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Are there any board or card games with changing goals?

Before you answer real quick saying "yes", let me define what I mean. When I say change goal, I mean that the player works towards that goal not future goals. That means they aren't trying to be the final victor. They are trying to achieve what they have been assigned right now. The best way to illustrate would be some examples.

Examples

  • Dodgeball: Some variants of dodgeball are such that if you get hit, you join the other team. Note that if your team is losing, you could increase your chances of winning by getting hit and joining the other team, but this is not the player's goal. The player's goal is to make their current team win, if it is inevitable they won't be on that team when they do.
  • DnD: In DnD and similar games, a player can get mind controlled. When they do, they have different goals then when not mind controlled. In particular, they will work towards those goals even if they know the mind control is temporary.
  • Playing a game against yourself: When playing a game against yourself (like Chess), you switch between which side you want to win.

Non-examples

  • Most board games where you change teams: You are allowed to take into account the fact that the teams are temporary. Your goal is to be the final victor, not help your current team do well.
  • Card games with effects to change the winning condition. In MtG, for example, you can get into a position where getting your opponent to 0 life is no longer a winning condition. That being said, you can still have the goal of undoing that situation, and then getting your opponent to 0 life. Your goal is always to be the final victor.

Notice that the examples aren't board or card games (playing a game against yourself isn't really a game, just a way to practice a game). Are there any board or card game examples?

  • You first - and arguably most important - paragraph is pretty confusing. When you say "that means", it's almost like you are making a logical inference... But maybe you're just restating? – The Chaz 2.0 Mar 9 '18 at 2:54
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    Would you count a card game where the overall winning condition changes based on an in-game, two-sided state, you have little control over which state you are in during the game (that is decided primarily by the actions of other players), and progress towards winning in one state would actively harm your chance of winning if/when you switch to the other state? – Ken Herbert Mar 9 '18 at 5:59
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    I'm feeling Fluxx is an answer, however your definition of changing goal isn't clear. Can you clarify further with more examples? – Draken Mar 9 '18 at 8:12
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    "In DnD and similar games, a player can get mind controlled." A character can get mind controlled. If a player is being mind-controlled, that's some seriously powerful DnD. – Acccumulation Mar 9 '18 at 18:29
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    @Acccumulation I thought that you had to use real life hypnosis so as to get role-playing XP, right? – PyRulez Mar 9 '18 at 18:31
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Fluxx

A game designed where the rules and goals are constantly changing. You can be working towards a specific goal with collecting keepers, only to have your opponent remove the goal and change it for something else. There are many different editions of Fluxx, the later ones introduced new cards like surprises.

You can also have rules that allow for more than one goal, rules that modify how the goal can be won, different methods of winning.

Generally you will always win by having the cards that the goal requires (Or making sure your opponents have the cards you don't need). In some of the later games (Post Zombie Fluxx), there are also ungoals that if achieved, means everybody loses and the game wins instead.

Zombie Fluxx cards

There is also a board game variant of Fluxx along the same lines of ever changing rules and goals

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There are many games that sort of qualify, but none that perfectly match your criteria

Fluxx

Draken already mentioned this one, and it is the most obvious choice. Goals change constantly. But it is possible to work towards a future goal. Goals in play are fleeting, but you can hold a goal in your hand for far longer. I generally would hold promising goals in my hand while working towards them, and only play them when I could win instantly.

Ticket to Ride, Twilight Imperium, etc

In Ticket to Ride you start with two or three routes which provide a source of points to work towards. At any time (although frequently once your routes are completed) you can draw new route cards, giving yourself new goals to work towards. Similarly, in Twilight Imperium you start with a minor secret goal, and once that is completed you earn a major one.

There are many other cases with similar mechanics, but the new goals never override previous goals - they just add new ways to earn points.

Battlestar Galactica, The Thing, etc

You specifically excluded traitor mechanic games, but I'm including them anyways for completion. There are a number of traitor mechanic games where it becomes possible to become the traitor half way through the game. In theory you could play with this possibility in mind, but my experience is that in practice people don't, because the game is weighted in the traitor's favor and the odds of becoming one are low, so players are too busy keeping their heads above the water to worry about such things.

Betrayal at House on the Hill (and Betrayal at Baldur's Gate)

This is technically another traitor mechanic game, but I'm listing it separately because Betrayal is scenario based. While everyone knows that someone will become the traitor, it's impossible to know what the traitor's goals will be. It's still not a perfect fit, though, because until the Haunt begins and the traitor is chosen, there is no goal at all, so the game never has more than one goal per sitting.

Why are there only imperfect examples?

From a design perspective, a game whose goals change in ways that can't be anticipated is generally unfun. If you can't achieve the first goal before the goal shifts to something else, then all the work you've put towards the first goal is wasted. When the goal switches, how much progress each player has towards winning is reset essentially at random, which is particularly frustrating to anyone who was ahead before and is now behind, and may be unfulfilling to someone who goes from being behind to ahead through no fault of their own.

Creating a fun strategic game with a shifting, unpredictable goal is extremely difficult, verging on the impossible.

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  • (1) a traitor mechanic is fine. The problem was that dodgeball wasn't a board game. That said, the fact that you can work towards it makes it an imperfect example (2) the future goals don't necessarily need to be unanticipated. In playing a game against yourself, for example, you know that you are going to switch sides every turn, so it is very predictable – PyRulez Mar 9 '18 at 18:19
  • @PyRulez I was filing traitor mechanics under "board games where you change teams" which you listed as a non-example – Arcanist Lupus Mar 9 '18 at 18:42
  • ah yes. I just said most. I think the traitor mechanic is pretty close though. – PyRulez Mar 9 '18 at 18:44
  • I do think you could have a successful game with changing goals, btw. For example, a cooperative game where in the first half, players work together to make a puzzle/dungeon, and in the second half, try to solve it. (Note the cooperative aspect. Since they are all on the same team, any good move in the first phase harms the team in the second. In particular, there would be no individual scores.) – PyRulez Mar 9 '18 at 18:46

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