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MTG mechanic for a game master in a coop game

6 replies [Last post]
larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

OK, the title is not very clear but I wanted to make it as short as possible. I will work in this post with Arkham Horror as an example.

For those who does not know, Arkham Horror is a cooperative game where the players play against the game in order to prevent the great old one from awakening.

Now let say you take a game like this, but instead of having to play against the game, you play against a player. Which mean that there is a player which controls all the villains actions that normally happens randomly.

So I was wondering, how can the "Evil" player could interact with the game while the players are trying to undo what he is trying to accomplish.

The idea I recently found is that maybe the "evil" player could play like a game of magic the gathering. That player places every turn resources cards (face down) that are going to give him the "mana" required to place events into play. These resources must be placed secretly at a certain location on the board so that the players could try to neutralize these resources income. More that one card could be placed at the same location, including traps to fool the players around.

What's nice about it, is that there is some investigation elements in it. For example,

- If the bad guy play a card that require a specific resource which can only be found in 3 different areas, he is giving the information that he has setup something in one of these areas. So investigating there could be a good idea.

- If some events allow the players to reveal a location where the bad guy has stuff, the player does not know what stuff there is behind it. Is there really something important at that location or is it a trap.

Still, I am not sure if I am going to use a tapping mechanic for the resources. First because of the WOTC pattent, second because I don't want players to check their face down resources cards every time to know what resources available are left. So maybe you can play 1 event per turn and you must have the requirements to play it.

What do you think?

stevebarkeruk's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Interesting idea

I like it! Maybe, as a way around the 'tapping' issue you could have the GM player placing out a large number of cards every turn and at the end of the player's turn, he reveals all those which they haven't intercepted and this gives him his 'mana' pool for the turn. He could then play several weaker spell/effect cards or one very powerful card depending on the mana he receives.

So he has a hand of possible spell/effect cards and the ones he can play depend on which mana cards survive the players' actions. Better effects require more mana, naturally, so the GM is faced with the dilemma of holding powerful cards in his hand and hoping for a turn where he gets lots of mana, or discarding them and collecting more weak cards which he is more likely to be able to play. Meanwhile the players have to decide whether to spend a lot of time intercepting the mana cards or whether to accept that they're going to take a few hits and just pursue their own goals. Adding in traps and so on as you suggest makes the decision even more painstaking for both sides.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I was thinking that maybe

I was thinking that maybe each mana card contains a location of it`s own. When you place mana you place it in pile. The when you need to check at the mana you have, you just pick up your pile of card and discard face down the mana you use.

The only problem is that you have to manage 2 hands of cards, the mana and the effect cards.

ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
The general term you're

The general term you're looking for is "many vs. one" and while it's not a huge realm there are several great examples to research. Just within the horror genre, you have Fury of Dracula and the surprisingly good Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game (the American one, not the British one). Clue: Museum Capers, Scotland Yard, and NY Chase (a re-themed and slightly tweaked SY) are further examples.

Similarly, hidden traitor games such as Shadows Over Camelot and Battlestar Galactica could be said to be many vs. one, although in this case much of the drama/gameplay is about figuring out just who the "one" is, and in some cases there may be two or even three. BSG describes itself as "a team game, where you don't know for sure who the other members of your team are." However, once the traitor(s) is revealed, these games proceed as a fairly standard many vs. one, where the many are trying to accomplish some task as the "good guys" while the bad guy tries to stop or kill them.

Anyway, to get a sense of how some other investigation-centered games have done it, I would recommend checking out Fury of Dracula (which I've heard is excellent but haven't played) and Buffy (which is better than it has any right to be and is out of print; copies are usually available on ebay for $15 - $30 shipped, or you can figure out the general gameplay based on the BGG posting).

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I own fury of dracula and

I own fury of dracula and it's a great game. This is one of the primary reason why I want to have player controlled villains.

Still, I did not know anything about buffy.

Joined: 02/02/2009
Fantasy Flight

I believe these are very close to what you might be looking for mechanics wise....Of course both are Fantasy Flight games and in HUGE expensive boxes.

World of Warcraft

Descent:Journeys in the Dark

Joined: 10/22/2008
Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill is in a similar vein.

Everyone is on an exploratory team till a bad die roll mechanic sets off the betrayal. Then the game goes into its second arc, wherein the betrayer must combat the rest of the team. A reference book sets up like 40 scenarios of the betrayal (depending on where the bad die roll happened). The ref book goes on to give the betrayer different resources to beat the team depending on the scenario (resources like monster tokens or bombs to move around on the board).


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