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"I'd rather have us all lose than see you win" Co-op Issue.

The Road has an interesting mechanic where you are working to get the most honor, but also helping each other protect the motherland from the strange force of darkness. This swing is difficult to maintain.

The story that upholds this mechanic is as follows. All of these clans are a part of this massive tribe that hold the motherland as their own. But the clans became very prideful and lusted after honor and prestige at the price of their brothers' head. This birthed a civil war between all of the clans and unrest filled the motherland. The king was horrified at the division and needed a solution so he created a beast that would threaten the land. He made the carnal creature in order to unify the clans against it to bring unity and peace back to the people.

So... my issue is how can I stray away from the "I'd rather have us all lose than see you win" mentality?

Make killing the beast worth a lot of honor?
If there are too many beasts on the field prevents players from gaining honor?
The player in first place loses honor when a beast enters the motherland?
Have it where there is two types of honor: Prestige and Loyalty. Depending on game events one is worth more than the other?
Depending on who is closest to the beast when they enter the land they lose honor?
If you decide not to attack a beast when you have the chance you gain a curse from the king?

I'm not too sure...


My last game of Dead of

My last game of Dead of Winter was just like that. Everyone had their goals met except for 1 player. His mentality is, there's no way for me to join in the victory, so I'm going to make us all lose. We lost and it pissed me right off.

The only thing I can think of to remedy this, would be to have a flagged event which kills off people to prevent something like this. Turn 7/10: Has everyone met their goals? Any who have not are removed from game. (If the game has a difficulty curve based on the amount of players, it is reduced to the new number.) -OR- that player becomes "crippled". That player cannot do anything unless another player is doing that same action. -OR- being able to share the burden of completion. He needs X honor to stay in the game, so you can gift him honor at a reduced rate (2:1).


I HATE "co-op" games with a "true winner". Legendary is one such garbage game. "We all beat the boss, but I'M the TRUE winner because I have 21 villain-defeated points!" Bullshit. That takes the fun out of co-op and actually, no longer makes it co-op. The boss is just a side-event to screw everyone and make the game harder. It's Dominion with a GM who plays Pirate Ship, Sea Witch, and Militia. I hear Castaway is another such game, though I have not played it. BUT, everyone gets off the island but the person who wrote the most in the book, super-wins with the memoir.

Conclusion: Steer away from "true-winner" games. Either make it so it is clear there is only one winner and VERY LOOSE alliances are formed, or make it completely co-op, as the "true-winner" aspect cheapens the win and doesn't feel like you "truly-won".

Try Cleopatra. It has a mechanic where if you ask the "Gods for help" it gives you a big boon but gives you curse tokens. Also, when you get these tokens, they are put in a box and it is your job not only to remember how many token you acquired, but remember everyone else's token amount. The person with the most tokens at the end of the game is REMOVED from the game. Doesn't matter if you had the winning score. That helps keep people in without screwing everyone else.

Human nature being what it

Human nature being what it is, if the rules allow something, someone's going to do it. Not seeing a way in rules to prevent a person from saying "I 'finish' better if we all lose, than if I lose and most win", I don't design so-called co-op games where one person is more of a winner.

The essence of teamwork is not worrying about who gets the credit. This "one winner" co-op is the opposite of teamwork.

Similarly, I try hard to avoid giving players an opportunity to cheat. Some designers don't do this: and given human nature (some will always try to cheat, many more will cheat if given the opportunity), there will be cheating. So, for example, I don't design block games with players on 4 separate sides, because it's way too easy to see other players' blocks.

The best advice I've heard

The best advice I've heard for dealing with super alpha players or in this case omega players (players who want everyone to be last) is to not play with those types of players.

There are probably some tweaks and rules adjustments you can do to make this situation less likely, but ultimately, in games like this, you can only go so far. Perhaps, make the first rule of your game: "Do not play this game with wangrods."

Interesting problem

Interesting... I will need to think about this issue more.

How to deal with difficult player types and player personalities as a designer armed only with the power to make rules and mechanics (that they don't need to obey).

This is an issue of power and control, so the tools to influence player behavior are still the same.

We may feel that in the end players have all the power because we are not there to stop them from doing whatever they want with the game. And in many ways that is true. I do think there are things we should be able to do to help mitigate some of these issues.

It just might take me the rest of my life to study player behavior and reach the answer to what fixes this issue... this one is hard for sure. And each game will have its own set of variables to deal with. (so at this point only you can truly try and solve the issue)

Making the actions that best help the players win worth the most points and finding a way to keep the current player scores hidden from the other players until final scoring will help.

If I would rather all lose then have you win:

Then either, I can't know you are about to win (hidden information)... or helping you needs to give me enough points that I maybe can win (catch up mechanics).

You need to use the player's intense competitive drive to win against them if you can. Everyone can be manipulated.

I hope this helps in some way,



You can't design for every situation of player actions... and you might hurt your disgn by trying to... just do what you can and move on.

Maybe you can, but you shouldn't

BHFuturist wrote:
You can't design for every situation of player actions... and you might hurt your disgn by trying to... just do what you can and move on.

At one point I was reviewing the standard operating procedures for a manufacturing plant and came across a rule that company functions were not to include exotic dancers brought onsite.

My reaction was, "And why on Earth did they need to write that down?" Of course the history was a variation on "all rules are written in blood": some doofus had actually done that and submitted it for reimbursement.

Cleverly manipulating the players is one thing, but including explicit rules about griefing may well turn off potential publishers/backers who worry why those rules exist.

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gamejournal | by Dr. Radut