Skip to Content

Mechanics to avoid

54 replies [Last post]
Daggaz
Daggaz's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/19/2016
What? The opposite is true,

X3M wrote:
Any wargame with 3 teams or more, requires more luck than skill.
Don't get me wrong. But the progress in a wargame is often exponential. Thus the imbalace grows more over time as well. Lucky rolls should be able to overcome this for a while.

What? The opposite is true, at least if you are going by rule of thumb (I wouldn't dare qualify such a statement absolutely).

If you are playing a strategic game with an element of chance at some base level, then you still have the non-random state information of the larger parts of the problem to work with. In other words, you use dice or what not to randomize the individual battles somewhat, but otherwise the units are where they are at, they have their mechanics fixed even if those mechanics are chained to dice-generated variances, the board areas, whether they are geographical abstractions or not, are generally fixed, and typically you know what the end goal is, etc..

So the only major luck involved is on the dice, really, assuming your opponent doesn't make too many random mistakes. A skilled player will be able to optimize his battles and this reduces the effect of luck, to the point where good luck helps him but he would win anyhow, and bad luck is mitigated through careful play.

A bad player, on the other hand, is ruined by 'bad' luck, which they have more of because they cannot optimize their battles, and may or may not capitalize on good luck, either squandering the margin, or just getting dumb lucky again. In general, it doesn't work out for them as well.

In either case, luck is dominated by skill because skill gets you stabilization of the higher level game states. It is skill which eventually avalanches, so that no amount of luck will help a losing player, at which point they simply concede the game and leave you hanging with a hollow victory.

So that is the key issue of balance for most strategy games. If you make it mostly pure skill (which hard core people like), then you need to play at conventions or something if you are very good because eventually your friends just get tired of losing all the time. If you put too much randomization into it, the game turns into a crap-shoot and your player base is turned off because most people play war simulation board games so they can play at solving puzzles and test their skill against the opponent(s) at the same time.

Right now I am playing around with some different mechanics to get a subjectively optimal feel that would make me happy. I want a game that requires a fair amount of skill and optimization, but which has some new twists on randomization at various heierarchies of the state information, so that is harder to dominate the puzzle through careful play. The randomization shouldn't make your skill arbitrary, however, and it should be fun no matter what. I am also employing varying degrees of hidden information, so that nobody can be entirely sure if another player is winning or losing simply by looking at the visible state information, but will have a fairly good idea of how they are doing.

In the end, I want a wargame where a highly skilled player can still be knocked out of play when the odds would appear to be with him, and where it is rare to just quit because you can simply see that you can never win. It shouldnt be too often, but enough that players know they still might have a chance. It should keep a skilled player on his toes, and more than anything, it should be fun to play.

Im getting closer. Ive been dreaming of this game for years.

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
Well, I was speaking with a

Well, I was speaking with a mathematical background. And the interaction of bystanders when 2 players duked it out. The first one to throw the stone, looses more often in a balanced game.

Most wargames have a certain outcome when considering almost equal armies. In real life we have this "unknown" factor for the so called randomness. But in wargames we need to use information hidden from other players and dice rolls or other random input.

In a lot of wargames, the dice rolls FAIL to input randomness. And with equal skilled players. It is the "random" start situation that determines the outcome of the game at hand.

As said before, I dislike random input without a meaning.

gpetersen
gpetersen's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/16/2017
Any end-game mechanic that

Any end-game mechanic that doesn't guarantee an end in reasonable time. Munchkin comes to mind as a game that is broken but could be fixed with a simple tweak (e.g. the game ends the first time the deck runs out of cards).

Adam Leamey
Offline
Joined: 02/23/2017
i think I hate player

i think I hate player elimination most especially in games like mtg or just card games in every multiplayer game I have played I get ganged up on cause either I have a better deck or am just in the lead. This is incredibly frustrating as a player and mostly multiplayer games just come down to who didn't get dog piled to death.

I no longer really take part in multiplayer unless it's either 2 on 2 were it's team based or they have things in place to discourage some players getting blasted into the ground.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Player elimination

Adam Leamey wrote:
...I no longer really take part in multiplayer unless it's either 2 on 2 were it's team based or they have things in place to discourage some players getting blasted into the ground.

