Office space

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Office space

Postby mhsmith0 » 26 Feb 2016, 05:58

A mafia game featuring a bunch of people working for a failing tech company called Initech. Most of these guys have standing job offers from Initrode once they finish torpedoing the company, but a few people "didn't get the memo" and are secretly working for Penetrode instead. I'm thinking something like 11 players, 3 scum, and a BUNCH of shenanigans: unreliable night kills, secret win conditions, and lots and lots of flavor.

If anyone has experience trying to balance games with some wacky roles and rules thrown in, I'd love some feedback.
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Re: Office space

Postby condude1 » 26 Feb 2016, 07:36

I have experience trying to balance confusing games. I also have experience failing miserably, giving up, and resorting to simple games.

I'm not a good person to ask ;).

That being said, I generally love playing them, so don't be disheartened. I'm just really bad at making them. Also note that you have to be REALLY careful with interacting with players. My first game quickly became chaotic when my flavour became more than flavour. Minimize interactions with players, just send results, and I know Rolan, for one, doesn't even do that.
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Re: Office space

Postby mhsmith0 » 26 Feb 2016, 07:55

Oh yeah, the rules I have in mind would basically have no interactions with GM. They'd just be kind of weird.

Like, one thing I had in mind was turning the NK into essentially a dice roll NK. So something like the bottom two rated employees get sent to Lumberg's office for a early morning performance review, and then he randomly fires one of them (or maybe even has a chance of not even bothering to show up). But the scum would have the ability to basically sabotage players so that they'd be a lot likelier to get sent down to the office.

Another would be secret win conditions in order to try and force some specific roles into somewhat unusual (or surprising) positions.

Do you know of any generally useful guidelines for balancing games? I don't want to totally half-ass it; I don't need it to be perfect, but I really want to make sure I'm reasonably along the right path.
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Re: Office space

Postby Keirador » 26 Feb 2016, 08:27

condude1 wrote:I have experience trying to balance confusing games. I also have experience failing miserably, giving up, and resorting to simple games.

I'm not a good person to ask ;).

That being said, I generally love playing them, so don't be disheartened. I'm just really bad at making them. Also note that you have to be REALLY careful with interacting with players. My first game quickly became chaotic when my flavour became more than flavour. Minimize interactions with players, just send results, and I know Rolan, for one, doesn't even do that.

Eh, a new GM could do a hell of a lot worse than listening to you. Your games that I've seen were very elegantly designed. Shot in the Dark suffered badly from factors outside your control, but the design was still excellent.
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Re: Office space

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 26 Feb 2016, 17:33

Sounds funny. What platform are you thinking about? Would this be a forum game, or are you actually thinking more along the lines of tabletop design?

I've never played Mafia, but I'd be interested in giving this a go. :D
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Re: Office space

Postby mhsmith0 » 26 Feb 2016, 18:33

Forum game.
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Re: Office space

Postby condude1 » 26 Feb 2016, 19:21

Keirador wrote:
condude1 wrote:I have experience trying to balance confusing games. I also have experience failing miserably, giving up, and resorting to simple games.

I'm not a good person to ask ;).

That being said, I generally love playing them, so don't be disheartened. I'm just really bad at making them. Also note that you have to be REALLY careful with interacting with players. My first game quickly became chaotic when my flavour became more than flavour. Minimize interactions with players, just send results, and I know Rolan, for one, doesn't even do that.

Eh, a new GM could do a hell of a lot worse than listening to you. Your games that I've seen were very elegantly designed. Shot in the Dark suffered badly from factors outside your control, but the design was still excellent.


Thanks! With that comment I now feel obliged to give a bit of advice:

1. Don't send flavour with any results at night. At least until you've made a few games and get the hang of it. You are god, people will treat you like it, so anything you say can and will be twisted in an attempt to gain information. It's the players' job!

2. Be really careful of synergies. A game design with a cop, doctor, and a bunch of vanilla townies is about as simple as it gets, but also completely broken. The cop reveals, and the town plays follow the cop until they find a mafia.

3. Blocking roles are extremely powerful in the late game. A blocker and a doctor will annihilate a lone mafioso almost every time.

4. When in doubt, err on the side of simplicity. If you aren't sure whether something will unbalance the game, it probably will. OR at least, it's best to assume it will. It's better to be more simple than you expeccted than more complicated, especially for your first game.

If I think of anything else relevant, I'll post it in a bit.
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Re: Office space

Postby mhsmith0 » 26 Feb 2016, 20:40

condude1 wrote:...

Thanks! With that comment I now feel obliged to give a bit of advice:

1. Don't send flavour with any results at night. At least until you've made a few games and get the hang of it. You are god, people will treat you like it, so anything you say can and will be twisted in an attempt to gain information. It's the players' job!

2. Be really careful of synergies. A game design with a cop, doctor, and a bunch of vanilla townies is about as simple as it gets, but also completely broken. The cop reveals, and the town plays follow the cop until they find a mafia.

3. Blocking roles are extremely powerful in the late game. A blocker and a doctor will annihilate a lone mafioso almost every time.

4. When in doubt, err on the side of simplicity. If you aren't sure whether something will unbalance the game, it probably will. OR at least, it's best to assume it will. It's better to be more simple than you expeccted than more complicated, especially for your first game.

If I think of anything else relevant, I'll post it in a bit.


1 Very good point. I figured that flavor on my end would be more in terms of what I post on the thread, maybe make the GM messages intentionally read as much like boring HR speak as possible.

2 Yeah, I'm thinking a lot of the roles would be weak. Emphasis on fun and flavor as opposed to powers necessarily being super strong. My model here is I think cleansing, but with different types of roles (especially no vig or role switcher).

3 Very good point.

4 Also a very good point.

PS One other point: if I make the NK's unreliable (my idea is that scum can damage players' job performance, and the bottom two get a performance review, with the result being random, including maybe lumberg forgets to show up), how damaging is that to scum? So damaging that I need to re-jigger the player count? Or just regular damaging, and maybe I play with some other powers a bit to try and compensate?
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Re: Office space

Postby condude1 » 26 Feb 2016, 21:17

That's a field I have experience in, I can give you some stats and my opinion on how balanced they were from a GM's perspective.

A Shot in the Dark: The mafia's kill was in the hands of a third party, who didn't know their identities. Ran as 9-3-1, with the town having a blocker, and doctor, while the mafia had a jailor and rolecop. One mafia (Harb) ended up getting shot by his ally, and the others fell in rapid succession. Effectively 9-4, with no control over the NK was a slaughter.

Hot Potato: Rand as 8-3. Mafia NK resolved at a random point in the day, you knew if you were the target, and could pass it off to other players. The town played really well, one mafioso ended up exploding to their own NK, and the town sailed to victory. No roles. 8-3, decisive town victory.

Mafia having an unreliable NK is an advantage to the town. If a mafioso can be killed by their own NK, the unreliable NK is worth AT LEAST 2 townies in my experience, possibly more.
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Re: Office space

Postby mhsmith0 » 26 Feb 2016, 21:24

I was thinking that the NK would be more unreliable in the sense of "it may not happen at all" and "two people are going to have been made targets of this" as opposed to necessarily being something that's easy or likely to be used to target scum.

Then again, scum intentionally targeting themselves to go on that list as an artificial town clear may not be a terrible strategy either. Who knows...

:twisted:

PS Yeah I thought that Hot Potato and Axe/Mob were both heavily balanced towards town, since there were NO NK's that scum could disclaim all responsibility for.
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