Thursday, December 15, 2011

Characters and player pieces in games

If you're playing a game with player pieces on the board, and variable player characters such as Pandemic has:

How important is it that the character pawn color is tied to the character card color?

Case 1:
A player likes to play Green. When playing Pandemic, he either cannot play green (unless dealt the Operations Expert), or else he always chooses Green and therefore always plays the Operations Expert.

Case 2:
A player likes to play Green. When playing Pandemic, he uses the green pawn no matter which role he is dealt. Therefore in one game the Green pawn can represent the Operations Expert, while in another game it could represent the Medic.

I can see benefits and drawbacks to each of these cases. As a game player, which case do you think is better? Leave a comment and let me know!

Benefits of Case 1:
* It's always clear by looking at the board which character ability is associated with which pawn, no referencing must be done to figure out whether that Green Pawn is really the Medic (and can therefore more easily treat diseases near him), or the Operations Expert (and can't).
* Potentially more thematic - always being Green gives both the green pawn and the Operations Expert role some identity.

Drawbacks of Case 1:
* Players may not get to play the color they want, or if they insist on it, they will play the same character every game.
* More pawns are required - 1 per character rather than 1 per player. Additional pawns are required for each expansion that adds additional Roles.

Benefits of Case 2:
* Players can always play the color they want
* Only 1 pawn required per player not 1 per character.

Drawbacks of Case 2:
* Loss of identity as described above.
* Potential confusion or annoyance when players must do multiple cross references to determine which piece on the board belongs to which player and therefore which abilities that pawn may be capable of. This could be amplified if, unlike Pandemic, the game is competitive rather than cooperative.


FlyingSheep said...

This is clearly subjective, but my preference is for case 1. I value clarity and flavor over player color preference.

That said, I don't have a color preference myself.

Clive said...

I prefer to play red but am not so picky that I have to be red. I prefer option 1.

Anonymous said...

I always play green. I only don't in games where green isn't specifically tied to a character. When those games come up, I don't mind playing red, blue, or whatever color since knowing that a specific color can do a specific action makes the game flow better.

Thomas D said...

In a game where there are certain individual roles, it's easier to look at the board and grasp which pawn is which role than it is to identify by player. Yellow means Col. Mustard, done in one association. Yellow means Brian and Brian is playing Mrs. Peacock, two jumps.