My WIP has player elimination and while this is sometime "scenario"-based, you can forge your own alliances with another player and turn the table against two (2) other players. So the game may start out as being "every man for himself" and can be transformed into "2 vs. 2" game.

The key point I want to make is that knocking-out ONE (1) opponent will tip the tide (because it will become 1 vs. 2) and that will mean a quicker way of disposing of the opponent. You can even play a variant 2 vs. 2 where the FIRST player eliminated from the game results in the opposing team being the victors.

Never the less, Player elimination is an aspect of the game - that A> Requires you to think about MORE than just yourself B> Realize that just because you are stronger - doesn't mean you will win the game, especially if two (2) players join forces to take you down.

Cheers.

Adam Leamey
Offline
Joined: 02/23/2017
Player elimination does work

Player elimination does work just for me personally in certain games it was not enjoyable as I always got eliminated by 2 other players. Now I will say there are some really good player elimination games I was more referring to experiences like I mentioned.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Offline
Joined: 06/08/2016
With player elimination it

With player elimination it might be interesting if it still allows the defeated to affect the game.

Like return as a ghost or something, unable to win the game but able to mess with players still in the game. Nothing too big, but just enough to satisfy the defeated player.

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
Willem Verheij wrote:With

Willem Verheij wrote:
With player elimination it might be interesting if it still allows the defeated to affect the game.

Like return as a ghost or something, unable to win the game but able to mess with players still in the game. Nothing too big, but just enough to satisfy the defeated player.

I thought of that too. 2 years later...
Players don't like it.

If a player is eliminated. It would be wise to find a way to allow this player to return completely to the game.
If the end goal is to eliminate all players. This returning needs time. In that time, the nr. 1 should eliminate all players.

I have no idea how to implement this to my war game. Nor do I see it in other games.

It is only a concept. I wonder how you guys think about the concept. And if anyone sees a proper way to implement it.
The only games that have all players to the end. Are point gathering games. Which is effective, but a lame approach in my opinion.

krone9
Offline
Joined: 01/28/2017
i use player elimination in

i use player elimination in Knossus in the way you (Willem) describe
The game is essentially a balance of "do I spend my time getting ahead or stopping my opponent getting ahead". Theres two key elements I wanted to use:

Communal lives - you respawn until these are used up, giving a finite end to the game

When eliminated you can only stop your opponents - so the game gets harder and ends faster if multiple eliminated.

gpetersen
gpetersen's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/16/2017
X3M wrote:Willem Verheij

X3M wrote:
Willem Verheij wrote:
With player elimination it might be interesting if it still allows the defeated to affect the game.

Like return as a ghost or something, unable to win the game but able to mess with players still in the game. Nothing too big, but just enough to satisfy the defeated player.

I thought of that too. 2 years later...
Players don't like it.

If a player is eliminated. It would be wise to find a way to allow this player to return completely to the game.
If the end goal is to eliminate all players. This returning needs time. In that time, the nr. 1 should eliminate all players.

I have no idea how to implement this to my war game. Nor do I see it in other games.

It is only a concept. I wonder how you guys think about the concept. And if anyone sees a proper way to implement it.
The only games that have all players to the end. Are point gathering games. Which is effective, but a lame approach in my opinion.

Smallworld has players repeatedly "eliminated" and returning with a new fantasy race each time. It is a clever adaptation of the elimination mechanic, but like you say, it is a point gathering game.

gxnpt
Offline
Joined: 12/22/2015
player elimination / win conditions

This thread has me wondering if a minor rules tweak in the "standard" win conditions of The Singularity Trap would make sense.

Currently a winning faction (single player only if 1-3 players, can be 2 players in a 4-5 player game, can be 3 players in a 6 player game) has to declare with 25 or more of the 37 planets and hang onto that number for 2 full turns.

Since alliances can shift and overlap actual player elimination (as opposed to being reduced to a couple of planets) is unusual to the point of not coming up yet.

But, now I wonder if I should specify/recommend whether beginning number of players OR current number of players determines number of players that can form a winning faction vs leaving it as an open question for "house rules".

lewpuls
lewpuls's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/04/2009
Mechanics I dislike (and do not use)

"Pay to win", as in some forms of CCGs. Buy more cards, get better choices, succeed. This is not a fair game.

