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Asymmetric win conditions

11 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/06/2015

I'm having trouble thinking of some neat win conditions which make sense thematically. The basic concept goes like this: it's far in the future, and humans have developed interstellar space flight, and as a consequence have discovered a resource rich planet inhabited by a less developed civilization of intelligent life forms. In response, some human government launches a colonization expedition.

In this game I plan on having three types of players. One player to play the aliens, a few to play commanders who have been ordered to colonize the planet, and a player to take the role of the human government. The alien player will have control over some alien defensive forces and will have the ability to produce resources from their planet. Their goal will be to preserve some portion of their land and culture. The human government will have no direct control over military units, but they have a vast amount of resources initially which they can pay commanders with, and the ability to produce more resources. However, that ability will initially with time. Their goal would be to receive a certain amount of some resource back from the alien planet. The commanders will have direct control over relatively strong military units, but initially will have no ability to produce resources. They can receive reasources from either the aliens or the human government and can work for either. Commanders can also trade between themselves, and later on my produce smaller amounts of resources from the alien planet.

The commanders win condition is the one I'm having trouble with. I want them to be able to work for either the aliens or the human government. I've thought of making them work towards some sort of prestige points or something but I'm not sure. Also, thematically speaking, it doesn't seem like the commanders win condition would be mutually exclusive with either the human government's or the alien's win condition.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Joined: 01/23/2015
Hey, this is a really cool

Hey, this is a really cool idea (as asymmetric winning conditions usually are, if they work well). You will need to playtest this even more heavily than a symmetric game, but I'm sure you already are aware of this.

Okay, about goals: I think of it a bit like this:
- A commander (maybe more like big private corporations?) wins if he controls x% (x is dependent on commander numbers) of the planet or kills some alien overlord mother monster or coups the government. How this would work - I don't know, just brainstorming here ^^
- The aliens win if they defeat every (or at least half of? or one? depends on difficulty) commander (maybe by taking their main bases that may not be rebuilt), if they survive until a fixed amount of rounds with y% (again dependent on player numbers) control over the planet, or if they manage something like infesting a ship that ascends from the planet (spreading the aliens elsewhere).
- The government wins after an amount of time, if the humans control large protions of territory or mined a rather huge amount of resources or (since they lend money and maybe even special ops troops to the commanders) if they have a certain share of the commanders' businesses. They have few, costly, but good special ops units they can either use themselves (making them not that super efficient) or lending them to commanders (who utilize them better), which might have to pay resources for that. The former or some other equal mechanism will be needed to make government area domination possible.

There are dozens of concept thoughts about this in my mind, but I don't have the time right now.

Maybe you should do a mind map of possible victory conditions...

Josh 'Dagar'

DifferentName's picture
Joined: 09/08/2013
Interesting and challenging

Interesting idea, but sounds challenging. It sounds like players who cooperate might manage to have everyone win, if the humans and aliens can work together. But hurting the other side can help a player to meet their own goal. That's assuming the game doesn't just end the moment one player hits their win condition?

The commander does sound like a challenging part though. They sound like mercenaries who would just want resources, since they're willing to work for either side. They could go for honor or something if they're just working for one side, but flip flopping on either side of the war doesn't sound fitting for a goal of honor at all. Maybe secret objectives would work for something like this, so you don't know what the alien race wants, or what the commanders want?

I wonder if the game would feel too one sided as someone gets the commanders to work with them, crushing the other side. Or if the humans and aliens tried not to be too hostile with eachother, what would the commanders do?

RDG_Dover's picture
Joined: 01/30/2015
Man, I love asymmetry; it

Man, I love asymmetry; it always makes for a unique and intriguing game play experience.

I think you might have an easier time thematically if you change the commanders to "colonists". This simple title change makes a win condition relating to either side a lot easier to understand. Colonists would still be comprised of military units, but the goal of a colonist is to survive until the end, at all costs.

So, you make the Alien and the Government players Alpha players. They have hard objectives (retain some level of control and gain some level of control(resources) respectively). These become the game ending conditions. If the Government takes over X% of the map, the game ends. If the Aliens retake X% of the map (or convert colonist to their side), the game ends. The colonists then become the Beta players that will actually be in control how the game plays out.

This might not be the way you want it to run, but this would turn the game into a political bidding war. The colonist want to survive and prosper, however, by doing so, they are taking more and more land, reducing the Alien's control. The Alien can counter this in two ways, battling them directly, or convincing them to "go native" and learn how to live in peace with the planet.

An example would be the Alien giving a particular colonist "xenofarming" letting them gather twice the resources from a single space, effectively preventing the colonists from expanding too much.

The Governement, on the other hand, offers them materials to increase the colonists' ability to survive by reducing the Alien player's control. An example of this would be "terraformer" letting the colonist expand twice as fast for a turn.

