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Adding competition to a coop dungeon crawl

3 replies [Last post]
Paul Ott
Joined: 01/22/2018

The game
I have a dungeon crawl that works mechanically. Modular board made up of a hex grid pieces that players place as they individually move and explore. Monsters, traps, treasure. A wide variety of balanced weapons that feeds a dual classing system. A few lairs with more challenging monsters. It climaxes with a final boss that brings the 2-4 hour game to an end.

Missing piece
I'm looking to add a competitive element to the game, either as a part of the core gameplay or as an optional mechanic. Some reasons I want to do this: 1) to combat Alpha player syndrome; 2) to have a winner even if the party fails to defeat the final boss; 3) to increase longevity by bringing in human cleverness to the puzzle.

Failed attempt
I tried giving each player unique objectives that give them points. These objectives were known to everyone, so newbies wouldn't be at a significant disadvantage. Each objective had an additional one time bonus to be had if players started dying. For example, one card gave points for loot and a one time bonus for looting another player. Another gave points for killing monsters, and a one time bonus for killing another player. At first it worked great. People would betray each other during the final boss fight. It was very tense.

The problem I ran into is that some players would immediately try to end the game when they had the most points, completely changing how the game was played. Instead of building up to a final boss fight, they'd kill each other as soon as they could. Everyone became enemies. I was aiming for untrustworthy allies, rather than outright opponents.

Fishing for ideas
Any thoughts on a mechanic or point system I could add that would:

  • Add an element of competition;
  • Not punish newbies;
  • Encourage people to still work together to a degree;
  • Anyone can attack/betray the others (no random "traitor" card)
  • Not completely random (not solely based on treasure you get)

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Personally I don't really like any "Traitor" mechanics

I remember watching several playthrus of "Betrayal at House on the Hill"... And I remember thinking how "unbalanced" the game became after the traitor has been revealed.

Have you ever considered a Point System?

Like after you accumulate or the party accumulates "X" points, players are free to choose to play cooperatively OR betray each other in a battle for survival. This is IF you want to maintain the "betrayal" aspect of your game.

This reminds me of "Dungeon Brawl": where opponents battle their fellow party members to win/score the most loot.

IDK — it doesn't really appeal to me... But maybe a Point System could help.

Joined: 02/11/2015
Have a score penalty for "backstabbing"

If a player becomes a traitor they take a moderate score penalty. This way it will only be attempted when they're way ahead and/or be more selective about who (most likely who's in second place) and how many they backstab (additional small penalties for each additional backstab). Also, give them a Traitor marker. Once labelled a traitor, anyone who attacks/kills a traitor does not get the penalty or traitor label.

Just some thoughts.

Joined: 09/06/2017
Heroic Status/obfuscate pionts

Maybe you could base your points on something like heroic status. Extending @AdamRobinGames-ARG idea, when you back stab your heroic status decreases. Players that die fighting the monster have their heroic status increased. Delivering the final blow to the boss monster would also increase the heroic status dramatically. Maybe once there is only one player left the monster will simply kick you out of the dungeon to proliferate its legend. That player heroic status would decrease since it looks like they chickened out.

A completely different idea is to try to obfuscate who the winner is. This may reduce the once I'm winning lets kill everyone else problem.

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