Friday, June 14, 2013

Zombie in my Pocket

Andrew invited me over to play board games at Sara's today which was a lot of fun. We played a bunch of Hanabi, Galaxy Trucker, Ricochet Robots, Mutant Meeples, and Tier Und Tier. And one silly game Andrew really wanted to play... Zombie in my Pocket. It felt like a pretty big dud.

The game was introduced as a mostly cooperative game. The rules to the game stated in bold that it was a non-cooperative game. This may be a bit of the issue since for most of the game most of us were playing it as a coop game while Andrew was playing to score the most points. We finally got justice by killing Andrew off and then tying the game between the other three of us.

In a sense the game reminded me a lot of Republic of Rome. If everyone plays just to win themselves then the game is impossible and everyone will lose. If people actually work together completely selflessly the game is probably pretty easy but has no substance. Flip some cards up, see if the optimal but trivial play wins or not. The trick to this sort of game would be finding a way to make the 'stab for the win' part of the game interesting enough while not being blatantly obvious. I've yet to see that happen. Red November tried, but it didn't have it. Only a couple people could possibly stab for the win in that game which meant the 'right' play is to waste the early game trying to be one of those people which tended to mean everyone lost.

Maybe it's just playing these sorts of games with people like Andrew and Sky. They're practically unwinnable when we're all trying to find the way to screw the team over for the solo win. But playing this sort of game with true team players just means I either don't play for the optimal win or I screw them over time and again. Neither of those situations is very appealing either. I love winning, but I want to win games on the same terms as my opponent. Playing a different game and sneaking in the win isn't fun for me. But if we're all playing the same game we just lose. So maybe the real problem is playing this sort of game with people like me...


Everyone Everywhere said...

Hanabi... Great game or Greatest game? That is all.

Matt said...

Note that these types of games may accurately replicate real life politics. You want the party to win, but you also want to personally win and sometimes that involves dragging down the current leader.

Not a fantastic analogy.

I like Republic of Rome because every single time I've played it, everyone lost. Every. Single. Time.

What does that say about my friends? :o)

I have dream of getting a chance to play it a lot in a row so people can remember that cooperating is required. Then seeing how it plays out in the end game.

Sky Roy said...

I agree that playing cooperative games with backstab options is a total mess with really competitive players. Red November had an amusing premise but the backstab option made the game suck IMHO.

I just don't think this sort of game is a good one unless your group of friends really isn't much into thinking about games or winning games. I don't generally play games with people like that so I have no interest in this sort of game.

Sthenno said...

Best "backstabbing" game I have ever played is the Bene Gesserit win condition in Dune. At the beginning of the game they write down a player and a turn. If that player wins on that turn the Bene Gesserit player wins instead. If that player shared victory with other players, including the Bene Gesserit player, none of those players win, just the Bene Gesserit win.

Dune is a very weird game and probably not what I'd call a great game, but that feature in particular was awesome. It allowed for the absolute best kind of backstabbing because no one knew what your goal was (and your goal was potentially very hard to achieve, and you could just try to win the game normally at the same time).

Jeremiah said...

Glad to hear you gave ZimP a chance, and sorry it didn't come out to be as fun as you'd hoped. I'm honored to hear the connection to Republic of Rome.

The game works wonderfully for some groups, and not as well for other groups. Going into it, everyone needs to know that it really isn't a co-operative game. You must work together, yes, but you aren't trying to win as a team.

I'm super interested in Hanabi. I've heard only wonderful things about it, but haven't yet been able to play.