Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Homeworlds variant: Sinister Standoff

  • FromMichael Kelley <mwkelley@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateThu, 9 Apr 2009 17:42:28 -0800
On Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 12:24 PM, Joshua Kronengold <mneme@xxxxxx> wrote:
Perhaps.  The problem, of course, is that it takes enough material to
eliminate a player that you really -need- to reward whoever does the

Exactly. In Sinister, destroying a Homeworld across the table from me doesn't give me any kind of reward. It's a penalty, really: I have to sacrifice ships in order to keep myself in the game.

Or lose, you mean.

Er, right. It made sense in my head. :)

What I really meant is that you're not taking positive actions to help yourself win. You're being forced to take actions to drag out the game and prevent yourself from losing.

It's sort of like the "Press X to Not Die" phenomenon in video games.
Seems like the simplest hack would just be "first player whose prey is
eliminated wins".   That way, you might very well want to aid the
person who's trying to eliminate you (just as you don't want to
eliminate them), but you don't have the "quick, can anybody -else-
kill them?

The first time I ever played Sinister, we tried using that rule, and it made the game even more unintuitive. "Wait, so... You're trying to destroy my Homeworld. I sacrifice my ships in order to blow up your homeworld first... and I don't win? *He* wins? Huh?"
A slightly-better hack could be: "If you eliminate your prey, you win. If you eliminate someone else's prey, you win AND the person stalking that prey wins. "

IMO, the underlying problem with Sinister is that it has a single victory condition, and no way to share victory. What I really *want* in a multiplayer Homeworlds game is a Diplomacy element. If I'm about to be eliminated, I want to be able to say to the Starship Captain across the table: "Hey, Alice is about to destroy me! She wins, we lose. Why don't you swoop in and take her out, and then I'll destroy the guy attacking you, and we'll *both* win... Deal?"

(And then later on, I want to say to the Captain across the table: "Haha, sucker! I was just getting you to attack Alice so that you'd let your guard down. I secretly made a deal with Bob over here. Now we're both teaming up to eliminate you, and then Bob & I are going to duke it out between us.")

(And then *he* says: "Oh yeah? Well, Bob & I made the same deal... and we're coming after you!" etc...)

>Has anyone ever come up with a Sinister variant that doesn't have this
>problem? Something with a score-keeping mechanic, maybe?

I could see using a Vampire-like scoring system (the "Jyhad" card game
was renamed to "Vampire, the Eternal Struggle" over a decade ago),
though I could totally see a cycle of death -- as eliminating someone
really does weaken you quite a bit.  Mabye if you got to take all
their remaining ships?  (that would be way strong, but not necessarily
too strong).

I can see what you mean about a cycle of death.  And I agree, taking over the eliminated player's ships would be way strong. But it makes logical sense, and it could introduce another interesting strategy element: Do you go after a strong Captain with a big fleet... and potentially gain a lot of ships as the spoils? Or do you go after a weak Captain with a smaller fleet... and gain fewer ships?

I haven't really played Homeworlds enough to predict exactly how that whole situation would shakedown... hmm... I need some playtesters... :-/

-- Mike Wheatberry