The hard part with this, that might not fit with your game design at all, is building the actual mechanic of the game less around combat, and more around colonial survival. Say, each turn, the colonists lose one food resource per unit or something, if they run out of food resources, they "starve" and are out of the game. So, they have to choose, kill the Aliens to gather more farm land to keep eating, ally with the Government to get food from home (at a cost of forced expansionism) or ally with the Aliens to learn the ways of the planet.

This approach could even allow for colonists to start fighting amongst themselves. If a pro-Government colony needed to expand and the Alien forces were too strong, maybe they attack a pro-Alien colony, forcing the Alien to decide if they want to spend more resources in saving a colony they already invested in, or using the war as a distraction to take some of their land back.

All in all, I think this approach would be pretty cool, but I'm not sure how much of it works with your original idea. (sorry, I tend to just go on a roll).

kevnburg's picture
Joined: 05/02/2014
To expand on the above

To expand on the above colonist idea, you could remove player elimination from the game by either
1) making the game end when one colonist player dies (this would probably work best if only one player controlled colonists)
2) making the death of a player's colonist group cause him to lose a point (if he had zero points he now has negative one points) and start over with a new colonist group. With multiple colonists players competing, you could make it so that, in addition to a human/alien gov victory, the colonist player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Joined: 12/27/2014
Also going to carry on with

Also going to carry on with just the brainstorming:

I would first like to say that I truly love games with Asymetric goals, but more than that, games that are ultimately competitive, but can't be won without some level of diplomacy... Knowing that everybody ultimately has their own goals, and only one player can win... Yet if you go it alone the whole time, it may be next to impossible to reach it. That's my cup of tea.

Let's say your game is 3+ players, and Government and Alien are fixed, with any number of Commanders (Colonists). But let's take it a step further... Each of these guys has something he's trying to do as well.

I agree one of the earlier posts: I think the best goal for the aliens would be something to the degree of survive x turns, win the game. This puts a clock on the other players to deal with the aliens before the game ends and the secret alien death weapon is complete to push these outsiders off their world.

Each commander might have his own motives:

1) One commander wants to reach a certain population. At that point, he's got enough people to overthrow aliens or governments alike.

2) One commander is trying to buy off something, so he's trying to control resources (just like the government), but he's got a fixed forces count to play with and less ability to influence the other players outside of direct board action.

3) One commander is trying to control x number of a certain type of territory. He doesn't care what happens to the planet, but he's trying to study the marine life or something to that nature.

4) One commander is just a mean SOB that wants to exact the largest death toll possible.

5) One commander is trying to use this to reach a nirvana point in technology. He wants to upgrade to something incredible.

Give each a spin on why if he wins, everybody else loses... That prevents your game from turning into a little league co-op (which if you want a co-op, I think those are great, but design the game for it rather than oops, I fell into it).

Not sure how much of this works with your concept, but good luck! Sounds like it could be a really exciting game.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Another idea: "escalation"

Reading some of the replies got me thinking about the "Aliens". Some suggestion was to allow them to survive a certain amount of turns to win the game...

My idea is a spin on "Alien" (The movie) in that the "Aliens" breed a certain type of alien in the beginning. However as the game escalates to a climax, I would make it that the "Aliens" would get much stronger aliens that they can wipeout the enemy in a few turns...

So basically the Government is trying to eradicate the aliens. The colonists are trying to survive by doing the governments business. The aliens too are trying to survive - BUT at some point the scales will tip and the once not too dangerous Aliens become a force to be reckon with.

I just thought the survive X amount of turns for Aliens to be a boring victory condition. Taking back their planet sounds like a more awesome result. And like I said after X amount of turns, the aliens become so powerful it's nearly impossible to beat them...

Maybe for the colonist to win (asynchronously) they must evacuate Y commanders from the planet. In the end with the Aliens taking control the losing party would be the Government - they were unable to contain the spread of the aliens...

These are my ideas on the game.

Best of luck with your game!

Update: I would make the game be about area control and escalation.

In the beginning the Government would have the most power and use it's Commanders to control territory and eradicate aliens. For example colonies would "negotiate" with the government who wants total control of the planet.

The government would make deals to help remove the aliens and force colonist to "battle it out" with nearby aliens.

As the turn counter expires and the government "loses control" of their colonization, that's when the aliens "try to take over". And then it's a matter of trying to save Y amount of commanders.

Update #2: You could say that if ONE (1) Colonist survive they also win the game (after escalation). That means ALL the colonists will work together to try to help one colonist player survive (sort of pool their resources together...)

Joined: 02/06/2015

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies! This is a cool community.

My original concept for the commanders was for them to be conquistador types. However, I like the concept of a more benign type of colonist, though I think they should still have some sort of goal beyond simple survival in order to keep the game from becoming stagnant.

