Addressing the Kingmaker Problem in Other Games

After yesterday’s article about the kingmaker problem in Invasion, I thought it might be interesting to examine some other games and see how they avoid a similar kingmaker problem. I’ll focus on area majority games, since that’s Invasion’s style.

El Grande: This game was the inspiration for Invasion. The thing that prevents a kingmaker situation here is the simultaneous selection provided by the dial choice in the Castillo; no one player gets to affect the board last.

Evo: This game provided the inspiration for Invasion’s Will Smith rule. The rounds are tracked with a marker that also shifts the weather. After a certain point, a die is rolled after every turn. If it rolls high enough–against a threshold that gets lower and lower–the meteor hits, ending the game.

Chaos in the Old World: For a game with so much fighting, Chaos actually has a simple underlying area-majority mechanic for scoring Domination. But because of the uncertainty provided by battle dice, where the destructive power of even the smallest fighter is potentially unlimited, each player just has to set up their forces to increase their chances and pray for the best.

Carcassone: One of the important features of the other games I listed is that players have fairly free rein to attack and interfere with any other player at any time. By contrast, in Carcassone, your ability to interfere is heavily limited based on what tile you draw. You can usually improve your own position, and targetting a particular enemy is usually pretty difficult. These factors add up to no particular kingmaker problem.

Louis XIV: With its seemingly open, deterministic scoring and one last player, Louis XIV seems ripe for a kingmaker problem. However, the secret scoring bonus for crest majorities provides that tiny bit of uncertainty to make it usually more advantageous to increase your own score rather than tearing down a particular opponent.

Montana: I have to add a plug for my own design in here! Secret goals were added early to Montana and they manage to fill two important design goals at once. First, they increase the degree to which some regions are more valuable to some players than others. Second, they provide such a large chunk of the winner’s points (possibly a third or so) that attacking a “leader” before you know whether they managed to even managed to hit their secret missions is risky indeed.

I considered some kind of secret goals for Invasion, but I don’t think it’s the right choice. Invasion is supposed to be about making the best of a rapidly-fluctuating situation, not pushing towards one particular outcome.

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