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Cooperative game play and backstabbing

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BombSite_A's picture
Joined: 06/26/2012

I have an idea for a game where every player has the same goal that in theoretically impossible to achieve while working by yourself. However, whoever completes the goal gets the VP for completing it. In this way I'm trying to force the players to work together just long enough to almost achieve the goal.
I have a few questions about this:
Has anyone else tried to do something similar to this? How did it work out?
I'm worried about the players never working together at all. How could make the players work together for as long as they could?

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008
Tried and true?

Yo Bomb,

I tried a variation of this. Players "adventured" together as a party (clearing out dungeons), but between adventures, they tried to rise in the ranks of their individual guilds -- which required the spoils earned during adventuring. The first to become the Master of his or her guild, won.

TLDR: players worked cooperatively to gain resources, but had a separate set of mechanics for achieving victory.

FWIW, during adventures, the players who contributed the most to overcoming an obstacles earned first pick of the loot. Conversely, players who contributed the least received the most damage during encounters.

Overall, the system confused the players. Everyone kept asking, "why should I do anything when it will just help the other players?" On the other hand, they felt like they had too few choices during adventures. If they didn't use their max damage attacks, they lost treasure AND suffered damage. One player told me, "I feel like the game is playing *me*."

All that said, a few days after the first (and last) playtest, one of the players who had made the above remarks came to me and said, "I get it now. It really *is* a co-op game."


I think it can be done, but it's tricky. I suspect one needs more subtle mechanics to encourage "coopetition". My simple system of "do the most damage, get the most treasure; do the least damage, take the most punishment," didn't leave room for strategy.

If I redesign, I will borrow the idea of "mission cards" from "City of Thieves." Each guild would have a deck of mission cards. Each player (belonging to unique guilds) would draw a secret card before each adventure. After the adventure, if they fulfilled the mission, they could reveal their card and collect guild points. This system prevents players from knowing exactly how to hinder each other, while at the same time encouraging co-op play as a way to harvest the most resources.

I hope you'll post more about your approach to this problem. It's a sticky one!

Evil ColSanders
Evil ColSanders's picture
Joined: 12/08/2010
Cutthroat Caverns is another

Cutthroat Caverns is another game.

Basically, you have to fight 10 monsters in a dungeon one at a time. The person who gets the killing blow gets the exp. Person with the most exp, wins. Monsters' power depends on number of players. Monsters do damage to the party at the end of the attack round. Players can die permanently along the way. This doesn't change the power of the monster.

ProjectPlunk's picture
Joined: 12/12/2010
Betrayal and Backstabbing

I'm incorporating a betrayal mechanic in my cooperative horror game Evil Spares None. Players control teenagers trying to escape a Psychopath in a slasher movie.

There are three scores, the Psychopath, the collective group, and each individual players. By contributing to the investigation (gathering evidence and such) player contribute to the group's score. Some actions also score individual points and group points, and some "selfish" actions only score individual points for the player. If the Psychopath reaches 20 points (from killing victims) before the group does the players lose. If the Psychopath is defeated by having the group's score reach 20 first, the player with the most individual points is the ultimate winner.

At the beginning of the game players are dealt Secret cards (in a horror movie, everyone has a secret). They can only be played when players have at least 10 individual points and they give bonuses to the player's characters that can help with the investigation. There are, however, a few negative ones - one is the "Traitor" which allows them to indirectly control the Psychopath, but makes it so that they only win if the psychopath wins. About only 3 out of 20 cards are the backstabbing ones, players can change secret cards during the game but it takes effort. Only 1 Traitor card can be played so if two players have them only the first to play their card gets to be the traitor.

Dralius's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
I have a worker placement

I have a worker placement game called Final Frontier where players represent different factions on a colony ship. The object of the game is A) to arrive at your new home word which requires cooperation and B) to be voted in as leader of the new colony.

How it works

Each player takes turn being captain of the ship. Players places their workers in the different job positions one at a time in rotation until they are all placed.

Bridge crew
Sick Bay
& the recreation room (This is how you get more cards)

A number of event cards is drawn most of which cause problems to arise for the workers to solve. If too many problems crop up you lose. Players will earn points for solving the problems either solo or collectively. The Capt. on the other hand also gets credit for everything that gets solved on his watch. So you want to push your luck to let the problems get solved when you are Capt.

How it works in reality

So so… The tendency has been to do little when you’re not Capt. causing failed voyages because the Capt’s reward is too high. I feel tweaking the Capt’s reward will fix the game, that and balancing all the events so that you don’t lose simply because of a bad combo of 2 or 3 event cards.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
My friends played illuminati

My friends played illuminati with alliances, it's just that when you played as a team it required more VP. But you could betray your ally iof you think you could win alone.

Take a look at Dune Express Alliances

In that game, you can win allied with 4 territories or alone with 3 territories. But the backstabing opportunity are awesome because you could switch alliance to get victory with another player, or try to get victory alone with less territories.

BombSite_A's picture
Joined: 06/26/2012
Just an update on this: I've

Just an update on this:
I've created the first prototype and am playing around with it. I have two ideas for how I'm going to do this. Basically the game is about stealing from a bank. In one idea, everybody is trying to steal the money but whoever does gets the points. In another idea everyone is trying to still something else (maybe art in a museum?) that is undisclosed to the other players and whoever does it first wins. Both ideas work well, but only time will tell which one works better. The cool thing about the second idea is that I can have one player be a "traitor"...

Joined: 08/20/2008
Alcatraz does this quite

Alcatraz does this quite nicely - it's a coop game, but each turn you have to elect a scapegoat - who cannot be involved in a win that turn.

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