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Competitive and co-op in a same game?

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Jarec
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Joined: 12/27/2013

I have this game idea envisioned, and thought it would be cool to have a Catan style competitive trading/worker placement game at first, but in the end of the game something bad would happen and all the players would need to work together to survive it, something akin Arkham Horror's awakening.

My main concern in this is how the players would feel the game changing that much, how would they react having their position compromised?
What could be the best way to keep the players feeling right in this situation? Everybody wins! (but I'm the real winner since I "won" the first phase of the game), the winner is the winner unless no one makes it (they fail the last phase), or something different entirely?
How can I make the losing players of the first phase to be interested in the last phase?

I really would like the game to have this "it writes its own story" by having all sorts of weird and wonderful things happening, but still would like to have a strict game rules behind it.

By no means does this system make or break the game, I could have it go either co-op or competitive, but having both really intrigues me.

--- Additional info about the game follows (of which I'd be thankful to get feedback of course)

The theme of the game is that a bunch of ancient human tribes rush to settle a big island where some tribal god has been born, trying to live besides each other, fightin', reproducin', tradin' and meeple placin'.

The main thing about the game would be this mixing of the races (tribes) by each player having a big pouch of meeples from which you'd randomly take and place them. And forcing you to take the other colored meeples from the board, as rules would dictate, in to your own pouch to perhaps come up when you'd make your crucial worker placement.
This would not make it so that the meeple worked for the enemy, but to have it so that your race is mixing with another.

The different races would have a different racial quirks and skills you'd want to mix with others to gain the upper hand and some you would not want. And mutations through both, racial variety and inbreeding would be a thing to look out for.

I was thinking of having only a few long turns in the game, and each turn would be heavily influenced by the leader of the tribe and his racial mixture. Each turn would mean a new leader is born and chosen, and his genetic mixture would be made up from the content of your meeple pouch.

So the co-op style last phase would start when you go through those few long turns, and it would be to survive the wrath of the god waking in the middle of the island (taking inspiration heavily from the Arkham Horror).
In my mind the gods wrath would sink the production places on the board, leaving only few of each kind, so that the tribe who has the best hunters would need to inhabit forests, and the best farmers the fertile soil places, etc.

And since this thing is at the conceptual level, I tend to want to have more that is feasible. So a traitor mechanic would be cool to have too! By having each player to make sacrifices for the god each turn as much or as little as they like, which would dictate the final outcome in some way.
The thing is that I feel that I've never played any games that have traitor mechanics, so I just can't wrap my head around how would it affect the real problem that is the topic.

I haven't give the ending that much tought since, like I said, I'd like this to be more of an "story game" where the tribe of cannibals actually made it through by having the best farmers.

Any advice on the topic or the game itself would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

theMikeAG
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Joined: 03/30/2015
Here's some thoughts.

Maybe, in addition to surviving, each tribe could have an individual victory condition. Maybe one tribe wants to develop the most of a certain kind of building, while another just wants to have the most meeples running around. That way, everyone who survived the god's wrath could be considered successful, but there would also be room for a clear winner.

Or maybe the winning condition could have more to do with which god inhabits the island? The civilization who matches its whims the most could avoid most of its wrath during the coop phase. Who knows?

werhner
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Joined: 01/30/2012
Based on the title of your

Based on the title of your post, the following phrase just sprang into mind: "don't try to get a bigger slice of a small pie, but keep the same slice of a larger pie"

I guess that is how I understand the idea of "coop-tition", which I know isn't what you are talking about in your pitch. However, I have spent a while thinking about ways to make a game that is ultimately competitive, but you win by cooperating better than anyone else.

I've never played Betrayal, but I think I might have a hard time with the sudden shifting from one game mode into another. I guess the games that I enjoy most are typically 'linear' in their 'story' - the game environment/rules/goal at the beginning applies all the way until the end. For example, in Catan, your strategy may change as the game progresses, but the game itself doesn't change from a VP-race to a combine-our-efforts-to-overcome-the-game situation. I might experience a little cognitive dissonance in the game you have pitched when it goes from being competitive to cooperative.

Perhaps there are other ways to make your game cooperative AND competitive. Is there anyway you could make your game so that a player who works with another player benefits more than if he had done something solo? Maybe where each player has sole access to certain skills that are required by the other players - the other players would have to work with the first player to get things done, but perhaps could choose a less efficient/more expensive route to accomplish the same goal with another player altogether.

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
I agree with werhner that it

I agree with werhner that it needs to be an ongoing thing, not one big switch. Otherwise it's just two different and barely related games, where some people start with an advantage or a disadvantage in the coop game.

wyldewah
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Joined: 02/12/2013
+1 for not making a distinct

+1 for not making a distinct shift between the two game styles. Could you have a game that rewards cooperation. Or maybe add a mechanic partway through the game to just slightly shift the impetus? Something like this:

Each player has their own section of the board. On your turn you can build into your section or into other players' sections. Building into another player's section will get you a reward (another action/resource). From a given round number, events start happening (monsters attacking, natural disasters) in each of the sections. Players use everything in their section (pieces belonging to them or another player) to combat the events. Points will be scored by anyone whose units/buildings are involved. The most successful player will likely be the one who is distributed across all of the other players' sections.

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