Mechanics that have nothing to do with reality, with modeling a situation. For example, roll-and-move, deck building, and worker placement.

I also avoid player elimination in games for more than two sides, though it has a lot to do with reality, of course.
Avoiding player elimination in multi-sided games (screencast):
https://youtu.be/Eu5C941Jjs8

Squinshee
Squinshee's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/17/2012
lewpuls wrote:Mechanics that

lewpuls wrote:
Mechanics that have nothing to do with reality, with modeling a situation. For example, roll-and-move, deck building, and worker placement.

Are you suggesting that game mechanics should accurately model a real situation? What's inherently wrong with worker placement and deck building?

ElKobold
ElKobold's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/10/2015
lewpuls wrote:For example,

lewpuls wrote:

Mechanics that have nothing to do with reality

A game doesn't have to be a simulation. In fact, a perfect simulation would probably be a horrible game.

lewpuls wrote:

For example, ... , deck building, and worker placement.

Not sure if I understand. Why should designers be avoiding these two extremely popular mechanisms?

I Will Never Gr...
I Will Never Grow Up Gaming's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2015
Ask 100 designers/gamers ..

Ask 100 designers what mechanics should be avoided and you'll end up with every mechanic ever implemented.

Same goes if you ask 100 gamers.

Everyone has their opinions, and every.single.one.of.them is right because opinions are just that .. personal opinion.

Let's take for example a thread I was JUST following on Facebook regarding using Dice for combat in a wargame;
The opinion was split 50/50 on whether or not pure luck/dice rolling is good or bad. There are those who hate, hate, hate dice rolling, then there are those who love it to no ends.

Implement whatever mechanics best serve your game and implement them in a way that they work together in a cohesive manner that makes the game enjoyable to your specific target audience. You can't please everyone.

AbErRational
Offline
Joined: 12/02/2016
ElKobold wrote:lewpuls

ElKobold wrote:
lewpuls wrote:

Mechanics that have nothing to do with reality

A game doesn't have to be a simulation. In fact, a perfect simulation would probably be a horrible game.

lewpuls wrote:

For example, ... , deck building, and worker placement.

Not sure if I understand. Why should designers be avoiding these two extremely popular mechanisms?

I assume lewpuls is trying to say that the theme and mechanics should work together - otherwise it is just a nonsense. And even with that interpretation, there's still a gray area with many good games. For example 6nimmt! isn't completely an abstract game but the theme could be about anything. Majority of the filler type card games are actually filling the gray area where the chosen theme has nothing to do with the game, and perhaps many of these games shine just because of that.

Maybe it is the time for a final conclusion. Such a to-be-avoided mechanic does not exist whereas bad design to-be-avoided games exist for various reasons. Most of them are traditional, underdeveloped and/or uninspiringly similar with many other games.

ssm
ssm's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/06/2017
Unenforceable rules.

Unenforceable rules.

lewpuls
lewpuls's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/04/2009
Not a follow-the-leader

ElKobold wrote:

Not sure if I understand. Why should designers be avoiding these two extremely popular mechanisms?

Why would I use a mechanism simply because it's popular? Especially a mechanism I dislike personally? I adapt mechanisms to the situation the game represents, or I devise my own mechanisms. That is, I might design several games using the same base system that I've devised, but I don't go out of my way to use a mechanism devised by someone else (though I have nothing against that, I just don't intend to do it). Long ago I did adopt other systems (Stratego, though quite modified). Not these days.

Now, there are SO many worker placement games, and SO many deck-building games, why would I want to make yet another one?

Many years ago (when it was still new) I did consider adapting deck-building to a Zombie apocalypse-style game, but it didn't work for me.

ElKobold
ElKobold's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/10/2015
lewpuls wrote:Why would I

lewpuls wrote:

Why would I use a mechanism simply because it's popular? Especially a mechanism I dislike personally?

Well, perhaps because as designers we design for other people, not for ourselves?

lewpuls wrote:

Now, there are SO many worker placement games, and SO many deck-building games, why would I want to make yet another one?

