“Gang Up On The Human” Makes Gremlins, Inc. Less Fun

Gang Up On The Human is a video game trope in which NPCs that are supposed to be on different teams will ignore each other to attack human players. Sometimes this is because the AI is too weak and the game needs to let them cheat to catch up, and having multiple AI opponents team up despite a nominal free-for-all is actually a pretty low-key way of doing that (compared to, for example, giving the AI extra resources or abilities that players don’t get).

Gremlins, Inc. is a video game in the genre of video games that are kinda like board games, where you take turns going around a board and stuff, but taking advantage of the computer to have mechanics that would be a pain to calculate out by hand for a board game. It has several single player scenarios. The early ones have the AI set to a proper free-for-all, but later scenarios up the difficulty by having the AI players gang up on the human. That would be fine, the AI here isn’t exactly AlphaGremlin and it could use an edge to keep up with humans.

The problem is that winning despite three AI players ganging up on you often means a lot of the game is less fun. I just finished a single player scenario where I played against three AIs willing to gang up on me, one where the highest score player wins after fifty turns. Fifty turns goes by pretty quick in this game (it took me about 45 minutes), and the last 10 or so of those turns were really nail-biting as I had to use my character’s special abilities (assigned at the start) to burn down longterm income for short term gain and quickly gain the victory points needed to come from behind. I went from 11 points behind the game leader to exactly 1 point ahead on the very last turn. Thrilling!

The problem is that the first 40-ish turns were really frustrating and dull, because the reason why I was even in a situation where I needed to almost double my score in 10 turns is because the AI had been so effective in ganging up on me that I’d spent about a third of my turns in jail. You see, there’s lots of police spots on the board, with a 1/6 chance of police throwing you in jail when you land on them. Certain cards let you throw the police onto another player instead, either putting them in jail if certain conditions are met or, in one case, just throwing them in jail automatically. And with three AI all aiming these police cards at me whenever they have them, I was in jail a lot for over half the game. There’s gameplay in jail, but no way to get victory points (with very rare exceptions, none of which proc’d for me), so I just sat there, accumulating wealth, making a break for a spot where I could turn that wealth into victory points, and ending up thrown back in jail before I could make it.

One of the other scenarios has just one AI opponent, but gives that opponent a huge score advantage to start with, immediately throwing you into the need to work out a cunning come-from-behind victory, and it’s much harder yet also much more fun.

2 thoughts on ““Gang Up On The Human” Makes Gremlins, Inc. Less Fun”

  1. Gremlins Inc. is incredibly fun in multiplayer. Singleplayer… probably not so much.
    Devs are also working on a new game – Spire of Sorcery. Not sure how good that’s going. They burned a lot of goodwill by completely redoing the concept twice from what was sold as the initial early access (which was a wizarding school management game)

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    1. That’s too bad about Spire of Sorcery. I think Spellcaster University was okay but has plenty of room for improvement, and I would’ve liked to see someone else take a crack at it.

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