Back-to-Back Game Sessions

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Playing a game again directly after finishing a game session and swapping the roles players have.

So games are not balanced due to starting players having advantages or simply that the setup gives some players advantages or others. While these imbalances may be intentional to fit thematic requirements or are simply difficult to design away, they can be balanced by playing the games several times so each player gets each type of advantage. Such Back-to-Back Game Sessions may require players to spend more time playing the game to have the intended experience but at the same time can allow different gameplay experiences.


In Chess tournaments it is common that players meeting each other play several game instances and that one alternates who starts. This removes the advantage of being the starting player and thereby gives a more balanced result. This can be applied to Go tournaments as well even if the komi compensation is intended to remove first player advantages.

The scenarios in Memoir '44 are in several cases not balanced to be aligned to the historical events they depict. The game rules suggest that players play each scenario twice, switching sides between each game instance, to make it possible for players to compare how well they played. The scenarios in Space Hulk are often tilted in the favor of the "genestealer" player and for this reason a fair judgment of how players have succeeded is difficult to do without playing scenarios twice with roles reversed after the first game instance.

Servers for team-based First-Person Shooters such as Team Fortress 2 or the Battlefield series are often set up so they swap which team has which side on a map. This creates Back-to-Back Game Sessions for players that play several matches on the same server.

Using the pattern

Designing Back-to-Back Game Sessions for games where all players are co-located is mainly a question of encouraging players to play the game several times with changes roles. For games where players are not in each other's proximity, the pattern can need Game Lobbies to help players handle the transitions between game instances (which players probably view as rounds).

However, Scores can be useful for making Back-to-Back Game Sessions easy to compare to each other, and those designing games to use Back-to-Back Game Sessions may consider having Scores in the underlying game.


Back-to-Back Game Sessions are a way to create Meta Games to provide Balancing Effects to imbalances such as Asymmetric Starting Conditions or First Player Advantages in the underlying games. They can of course also affect already existing Meta Games such as Tournaments. Besides providing Balancing Effects they may, especially in games with Asymmetric Starting Conditions, also give Varied Gameplay since players have Role Reversal between the game instances.


Can Instantiate

Balancing Effects, Meta Games, Role Reversal, Varied Gameplay

Can Modulate

Asymmetric Starting Conditions, Tournaments

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Game Lobbies, Scores

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

First Player Advantages


New pattern created in this wiki.