Errata: The Benefits of Player Elimination
This week I got into a discussion with a friend about gaming. We discussed our most and least favorite aspects of games, and he agreed with me that player elimination is the worst mechanic. In fact, I’ve previously offered it up as the only “bad” mechanic in all of gaming. But then …
Gamer Friend asked, “Why even include player elimination at all? It’s just lazy.”
So, while I still hate player elimination and tend to specifically avoid games that feature it, allow me to make a moderate defense of the mechanic. It does one thing really, really well. It vastly increases the tension in a game. If you know that a bad decision costs you three victory points, you might consider the consequences and then take the risk. If you know that a bad decision costs you the fun of playing the game, you may be less willing to risk it.
A game like King of Tokyo is a great example. The players can attack each other. Being at low health is only scary if there is a consequence. If the consequence was “lose points” instead of being out of the game, then it would simply be another calculation. “How many points am I likely to lose if I reroll these hearts to get something better?” Figure it out and make a choice.
But if you know that riding the line has the potential to get you kicked out of the game, then suddenly the equation changes a bit. It isn’t something that you can come back from or make up for later. This makes the attacks and health far more meaningful. In that sense, player elimination can make the experience more fun – at least as long as you’re still playing.
Still, I’m not a fan of the mechanic and I do think it’s tossed into far too many games than it needs to be.
Got questions about strategy, specific games, or the hobby in general? Post them in the comments here, email me at geekinsight at gfbrobot dot com, or send them to @GeekInsight on Twitter and check back next week for answers!