ConMan wrote:So, what other mechanics could there be (or already exist) to deal with this problem?
. Traitor mechanics are probably a subset of this, but you could make explicit "don't make a noise" rules.
An interesting suggestion. Generally, discussion is assumed to be a major component of teamwork, but more generally you just need some form of communication - this includes things like gestures, but even things like the plays you make in the game are a form of communication (think of something like Bridge, where partners communicate by way of the cards they play). Of course the non-verbal communication is usually less effective, but that doesn't have to be a disadvantage. I think having "no-one talks for the entire game" as a mechanic would be pretty annoying (a lot of the fun of games is in the table talk), but for a game that's played in phases, perhaps something like Setup, Action, Result, then having no speaking allowed during action could be a nifty mechanic to include - particularly if there is information missing in the Setup phase that only becomes known to (some) players during the Action phase.
peri_renna wrote:Teams. Traitor mechanics are obviously a subset of this - and it becomes rather less co-oppy, of course.
True. Having a team-vs-team game is different to co-op, especially depending on how much communication is available between members of the teams, and whether that communication is open to the other players or not. It has made me think of another mechanic, though, which I'll add at the end.
peri_renna wrote:Kick out the lout who's played the game before. Not actually a game mechanic.
True. But also a valid option, at least sometimes.
ConMan wrote:Should a co-op game be skewed more to the players winning or losing, or should it be a nice balance, or should it be something the players can scale themselves?
I like players being able to scale difficulty. To quote Shamus Young
Ask people if a game is easy or hard, and you’ll see responses like:
- Player1: Pfft. That game was a cakewalk. I only died maybe once a level.
- Player2: That game was a pain in the ass. I died on almost every level.
I guess I feel a bit stupid since the answer "whatever best helps the players have fun" seems pretty obvious. A lot of the time, the difficulty is just something that comes with the game and has to be accepted, but I definitely agree that everyone has different standards both of what's easy/hard and what's fun/boring/frustrating. That's a good article, thanks for linking it!
Now, as for that other mechanic, and it's one I've seen to some extent in games of Mafia, but not in any co-op board games that I can think of:Additional/alternative win conditions.
Everyone has the same main goal, but once that goal is achieved there is an additional criteria to determine either the "real" winner, or to award "double wins". So maybe everyone's trying to save the world, but Captain Luddite earns an additional win if it's done with fewer than 10 Technology cards, while Super Fish gets theirs as long as the Evil Fish Monster is defeated. This can reduce the co-op factor a little, depending on how important it is that people get their additional win, especially if there's an element of spite (people would rather the whole group lose rather than just them missing out). It can even be a case where everyone's win condition is the same - a non-co-op example is Cutthroat Caverns, where it's generally in your best interest to keep the other players alive for as long as possible (to help you defeat the monsters), but in the end only one person can win resulting in a certain amount of backstabbing to ensure that you end up on top.