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How to avoid quarterbacking in an adventure game

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

It's for an investigation adventure game like games in the Arkham Horror family. It's a game where you have character with resources: HP, equipment, etc, And various choices of encounters in the world.

I want to avoid the situation where one player tells every other player what to do, unless playing solo. So my objective was to keep something hidden from the rest of the player that should incite them to resolve certain encounters instead of another one.

I am not really sure what to keep hidden, I have a couple of ideas, but I would need more suggestions. I try to keep the number of components low. I do not want any traitor mechanism.

  • Hidden resources: Gives bonus on certain conditions. Discarded or revealed once used. Resources in hand will influence encounter resolved, or could lock encounter if matching resource is missing.

  • Puzzle Pieces: Like "final hour", you accumulate puzzle pieces that needs to be assemble at the end. The problem is that it does not change player's choices through the game.

  • Secret objectives: Things they need to do in their personal lives or something they are the only one to know they need to accomplish.

  • Secret encounters: Only the player can perform those encounters. I Need to put the target location on the card unless I can mark it somehow on the board with tokens.

Do you have any other ideas?

Being able to simulate a feeling of investigation would be interesting. I know, complete investigation is not possible without double blind resolution or a game master.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I think ...

I have a design which is called "Clue Crimes" ... Players move around the board collecting CLUES to the crime. I neither want a "traitor" mechanic ... But I wanted to flip from looking for CLUES to the "actual crime". Once players collect enough CLUES, the game then changes to a sort of chase to capture the criminal and prevent the crime.

A bit like Tom Cruise's "Minority Report" (2002) where the police are hunting down clues to when the criminal will strike again. Given a Modus Operandi (MO) and knowledge of previous crimes ... Players try to TRAP the criminal before it is too late.

There are 24 Clues and 25 locations on the board (the center is the Police Headquarters and has no clues).

Why am I explaining this??? Just so you can have a bit of a frame of reference since I understand your "Quarterbacking Question"...

So what players are doing is collecting CLUES and as the last few clues remain ... The adventure begins when players reveal the three (3) LAST CLUES which are NOT in the game (they've been taken out ... Much like CLUEDO). That 3 Card sequence requires players to refer to a "Police Crime Guide" (a little like Betrayal on House of the Hill) and so there are a bunch of crime configurations with extremely a LOT of replayability.

ALL Players have the same information and so each player controls the POLICE on their turn...

I never thought that there could be "Quarterbacking" TBH... Players REVISIT a series of Crime Sites (in the 2nd Phase) and the Criminal is also doing the same (Players play the Criminal too... But given objectives).


Is not knowing how to keep information secret???

And YOUR POST is all about that: "How to keep stuff secret."

So I am intrigued because it kind of relates to my own design too... I will be honest and say that the First Phase (1st) of the game is very similar to CLUEDO but with 25 locations (and 24 clues). And then the Second Phase (2nd) is the called the "Manhunt"...

I'm not sure about HOW to keep the Criminal's actions current and future SECRET and like you, I don't want a "traitor mechanic". But if it is a 4 to 6 player game... Maybe ONE (1) Player becomes the CRIMINAL (somehow?) then it's 3 to 5 players against the Criminal during the "Manhunt".

I hope to achieve something close to the Fugitive (1993) and previously (1963). Where the cops are always one step BEHIND the "Criminal" and try to outsmart him/her.

But this is just embryonic "Design Idea". I have the First Phase done... Still need more thought on the Second Phase...

Like for example: The Criminal has to visit the "University" to pickup the "Gun" and then he/she must then make it to the "Hotel" to kill the victim and then needs to make his/her way to the "Bus Depot" to escape the "county"...

And the POLICE 3 to 5 players (control 3 "Police Detectives") and move them around... Like I said, I'm not sure how to make this work.

I get that the Guide can tell the Police ... They have to VISIT certain locations again to gather more evidence (related to the crime that has yet to occur) ... And somehow stop the Criminal...

I know it SOUNDS very COOL. But the design is FAR from completed. Lots to think about and figure out (crimes and movements, etc.) But it "feels" exciting TBH! I honestly have a bit more "Fleshed out" in my notes...

There are actually FIVE (5) phases to the game. And some of the details are more developed TBH. But anyways you get the idea.

THE KEY IMHO is that the POLICE plays as a TEAM. And the CRIMINAL plays ALONE.

There might be one precision like: "a Police must be 1-Location away from the Criminal otherwise the Criminal gets spooked and flees..." IDK. I'm just saying. In the Police Guide that could be one example of how to control the Police from not always being on the SAME "Location" as the Criminal must move to... I think with some RULES I could make the "Criminal" played by a sort of AI (controlled by the players)... IDK.


Ms. London: Recover the Syringe from the Hospital and use it to inject Prof. Freud at the University.

Detectives: Recover the Finger Print from the Apartment and intercept Ms. London before she reaches Prof. Freud at the University. Police must be 2 locations away from the University until the Finger Print is recovered.

Cards: Ms. London, Syringe and Finger Print.

So one POLICE can follow Ms. London and one POLICE can go to the Apartment and recover the Finger Print... That seems like an easy win for THE POLICE. Some objectives are easier for the Criminal and others favor the Police.

Anyhow... You get the idea. I don't think "Quarterbacking" would be a problem TBH. I just was explaining what the game looks like and how my "investigation" looks like.

I'll think more about how to keep things SECRET. Although in my game, I don't know how to make this possible (Unless there are two Guides one for the Police and one for the Criminal) or merge both into one BOOK... Different pages (maybe)... IDK.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Hidden Resources could be VARIABLE Resources

I recently decided to support and back "Metro Runner" which is a cyberpunk game that borrows on the "Metro" Game's Mechanics in the middle of the city...

