Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Game Mechanics: Player Elimination

One of the things that Rob and I want to do with this blog is get into our gaming habits and preferences a little more in depth. I had the occasion to play some games Sunday afternoon with some friends that I don't often get to game with- the guys from Booze & Board Games. They're a great group of guys (and we kind of poached Mike from them), but we just don't get to sit down and game with more than once every few months.

It's always interesting when you sit down with a different crew from your normal group. As often as I game with Rob, I generally can tell when he'll like a game or what style of game he likes more, and vice versa. I know Rob doesn't like co-op's and he knows that I'm not a fan of deck-builders, so a lot of the games stay in the middle ground of what we both enjoy. There's nothing wrong with trying new things and pushing your boundaries, but if you KNOW someone isn't going to like that game, sometimes it's better to just go to something else.

The point of all that was to establish that I was playing games with a group who's tastes I'm only marginally aware of, and as such, we played different games than my norm. It's the first game of the day that I want most to talk about - Zombicide: Black Plague. It's a dice-rolling, character building zombie game, with lots of miniatures. The game looks great, and the minis are good quality. The guy who brought it had backed the Kickstarter and had some of the primo upgrades for it, so it was even nicer.

I did not enjoy Zombicide: Black Plague, and there was one major reason. About 1/3 of the way through the game, my character died and I was eliminated. The same happened to another player shortly thereafter. When it happened, I wasn't initially concerned because usually, when one or two of the players get killed, the rest die quickly and the game is over. This time, however, through some good dice rolls and strategy, the remaining players ended up playing for another hour or so and winning. I helped move zombies on occasion, and watched the action as it unfolded. No big deal. But it did make me think a little about the player elimination mechanic as whole.

Player elimination is a mechanic that I don't particularly enjoy (as if you couldn't tell). I feel like if you get a group together to play a game, it should engage the whole group for the entire time. PE makes me think back to the older style board games like Monopoly - I remember playing with the family and getting eliminated early, and then going into the other room to watch TV while the rest of the family continued to play. Not a very good way to spend a "family" game night, right?

Most modern game designers address PE, at least in my experience, either by letting the player get back in the game with a new character, or switching roles (like if my character had then become a zombie and fought against the other PCs, that would have been fun). Additionally, it's only usually a specific style of game, where PE is possible - the dice rolling, Ameri-thrash style of game, which is definitely not my style of choice.

What are your thoughts on PE? Do you think it has a place in modern board games? Post your thoughts in the comments!


1 comment:

  1. I tend to avoid player elimination unless it is a very short game. Walk the Plank comes to mind...where you are trying to push the other players off the ship. If you are eliminated, the game will be over in 10 minutes and it is interesting enough to keep watching the others for that short time.

    In short..
    No place for player eliminating in boardgames longer than 30 minutes. Miniature games however are another story.

    Ranger Rob...
    Whose 2nd favorite game is a Co-op Deckbuilder. :p