Combating Quarterbacking In Kistka

Quarterbacking in games (co-op or team-based) involves one person who is doing all of the thinking / strategizing and is telling other players what to do. A couple of existing design solutions for this have been:

  • Hidden information
  • Traitor mechanics
  • Real-time play
  • Individual scoring / hidden roles

Right now, Kistka has players moving around the game board collecting resources and creating pysanka eggs that have various buff or enemy-warding effects. There are plenty of ways that someone could quarterback in the game. Let's look at some options.

Hidden information

Using a simple screen on the player sheets, the egg slots could be hidden from other players so no one quite knows what anyone else is preparing to do. A thematic explanation for asking players NOT to share egg information would be easy enough; showing or discussing them would mean the chained monster could catch wind of what the eggromancers have in store and therefore better prepare to battle them.

This could create some fun moments of gambles, but how far should it be taken? Could players still say "no don't go there, I got this," and is that really much different from knowing what each other has and is going to do? My worry is it could take away any sense of being able to strategize at all.

Could certainly make for an interesting variant, would just be up to the players to self-police the rule.

Traitor mechanics

Social deception has been a popular mechanic for board games in the last couple of years. A traitor in your midst suddenly makes things a bit more interesting (if also a bit more yelly). 

What if one player (or more depending on number of players) is working WITH the monster? Not so sure this would work with the 2 - 4 players I had in mind, and not sure if it really ties in so well with the theme of the game.

Real-time play

Real-time play is something I'd considered for the first early early pysanka-themed game idea I had which involved players going head-to-head under the pressure of time to create the best / most accurate egg. Don't see real-time play happening for Kistka.

Individual scoring / hidden quests

In addition to the co-op win / lose state versus the games, there could be a winner from individual scoring as well. Points for various actions such as counteracting an enemy or healing a tile. Hidden quests would give players something to work toward on the side that would give them a larger chunk of points than the usual basic actions, and give players a reason not to let someone quarterback them around.

Would this create too hostile of an environment? Could be an interesting combination of social deception ("nah, I just... need to go over here because I'm low on... red dye"), while still keeping the larger co-op goal in place. Balance the overall win with the individual win.

So what works?

Who knows! Only testing will tell, so I will be pushing on to reach that point of testing an entire game.