As are games with dice. That's not a reason to stop using dice rolling as a mechanism, if it fits your game.

lewpuls
lewpuls's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/04/2009
ElKobold wrote:lewpuls

ElKobold wrote:
lewpuls wrote:

Why would I use a mechanism simply because it's popular? Especially a mechanism I dislike personally?

Well, perhaps because as designers we design for other people, not for ourselves?

lewpuls wrote:

Now, there are SO many worker placement games, and SO many deck-building games, why would I want to make yet another one?

As are games with dice. That's not a reason to stop using dice rolling as a mechanism, if it fits your game.

I design games for others - I don't even play them after they're published, because I didn't design them for myself.

But one of the bigger mistakes a designer can make is to take popular elements and try to combine them into a game. You're likely to end up with a soul-less mess.

Dice are not a mechanism, they're a component that can be used in a great variety of mechanics (such as the obvious one, roll and move). Your remark/comparison makes no sense.

I've looked into several lists of "mechanisms" or "mechanics" online, and I find they combine mechanics, components, objectives, and other elements that are not mechanics. For example, on a Dice Tower list I see "CCG" listed as a mechanic. No, it's a marketing scheme. I also see "Empire Building". That's not a mechanic, that's something you're modeling via mechanics. I recently saw a video suggesting that wargames amounted to a mechanic. Nonesense!

ElKobold
ElKobold's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/10/2015
lewpuls wrote:Dice are not a

lewpuls wrote:

Dice are not a mechanism, they're a component that can be used in a great variety of mechanics (such as the obvious one, roll and move). Your remark/comparison makes no sense.

What I meant was any commonly used dice-based mechanism, like for example combat resolution with target number.
It doesn't change my point. There's an infinite number of games and finite number of mechanisms.
How many times a particular mechanism has been used in other designs has no impact on the quality of a game whatsoever. What does have impact is the specific implementation of a mechanism and how it fits into your game.

lewpuls wrote:

I've looked into several lists of "mechanisms" or "mechanics" online, and I find they combine mechanics, components, objectives, and other elements that are not mechanics. For example, on a Dice Tower list I see "CCG" listed as a mechanic. No, it's a marketing scheme. I also see "Empire Building". That's not a mechanic, that's something you're modeling via mechanics. I recently saw a video suggesting that wargames amounted to a mechanic. Nonesense!

Let's not go into arguing about terminology.
I've explained what I meant more clearly above.

sheeptree
sheeptree's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/15/2017
When Players are Unable to Participate

I really dislike player elimination. The reason I dislike it is because when a player is "eliminated", that player is now sitting and watching everyone else play and is no longer participating in the game at all and not by their own volition. When you're the eliminated player, the game becomes boring. I really feel that something can be done to keep eliminated players engaged (maybe a mechanic can be added to this to put the player back in the game?).

Really, the only bad mechanics in my mind, or "mechanics to avoid" would be mechanics that make players unable to participate, elimination games being the most common culprit of this

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Player elimination

Because "Player elimination" is such a controversial mechanic, we've created more than one (1) scenario players can play. So there is a possibility to play until one player reaches the Victory Goal - versus other scenarios where "Player elimination" is the "core" of the scenario.

By offering BOTH, we feel that we're offering the game to a wider audience. While a Victory Goal game might take 45-60 minutes to complete, a last player standing scenario could take upwards of 120 minutes (30 minutes per player).

The other aspect is that although elimination occurs (in some scenarios), it doesn't mean that the time eliminating players is more than 30 minutes. In other words, what this means is that it could take 30 minutes from when the 1st player is eliminated to declaring the Victor of the game.

So it's not so unreasonable (in terms of time). If a player plays 75% of the game and misses out on the last 25% ... it doesn't seem too bad. In terms of time this amounts to 30 minutes (out of 2 hours)...

lewpuls
lewpuls's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/04/2009
Mastery vs Participation

questccg wrote:

So it's not so unreasonable (in terms of time). If a player plays 75% of the game and misses out on the last 25% ... it doesn't seem too bad. In terms of time this amounts to 30 minutes (out of 2 hours)...

But if you are at a meeting with multiple games going on, you will probably lose that player for further games.

In the end, player elimination has two sides: if the game is about mastery, elimination is OK; if it's about participation, it's not OK. Ideally, find a way to avoid elimination and you take care of both.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut