The novelty of "a different set of VP conditions every time" will probably not sell any games in and of itself. You need a good game more than you need infinite replayability! But if you can make the different conditions work, and work together, go for it!

IngredientX
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Variable Winning Conditions

robert4818 wrote:
Cosmic Encounter, each player has the same goal, but each drew a card from the deck that allowed them to "bend" the rules a certain way changing the way that they went for that same goal.

At first, I didn't think that Cosmic Encounter fit on this list, but now I realize that it's a game you should look at. It doesn't have variable victory point conditions per se, but it is an incredibly flexible game with each game being completely different, because of the bewildering array of combinations available in the game.

There's a new game called Strange Synergy that is also extremely flexible. In it, each player selects three superpowers for their team of superheroes. The superpowers are wildly different, and the game is extremely chaotic because of the exponential way the superpowers interact.

Finally, we have Fluxx. It's another one that's very different on each playing, because the rules bend and sway so dramatically that the game doesn't feature too much strategy. In fact, some people would say that the only constant is that they wind up bored, frustrated, or both from the game's chaotic nature.

None of these games feature variable VP conditions, but their gameplay is an indication of what your game might play like, if you take it in their direction. You might wind up with a tensely strategic game, but you might also wind up with a game where players' performances fluctuate wildly. Fluxx and Cosmic Encounter have fans and detractors, so it's something to think about.

disclamer
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Variable Victory Points.

One avenue of investigation you might consider is asymmetrical board games. These are games where one or more players have differing victory conditions. There is a GeekList on BGG (of course).

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listid=67

Will everyone's victory point conditions be secret or open?

Anonymous
Variable Winning Conditions

One question that comes to mind with multiple victory conditions...

Do you want players to be in direct competition with each other reguardless of whatever condition you give them...or will it just end up being each player doing their own thing while trying to rack up the points they need to win...

I.e. will one person be going around collecting every trinket on the board, while the other person just has to complete laps. And no intereaction between them....

Scurra
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Variable Winning Conditions

I think you need to go back a little further in your investigations.
The classic "multiple VP routes" game is the Parker Bros. game Careers in which the players collect different types of VPs in fame, fortune and happiness.
The trick is that although everyone has to collect (I think) 60 VPs, at the start of the game each player chooses what combination they are going to aim for (e.g. 20 of each, or 60 of one and 0 of the other two) and the winner is the first player to reach their own personal goal.
The result of this is that although you can make a sporting guess as to what goals other players are trying to reach, you cannot be sure.

Torrent
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Variable Winning Conditions

I will go look at these references later, but now I will add some more info from my original thought.

My project is a game based on a group of tribes/clans vying with each other to get elected king/emperor. It started as a Holy Roman Empire thing and has morphed to a Barbarian clan thing, but still the same idea in this respect. To gain VP's the clans appease/bribe the gods (these were electors in the HRE version). My thought was to have say 6-7 possible gods in the pantheon and each game deal out 3-4 as the 'choosing commitee'. So basically each player would be gonig after the same VP conditions in the game, but they would be different between games.

So if you pulled up the god of battle, having more warriors would gain VPs. God of commerce, more trades. God of the hearth, more towns... and so on. So they are static within the instance of the game played, but could be different at a later play of the game. So formulating of the 'best' strategy would be difficult if ont impossible.

My original question was basically has anything like this been doen and either succeeded or failed. I'll go check those other sources too. Thanks for the input.

Andy

FastLearner
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Variable Winning Conditions

I just wanted to note -- and I know this doesn't really apply directly to your game, Torrent -- that in Cosmic Encounter the powers, while sometimes wildly different, are pretty well balanced. There is no "if you have this power then you will win" issue, really.

In Strange Synergy, though, this is not true. It's quite easy for one player to have a clear extreme advantage with certain card combinations. The game is clever but very imbalanced.

Anonymous
Variable Winning Conditions

Steve Jackson's Illuminati and INWO both use variable victory conditions in the way you are describing.

For example, The Discordian Society can win if it controls 6 Weird groups, whereas the Bavarian Illuminati want groups with a certain total amount of power, and the Gnomes of Zurich need a certain amount of money to win, and the followers of Cthulhu need to destroy six groups to win...

Variable victory conditions are a great thing "in my humble opinion", and very common these days... I love games that have them.

Magic has a wide variety of victory conditions as well:

-Reduce opponent to 0 or less life
-Force opponent to draw a card when he has none left
-Opponent concedes game as hopeless
-Specific cards allow other victory conditions: for example, Test of Endurance indicates you win if you have 50 or more life, Battle of Wits gives you the victory if you have a certain number of cards in your library, there are others for number of dead creatures, number of creatures you control, and even number of coin tosses you have won throughout the game.
-Also in tournament games, when time is up, they often decide who the winner is by who has the most life at that moment.

Torrent
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Variable Winning Conditions

I think that my original explaination has gotten skewed abit.
Definition:
Multiple Paths to Victory - I think this is something people associate with German Games. Basically there are several ways to win, or several ways to gain VP's. Settlers of Catan, Magic all have different set ways to win or gain VP's. BUT they are the same set ways every time.
I could play a game of SoC and go for longest Road every game (which I tend to do), and it always gets me those VP's.

