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Puzzling Multiplayer Epics

Used to be that I had a really big hangup against Puzzling Multiplayer Epics, i.e. games that were all three of these things:

For example, Uno is fine because it’s not that brainburny, and The Resistance is fine because there’s only two teams. No Thanks is fine because it’s not that long. All coop games are fine if they only have one team, and two-player games are also all fine. Cosmic Encounter was a big fave because it was not that thinky.

Having two of the three things, any two, that’s great. The three traits are good things. We want them in our games. The problem comes when you have all three in one game, and that problem is kingmaking. When Alice is in a position to make either Bob or Carol win. Fine for a short game, or for a long but not particularly thinky game, but after spending eight hours thinking myself into a headache it sucks to get the victory just goofed out away from me.

A handful of games managed to find their way into my heart in spite of this, and the reason for that is that they made the kingmaking really subtle. A king of the hill type game like King of Tokyo or Nexus Ops can make it feel more like “ever-shifting teams” than a multi-side game, or a game like Caylus can make the interactions really subtle and timing-based, disguising the kingmaking even though it can happen even there. Economic games like Container can also work; economic systems put layers and layers of abstraction in front of exploitation, making them less directly feel bad.

I just decided to really nope out of all games that I thought felt into the PME category. That led me to disliking or missing out on a lot of OG eurogame classics, games that are now being reappraissed as there is a bit of an OG renaissance as people are getting sick of the everyone-has-their-own-engine-tableau games. I’ve been slowly getting into that OG eurogame scene.

And I’m immediately running into the PME problem again.

Since some games from the “separate tableaus” / “multiplayer solitaire” trend featured less interaction, they were less susceptible to PME. They were boring in other ways so I’m interested in seeing other ways we can fix this.

We want a shared board and full interaction, but either: