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How to prevent stalemate?

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ronnyay
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Let's say there is a card game about tug of war. Both player has a set of 4 cards in his/her hand as below:

A: you gain 1 VP
B: your opponent loses 1 VP
C: nullify your opponent card
D: return your played card(s) to your hand

Each round, both player reveal a card simultaneously and resolve them. Played card stays on table unless they play card D. The first player who gets 3VP wins.

This game seems to be either in eternal stalemate, or both player win at the same time, or unsatisfying victories.

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That is where I have difficulties when balancing games: when I make something pulls, I will ensure somewhere in the design that can push back for the same amount, and such measures can usually lead to stalemate.

I would like to receive some insights on how to reduce such stalemate and keep the game balanced and dramatic at the same time? Thank you. :)

X3M
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Tic Tac Toe

If both players have the same cards, than you already have your balance. However, it is a puzzle and it is still solvable. Unless options are open that a player has to gamble.

You need a slight imbalance for the game to keep the game going. So a card that only works some times is what you need.

My card E suggestion:
--> Bounce the card that the opponent has played back to the opponent.

Effects:
A: you gain 1 VP; was not played on you, so no effect.
B: your opponent loses 1 VP; was played on you, this backfired.
C: nullify your opponent card; no effect.
D: return your played card(s) to your hand; no effect.

Of course this would mean that 25% of the cases, you spiral downwards with VP.

Card F suggestion:
--> Double the card that the opponent has played. And play it as if it was your own card.

Effects:
A: you gain 1 VP; means that the player with Card F gains 2 VP.
B: your opponent loses 1 VP; means that the player that played B loses 2 VP, this backfired.
C: nullify your opponent card; no effect.
D: return your played card(s) to your hand; means this happens for both players. Perhaps taking one card of the opponent now?

I hope these suggestions have given some idea's.

JewellGames
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Check out Stray Thieves. It

Check out Stray Thieves. It uses 4 types of cards (players only get 3/4 of the types) and each player starts with the same 7 cards in hand.

ronnyay
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X3M wrote:You need a slight

X3M wrote:
You need a slight imbalance for the game to keep the game going. So a card that only works some times is what you need.

This is exactly what I have missed. Thank you for this suggestion! :)

I kind of get what you mean about puzzle, but not very sure about the theory of puzzle vs game. In what way do you think puzzle is different from game? Or is game just a series of puzzle?

Thank you! :)

ronnyay
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JewellGames wrote:Check out

JewellGames wrote:
Check out Stray Thieves. It uses 4 types of cards (players only get 3/4 of the types) and each player starts with the same 7 cards in hand.

Surprised that this japanese game has zero coverage in youtube! From what I see from the rules, the game is almost 100% about bluffing when playing cards haha :P

What I like about this game is that it can support 6 players in such a tiny box!

X3M
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ronnyay wrote:X3M wrote:You

ronnyay wrote:
X3M wrote:
You need a slight imbalance for the game to keep the game going. So a card that only works some times is what you need.

This is exactly what I have missed. Thank you for this suggestion! :)

I kind of get what you mean about puzzle, but not very sure about the theory of puzzle vs game. In what way do you think puzzle is different from game? Or is game just a series of puzzle?

Thank you! :)

Well, Tic Tac Toe, the title above my first post. Is a puzzle for 2 players. You don't want to loose, but try to win. However, if both players play perfectly. There is never a winner. And the end result is always the same. A perfect stalemate.

When I took a look at your 4 cards. I had the exact same feeling.
In fact, you can write out every possibility of how players could play their cards until they retake all the played cards.
There is a set of best optional order in playing the cards. But no doubt, the players might discover this sooner than you think. Eventually you get the same end result every time. A perfect stalemate. Or in your case, a draw.

***

In my opinion. A game has several possible aspects for being called a game. It is all about breaking through determinism caused by the mirror nature of puzzles.

1- An event can be countered by 2 or more options. Not just 1. Because 1 option is not a choice.
2- (Mechanical) randomness helps breaking mirror effects. If you play a game with the exact same choices every time. The outcome would be the exact same. But not with randomness.
3- The simplest RPS, is not a mirror, even though you only have 1 counter option each time. In other words, don't have balanced or equal options. Instead, have a windmill of options that goes around. Literately, get the game rolling.
4- If you need skill that is limited by your body and mind. A randomness by human nature.

If you combine 1, 3 and 4. You get:
- Trying to trick players into doing something, which would benefit yourself since you already plan on having the right option ready.
Adding 2;
- You might fail. :) But chances are slim to fail if you have sufficient skill.

I am sure there are many more possibilities to turn a puzzle into a real game. But these 4 are very important to me since I am a RTS player by nature. Although number 2 is less of importance when you play video games. But it was certainly needed when translating RTS to board games.

amilsan
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option D

question: the "return card(s) to your hand" card, also include this type of card?
also, the only cards you will pick up are the C and D, the recover of type B cards could give your opponent the victory.

ronnyay
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haha, that's just a

haha, that's just a hypothetical game to show I'm really good at making stalemate mechanism. :P

The option D means "Return all your cards to your hand.", not all cards.

Zag24
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What if you're down to your

What if you're down to your last card, which is, of course, "return all cards to your hand," and I play "nullify opponent's card"?

ronnyay
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oh, you get me there! :P

oh, you get me there! :P Actually I have not think of it cause it is just an example a wipe up quickly to show a stalemate haha

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