What I have been contemplating is VARIABLE Paths to Victory. The conditions that gain you VP's are different each game, but the same for each player within that game.

I saw Anno 1503 at Essen this year, and read some on the website. It seems to get a bit closer to my thoughts. In Anno you have 5 sets of conditions. Each condition is sort of a different part of the game. You win when you meet 3 of the 5 conditions.

Ok Imagine this Anno sort of setup except there are 8 possible conditions, and 5 are dealt out each game. Basically the strategy you used last game might not work because that condition might not be a winning one this game.

I actually have kind of dropped this from my game, but am keeping in my mind. I like it, but it looks like it could be problematic at times. Basically there could be certain sets of conditions that are really lopsided or impossible to finish. Not to mention it may be really chaotic to play a series.

Andy

jwarrend
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Variable Winning Conditions

Torrent wrote:
Basically the strategy you used last game might not work because that condition might not be a winning one this game.

It seems, from your remarks, that this is the effect that you care most about creating -- you want players to not be able to go into the game with a pre-set "strategy" in mind, but to have to respond to the game differently each time. In that case, randomizers can have a big impact on this. Witness Carcassonne -- a game that is both strategic and tactical, but your strategy evolves rather than having you go into the game saying "I'm pursuing a cloister strategy" or "I'm going for cities this time".

Having different player powers/goals also does this. Dune is a great example where all sides have the same goal, but their strategies and methods have to be very different for each side. And I'm sure that within each of the 6 houses, there is also room for variations. So you can't go into the game saying "I'm pursuing a money strategy", because you might end up with the Fremen, who won't have as good access to money.

I recognize that you're talking about something different than either of these -- a set of fixed victory conditions at the start of the game, but the conditions change from game to game. Again, I think it's a neat idea, though it will be a big pain to properly balance it. But I just want to observe that if the effect you're most interested in creating is to force the players to formulate a new strategy every game (or to not be able to formulate a strategy prior to the game's beginning), there are lots of other (and probably simpler) ways of doing this. You have to identify what the most important effect is based on the game experience you're looking to create.

Good luck!

-Jeff

Anonymous
Variable Winning Conditions

I see what you mean.

Actually the TCG version of Steve Jackson's Illuminati works in a sort of similar way, as you can include victory conditions that actually ARE secret from your opponents, only revealing them when you have satisified them... but those conditions are still known to the single player who put them into his own deck.

I do like your idea of the victory condition being variable from game to game. In fact, I REALLY like the idea of the 5/3 concept you listed above...

Could you go one further and have a large number of conditions, say 12 or 15, and only have 5 be dealt out to apply to this game, and then play with the knowledge of the conditions? I.E. they are dealt face down, and over the course of the game you either have to discover what they are, or just do the best you can knowing what you know of the whole 15... you could have ways to peek at victory cards that are in play, cards that are NOT in play, things that expose one or more of these cards to all players, or even drastic ways to make the victory conditions change over the course of the game...

Torrent
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Variable Winning Conditions

Quote:
Could you go one further and have a large number of conditions, say 12 or 15, and only have 5 be dealt out to apply to this game, and then play with the knowledge of the conditions? I.E. they are dealt face down, and over the course of the game you either have to discover what they are, or just do the best you can knowing what you know of the whole 15... you could have ways to peek at victory cards that are in play, cards that are NOT in play, things that expose one or more of these cards to all players, or even drastic ways to make the victory conditions change over the course of the game...

I actually had this in the first version of my game. It was HolyRomanEmpire theme with the 'Victory Conditions' being the various Electors. You didn't know the electors until you reached the town they lived in. I dropped this because it seemed to lead to a strategy of balance until you know the electors then scramble to please them. Not exactly what I wanted.

Quote:
But I just want to observe that if the effect you're most interested in creating is to force the players to formulate a new strategy every game (or to not be able to formulate a strategy prior to the game's beginning), there are lots of other (and probably simpler) ways of doing this. You have to identify what the most important effect is based on the game experience you're looking to create.

I understand this sentiment and it is one that I need to work on more. I am more of a theme-based designer. I latch to a theme or a setting and then try to develop rules and game conditions from there. This sometimes leads me into rules that don't work game-wise well but fit the theme. I need to get better at thinking about the gaming environment that I want to encourage. I am really after replayablity, but I think I need to balance that with the negative of chaos.

Thanks all for your help. One of my original questions was 'does anyu other game use this', the answer seems to be 'not exactly' but a few kinda do something similar. I have actually gotten to the point of liking the idea of dealing a random set, but needing only a subset of those. But we'll see as my projects develop where I can use that idea.

Andy

Anonymous
Bang the Card Game

In Bang! the wild west card game the victory conditions shift depending on which character you draw, the sheriff, the deput, the outlaw or the renegade.

I think variable win conditions are great, as long as they fit within the overall theme of the game. The Eagle Games version of Civilization has 3 different ways to win in the advanced version, a military, scientific, or technological victory and it's up to you as the player to declare or achieve the condition that will score you the most victory points. The key in designing the endgame is to not cause undo frustration to the players while keeping the level of tension high. In my opinion the best winning condition ever is in Tigris and Euphrates by Mafair. You have an idea of whose winning but you never know until it's over. It's a total mindgame without being driven by much chance.

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