So one thing that you mentioned and that "Metro Runner" does is when you MOVE to locations on the BOARD, you collect RESOURCES. Nothing prevents you from collecting your OWN kind of "resources" rather than the same for everyone. This is a bit also like "secret objectives" in that you collect what YOU NEED not what the Quarterbacking player is looking to collect.

This is one kind of simple variation that could make it that EACH player has his/her own resources to collect for her own purposes (secret objective)...

In "Metro Runner" you have CONTRACTS you try to complete with the various resources... Unless you have a player who is playing EVERYONE's TURN ... Having something like "mini-missions" with their OWN hidden objectives until they are completed and earn some kind of BONUS... Well the "Quarterbacking" player is not going to ASSUME all roles of all the other players, right???

Some other things to think about...

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Also you did not mention that you wanted the game to be...

Cooperative??? If it's COMPETITIVE like "Metro Runner" everyone is competing to WIN the game (I honestly don't know how... As I have not read the rules or have played the game YET) but that's one way to AVOID "Quarterbacking": have everyone pursue their OWN agenda.

But I guess in your case, you want the detectives to COLLABORATE, right???

In "CLUE Crimes" players can CONTROL ANY of the DETECTIVES in PLAY. The PLAYER chooses who to control and where to move the Detective of their choosing. So player #1 can roll and move Detective #3 because of how the roll affects movement. Yeah I use 2d6s but movement can be easy to difficult depending on where a Detective needs to go...

However you get the idea.

Note #1: I could NOT help myself from backing "Metro Runner". The game looks so cool especially since I've always been ATTRACTED to the Cyberpunk Genre of games but have never really been good at it... I always got lost in hacking the system to find articles which may or may not be relevant to the game... especially when you don't know what it is you are supposed to be doing! Hehehe.

This Board Game remind me of Sorry!, Monopoly and Metro all mashed-up together and I totally APPROVE of it. Here's the KS LINK if you want to learn more:

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011

Meaning each player could be an "Investigator" ... But each "Investigator" is trying to be the TOP PLAYER (#1) in terms of FAME or INFAMY (depending on the type of Investigator the players are).

Focusing on CO-OPETIVE play is a great way to insure that there is NO "Quarterbacking"... I mean what's a player who thinks they are #1 going to do? Tell ppl what to collect or where to go when each player has his/her own agenda!

That could be the BEST FIX and not require you to ADD much to YOUR game.

I explained "CLUE Crimes" because I wanted to show you MY approach to how I want to examine the genre of co-operative game play. But my game is very tied to specific "data" and specific "hard-wired" details that players WORK AS A TEAM! The "Criminal" is given a role and instructions but they are more like "semantics": you just do what the criminal is supposed to do.

Where the FUN is with the TEAM of Detectives and TRYING to work together to BEAT the "AI" Player (or however you want to describe it...)

In any event I HOPE that I explained my game and how there is SECRET information but that's not what makes the game FUN, nor is there one player who will ruin the game for the others.

I hope that I managed to HELP you... By explaining what I am doing with a Design and how with my approach I don't feel like "Quarterbacking" would be an issue ... Since everything is LAID out in Black & White: player's know what is going to HAPPEN ... They just have to TOGETHER try to STOP it from happening!

(And that's why I linked Minority Report to my design...)

Cheers... I will think more about HOW(?) else to improve the conditions such that there would be LESS "Quarterbacking" from one player...

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Your game reminds me of

Your game reminds me of "London 1888", a game about jack the ripper. It's relatively long and random. I managed to play an outlier game where jack the ripper was found on the first turn, normally it should happen mid game.

Another idea that I thoughts to avoid quarter backing are fears. Maybe you get 1 or 2 cards that determines what you are scared of. It could be pretty abstract like an icon, and those cards are hidden. Those fear could prevent you from:

  • Attempting certain encounters
  • Going to certain locations
  • Doing certain actions
  • etc.

This way, even if there is quarter backing, the player could deviate from the optimal choice if it's one of his fears. The quarter backer would not know the player acted out of fear rather than reasoning.

It also works in solitaire mode, you just know the fears of all characters. So the game should remain as much difficult.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I still believe that for you and any other game...

That could develop a "Quarterbacking" issue with one player... The simple solution is to make the game "CO-OPETIVE". Your "Investigators" are searching the city for proof that it is the "11th Hour" and that hordes of Demons will soon be taking over the world if not stopped.

Your "Investigators" are characters themselves and behave according to their own Free Wills. And the "Investigators" are all fighting to be the most Famous "Investigator" in NY City. To be crowned the "Investigator" that saved the World on the "11th Hour"!

This SOLVES your "Quarterbacking" problem... Once and for all. Players may decide to combine skills to beat some Demons ... But generally they are all for themselves too. You don't need to do ANYTHING. Design the game this way and voila ... All your "Quarterbacking" dilemmas are SOLVED!

Just some friendly advice in the event you want to KEEP IT SIMPLE!

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Like people said in BGG, it's

Like people said in BGG, it's hard to avoid quarterbacking because hidden information can always be indirectly shared between players. Even secret fear cards could be deduced. So most people said: Don't bother about it. Any games can have toxic players that ruins the experience of the game.

Else, what I said is that the player either try to improve their character, or resolve game objectives. The resolution is semi random, therefore, the fact that each player may not be willing to take the same amount of risk could incite a player to do more upgrading before attempting and encounter. While another player might be more aggressive and taking more risk. This leads to not following the quarter back.

The other element that could help mitigate quarter backing is the quantity of encounters and related calculation. Each area would have different threat calculation, and each encounter will have different probability calculation depending on the character who wants to accomplish it. This could make it hard from a player to plan everybody's move. Still, it's not impossible.

So for now, I think I'll keep it as is, and maybe add fears if necessary.

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