I also really like the idea to strengthen the aliens over time, though I think it should be brought about through a more organic process that could be prevented rather than a strict turn counter. Perhaps by having some upgrades for the aliens which take a while to gather the resources for. I'd also have the human government's ability to produce resources diminishing over time like I mentioned in my first post.

I'm not really fond of the Alien's only goal being to completely erradicate the colonists from their planet though. I think that would make any kind of cooperation between the colonists and the aliens near impossible since their goals would be so directly opposed, and as result the colonists would be forced into cooperating with each other and the government. I'd rather have the aliens simply trying to maintain some level of control over their planet or some amount of economic stability, with total re-takeover being a sort of bonus goal which is possible if they play really well.

I'm starting to consider having two intertwined conflicts with two separate winners. The primary conflict is between the human government and the aliens, with the aliens trying to maintain their civilization and way of life, while the human government wants to harvest an amount resources from the planet large enough to cause the collapse of the alien civilization. The secondary conflict would be between the colonists who are each vying to be the leader of human society in the new world with the ever present threat of starvation or anialation hanging over their heads.

RDG_Dover's picture
Joined: 01/30/2015
The "separate winners"

The "separate winners" approach is perfectly valid, and can lead to some very interesting emergent experiences. Not to self promote here, but a party game we made has a few very lite similarities to what you are talking about.

There is two players that start of diametrically opposed, and the rest of the players are loosely attached to one of them. However, through the course of play, all characters can be forcibly switched from one side to another, making them accept a change in their win conditions on the fly.

This works because it is a super easy party game that relies more on suspicion and messing with human nature than it does any long term tactics; one of the few environments where quickly forcing a change in win condition is acceptable (think Fluxx for example).

For your game, I think your final paragraph does a very good job of clarifying what you should shoot for. Stay on track with that idea and I think you'll find some really interesting stuff.

However, I would hazard against the feeling that colonists "need" a greater win condition than surviving when you start of producing the actual game (and not just theorycraft). The more mechanics you have, the more variables there are, and the harder flow and balance will be.

I would suggest starting off by generating a working set of mechanics where all the colonists need to do is survive. While doing that, you will have to contend with balancing only two major different play styles, the Aliens and Government. At this point, the colonists are basically just neutral players while the Government is all coach, and the Alien is a hybrid of the two. It might be weird at first, but this will help you make a rock solid game engine. After you have that, then start playing with different colonial win conditions.

Maybe you then put in a "king of the mountain" win condition just among colonists. The largest population wins. That would certainly change up the dynamic of players willingness to give up too much allegiance to either alpha player, but it would also increase inter-colonial aggression.

Another fun options might be hidden agendas for each colony. These would get dealt out at the beginning of the game, and no colony would be allowed to reveal their true win condition.

Colony A gets "Xenophobia" and lose if the Alien wins, or has to kill X number of Alien units. Colony B gets "Ideological Neutrality" they win the game if it gets to turn 50 without either Alpha player wining. Colony C gets "Anit-Imperialism" and loses if the Government wins, or has to destroy X number of Government backed technological improvements. While Colony D gets "Insular and Aggressive" where they win after killing a total of X number of any units in the game.

Then, the alpha players get one play experience, where everyone knows what is going on, while all the colonist get really fun unique play experiences where they are trying to win through subterfuge or cooperation.

Best part of this, you could make 20 or 30 colonial win conditions, just so no one has any idea (through deductive reasoning) what is really motivating the colonist.

Anyways, just a few thoughts. I will admit, it sounds like a very fun idea. Let me know if you want a sounding board; I'd be happy to work with you on it some time. Either way, keep pushing forward and I hope to hear more about it.

kevnburg's picture
Joined: 05/02/2014
Look At Fortress America

To get some ideas on how to best make the aliens get stronger as the game progresses, I'd suggest looking at Fortress America ( Fortress America is a 1986 game where the entire world (3 players) is invading America (1 player). It starts with America getting helplessly steamrolled, but the Invaders slowly begin to face supply issues and America slowly starts building up high tech laser weapons to tip the balance of power in favor of the USA. The overall mechanics of the game are a bit dated, but the way it creates a changing power dynamic is pretty remarkable.

Joined: 01/23/2015
I still like the idea of

I still like the idea of commanders being some big-ass companies invested in getting their piece of the cake from this planet. Sure, they send the colonists, but they have much more power than colonists typically do. Let's face it: likely there won't be a 'US American' colony and a 'Chinese' colony on other planets; much rather will there be a 'Thompson Mining Corp' or a 'Chang Pharmaceutical Ltd.' or whatever. This would also lead to different goals for the involved companies.

MarkD1733's picture
Joined: 07/05/2014
I didn't read all the replies… but here is an idea nonetheless

Check out the game Trieste. This is an exactly 3 player game where each faction has its own specific victory conditions. It may give you a sense of how the interplay so that you can develop your own idea or work with one of the suggestions above

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