Today's post is about Asymmetric players.I know what your thinking and yes the players them selves are all asymmetric. But today we are talking about the roles people take on in the game and how the abilities, attributes or other special functions that are bestowed to each role make them asymmetric. Today we will use as our case study a game that most people are aware of and has clear examples to pull from we are talking about Pandemic from Z-Man games.
This was a great way to simulate real life in this game as we all unfortunately are well aware of there are a lot of different types of people working on pandemics.
Pandemic is a co-op game where each player is assigned or selects a role to play each of the roles has unique abilities for that player to utilize during the game. In Pandemic there are more role cards than players which makes for a lot of unique combinations and that adds to the replay value. The other point here I would like to bring up especially for the new game designer is that this was a great way to simulate real life in this game as we all unfortunately are well aware of there are a lot of different types of people working on pandemics.
In pandemic the players are fighting a series of infectious disease across the world and as they race to stop outbreaks from happening by controlling the spread of the diseases they also have to research a cure for all for of the diseases on the board. Pandemic has roles that are unique to each other to give each player a feeling of needed involvement and a sort of direction to take the way they play the game. For example there is the Medic, the Medic has the ability to remove all disease cubes of one color at a location for the cost of one action where they would normally take one action a piece. This player is very handy in controlling the spread of the virus.
This mechanic is found in a vast majority of games
Another role in the base game is the operations expert and this role lets you build a research station as an action without discarding a card. As you can see each of the roles in this game are different or asymmetric and provide a unique experience in the game for each player. This mechanic is found in a vast majority of games from Catan where you are asymmetric from the beginning of the game based on where your starting settlements are to Dune Imperium where you are choosing a leader from one of the major houses bestowing unique abilities.
This mechanic is an easy way to add some realism to your game or interest in how its played adding to the replay-ability as people would like to try the other role next time. When designing your game with asymmetric players it may take you longer in the development stage and play testing as you will have a lot more combinations on the way games play versus if the players all had the same abilities and attributes. I hope you enjoyed this quick dive into asymmetric players and please do join the email list and come back as we add more to The Game Mechanics.