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Eliminated players continue as vassal players

9 replies [Last post]
Griff Glowen
Joined: 07/13/2016

This idea has come about as an alternative option to my previous thread about a shrinking player board. The idea on that thread was to reduce the wait-time problem of player elimination by speeding up the game as players are eliminated. After playtesting though, there is still quite a long period of waiting for the first player to be eliminated.

To give some more info, the theme is supervillains competing to be the greatest. It is a light game - probably between 30-60 minutes with a decent amount of dice fighting, bluffing, back-stabbing, and humour. The original idea is just last-man-standing (which fits the theme much better than VPs I think) but it would be good to keep all player's involved until the end.

As an alternative to the shrinking board, I am wondering if there is any mileage in having eliminated players becoming vassals of the player who eliminates them. They would no longer be in the running for winning the game, but otherwise continue with the general aim of destroying other players (except for their Master).

The question is: would such a vassal player actually want to carry on if they couldn't win? Would it be fun? Given the light-hearted nature of the game there would still be fun opportunities to screw over other players etc but it would be a strange position to be in. I guess there are plenty of games where players have to remain even though they have no hope of winning (although that usually isn't a pleasant experience). Any thoughts?

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Sentinels of the Multiverse

Sentinels of the Multiverse has a method to keep heroes involved even when they're considered defeated in a battle. They have one special ability they can activate for the duration of what would be their turn, and then this "resets" at the beginning of their following turn. There's still some meaningful choice involved, such as choosing which type of attack your hero can nullify or weaken for the next turn, which fellow team member gains a bonus only that defeated hero can reward to another, and so on.

Perhaps your vassals could provide a similar function. Drastically limit their number of options on their turn, but allow a meaningful, fun decision to make when they have the opportunity to help or hinder another player. This may help keep the focus of play on those who haven't been "defeated" yet, while still allowing those knocked out of the running to affect outcomes in some noticeable way.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
The game "Viktory 2" has a

The game "Viktory 2" has a vassal system, where the player get it's "freedom" but cannot attack it's master unless free by another player.

I did not have a chance to play much with this mechanic, but it did not ended well because the vassal player had no reason to support it's master.

So maybe there should be some sort of motivation to help and support the master.

The other solution that might not fit with your game, is when the 1st player is eliminated, the game ends.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
I'm not quite sure how

I'm not quite sure how players are eliminated in your game, but maybe something like in Talisman could work?

The player who gets the crown zaps a hitpoint of all other heroes away. Still allows them to try and stop the player with the crown, but they need to move fast to prevent their elimination from the game.

As for vassals, I do find the concept interesting but it might work better with a medievalish setting.

Supervillains becomeing henchmen just doesnt seem that trustworthy, I'd imagine they would try to stab their master in the back the first chance they get.

A Round Tuit
A Round Tuit's picture
Joined: 01/21/2016
The vassal can be named "Tom"

The idea of a competitive game that develops into a co-op has got my gears turning... I'll be watching this thread. :)

As far as motivation goes, I'd narrow down what motivates players in co-op and team games. Joint victory, puzzle solving, etc. The subordinate/master player mechanic probably has some unique hurdles...

I've played a lot of Sentinels of the Multiverse and the knocked out powers always seemed a bit lame for the affected player. Like most co-ops, it can suffer from alpha gamers or well-meaning player's narrowing down your decisions for you. When you have a hand of hidden cards, it's hard for you team to micro-manage your decisions. When you're dead, in my experience, every other player discusses which power the dead player should use while the dead player tunes out or leaves the table. Either way, they become a second-class player.

My main concern with a vassal character is that their autonomy stays intact and their decisions stay meaningful while still making sense within the master/vassal theme. It might be hard to find a balance but I'm sure you can think of something.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I don't know about your

I don't know about your theme. Nor the relation ship between the players (co-op or competitive)

But if the game allows it, you might want the defeated players act as spirits of vengeance.


But constantly working against the one who put them in that position.

Joined: 08/21/2015
X3M's vengeful spirits idea

X3M's vengeful spirits idea (or vengeful disembodied brains if you wanted a more sci-fi themed game) would have the advantage that it won't cause a runaway victory, which could happen with the original vassal idea - each time the leader defeats another player, he effectively increases his strength as well as having one less enemy to deal with.

If you want to stay with the vassal idea, then perhaps instead of becoming the vassal of the player who defeated them, they could aid the weakest player at the time when they were conquered.

Although in my personal opinion (which I don't expect many others to share), player eliminiation shouldn't be automatically ruled out for a game design. I understand why it is considered a flaw in the euro-game design philosophy, but that is just one approach to game design; a good one perhaps, but it doesn't automatically invalidate all others. There are some people who enjoy that sort of thing (sometimes I'm one of them), and it is probably more in keeping with the theme for a game involving ruthless supervillians.

Joined: 08/21/2015
Sorry! double post

Sorry! double post

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
Strategic games

I use submission rules in fairly long strategic "empires" games. Players can submit long before they're actually eliminated. Including rules for "unsubmitting" though that's very rare.

Of course, Britannia has specific rules for certain submissions, but that's historical as well as practical.

I don't see much hope for submission in low-level tactical games.

Cool Among Camels
Joined: 07/26/2015
Griff Glowen wrote:The

Griff Glowen wrote:
The question is: would such a vassal player actually want to carry on if they couldn't win? Would it be fun?

Why can't the vassal players just win alongside their master counterparts?

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